So You Wanna Go Tiny? Let’s Talk Toilets!

When catching up with tiny house builders across the country, they all agree on one thing: They talk about toilets…a lot!

Why Are Toilets Such A Big Deal?

When building a traditional home, toilets are pretty much basic outside of fancy upgrades like a dual flushing. When you are talking about a build that allows your house to move around, you have to consider all of the options for plumbing since many aren’t connected to traditional water and sewer/septic. This can also come with a hefty price tag so, in the tiny house world, toilets are actually considered a luxury item for many interested in saving space and saving money.

Things to Consider

  • Cost: Handmade composting toilets can be built for under $50, while some other types can cost up to $3500. Your budget can be seriously impacted by your choice of commode, so choose wisely.
  • Odor: Many people worry hard about how their toilet might smell, depending on what type they choose. Do your research. Composting toilets, if maintained correctly, shouldn’t smell. Incinerating toilets have their own smell. You have to choose how important this is to your quality of life.
  • Emptying Options: Make sure you have someone living in your tiny who is comfortable emptying the waste, whether it is being drained outside or taken to the compost pile. If not, choose traditional flushing and have plans for plumbing and sewer hook ups.
  • Space: Depending on your choice and brand, some toilets can be large since they hold the waste in a self-contained tank. Other options can be built to suit or can be moveable within your bathroom space. This should be a priority consideration when building a home under 400 square feet.

What Are Your Options?

1, Homemade Composting- This is the least expensive option and the easiest to maintain, however it is the one that freaks people out the most. For this, you can use anything from a bucket with a foam seat to building a box set up with a traditional toilet seat and use pine shavings to cover odor. A urine diverter will help with smell and when you empty the waste.

2. Working/Active Composting- This is a more pricey choice, but it has minimal upkeep and thus is a very popular choice among most tiny home builders. You can get one that is self-contained, or remote. Self contained are larger because they contain the waste in the bottom of the toilet, while remotes hold the waste in a separate location-typically outside or underneath the THOW.

3. Incinerator- Another pricey investment, but with no worries of emptying compost, this toilet type burns the waste into an ash deposit. That being said, this does come with its own odor and can require a significant amount of energy to run.

4. Traditional Flushing- This is just like what anyone is used to but it does require a full time hook up to sewage or septic. So, for THOWs, it really isn’t an option.

5. RV Toilet- It is what it sounds like. For this option, you will need a holding tank and a place to brain it when it fills up. It does use minimal water per flush but you will need to consider special toilet paper so it breaks down fast in your holding tank.

6. Dry Toilet- Another option to allow you to live off grid and without the requirement of plumbing, this type of toilet uses cartridges filled with silver liners that, when flushed, wraps the waste SUPER tight to prevent odor from escaping. Once the liners are full, you simply empty them out and replace the cartridge. These toilets are cheaper to install, but the liners are a maintenance cost to consider.

What Do We Use?

Since we are currently living in a 36 foot fifth wheel while saving to build, we use a traditional RV toilet. We really appreciate the water conservation aspect and we use a draining service for a separate large holding tank (500 gallons) when parked. This allows us to drain our tanks while we are on the road but also have a constant system when we are parked for longer periods of time.

What Do We Recommend?

Nature’s Head Active Composting Toilet This is one of the most popularly installed toilets for tiny home builders across the U.S. because they are more affordable than other brands/types and easy to maintain. While some models can rung in closer to $1200, this one won’t break the bank during your build at $975.

Brynn Burger lives tiny, loves big, and laughs always. Writing with honest hilarity and violent vulnerability about parenting, adulting, downsizing, living tiny, and raising an extreme child is her attempt to escape the painful isolation that comes from a life of hiding to instead connect with people who are raw and real. Check her out at www.themamaontherocks.com.

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