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Discussion Starter #1
Looking for people with experience with porta potty in their van. Planning to sit mine to the side of the shower, just like the combo shower/toilet. Like the small size and small price. Thinking of the mid size Thetford. Will build platform for comfortable height. The thing will not be used heavily (occasional midnight pee runs). Planning to put pull out wardrobe above that will slide out to side to make room for person. Am I asking for odor problems? Any comments / suggestions welcome.
 

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I used to own a Roadtrek with the shower, toilet, black water, and gray water tank. I swore my next van would only have a porta potti, as emptying the black tank was a huge and disgusting hassle. I was a grump for 10 minutes before and after the dump procedure. In 4 years of ownership, the connection from tank to hose broke twice, requiring that I mess with a sewage hose while on the road. I LOVE our porta potti. I'd never go back to a built-in toilet with black water tank. It is easy to remove the porta potti, empty it in a toilet, pit toilet, or at home. We also only pee in ours, generally at night, and my spouse disposes of the small amount of TP she uses rather than putting it in the tank. We don't have to empty it often. The use of chemicals removes any odor. A tip--we also have the midsize Thetford. Don't bother to fill the top (water) tank all the way, as that adds a lot of weight, and empty the bottom before it fills up that much. The top holds 3 or 3.5 gallons, which gets heavy to move about. If you are only urinating in the toilet, you need to use very little water. Every time I drive past the dump station, I smile. I really hated the Roadtrek dumping system. Standing and sometimes kneeling in the space where everyone dumped their waste, and there was no antiseptic treatment--unpleasant, always. The porta potti is simpler to use, easier to empty, and more flexible in terms of where you can empty it. Plus, if it breaks--well, you can replace it for about $120. Try repairing the black water system at that price.

We designed ours so that the porta potti sits at the front of our coat closet. It is easy to push the hanging clothes aside; at night we unhook them and put them in front, since we usually reserve the porta potti for night use. (By the way, your potti and the stuff around it will stay cleaner if males are trained to pee sitting down. Just sayin'. I don't feel any less a man for sitting down!)

Do be sure you have some system of strapping the potti in place so it does not turn into a missile (even inside your shower area) if/when you stop short or someone rear-ends you.

RE: Showers> We had purchased our Roadtrek in part because of the shower, but in practice we never used the shower. We have had a few times when we wished we had a shower, but for the most part, we haven't needed one the way we thought we would--and we tend to be daily shower-takers at home. Many state and county campgrounds have showers; there is usually a pay shower outside of National Parks; and with the high-roof Promaster, it is possible to do a sponge bath of sorts inside. We do plan to work on an outdoor shower rig, but it is far down the line of our list of improvements. We've been out 5 weeks since mid-January and there was only one day where we both wished for a shower. We were able to find a spot with one the next day.
 

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2014-159 HR in CT
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I would highly recommend the Thetford Curve.

Ours, conveniently located across from the fridge at the back of the van, has worked out very well on our trips.



This particular model has the advantages that...
1) it's home toilet height, no need for a step under it
2) it's electric fill... fancy! You fill with a pushbutton, flush with a lever on the side.
3) for an additional $20 or so you can get a baseplate that attaches to the floor and the toilet clips in place... easy to undo to take apart and dump, but very solid when clipped in. ON ours, I made an L bracket bolted to the wheel well because I didn't want to make holes in the floor!
4) built in toilet paper holder on the side

The clean water tank top is a bit loose, but as long as you don't fill the tank to the top, it won't spill any water (ask me how I know!)

We use Coleman deodorant because the Thetford stuff that came with it smelled like a dirty gas station mens room.... the Coleman stuff smells nicer out of the bottle and we have never smelled the toilet on our trips, even when the van got to 100 degrees plus in a few parking lots.
 

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2014, 138WB, High Roof, Gas, SW MT
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Hi,
We had a Coachman van conversion that started with a conventional RV toilet with a black water tank. We ended up completely redoing the interior of that van and had to go to a portapotty because of the interior rearrangement. I never liked the black water tank toilet -- a pain to empty it and to find the dump stations. The porta potty was relatively easy to empty and lots of places to do it. It was a Thetford (don't remember the model). No odor problems that I remember.

