Some cabins have all the modern conveniences of home from day one, including a run-of-the-mill plumbed toilet. But some newly built cabins lack a well and a septic system as the owners slowly add these features over time. And then there are those cabin owners who can install conventional plumbing but don’t want to hassle with permitting agencies and the ensuing red tape. Other folks are just looking for an easy option for a garage, boathouse, workshop or guest cabin. And some, especially near lakes, have a strong interest in conserving water to keep their septic systems healthy – especially by alleviating the stress put on septic systems during busy weekends at the cabin. For all of these reasons, composting and incinerating toilets can be a practical, economical and eco-friendly choice for cabin owners.
These use electric heat to incinerate waste into a small amount of ash, which owners empty occasionally. Incinerating toilet systems require no water or additives. They do require electricity, but it’s only drawn when the toilet is in use.
Here are five composting and incinerating toilet options that may work for you:
BioletA Biolet toilet is easier and more economical to install than a conventional toilet. And the fact that it saves water is a huge perk. One Biolet customer reported reducing his water consumption by 200 gallons per month after installing a composting toilet. Peter Andersson, managing director at Biolet, says customers also appreciate that the toilet seat sits higher up than a traditional flush toilet. “Our seat is 20 inches from the floor, which is a handicap-accessible height,” says Andersson. Cost: $999-$2,499. For more info: (800) 524-6538, www.biolet.com.
IncinoletIncinolet toilets incinerate waste with electric heat. A paper bowl liner captures the waste, then is dropped into the incinerator chamber where it is reduced to ash. Carol McFarland, sales manager at Incinolet, reports that customers appreciate these toilets for multiple reasons. Saying farewell to the outhouse – especially in winter – is certainly one incentive for installation. “Folks are also thrilled to be able to build their retirement home or dream cabin on land they were told couldn’t be used because it wouldn’t ‘perc’ for a septic system,” says McFarland. Cost: $1,749-$1,899. For more info: (800) 527-5551, www.incinolet.com.
Nature's HeadNature’s Head specializes in designing composting toilets that can withstand the harsh marine environment. However, the company also offers “land” installations that are perfect for cabins, RVs, campers, workshops, barns and yurts. Folks who host big crowds on the weekends may benefit from purchasing an auxiliary composting toilet. Cost: $875. For more info: (251) 295-3043, www.natureshead.net.
Sun-Mar'sSun-Mar’s toilets are certified by the National Sanitation Foundation for residential and cottage use, though they are also perfect for pools, cabanas, boats and camps. The company even offers solar models, which require very little power, making them a good fit for remote cabins. “Our non-electric models can be used with a 12-volt fan to boost the efficiency of the composting toilet for individuals using solar power,” says Joe Locicero, a sales manager for Sun-Mar. Cost: $1,595-2,560. For more info: (888) 341-0782, www.sun-mar.com.
The Low-flow Way
- Composting toilets are smelly and dirty like pit toilets. Not true. All of the manufacturers listed here claim their models are odor-free.
- Battery models do not work as well as electric models. Though electric models accommodate the most people and offer the greatest performance, Scott Smith from Sancor says the battery system in his company’s Envirolet unit can accommodate eight people for vacation use or six people for full-time use.
- Incinerating toilets attract bugs. Wrong. Because there is no odor, insects are not attracted to the unit.
- Compost from composting toilets is unusable. False. It can be used as landscaping fertilizer for ornamental plants, flowers, shrubs and trees.
- Composting toilets require special toilet paper. Nope. You can still use your favorite brand of toilet tissue.