Skip to main content
Saturday June 29, 2024

Talking Toilets: A Campervan User’s Guide

5 minutes well spent

Written by John Broderick
Campervan Toilet

What are the Different Types of Campervan Toilets?

You might not consider talking about toilets to be the most glamorous thing in the world – but as every traveller knows, the loo is a very important subject! Ensuring you have a fully functioning campervan toilet is absolutely crucial for the success of any holiday, short break or road trip – especially if you’re thinking about traveling long distances. No-one likes getting caught short!

Though many new campervans feature many mod cons and come with an onboard toilet, this is not necessarily always the case – and so in this edition of our blog we’ll explain the different types of toilet available for campervan users.

1. Cassette Toilets

If you’re heading out in a UK-manufactured campervan, the chances are that you’ll encounter a cassette toilet. This is the most popular for most van owners, as the cassette toilet has a familiar design which is similar to the toilet you would find back at home. Cassette toilets are usually permanent fixtures, made from heavy-duty plastic, with some models even including a swivel feature so that they can be better fit into compact or uniquely shaped wetrooms in campervans. They function as holding tanks for waste until it’s time to empty them, and they use chemicals to break down waste and control odours.

The process of emptying a cassette toilet is relatively easy. It’s very important to dispose of the ‘black waste’ stored within the toilet tank carefully and safely. The waste tank itself can be accessed through a service door on the exterior of the van, removed and emptied (at an appropriately designated waste disposal station). You are likely to find black waste disposal points at campsites, or CDPs (Chemical Disposal Points). If you’ve only been on a relatively short run, you can empty the waste into your home’s sewage system or a public toilet. Under no circumstances should you empty black waste at the roadside or into other drains.

  • Capacity: Most cassette toilets have a waste tank capacity ranging between 10 and 20 litres, which generally needs emptying every few days.
  • Indicators: Some modern cassette toilets are equipped with an indicator light that will alert you when the tank is nearly full.
  • Odour: Cassette toilets are designed with tight seals and ventilation systems to minimise any unpleasant odours, ensuring a nicer van environment.
  • Winter: Some cassette toilets have insulation options which prevent freezing in colder weather, making them suitable for all-year use.
  • Eco-friendly: You can use environmentally friendly chemicals that work efficiently in breaking down black waste and are less harmful to the environment.

2. Gravity Flush Toilets

Often closely resembling cassette toilets, gravity flush toilets operate with a foot pedal. When you press it, the waste is flushed out of the bowl and into a holding tank directly beneath. Some gravity flush models include a cistern that draws water from the onboard water tank and uses it for flushing. This is more common in motorhomes which have gravity flush toilet but can also be found in some campervans. The gravity flush toilet tank is emptied using a hose, making waste disposal straightforward and efficient.

  • Durability: Gravity flush toilets are usually constructed from robust materials such as high-quality plastic, ensuring their longevity and ease of cleaning.
  • Water: These toilets conserve onboard water supplies as they are designed to use minimal water per flush, so they can be a great option if you are eco-friendly.
  • Capacity: The holding tanks of gravity flush toilet systems often have a large capacity, allowing for extended use before needing to be emptied.
  • Odour: Advanced gravity flush models often come with integrated ventilation systems and sealed tanks to control odours effectively, so your van interior should be free from unpleasant smells.
  • Maintenance: To prevent leaks and other malfunctions, gravity toilets should be maintained by checking seals, cleaning the bowl and ensuring the foot pedal mechanism works smoothly.

3. Portable Toilets

Another option for campervan travellers is a portable toilet, sometimes referred to as a ‘porta potty’.  Although this type of toilet might give you flashbacks to when you were a toddler, or when you were a parent of a toddler learning to use the toilet, it is actually a very quick, easy and efficient way to manage lavatory waste. Portable toilets are lightweight, which means they’re absolutely ideal for holidays and long weekends, especially if you’re traveling in a small group.

  • Easy: Portable toilets are designed for absolute simplicity, with a detachable waste tank that can be easily removed and emptied (at appropriate disposal points).
  • Space-saving: A compact size makes portable loos ideal for campervans with limited space. They can be stored very easily when not in use and put to use quickly when needed.
  • Capacity: The waste tank capacity varies but is generally between 10 to 20 litres. Some models feature a level indicator to show when the tank is nearly full.
  • Odour: Many portable toilets include built-in seals and ventilation to control odours. Using biodegradable chemicals in the holding tank can also reduce smells.
  • Versatility: Apart from in your campervan, you could also use your portable toilet in a boat or on a tent camping holiday – and even at home if there is a plumbing emergency!

4. Composting Toilets

Avoiding the hassle of finding waste disposal sites is a possibility if you have a composting toilet. Although rare, this type of toilet provides a great way to manage your waste. Composting toilets operate by separating liquid waste from solid waste and storing it in different tanks or bottles. Solids are collected in a larger tank, typically lined with a substrate of natural materials (chopped straw, sawdust or even coconut fibre) to neutralise odours.

Composting toilets use a minimal amount of water. They don’t need to be plumbed into your campervan’s system, so offer greater flexibility. However, you will need to rotate (i.e. replace) the compost chamber frequently so that proper decomposition of the waste materials can take place. The disposal of waste from composting toilets is straightforward. Liquid can be poured into a public toilet or dispersed in the wild, away from drains and water sources, while solids can be bagged and placed in a compost bin.

  • Eco-friendly: Composting toilets are environmentally friendly, reducing water usage and turning waste into compost that can benefit the environment.
  • Versatility: They are suitable for campervans but can be used in other scenarios – in motorhomes, on boats and at off-grid cabins.
  • Power: Some models of composting toilet come with a fan to improve ventilation and speed up composting. This require minimal power.
  • Maintenance: To ensure the efficiency of a composting toilet, it’s important to regularly add composting materials, turn the compost and occasionally clean the liquid tank.
  • Space-saving: Composting toilets are often quite compact, which means they can be a space-efficient choice for smaller vehicles.

Now that you know you can get the right toilet and ‘go’, it’s time to go! Get out on the road in one of the many wonderful new or used campervans available at Don Amott. Browse our website or give us a call to arrange an appointment to come and visit.