After a long debate with myself and much research. I had contacted the guy at Nature’s Head New Zealand to get confirmation that the composting toilet they provide, meets NZ regulations. He could not do this although did think it would become compliant soon. The project was put on hold, as I needed Self Containment to enable me to go free camping. The current set up did meet the regulations but the porta potty was less than ideal. Obviously, the use of external resources is the preferred option, public toilets or campground toilets but these are not always available. Now dumping the grey water from the bus is no big deal, connect the pipe open the tap and rinse when finished but the porta potty was not the best of options. If you don’t empty it often it cn get quiet heavy and then it is awkward to handle at the dump station. Rinsing it out and washing the whole thing down takes time and then, for convenience, it needs to be out and not stored. You cannot travel with it unless it is stored so every time you move it has to be put away and then once parked unpacked. On the road, if you stop for a coffee or a rest stop then un pack and re pack. Not Ideal.
As noted in an earlier post I did get my Self-containment cert. Last week the guy from Nature’s Head sent me a mail to say that they had now got approval and their units where compliant. Back to the research and I decided to take the plunge. I ordered the unit and it came two days later.
Composting toilets. There are a few brands on the market all much of a muchness. The principle seems to keep the liquids away from the solids. If, this can be done, then the solid matter with the aid of a growing medium will decompose very quickly in to what effectively is soil. The right environment, must be maintained and this is done using moss or coconut fibre. This must be moist but not wet and in the case of the Nature’s Head, agitated with a paddle mechanism at each sitting so to speak. The liquid element of the process is collected separately and disposed of, in my case at a convenient dump station or public loo or for the real Greenies can be turned in to Urea. There is a whole network of people with different ways to do this from simply using it diluted and pouring it directly on your garden, to drying it in shallow trays and making crystals. I’ll stick to pouring it down the loo for now.
Installation is simple, or should be simple. The whole thing comes assembled in a box and it is just a case of lifting it out of the box and in to position. Mark a couple of holes on the intended site and drill, screw or bolt the brackets down, Lift the unit on to the brackets and tighten the thumb screws.
A vent is required and a small 12v dc fan is built in the seat to maintain a negative pressure in the collecting bin.
This is where the problem start. I have installed mine in the existing shower cubical. It took several dummy runs to find the best location or orientation so that the shower could still be used and there was enough legroom to use the toilet and as the top seat needs to be lifted to gain access to the liquids bottle, it had to be far enough away from the sides to allow this.
Next problem. The shower tray is stainless steel, although not very thick, drilling stainless is not that easy. Anyway done that and with a dollop of silicon on the screws so should be water tight.
Now we have to find a 12v DC feed and get it in to the shower. The power cord that comes is 6 feet. My nearest 12 volt light was 8 feet away. Bit of splicing and a few discreet holes in the wall and inside the cupboards and we have power. I still need to conceal the wire in conduit , I need a metre and the sell it in 4 meter lengths.
Now comes the vent. I could do away with the power to the fan unit if I bought a solar vent rom the caravan shop. This would replace the little (noisy) fan with a domed vent, which incorporates a fan, rechargeable batteries and a small solar panel. I may still go for this option but I needed to get on with the job. They do not supply a vent as in their words “there are so many possible option it would not be practical”. They do supply a flexi hose that slips on to the fan housing and an adaptor that will glue or if drilled, screw to the inside wall of my shower. Of course the good old USA are still running on feet and inches so I am still searching to find plastic pipe or an adaptor so I can join standard 32 mm Marley pipe to 1’’ and a ¼ moulding on the unit. Fortunately it is only for ventilation so does not have to be water or gas tight. Duct tape may be used!
A few things that may improve the unit. Not a lot needed but it’s typical USA engineering, verywell made, over engineered and not very cleaver. So if the base brackets were slotted then the holding down/thumb screws could just be slackened off so as to lift the unit out instead of havig to remove them and the washers completely. The corned of the said brackets need rounding off, why leave sharp corners. The clear plastic flexible vent hose comes assembled with the push on ends glued in to place. These would be better loose, the hose could be cut to a suitable length and the push on ends glued on after. There is a screw cap for the urine bottle that should be fitted to the bottle prior to lifting it out of the holder for emptying. A small receptacle or clip so the screw top can be stored close at hand. I will also fit some none-slip matting under the unit. This is just to give a resilient interface between the bottom of the toilet and the SS shower tray.
Once I had decided on the composting toilet I had to do some work on the shower cubical its self. The original design had the water coming in at eye level through one wall with the showerhead and clip on the opposite wall. This meant the shower hose hung across the cubical. I have no idea why it was like this and can still see no reason or benefit. A new showerhead and hose was installed.
The shower had two doors which swung inwards and were fastened closed when traveling or when showering. Getting in and out of the shower with one door in the closed position was difficult but trying to fasten the doors once in the shower was not easy either. Solution. A roller blind. Yet to see how this works in practice but it just rolls up out of the way for traveling and can be lowered for showering and using the loo. It is dark when it is down so I have put a battery operated, motion operated LED in there. I may have to replace the fabric of the blind with something waterproof although it is really there just to stop the shower water from escaping in to the bedroom.
Will do a follow up on the vent and the composting medium once I have that sorted. Guess it has taken me about 4 days to complete but this is mainly due to time spent sourcing material and tools. I would think the whole thing could be done in 3 or 4 hours if everything was to hand.