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Composting Toilet Types: Remote and Self-Contained Units Compared


Recently, more and more people have become interested in installing a compost toilet in their home. Compost toilets have many environmental and financial advantages: they help conserve water, they help reduce the possibility of sewage or groundwater pollution, they eliminate the costs associated with maintaining sewers and septic systems, and their end product is actually beneficial for the environment (compost) instead of polluting.

However, if you are shopping for a composting toilet, you may be a bit confused by the selection and the different models currently available. There are literally dozens of compost toilet manufacturers offering a variety of different types and features on composting toilets to choose from. However, there are two basic different types of composting toilets that you must choose between: self-contained or split (also known as “remote”).

Self-contained compost toilets are ideal for small homes and spaces. They are quite easy to install and are often ready to go right out of the box. There are both electric and non-electric versions that you can purchase. Electric versions usually have a fan that helps maintain the correct moisture density within the composting chamber. They also tend to be cheaper than the split composting toilet models.

Some of the down-sides of self-contained models include the small number of individuals they can adequately serve – most models cannot handle more than two people, and some may only be suitable for one individual to use on a daily basis. They may also appear a bit bulky, and many models are quite tall and require a foot stool for use. Some consumers find them more difficult to maintain as well, since the smaller size requires more frequent monitoring to make sure the compost stays in balance.

Split, or remote, composting toilets are the best choice if you will be having multiple individuals using the toilet on a daily basis. With a spit model, the composting chamber will be located in a different part of the house (usually directly beneath the toilet in a basement area) and many models look very similar to a regular flush toilet.

Split compost toilets generally are more expensive than self-contained models and require additional installation and plumbing costs. You also need adequate space and an appropriate space to install these units in your house. However, when you factor in the savings you will have in water costs and sewage or septic system maintenance costs, these units should still be a good economical choice.

In sum, by taking into careful consideration the number of people who will be using the composting toilet and the space available in your house, you should be able to find a composting toilet that works well for you and is the right choice for the environment as well. Just watch this clip of a National Geographic special about composting toilets to learn more about the importance of composting toilets to our environment and the world.

Bill Boor has written numerous articles about composting toilet systems and portable composting toilets.

Outdoor Portable Composting Toilet Systems

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Composting Toilet Systems: What You Need to Know

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Common Problems with Manufactured Composting Toilets

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Frequently Asked Questions about Composting Toilets

If you are just learning about composting toilets, or have an interest in purchasing one for your home, cabin, boat or RV, you are likely to have many questions. Below you will find links to articles from this website answering some of the most common questions I have encountered regarding composting toilets.  (If you are … Continue reading