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Old 02-17-2021, 02:47 PM   #1
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Default Composting Toilet in Roadtrek Sprinter

I experienced some recent undercarriage damage that impacted the waste system, the extent of which has not been fully assessed. Black and gray tanks appear intact, but macerating pump, hose and reach rods sustained some damage.

I will preface this thread with the observation that the 10 gallon black tank capacity on my model (2006 Sprinter/Road Trek Adventurous RS) is our most limiting parameter and with full time use we need a trip to a dump station every 3-4 days max.

I have reviewed discussions of composting toilets in this forum as well as many you tube videos, and recognize the pros and cons, so am not really looking to debate those issues in this thread. My PRIMARY interest is assessing the degree to which switching to a composting toilet would extend dry camping capacity, so am most interested in hearing from folks who have replaced a conventional flush toilet with a composting toilet, addressing the following:

- What model did you use? Commercial or DIY?

- Does your configuration use a dedicated urine tank (which typically are carried out and emptied daily) or did you divert urine to the previous black or gray tank?

- Does your setup incorporate stirring/agitation of the solids or require supplemental adding of coconut fiber (or other medium) with use? I presume systems that agitate solids take longer to reach full capacity.

- I would anticipate exhausting into the existing plumbing (roof) vent. (My coach 12v can easily handle a computer fan 24/7 for this purpose).

- Any advice on preserving the wet-bath capability and preventing moisture entry into the toilet system?

- What is your boondocking capacity (days off grid) with the composting system? Which system parameter is most limiting?

- Given the limited space, and the size of commercial systems, I am not adverse to custom building a system. Would appreciate advice from anyone who has built their own.
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Old 02-17-2021, 03:52 PM   #2
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From what I've read around here, I doubt you will get anything but negative response on the topic. They seem to be very closed minded about the topic. There is a lot of info on google and youtube that is very interesting. https://weretherussos.com/rv-composting-toilets/
The AirHead sounds ideal for a smaller RV!
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Old 02-17-2021, 04:48 PM   #3
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There are plenty of folks on this forum that use "composting" toilets. Those in RVs are more accurately separating toilets and they can defiantly extend dry camping if you have a way of disposing the urine collected. I've looked at several models for my next van and the C-head looks like a good value option.

https://www.c-head.com/
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Old 02-17-2021, 05:24 PM   #4
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With my Separett, dry camping/boondocking/whatever is extended to infinity toiletwise.

A new model, Tiny, is coming out this spring. Features of the Villa but size of the Weekend.

Separett is not well known outside of the tiny house movement. Swedish company, 110k units installed worldwide, 40 years operation.

Cost per use.....almost nothing.
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Old 02-17-2021, 05:50 PM   #5
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Here is my assessment of the toilet situation.

Seeking: an alternative to a water hog toilet and black tank hassle and expense means standard flush toilets and cassette toilets are eliminated.

Electric and propane incinerating toilets are unreasonable to operate in a class B.

The dry flush waterless toilet (Laveo) is handy, but at almost $1 per flush it is expensive to operate.

The leading ‘Little House’ movement toilets are, by far:

Separett, a diverting desiccating toilet: great global reputation, hardly known in the USA

Airhead, a diverting desiccating ‘composting’ toilet: good reputation, well known in USA



The Airhead/NaturesHead/CHead

12 v fan, vent to outside

Ugly as can be. I can’t look at it. Would have to cover it up.

Have to add coconut or sphagnum moss

Have to ‘stir’ the contents

Feces management: have to unbolt it from the floor, take it outside, take it apart, clean it out, put it back together and take it inside and bolt it to the floor

Urine management: have to take the jug outside (without spilling), empty it, wash it out, bring it back inside. And, don’t let the dang thing overflow.



The Separett

12 v fan, vent to outside

Sleek. Easy to look at it. Would not have to cover it up.

Do not have to add anything

Do not have to ‘stir’ the contents

Do not have to unbolt it from the floor, take it outside, take it apart, clean it out, put it back together and take it inside and bolt it to the floor

Urine management: divert to undercarriage, either separet tank or grey tank. Not possible for it to overflow in the van
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Old 02-17-2021, 06:59 PM   #6
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TygerMark,

You write:

"Seeking: an alternative to a water hog toilet and black tank hassle and expense means standard flush toilets and cassette toilets are eliminated."

That is FALSE unless you read some of the posts And/Or watch how to use a toilet in an rv on some of the utube video's. An example by an rv manufacturer, Thor in a moment. Also, my black tank is not a hassle, and I can't imagine the tank, installation, and toilet are all that expensive for the manufacturer vs. ...............


