Types Of RV ToiletsAnthony Day
When nature calls, nothing can ruin your trip faster than a bad bathroom experience, which is the reason why you need to know the different types of RV toilets.
RV toilets are not the most glamorous aspects of a camping trip. However, they are one of the very important things to discuss unless you prefer to do the necessary in a bucket or create your own bathroom in the wide-open nature. Having the right type of RV toilet can make your trip more comfortable and relaxing.
Some of the common types of RV toilets are plastic and porcelain gravity flush toilets, macerating toilets, incinerator toilets, composting toilets, portable toilets, cassette toilets, and dry flush toilets. RV toilets also include elongated, round, low-profile, and high-profile toilets.
How do you know which type of RV toilet is worth investing in? In this guide, we will detail how RV toilets work, the materials they are made from, type of installation, and their shape and height to help you make an informed decision.
As an avid camper who has used RVs for over three decades, I have installed a few different types of bathrooms on my camper and can help you understand which one is the best fit for your vehicle.
Types of RV Toilets
RV toilets come in a wide range of designs, sizes, and shapes. Let us take a look at some of them:
Gravity Flush Toilets
Gravity flush toilets are designed the same way as our household toilets with the exception that they do not have a water tank. As such, these toilets can only work if they are connected to an external water supply or when the water pump from the RV’s water reservoir is on. Most RVs typically have gravity flush toilets and black water tanks that store the waste until you can dispose of it at a designated site.
Gravity flush tanks come in varying sizes and shapes which makes it easier to choose the tank according to your height and size specification. Whatever design you choose, the toilet will work on the same model. These toilets also come with foot pedals that allow you to flush the contents of a toilet.
If you are concerned about bad smell and hygiene, you can buy chemicals to break down the solid waste into smaller consistency and prevent blockage in the black water tank.
Since gravity flush toilets have been around since forever, their mechanism is widely understood in the industry and they are easy to repair and install. They are also less expensive than other types of RV toilets.
You will need to regularly empty your black water tank at designated sites and the experience can be smelly and nasty. Plus, you can make a mess if you are not very careful with it. Your toilet may also experience blockages and issue foul smell if you do not maintain or are careful about how to use it.
- Easy to repair and install
- Easy to maintain
- Comes in various sizes and shapes
- Emptying it can be nasty work for users
If you want a toilet that does not clog, then a macerating toilet may be a better option than the traditional gravity flush toilet. This type of toilet is equipped with motorized blades that can cut and grind the contents into soft and thin slurry before it is stored in the black water holding tank. Since the content is crushed into tiny particles, your holding tank will contain more fluid than a regular gravity toilet.
Most macerating toilets are powered by electricity, though some may be water-powered. One of the major advantages of a macerating toilet is that the slurry can be pumped through a hose to a holding tank, which means the holding tank does not have to be positioned directly below the toilet.
This allows you more options where to place your holding tank and also helps solve some space restrictions.
Macerators are usually equipped with a thin one-inch hose which is smaller than the traditional three-inch pipe that you see in traditional toilets. The thinner hose allows the slurry to pass through and means less smell and low risk of nasty disasters. The sewage can also be pumped upwards so you have more flexibility where to dump the black water.
However, you will still need to empty out the holding tank just like a traditional toilet. Since the tube is smaller, it may also take longer to dump the waste and require a specific technique. In addition, if you are not careful about clearing out the holding tank, pressure can build up in the tube which can result in foul odors and an unpleasant mess.
You should also keep an eye on the process to make sure the pump isn’t running dry or blows a fuse. Plus, you should also keep in mind that a macerating toilet will demand more water than cleaning a regular toilet.
If you are not big on regularly maintaining your toilet system, then a macerating toilet may not be the best option for you. If the pump is not cleaned out on a regular basis, it might slow down over time. In addition, if a solid object gets flushed into a macerator, it will not break down and may clog your pump.
If you are running low on water, your slurry may not be flushed completely and can accumulate in the hose. Depending on how many times you go camping, you need to clean your macerating system at least once a year; otherwise, it can lead to poor performance and maintenance issues.
Since a macerating system employs additional technology, it is also more expensive than a traditional gravity toilet.
- Macerating toilets can reduce clogs caused by large waste pieces or toilet paper
- A gravity-defying toilet that allows you to install black water holding tank in alternative places
- Reduces the risk of smell or toilet reflux
- More expensive than a traditional toilet and costs more to repair
Incinerator toilets, as the name indicates, turns waste into ash. These toilets are powered by electricity and do not require water to work. They are very safe and eco-friendly since it turns black water into nothing more than cinders.
Once the waste has been deposited in the toilet bowl, all you need to do is to press a button that will drop it into the incinerating chamber. The mechanism will operate a heater and a blower that will produce over 1000 Fahrenheit of heat to get rid of all your waste.
The entire process takes about 45 to 60 minutes to complete but you can still use the toilet during the process.
The best part of using an incinerator toilet is that it allows you to dispose of waste without grossing you out. However, you will need to install a venting exhaust through the roof to get rid of the fumes and heat generated from the incinerator.
Incinerator toilets are also quite expensive systems.
