As the years go by I realize my cottage septic system is probably going to have to be replaced at some point. The septic tank has been in the ground for I don’t know how many years, but enough to always be in the back of my mind.
Of course these days with environmental concerns, replacing a septic tank and system is not something to be taken lightly. It’s also not something to be done cheaply. The rules and regulations, approvals, permits for septic tank installation are fairly intense depending on your situation, lot size and proximity to a watercourse.
Because of the potential cost of installing a septic system, a composting toilet at the cottage could be an inexpensive alternative.
Composting toilets are not cheap either, but compared to the cost of a new septic tank, digging a new septic field, and the related permits etc that go with it, and all of a sudden a self contained composting toilet becomes more of a viable option.
The composting toilet technology has come a long way, which also adds to the attractiveness of these septic options.
For those of you not aware of these wonderful little inventions, compost toilets are idea for cottages, homes, pool cabanas, barns, RV’s, work shops and more.
Composting toilets reduce and recycle waste into clean, dry compost that is is emptied about once a season depending on the use. They are clean, sanitary and odor free.
There are various types of composting toilets, including self contained toilets and others that have a storage tank under the cottage.
Composting toilets either run on electricity or can be turned manually. “Turning” refers to turning an auger to mix up the effuent, hastening the drying process.
I think an electric composting toilet is the way to go, although at the cottage I would be considering one that can be turned manually as well.
Obviously the compost toilets that empty into a container under the camp take up much less space in the camp and are worth a second look.
But if you have the space in your bathroom, the Envirolet MS10 Waterless Self-Contained Composting Toilet is a very efficient system, ideal for ground level installations provided you have electric power. What’s more, this toilet can handle 6 people per day for full time use and 8 people per day at the cottage for vacation use.
There are also models composting toilets that don’t require electricity, instead they use wind power to run a turbine, or you can purchase a hand crank model, that you periodically turn by hand yourself. I am drawn to these ideas because I like the idea of not being dependent on electricity.
I believe composting toilets are the future, especially for cottages built near lakes and rivers and have many advantages, especially for the cottager.
For example, no need of a septic tank, and many of the models can be used year round, including during freezing winter temperatures.
One thing I wouldn’t miss is the digging up the septic tank to have it pumped out periodically. Not only is it hard work, the damm smell stays with me for weeks. With a composting toilet the only time I might have to pick up a shovel is to mix the compost into the garden. Gotta like that.
There are three types of composting toilets:
1) waterless self contained
2) waterless remote
3) low water remote
The Envirolet Basic Plus Waterless Self-Contained Composting Toilet (Non-Electric), White simply means that the entire toilet and composting system is contained in one unit which is the toilet itself. These are great for places with no basement or a low ground clearance under the cottage.
The Envirolet Waterless Remote Composting Toilet System (120v Electric) means that the composter unit is located under the building or in the basement, even outside against a wall. These are ideal for smaller bathrooms or if you want to have the toilet look very much like a conventional toilet. I would say these are a little more designer friendly. Provided you have the space outside or underneath the building for the compost unit.
The Envirolet Low Water Remote Composting Toilet System (120v Electric) uses approximately a pint of water per flush and has the composter located underneath the building. They look and act a little like a conventional toilet. Again, these are a little more designer friendly and take up less space in the bathroom.
The other thing to consider before purchasing a composting toilet is how many people will be using the unit. Don’t try to scrimp and save a few bucks buying one that is not big enough for your needs, remember, even if it is only occasionally, you do have the odd party or group of friends at the cottage, so adequate toilet size is a consideration.
Composting toilets require a bit of periodic maintenance, but from what I have read it is minimal and probably not near the trouble of pumping out a septic tank every few years. I am particularly interested in the non electric variety, which appeals to me because of the ‘off the grid’ mentality I have been developing these days.
If you want to know more about cottage toilets, and composting toilets, this book might help, it’s called the Composting Toilet System Book: A Practical Guide to Choosing, Planning and Maintaining Composting Toilet Systems
© 2008 – 2012, Rob Dares. All rights reserved. Cottager Online/The Cottage Chronicles / Rob Dares material is copyrighted, please contact me if you wish to inquire about reposting etc All prices quoted for products are subject to change, customer is responsible to confirm price with seller.