Beginning a journey to live more simply…

Saturday, September 10th, 2011:

One of the earliest decisions as we began wrapping our heads around this tiny house project was to depart from conventional plumbing and pursue a composting toilet. We decided to take this leap for two reasons in particular:

-We did not want to be tied to the demands related to proper disposal of black water, wich really limits where a tiny house can be located.

-We felt like we had a real opportunity to re-evaluate our impact with this project. While we do appreciate the luxury of conventional waste management, it really is staggering how much water is actually consumed to dispose of our waste. We had the ability to make a deliberate and conscious choice regarding our waste, and took the opportunity.

We researched many different types and brands of composting toilets, eventually landing on the Biolet 10 Standard. We like the simplicity and features of this particular model, and felt like it would be the best fit for our needs.

The installation was a bit challenging as it required venting for the composting system to work properly. We opted to vent out the bathroom wall as opposed to up and out the roof. Cutting a hole in a wall seemed a bit more manageable than through the ceiling and metal roofing, though it then required navigating a couple of 45 degree angles.

Another challenge was that the vent pipe must be insulated anywhere it is not kept warm by the interior of the house. We ended up ordering another length of exterior vent pipe as well as two of the 45 degree angle fittings from Biolet to complete our project. Otherwise, every thing we needed for this unit came with it in the box.

Thanks to Danno Frierdich, Kyle Klues, and Eric Brennan for helping with the venting of our composting toilet system!

Comments on: "Installing our Composting Toilet." (9)

  1. I’d like to know how these composting toilets do after a couple of years of heavy use– do they work well in a place lived in full time or are the really only good for occasional or weekend use? The idea is interesting!!

    • We would too, Ann! This is definitely ‘going out on a ledge’ for us, as we’ve never known anyone to use a composting toilet outside of visiting a park or campground. We’ll see!

      Thanks for your comment,
      Evan & Gabby

      • Rob Childers said:

        My Dorm in college had composting toilets. Worked fantastic and as far as I know, they are still working well 10 years later.

  2. Yes, keep us posted. I am dubious (not meaning to discourage) because I have heard many stories of people abandoning their composting toilets because of lingering ODOR. The incinerating toilets seem like just plain overkill, sucking up a ton of electricity and also making the air outside stink for awhile. The old-fashioned sawdust bucket/outhouse seems like the simplest, most SANE approach, but VERY hard to get away with unless you are hidden away from the “authorities”. I am still trying to find a place to live this way…..

  3. I applaud another convert to composting toilets but this seems extraordinarily complex to me. Not to mention expensive. And I can’t help but wonder what sort of a time you’re going to have when it comes to emptying it. I’ve read lots of reviews of similar contraptions and this appears to be the point at which these flush toilet look-alikes regularly fall out of favour. Which is an awful shame because it doesn’t have to be that way.

    We have a composting toilet, but for us it was the Joe Jenkins model (he of the Humanure Handbook and 30-odd years experience at it) that made by far and away the most sense. You can’t get much simpler than a toilet seat over a bucket after all. After 2 years with this method, I can say it’s pleasant to use, no hassle and not in the least unpleasant to empty, venting is unnecessary since there’s no odour, it adapts readily to heavy use (ie. large numbers of visitors as well as our full-time use) and the compost we’re making (humanure + sawdust mixed with kitchen peelings and garden trimmings) is doing wonders in the garden.

    I hope you have a good experience with this toilet, but if you don’t then please don’t give up on composting toilets!

    • Thank you for your encouragement and insight Wendy. We do hope the complex hype and price will hold up to the promises made. We’re holding our breath at the moment.

      If things do go south and we do not have the experience we are hoping for, then the Humanure Handbook is the very next place we’ll look. Thanks for the suggestion!

      Evan & Gabby

  4. This is great and I’m a little envious. (Well, more than a little…)

    I’ve known several people (and a monastery) who’ve had this kind of composting toilet for years. Most had no problems, and were able to eventually use the compost on ornamentals (one in their orchard). One had problems with odors because they installed the vent incorrectly. Another had problems because of too much liquid. Both corrected the problems and had no other issues with the toilets.

    I once talked to a crew of people who took care of the composting toilets installed at rest areas along some of the highways in the western state where I lived. They all said the toilets were easier to take care of than flush toilets in rest areas, and that the only real problem they had was ignorant people puttign things down the holes that they shouldn’t (in spite of the signs asking them not too).

    I’d love to have a composting toilet, but now live in a little New England village house on a tiny lot. But the town allows them in rural areas. Lot of people entirely off the grid here.

    Good luck– great project.

    • Thanks Dayle. Sure hope we got the venting right. We know that really impacts the overall effectiveness. We’ve also heard about too much liquid as a potential problem, so we’ll be looking forward to the trial and error stages of figuring out how to properly use this thing…

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Evan & Gabby

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