- An eco-friendly way to dispose waste
- Powered by electricity or propane gas
- Does not require water
- No need for black water holding tanks
- Disposing the ash is a much cleaner and easy process
- Eliminates odors and risks of blockages and toilet reflux
- The system is quite expensive
- Requires a lot of power to work
If you are going to camp on terrain where you won’t have a lot of access to water supply or waste disposal sites, you should think of investing in composting toilets.
These toilets do not require any water to operate and store the liquid and solid waste separately. A composting material like coconut coir or sphagnum peat moss is used to break down the solid wastes and turn it into compost.
The system does not require any large holding tanks and there are no tubes that can clog. When used with care, a composting toilet will not issue any foul odors. Sometimes, however, you may smell a soil-like smell from the compost. Because of this, a composting toilet comes with a fan that moves the fumes from the bowl outside.
This is a good toilet option if there are only one or two people in the camper. However, it is not the best type of RV toilet if you are a large family since you will need to dispose of the compost a number of times.
Composting toilets are also priced at the higher end of the spectrum and you may require a learning curve in how to use it.
Although the design of a composting toilet ensures you do not have to experience the problems that come with traditional toilets, be careful to use it properly. If you do not empty the holding times on time, it can lead to a very smelly and messy situation since the waste will accumulate in the toilet system.
- Separate tanks for solid and liquid wastes
- A more eco-friendly alternative than traditional toilets
- A good option for one or two campers
- Easy to install
- Does not require plumbing since it is a waterless option
- Not practical with many people
- May be expensive to buy and install
If you want a very basic set up for your toilet that is easy to install and use, a portable camping toilet is a good option for you. This is a very convenient option as you can pretty much place it anywhere you want.
The design of the toilet is extremely simple — it is a toilet bowl attached to a holding tank. The contents of the holding tank can either be dumped into a regular gravity flush toilet or be disposed of at a designated dump station. In fact, if you are thinking of leaving your RV behind while you hike long distance, you can take your portable toilet with you.
Although these RV toilets are very convenient to use, they come with their own slew of drawbacks. One of the biggest negatives is that it does not have any tubes or compositing material so you will be able to see and smell the raw sewage. It also does not have separate holding tanks for liquid and solid wastes either so it is one big soupy mess in the holding tank, which can trigger some people’s gag reflex when emptying it.
To make matters worse, the holding tank is quite small so you will need to empty it out and clean it quite frequently.
If you are looking for something simple and convenient for a toilet and will not be grossed out, then a portable toilet is not a bad on-the-go toilet. They also use little to no water and do not need to be hooked up to plumbing or the RV.
- Very affordable
- Portable and light
- Available in water flush and dry flush options
- A good option for small groups
- You will need to buy a kit that will anchor the toilet to the RV
- Requires frequent emptying and cleaning
A cassette toilet is quite similar to a portable toilet in several ways. However, like your traditional toilets, the cassette toilet is fixed in place and cannot be relocated. To access the black water storage tank, you will need to go outside your RV and access the hatch. However, the holding tank itself is portable and can be removed from the RV. That means you can dump it into a regular toilet or at a designated site without dealing with possible spills or wide tubes.
The toilet portion of the cassette toilet system is quite similar to a gravity flush toilet and consists of a valve that controls the flow of water into the bowl. The holding tank can be removed completely from the RV and rolled to a dumping site, cleaned easily, and then replaced.
Since cassette toilets are quite large and have a higher capacity than portable or composting toilets, they are a great option for families or bigger groups of campers who want to have a more convenient way of cleaning their black water holding tanks.
However, keep in mind that a full holding tank can weigh as much as 40 pounds and may be more difficult to carry than smaller toilets.
- Comes with a removable waste tank for quick and easy dumping
- You do not have to hook it to a dumping station
- Less odors than toilets that have fixed holding tanks
- A full tank is quite heavy and waste removal may be awkward
Dry Flush RV Toilets
A dry flush RV toilet is powered by electricity and is waterless. The system is equipped with a special metallic liner or a cartridge that is used to store liquid or solid waste. Every time you dispose of the waste, the mechanism will seal the waste by tightly twisting the bag. The bottom of the toilet has a special storage compartment that stores each twisted bag.
A single cartridge is good for about 17 flushes. Once the cartridge has about two flushes left, it will show an indicator. Once the cartridge is full, it will be time for you to dispose of it with your regular garbage.
Keep in mind that these cartridges will need to be replaced after every 17 flushes so it can become a bit expensive.
However, it comes with a lot of advantages since you will not see or smell the waste in the cartridges, not even when you are emptying the tank. Another benefit is that it does not require water to flush which will extend your freshwater tank supply and eliminates the need to dump messy and smelly black water.
- Cartridges are lightweight and portable
- The flushes do not require water or hooking up with sewage outlets
- You won’t see or smell the waste in the cartridge
- Replacing the cartridges multiple times can be expensive in the long run.
- Waste bags won’t be able to be composted
Other RV Toilets
Although the above-mentionedRV toilets are the most common ones used, these toilets can also be classified based on the material used and their shape and size.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
Porcelain RV Toilets
Porcelain RV toilets are a type of gravity flush toilets that are made of porcelain. Traditionally, gravity flush toilets were made of plastic. A porcelain RV toilet is most similar to your household toilets.