Our current van conversion has a homemade composting toilet, which I like better than either of the above. It separates the urine and poo, so basically unless you are out for a very long time, all you have to do is empty the urine bottle every day or two. You can do this almost anywhere -- you don't need to find a toilet.

The poo goes into what a separate container that has some composting media (I use sawdust from my shop). There is a tiny fan that pulls air through the composting toilet and vents it outside that runs 24/7 (about 2 watts) -- this dries up and desiccates the poo and basically makes the poo container last a very long time between emptying. I use a Costco kitchen garbage bag to line the poo container (which is a 5 gallon bucket), so emptying is just a matter of pulling the plastic bag out, pulling the ties at the top of bag tight, and throw it in the garbage. Its also possible to compost the contents in the usual way, but for us, the volume is so small it does not seem worth the effort.

They call these composting toilets, but I think that's a bit of a misnomer. The key features are that it separates pee into a pee container for easy disposal, and it removes the water content of the poo which greatly reduces it volume and makes the poo container last a long time with no odor.

This is probably more info than you want, but our experience is that the poo function gets used very little -- there is usually some kind of toilet around most campgrounds and we just use that. We can come back from a 2 week trip and there might only be 3 or 4 poos in the poo container. I think this turns out to be true for a lot of people.

Never any odor -- people have trouble believing this, but see the video on the Natures Head site.

There are several commercially made composting toilets. Personally, I think the ones (like Natures Head) that separate pee and poo have the better design for RV use.

Some more data on commercial and DIY composting toilets on this page:
http://www.buildagreenrv.com/design-and-build-information-for-camper-vans/installing-toilet/

Details on our toilet: http://www.buildagreenrv.com/our-conversion/promaster-camper-van-conversion-composting-toilet/

I think that Cassette toilets are also worth a look -- some info at the link above.

A side benefit of the homemade one we have is that it doubles as a seat and gets used a lot more for this than as a toilet.

edit: forgot to mention that another advantage of the composting toilet is that if you camp in cold weather, you don't have to worry about it freezing.

Gary
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for replies.
The curve model is actually on the shortlist with couple others. Not sure if I care so much about electric fill. My electrical plans are quite modest.
I am not planning a full featured shower either. More of a small permanent safe waterproof place to take sponge bath, at least initially. No tanks, will drain into portable container outside. Done this before. Basic shower base will have porta potty on one side, sink on the other, so no space wasted. Eventually might lightly upgrade...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I'll take a good look at the composting toiltt links as well, thanks!
 

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For an option see cleanwaste.com. I use their kits and a similar lower cost product from Walmart into a 10 gallon bucket converted with a elongated household seat -- very comfy. Nothing to dump, just toss the bag into the trash!
 

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I would highly recommend the Thetford Curve.

Ours, conveniently located across from the fridge at the back of the van, has worked out very well on our trips.



This particular model has the advantages that...
1) it's home toilet height, no need for a step under it
2) it's electric fill... fancy! You fill with a pushbutton, flush with a lever on the side.
3) for an additional $20 or so you can get a baseplate that attaches to the floor and the toilet clips in place... easy to undo to take apart and dump, but very solid when clipped in. ON ours, I made an L bracket bolted to the wheel well because I didn't want to make holes in the floor!
4) built in toilet paper holder on the side

The clean water tank top is a bit loose, but as long as you don't fill the tank to the top, it won't spill any water (ask me how I know!)

We use Coleman deodorant because the Thetford stuff that came with it smelled like a dirty gas station mens room.... the Coleman stuff smells nicer out of the bottle and we have never smelled the toilet on our trips, even when the van got to 100 degrees plus in a few parking lots.
I just bought one on Ed's recommendation. I haven used it yet but I love the idea of battery operated flush (AA's as I recall). Flushing was the biggest problem with my old one.