With an 05/04 Roadtrek 190 my weak link is Fresh Water, Not black or gray tank with no need for the near worthless sensors. I'll use all the water with no need to check anything and no fear of overflowing either tank.

28.5 gallons fresh water - 25 gallon tank plus 3.5 gallons more inside for 28.5 gallons
22 gallon gray water
10 gallon black tank

When out of fresh water, the black tank has Gallons of water added prior to dumping!

If I used a toilet like in the following video, the black tank would be the weak link. The video is not a sales video, rather a 'how to use' video of a small class C, 52:30 minutes. The how to use toilet, 46:12

Ok, so I used all caps above to get your attention.

Bud
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Old 02-17-2021, 07:02 PM   #7
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TygerMark,

You write:

"Seeking: an alternative to a water hog toilet and black tank hassle and expense means standard flush toilets and cassette toilets are eliminated."

That is FALSE unless you read some of the posts And/Or watch how to use a toilet in an rv on some of the utube video's. An example by an rv manufacturer, Thor in a moment. Also, my black tank is not a hassle, and I can't imagine the tank, installation, and toilet are all that expensive for the manufacturer vs. ...............


With an 05/04 Roadtrek 190 my weak link is Fresh Water, Not black or gray tank with no need for the near worthless sensors. I'll use all the water with no need to check anything and no fear of overflowing either tank.

28.5 gallons fresh water - 25 gallon tank plus 3.5 gallons more inside for 28.5 gallons
22 gallon gray water
10 gallon black tank

When out of fresh water, the black tank has Gallons of water added prior to dumping!

If I used a toilet like in the following video, the black tank would be the weak link. The video is not a sales video, rather a 'how to use' video of a small class C, 52:30 minutes. The how to use toilet, 46:12

Ok, so I used all caps above to get your attention.

Bud

Forgot to mention that I think there is an application cassettes, composting, wags bags and more, including black tanks.
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Old 02-17-2021, 07:29 PM   #8
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Tygermark, I like the Separett designs, unfortunately they are too large for the space I have (including the new Tiny). Agree the airhead is ugly and do not like the disassembly process either.

The C-Head looks workable. I also like that they will sell you their "innards" so you can DIY to fit, and incorporates urine diversion option. I also like their churn system. I don't mind the idea of churning, and consider it superior to adding more "material". Although they do not include ventilation, I consider that worthwhile to add.
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Old 02-17-2021, 07:47 PM   #9
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[QUOTE=Bud;124690] Also, my black tank is not a hassle,/QUOTE]

Obviously you have not been around long enough to know what a pyramid poo plug is - "The majority of clogged RV toilets come from pyramid plugs. A pyramid plug is literally a pile of solid poop and toilet paper that has built up from the bottom of your black water holding tank and formed a pyramid of grossness that has now reached your toilet and is clogging it up." The worse part is that they are quite common, unless you know how to prevent them.
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Old 02-17-2021, 07:52 PM   #10
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[QUOTE=wny-pat;124695]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bud View Post
Also, my black tank is not a hassle,/QUOTE]

Obviously you have not been around long enough to know what a pyramid poo plug is - "The majority of clogged RV toilets come from pyramid plugs. A pyramid plug is literally a pile of solid poop and toilet paper that has built up from the bottom of your black water holding tank and formed a pyramid of grossness that has now reached your toilet and is clogging it up." The worse part is that they are quite common, unless you know how to prevent them.
I have been around awhile but have not experienced a pyramid poo as many others have not either. 14 years, 120K miles. Simple enough to prevent, and not have one.
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Old 02-17-2021, 08:07 PM   #11
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Bud,

My grandfather and grandmother were sharecroppers- they grew cotton on shares outside of Doline, Louisiana.

Grandpa was very good his hands, and he was very intelligent though not schooled.

One day Grandpa said "Mark, never swap spit with a mule." I asked why not, and he said "Because a mule has more spit than you do."
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Old 02-17-2021, 08:12 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by engnrsrule View Post
Tygermark, I like the Separett designs, unfortunately they are too large for the space I have (including the new Tiny). Agree the airhead is ugly and do not like the disassembly process either.

The C-Head looks workable. I also like that they will sell you their "innards" so you can DIY to fit, and incorporates urine diversion option. I also like their churn system. I don't mind the idea of churning, and consider it superior to adding more "material". Although they do not include ventilation, I consider that worthwhile to add.
I think the Chead is 16x20, same as the Separett Tiny. Separett also sells the Privy which is for a DIY fabrication and install.

I agree with a power vent for any of these makers.

