Toilet Options for Tiny House Rentals
The Lovable Loo
- Pros: Cheap- from a cost perspective, it’s a very inexpensive option. Easy to use- just do your thang and cover it with a scoop of your cover material. It’s small and can fit almost anywhere. It doesn’t require plumbing or installation of any kind. Done right, it supposedly doesn’t stink. You can also improve the smell situation by diverting the liquids with a urine diverter.
- Cons: Guest acceptance. Having used the Dry Flush toilet (discussed below) for over a year with various levels of guest acceptance, I can ASSURE you this option will not fly with most potential guests. Maintenance with this could get gross. In the traditional use of this method you just wait for the bucket to fill, then place it somewhere it can compost peacefully for 3+ years. Guests aren’t going to be willing to use a bucket left over from another guest, so you’re going to need a fresh bucket for every reservation, and then you’re going to have to find a place to set them. If you live in an urban environment, this will get you a health & safety violation REAL quick.
The Dry Flush
- Pros: It’s small, and portable. It doesn’t require any plumbing, just plop it down and use it. We actually kept ours for when we finally get that tear drop camper we’re dreaming of because it can operate from a rechargeable battery.It doesn’t use any water, which is important from an eco-friendly perspective. The toilet experience is mostly similar to the standard toilet experience, it just differs once you get to the flushing and maintenance part.
- Cons: Costly to use. Each flush costs about $1, and sometimes guests want to “flush” just to see it go. The bags are also not biodegradable, though they’re apparently trying to develop a biodegradable bag. It’s high-maintenance from the host’s perspective. Each insert will get you about 2 days for two people. A reservation for 4 needs an insert every day. That means as a host you need to be constantly thinking about that bag. Also, since the urine seeps up after the flush (because when the bag wraps around the waste, it can only keep the solids confined in the space-age bag, not the liquids) guests tend to use a TON of toilet paper to cover and absorb the liquid, adding to the expense of the toilet.
The Composting Toilet (Natures Head, Separett)
- Pros: Guests are generally pretty chill about the experience. The composting bags are comparatively inexpensive AND they’re biodegradable. It doesn’t require water. Can run off solar. Generally only needs to be maintained between stays or every 3-4 days for longer stays. Mostly odorless (except when changing the bag).
- Cons: Requires plumbing and installation. They’re comparatively expensive (~$1,000+). Requires some maintenance in that you have to change the bag between each stay (with the Separett). Requires “educating” the guests on how to use it appropriately so that they don’t create a mess. Requires electricity of some sort, whether it’s solar or otherwise.
- Pros: The closest experience to the familiar American potty experience. They are clean, compact in size, and easy for guests to use.
- Cons: It uses potable water and creates blackwater when used. You then need to figure out what to do with the blackwater, which most often gets held in a “blackwater holding tank” that needs to be pumped, flushed, etc. every so often, which is an odorous experience for everyone involved, including the neighbors, which won’t win you any points.
- Pros (from their site): waterless, no chemicals, no odors, large capacity, minimal maintenance, kills harmful bacteria, power versatility, simple to install, small and light weight, functional in freezing climates, environmentally friendly.
- Cons: Since I’ve never used one and the website obviously doesn’t list out the downsides of their product, I can’t really tell you ALL of the cons but I can tell you that it’s expensive, it’s not battle tested as far as I can tell, and from everything I read it seems to be an overpriced cat box with a heat lamp and fan that is designed for people.
These are available in electric (Incinolet) or propane (Scanlet or Storburn). They use a ton of electricity (about 20amps) but they incinerate waste down to ash. You’re supposed to empty the bowl of ash about 1-2 times a week, depending on usage.
- Pros: There’s no water and a very small amount of waste. You don’t need to add any plumbing to the house in order to deal with the waste so it’s completely self-sufficient.
- Cons: The first downside is the price point. These things will run you about $2,000. They also use a ton of energy, which is a problem if you’re trying to minimize your utilities or want to go off-grid by using a technology like solar. The worst part, however, is the smell. Please don’t let ANYONE tell you these things don’t stink. There is case study after case study of tiny house dwellers having to rip out their incinerator toilets and find an alternative because of the smell. I mean, would you expect burning poop to be odorless?