The first piece of permanent furnishings to be installed is a toilet.  It’s probably a little strange to start with the toilet, but since the build-out of Blanche is a fairly slow process and we wanted to move in ASAP, we had to choose which parts were most important for us to be comfortable, and the toilet was one of them.  We chose to go with a composting toilet because, well, there’s really no reason NOT to go with a composting toilet.  There are a few options for compost toilets, including just using a bucket, but we decided to go with a more “traditional looking” manufactured unit, the Nature’s Head.

Composting Toilet installed

Among the many reasons to put insulation and plywood on the floor, we wanted to have a surface we could anchor furnishings to without turning the metal van floor into swiss cheese.  The Nature’s Head composting toilet only requires two L-brackets screwed to the floor for anchoring.  A few screws into the 3/4″ plywood will hold the toilet down nicely.  However, we decided to keep the carpet-padding-lined cargo mat on top of the plywood, so we cut a few small slits in the cargo mat for the L-brackets to slip through.  Then, like dominoes, we immediately had another problem; the holes in the L-brackets didn’t line up to the screw holes in the toilet because the carpet-padding-lined cargo mat is about 1/2″ thick.  To solve this, we simply cut out the padding directly beneath the toilet base.  We didn’t want to remove the rubber mat piece because it’s purpose is to help keep any spills (of anything, not just bathroom related) contained and is easier to clean than wet plywood or foam.  This worked perfect.

Padding under rubber mat removed, L-brackets

The L-brackets are screwed to the plywood floor. The carpet padding was removed from the cargo mat directly below the toilet base so the mounting holes still line up.

The beauty of a composting toilet is that there’s really no plumbing.  The only “plumbing” we have to run is a flexible exhaust gas hose to the outside.  There is a single tiny fan that blows fresh air into the composting chamber and this hose lets “smelly” air out.  While I say “smelly”, it really isn’t.  It smells like dirt.  Just dirt.  Not sewage.

I didn’t want a 1.5″ hole in the side of the van, nor did I want a large hole in the floor.  The best place to cut a large hole happened to be the fuel fill housing.  The housing is right next to the toilet, but what makes this even better is that it is concealed from the outside and raised up from the floor so as to protect it from intrusion (like water, road debris, etc).  The hose is just secured with silicone.

Exhaust vent plumbed into the fuel fill housing.

Exhaust vent plumbed into the fuel fill housing.

In case you’re thinking that bugs might be attracted to the exhaust hose, we thought that too.  So we glued a mesh screen to the outlet to help keep them out.

From under the van, you can see the fuel fill hose and the composting toilet exhaust hose with mesh screen.

From under the van, you can see the fuel fill hose and the composting toilet exhaust hose with mesh screen.

From here, the rest of the installation is easy.  Just set the toilet in place and screw two knobs in to the sides of the toilet through the L-brackets.

Composting Toilet installed

The toilet is set in place, almost done!

 

One of the two thumb knobs that secures the toilet.

One of the two thumb knobs that secures the toilet.

Lastly (almost), just slip the other end of the exhaust hose onto the exhaust port of the toilet.

Exhaust hose connection.

Exhaust hose connection.

The final step of installation would be to connect the electrical wires to power the small fan for circulating air in the compost bin.  We have not yet done this since we don’t have an electrical system of any sort set up.  As of writing this, the toilet has been in use full time for nearly two months, even without the fan running.  There are no unpleasant smells.  The only smell is of freshly tilled dirt.  The dirt smell will probably be even less noticeable once we get the fan wired up.

We are extremely pleased with the Nature’s Head composting toilet and recommend it to everybody.  The compost toilet does not smell, it does not use water, it does not use chemicals, and is very low maintenance.  This toilet is great for any setting!