I got it from Amazon for something like $115. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006WPQNB2/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
 

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I would highly recommend the Thetford Curve.
That's really comforting 'cause it was the first thing we bought ;)
It's basically just a compact cassette toilet. A full-on cassette toilet just provides outboard access to the messy part (cassette). I just wish NAmerica had European-style chem-toilet dumping facilitates everywhere (a dedicated seat-less toilet and rise hose).
 

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vintagehiker,

As KOV said, the electric part just requires that you put some AA cells in a holder in the toilet. No fancy wiring required. One set of batteries lasted us a whole year. Once we got to freezing weather here in CT, I take the batteries and clean water out for the winter. In the spring, I put clean water in the 4 gallon tank and install new AA batteries. Once we use the toilet, I dump at the end of the trip. Mostly used for liquid waste in our case, and if we are in a campground, during the day we use the provided facilities.
 

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That's really comforting 'cause it was the first thing we bought ;)
It's basically just a compact cassette toilet. A full-on cassette toilet just provides outboard access to the messy part (cassette). I just wish NAmerica had European-style chem-toilet dumping facilitates everywhere (a dedicated seat-less toilet and rise hose).
If we did, I might consider a cassette.
 

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Only significant disadvantages that come to mind are limited capacity and weight; which go together. If you dump every day at campground the weight isn't bad at all, and even the smaller unit has plenty of capacity for two of us. If I had to buy another, I'd go with largest unit made, although I'd rarely come close to fill it. As others have stated, fresh water for flushing lasts a long time, so no need to fill that completely which helps keep weight down.

Compared to standard motorhome toilets (which we've owned and use as rentals occassionally), I think a PortaPotty is much cleaner and smells a lot better. It's much faster to dump, a cleaner process, and no need to rinse and store a hose. Plus you can rinse PP tank if you want after each dump, although it's not necessary.

Dumping at home is much easier, or at family homes with a 4" sewer clean-out (I usually don't dump in regular toilets). It is also not necessary to worry about freezing temperatures and having to winterize. You can either empty and leave in van or store in garage.

My wife prefers our PortaPotty over public restrooms, so ours gets a lot of use. Even so, after each trip I clean it and disinfect tank with a little Clorox which leaves it as fresh as new.
 

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I don't understand why you don't have to rinse it. Wouldn't it build up an odor? I shudder to think what MrNomer's bottle would smell like if he didn't rinse it.
 

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I don't understand why you don't have to rinse it. Wouldn't it build up an odor? I shudder to think what MrNomer's bottle would smell like if he didn't rinse it.
A quick rinse of the porta potti is pretty easy...but just a dump plus adding some new deodorant with a bit of water keeps it smelling pretty good. I'm sure that, rinse or no rinse, it's easier than rinsing an RV sewer hose.

I think the smell of Mr's bottle would depend on what he keeps in it!

I reiterate a lot of the smell issue depends on the brand of deodorant you use. I could smell the Thetford stuff in the sealed bottle as soon as I opened the cardboard box the toilet came in!.. The Coleman stuff is way better.. they call the smell "floral minty".. it's not bad. When I bought the first 2 bottles, the stuff inside had formaldehyde in it. The same part number now has a different formula with no formaldehyde. The old stuff (I couldn't find it anywhere) is blue liquid... the new stuff is green liquid (still floral mint). Floral mint to me is more mint, less floral.

Good pricing at Walmart last time I ordered... better than many places. Here: https://www.walmart.com/ip/13848680


The formaldehyde formula created some issues with people who dump in a home septic system. The new stuff has some kind of enzyme action to make it septic system-safer (at least according to the documentation.) They use the same stuff in full size RV tanks so I think it's more of an issue with the much larger volume of stuff being dumped.
Some campgrounds are OK with you dumping a porta potti in the bathroom toilets provided, other say to use the dump station for your porta potti emptying. I usually just wait til we get home and dump there. (yes, it's one of MY jobs after a trip!)

We use ours primarily for in-for-the-night visits, and my wife is much more open to campervan-ing because of the Curve! :D That makes me a happy campervan-ner!
 
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