2021 update: for the most relevant and recent information, please check out our Caravan Toilet Buyer's Guide here.
While it’s no longer very hard to find a caravan park with at least basic pit toilets in place, having a reliable toilet inside your caravan obviously gives you much more freedom (and peace of mind). People new to the caravanning scene are often at a loss about which type of toilet to pick. And that’s understandable, going by the huge – and confusing – variety of products on the market.
But it doesn’t have to be all that confusing. Let’s look at the pros and cons of some common types of caravan toilets.
Informally referred to as the ‘porta-potty’, this is by far the most commonly used caravan toilet out there. It sports a simple, 2-part design, one part being the seat and flush tank, and the other being the waste holding tank underneath. These two components are separable, allowing you to remove the holding tank from time to time and empty it at a waste disposal point. The flushing mechanism is the familiar piston variety, and uses water from the tank. The system doesn’t need plumbing.
Choose a portable toilet if you’re looking for a basic, inexpensive, low-maintenance solution. The porta-potty needs no plumbing or electricity, and is compact enough to fit into any size of caravan or trailer. When not in use, it can be conveniently locked away in a cupboard. In terms of everyday maintenance, it only needs 2 types of chemicals, one that goes in the flush tank for lubrication and hygiene reasons, and the other that liquefies waste and prevents foul odours in the holding tank. The only downside to it is a typically low seat, which some users might find inconvenient.
A step-up from the portable toilet in terms of technology, the cassette toilet moves the waste holding tank outside your caravan. While the design essentially remains the same – a 2-compartment setup – and so do the chemicals you’ll need to use, this caravan toilet adds a whole lot of convenience to the equation. Emptying the cassette is much simpler for starters. And these toilets also come with a variety of other perks, depending on the price you’re willing to pay. These include electric flushing systems and swivel seats that are very useful in smaller caravans.
Choose a cassette toilet if convenience is your main priority. The cassette being accessible from outside your caravan, keeps the waste completely separate from the indoor unit, besides being easy to empty. This variety is much more expensive than the portable toilet though, especially with the additional perks we just mentioned. Another thing to consider is that cassette toilets are dependent on your caravan’s design, and adding one to an existing caravan might be a bit of a challenge in terms of space (interior and exterior), plumbing and electrical wiring.
The greenest caravan toilet out there, this does pretty much what the name suggests – turns your solid waste into compost that you can then use as fertilizer. A composting toilet also uses minimal water, making it ideal for use on the road. What it does need a little more of is ventilation, in order to be able to complete the composting process.
Choose a composting toilet if you’re environmentally conscious and/or wish to conserve as much water as possible. You also get to conserve effort, since the composting toilet needs minimal plumbing. Plus, because it doesn’t store waste in liquid form, it’s odourless, lightweight, and eliminates your dependence on waste disposal points. Of course, these benefits don’t come cheap, nor are they in tune with everybody’s preferences. Also, if you’re travelling with the family, do keep in mind that composting toilets are a little taller than the other varieties, so small children might find them difficult to use.
As you can see, there’s no need to fret over prospective caravan toilets. There’s a variety that’s tailored to your specific preferences and budget constraints. Just make sure that you factor in the number of people who’ll be using the caravan, so as to be able to select the right size.