The biggest benefit of porcelain RV toilets is that they are very easy to clean and maintain. Since porcelain is very smooth and slick, it prevents gunk from accumulating and can be cleaned by a single wipe.
Porcelain toilets are also very sturdy and do not warp over time. They also do not peel off or fade and hence look clean and sparkly, even after several years. However, they are also more expensive than plastic. If you have enough cash, it is a much better option to buy a porcelain RV toilet than a plastic one.
- Sturdier and more comfortable seating
- Retains its shape and does not peel or fade
- Looks very similar to a household toilet
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Is more expensive than plastic
- There are a bit on the larger size so are more suited to bigger RV bathrooms
Plastic RV Toilets
Plastic RV toilets are gravity flush toilets that are made of plastic. As such, they are more affordable than porcelain gravity flush toilets. However, plastic is not a very durable material so it may fade or peel with time. In addition, the toilet may lose its shape as well.
However, that doesn’t mean that plastic RV toilets are low-quality. Some are made of high quality material, particularly those sold by Thetford.
Aside from gravity flush toilets, all other types of toilets are made of plastic. That’s because plastic is lightweight and is more affordable and hence it is an even better choice for portable toilets. It also is not breakable so it can withstand shocks and jolts during a bumpy ride.
The biggest drawback of plastic RV toilets is that they can be difficult to clean. Human waste and dirt can stick to the surface of plastic toilets and require more water and scrubbing to dislodge, which can be inconvenient when you are on a long trip.
- Very affordable
- Is not made of fragile material
- Is a bit difficult to clean
- May require more water than a porcelain toilet to clean
Elongated RV Toilets
Elongated RV toilets are similar to traditional toilets with an oval-shaped bowl that is longer than your average bowl.
The biggest advantage of elongated RV toilets is that they allow a person a bigger seat to sit on, unlike other standard RV toilets. They are also a better option for plus-size people since they offer better distribution of weight. As such, elongated toilets offer more comfort than your average RV toilets.
However, since elongated RV toilets take up more space, they require a bigger bathroom for installation. However, if space is not a concern, it is a great idea to get these toilets for your RV.
- Offer a larger seating area
- Offer more comfort and convenience for plus-sized individuals as well as men
- More suitable for bigger RV bathrooms
Round RV Toilets
Round RV toilets are RV toilets that feature a circular bowl instead of an oval one. Most old models of RVs come with round toilets unless the owners have made some upgrades. Because of their more compact shape, a lot of people find them quite small and uncomfortable to use.
However, round RV toilets are still used in campers which have tiny bathrooms. In addition, these toilets are the most preferred types of toilets by kids. That’s because kids, due to their smaller stature, are more comfortable sitting on small round toilets. In fact, I have heard some kids voice concern that they are afraid of falling inside the toilet bowl when using a regular or elongated toilet, particularly when the RV is on the move.
In short, round RV toilets are a good choice if you have a small bathroom or if you are a family with kids. If you do not have either of these, then it is a better option to install an oval-shaped toilet.
- Can fit into tiny RV bathrooms
- Kids feel more comfortable and safer when using round toilets
- Do not make for a very comfortable bathroom experience for adults
Low Profile RV Toilets
Low profile RV toilets have a low height, typically around 14 inches. These toilets are good options for children or people with short height as they enable them to plant their feet firmly on the floor.
However, as you can probably guess, the smaller height of low-profile toilets is not ideal for adults or taller people. It is also not the best type of toilet for people with arthritis since they will have difficulty bending their knees and standing and sitting on the toilet can become very uncomfortable.
If you are installing an RV toilet, consider the height of the people who will camp in it. If it is only adults and tall people, it is better to install a standard-sized toilet.
- A good option for kids or short people
- An uncomfortable toilet for taller people and those with knee issues
High Profile RV Toilets
A high-profile toilet is the opposite of a low-profile toilet and has a seat height of 18 inches. This type of height is similar to ADA-compliant standard toilets and can offer you a lot of comfort.
High profile toilets are the ideal option for tall people, the elderly, and people who have mobility issues. These toilets are very easy to sit on and stand from and are easy on your knees.
- A good option for all people of all sizes and mobility
- Not many
What is the Best Type of RV Toilet?
There are several things to consider when buying an RV toilet, including the material used, comfort levels, ease of cleaning, shape of the toilet bowl, ease of installation, seat height, water usage, power usage, and more.
For me, the best type of RV toilet would be a high-profile elongated porcelain toilet, which would allow you to sit at an optimal height and have a bigger seat area that will provide you the maximum amount of comfort.A porcelain bowl would make cleaning and maintenance easier as well.
Figure out your camping needs and decide which RV toilets fit you the best.
About THE AUTHOR
Hi, my name is Anthony, and RVs are what I'm passionate about. I bought my first RV when I was 21, and I've been hooked ever since. I'll guide you on how they work, how they can be used in different environments, and how they fit into our everyday lives.Read More About Anthony Day