There is an old saying about stirring $h!t......
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Old 02-17-2021, 08:19 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TygerMark View Post
Bud,

My grandfather and grandmother were sharecroppers- they grew cotton on shares outside of Doline, Louisiana.

Grandpa was very good his hands, and he was very intelligent though not schooled.

One day Grandpa said "Mark, never swap spit with a mule." I asked why not, and he said "Because a mule has more spit than you do."
Sorry, I'm slow. I don't know what you're saying.
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Old 02-17-2021, 08:37 PM   #14
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Poo pyramid not an issue. Know what it is but jet out black tank after every trip so never an issue.

On the C-Head their corner and shorty versions are narrower/notched near the back where my space is limited to 13". The shorty height works well too.
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:11 PM   #15
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In the fall of 2020 I removed the factory Thetford toilet (we hadn't used it, intentionally) from our RV, and replaced it with an Air Head composting toilet.

I use sphagnum peat moss as the churning/moisture absorption medium. We used the Air Head for a few short trips last year because our travels were less than originally planned because of the Covid factor. When I did dump the solid tank a few weeks after the last use, there was zero odor. It smelled like earth dirt. After the dump into a plastic bag, the only residue remaining in the solid tank was peat moss dust. I estimate we'll have to dump the solid tank approx. once every 3-4 weeks.

For the two of us, the urine tank will need to be dumped about every 2.5 days. I bought an extra urine tank, so we're good for about 5 days.

We are totally satisfied with the changeover to a composting toilet.

We bought our RV new, and I mentioned we never used the Thetford toilet. I plan to plumb in a new auxiliary water pump, connect it to the factory gray water tank, and transfer gray water to the never used black water tank.
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Old 02-17-2021, 11:40 PM   #16
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dmb496, thanks. That is helpful. Curious, what is the seat height above the floor? Your head is configured similar to mine. Had you considered routing the urine to the black tank and eliminating the bottles?
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Old 02-18-2021, 12:17 AM   #17
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dmb496, thanks. That is helpful. Curious, what is the seat height above the floor? Your head is configured similar to mine. Had you considered routing the urine to the black tank and eliminating the bottles?
It will be 3 or 4 days before I bring the RV to my home, and I'll get the seat height measurement for you. Air Head does provide dimensions on their website.

I wouldn't consider routing the urine to the black water tank for 2 reasons, one of which I mentioned in my prior post. Secondly, all things will be for sale, eventually. Our RV is a 2020 Galleria and we're 68 y.o. The future owner may prefer the factory toilet, which I still have. I can remove the Air Head and reinstall the Thetford in one hour.
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Old 02-18-2021, 12:48 AM   #18
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It will be 3 or 4 days before I bring the RV to my home, and I'll get the seat height measurement for you. Air Head does provide dimensions on their website.

I wouldn't consider routing the urine to the black water tank for 2 reasons, one of which I mentioned in my prior post. Secondly, all things will be for sale, eventually. Our RV is a 2020 Galleria and we're 68 y.o. The future owner may prefer the factory toilet, which I still have. I can remove the Air Head and reinstall the Thetford in one hour.
dmb496, right, since you are going to use the black tank to expand your gray capacity. I get that. C-Head offers a kit to route urine right into the existing flange. Also see the value of retaining the Thetford (my pedal flush is one).
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:13 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by TygerMark View Post
With my Separett, dry camping/boondocking/whatever is extended to infinity toiletwise.

A new model, Tiny, is coming out this spring. Features of the Villa but size of the Weekend.

Separett is not well known outside of the tiny house movement. Swedish company, 110k units installed worldwide, 40 years operation.

Cost per use.....almost nothing.
Thanks for the info on Separett waterless toilet. Had not looked at them closely and now I see that they have many advantages.
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Old 02-18-2021, 01:04 PM   #20
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A similar thread arose a few months ago. From that --

In this post, I presented a persuasive argument for a hybrid approach. By that I mean, not relying on either a black water system or a composting system, but seeking the best of both worlds.

In this post, I expounded on the logistics of separated urine management.

In this post, I expounded on the realities faced by female vanners who have a far more difficult time with segregating toilets of all types. But there are workarounds.

My TL;DR on the content linked above - after surviving Canadian quarantine off-grid in the summer of 2020, I am much more open to toilet alternatives. I was initially not in favor of separating / composting options because they personally did not fit my needs assessment. But that changed with the pandemic, and so did my attitude.

It's difficult to imagine a more intensely personal choice than type of toilet. Everything depends on the user, the rig, and the places visited. Separating / composting toilets are not feasible, for instance, during dense urban camping where there is no realistic chance of appropriately dumping urine. But if one is forced into quarantine, there's no possibility of relying on a black water system alone.
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