Are you planning a long boat trip? Do you spend a lot of time out on the water? Are you thinking of living on your boat permanently? Do you want to make your boat as habitable as possible? Are you sick of doing the deed in a bucket?
Did you answer ‘yes’ to any of the above? Then you should definitely consider purchasing a marine toilet.
Even though it’s not the most pleasant topic of discussion, it is one that you can’t avoid. At some point, you, or a passenger on your boat, will need to use the toilet. Make this experience as comfortable as possible by taking a marine toilet aboard.
What To Keep In Mind When Selecting A Marine Toilet
With more people seeing the benefits of adopting a marine lifestyle, more boat-related products are becoming available on the market at a dizzying rate. Because of this, there really is an option to suit the needs of every boater.
But the number of options out there can be overwhelming and selecting the perfect marine toilet requires careful consideration & plenty of research.
We hope to make this decision a little easier for you by providing all the information you need in one place - this article. Today we’re going to discuss some of the many factors that influence which type of marine toilet you should purchase.
You must keep all of them in mind throughout your decision-making process.
Size & Space
As I’m sure you know, space on a boat is a commodity. Sometimes it can be very limited and always needs to be utilized with careful consideration.
Make sure to properly measure the available space on your boat. Allow those specifications to play a major role in influencing the type of marine toilet you decide to purchase. Selecting a marine toilet that is the wrong size for the space available is frustrating and the onus to correctly measure is on the buyer.
When it comes to the main materials used in the manufacturing of marine toilets, you must select an option that can endure the harsh conditions that are often presented at sea. Porcelain and plastic are the most popular materials because of their durability, resistance to rust, and ease of cleaning.
Storage capacity is one of the most important aspects of a marine toilet. The lower the storage capacity, the less it can handle and the more time you’ll spend emptying the contents.
Take into consideration:
- How many people will be using the toilet
- How many times they’ll use it during an average trip
- The time you’ll be on the water
Most manufacturers offer a warranty of one year on their marine toilets. There are a few manufacturers that offer a five-year warranty.
It’s important to select the right marine toilet for your boat from the start. It can be an awkward return process when the product has been used.
Always remember to follow the instruction manual carefully as failure to do this can void your warranty completely.
Who Are The Best Manufacturers Of Marine Toilets?
The rule of thumb when selecting anything boat-related is to stick with well-known manufacturers that are experts in the industry and have a proven track record.
When you spot a marine toilet that looks like it might be the right option for you, do a quick online search of the manufacturer’s name and see what comes up. By doing this you’ll establish if this is a legitimate, trusted brand. You’ll also find user reviews, helpful questions, and answers & more detailed product information.
Both Jabsco and Camco have fantastic reputations & Nature’s Head are shaping the industry to be more environmentally aware and supportive.
The Different Types Of Marine Toilets
The marine toilet market is surprisingly saturated and the sheer variety of options available can make it confusing when you’re looking at purchasing one for your boat.
Knowing the different types of marine toilets available is extremely helpful. You’ll quickly establish which options meet your needs.
Here are the four most popular types of marine toilets:
- Composting Marine Toilets:
Composting marine toilets don’t smell, cause pollution or need chemicals to work. Composting marine toilets work by allowing oxygen to dry the waste and, eventually, compost it. The drying process is helped by adding sawdust and peat moss. This type of marine toilet is fast becoming more popular because of its clever design and low impact on the environment. Because of the new technology involved, composting marine toilets are the most expensive type of marine toilet currently available.
- Manual Marine Toilets:
Manual marine toilets utilize a hand pump to pump rinse water into the toilet bowl and drain the contents. Manual marine toilets aren’t expensive and maintenance is relatively easy. They’re reliable and simple to operate which makes them a popular option amongst boaters. You also don’t use power when using a manual marine toilet and thus save on power. However, in comparison to the other types of marine toilets available today, manual marine toilets are known to clog easily.
- Portable Marine Toilets:
Portable marine toilets are one of the more popular types of marine toilets. It’s a practical and convenient option for boat owners mainly because they’re portable and can be used in applications outside of those marine-related. The waste tank of a portable marine toilet can easily be removed and emptied into a domestic toilet or sewerage collection point. Portable marine toilets aren’t too expensive.
- Electric Marine Toilets:
Electric marine toilets are the closest possible option to your toilet at home when it comes to design and comfort. They get a bad wrap because they seem wasteful in terms of energy and power consumption but this isn’t entirely true. Yes, electric marine toilets make use of energy and power but because the electric pump runs so briefly with every single flush, the total consumption is surprisingly low.
Be mindful that because of the electrical components involved, electric marine toilets produce noise. This can impact your level of enjoyment out on the water so be sure to opt for as quiet a toilet as possible.
The Different Types Of Storage Options For Marine Toilets
Marine toilets with holding tanks are the most common way of dealing with waste on board. There’s a variety of different types of storage options available. Most of the time the decision on what type of storage option will work for you comes down to personal preference.
The most popular types of storage options are:
- Direct discharge
- Holding tank with and without discharge option
- Holding tank with multiple discharge options
Our Top Picks
Hopefully, by now you have a clearer idea of which type of marine toilet will meet your needs. Even when you know your needs, with so many brands, types and manufacturers to select from it can be difficult to narrow down your options.
To make this process easier for you, below you’ll find our 5 best options in different categories being:
1. Camco Portable Toilet
Best Cheap Marine Toilet
The budget-friendly Camco Portable Toilet is a mega-popular marine toilet due to its relatively low price and increased bowl size. The freshwater holding tank utilizes a pump flush action to rinse the bowl and the detachable holding tank seals firmly to prevent any leaks & odors from escaping.
Waste removal is made easy due to the slick surface of the interior and the lid can be latched for accident-free transport or removed completely for cleaning.
- Type: Portable
- Material: ABS Resin
- Size: 12" H x 16.25" W x 17.5" D; the outside width of the seat measures 12.6" and the inside width is 8.4"
- Capacity: 5.3 Gallon
- Warranty: 1 year
2. SereneLife Outdoor Portable Toilet with Carry Bag
Best Multipurpose Marine Toilet
The SereneLife Outdoor Portable Toilet is a compact and comfortable marine toilet. A handy waste water tank level indicator is built-in which is extremely useful. Emptying the toilet is made easy thanks to its splash-free rotating pour spout.
This toilet is a fantastic mid-range unit that comes with more than just the basic features usually found in this range. It is a wise investment as a marine toilet when you consider the price and features.
- Type: Portable
- Material: High-Density Polyethylene
- Size: 16.5″ length/depth x 14.6″ width x 16.9″ height
- Capacity: 5.3 gallon
- Warranty: 1 year
3. Jabsco Twist n’ Lock Manual Marine Toilet Boating Head
Best Manual Marine Toilet
Jabsco has been an industry leader for over two decades. Designed to be easy to install, use and keep clean, this reliable unit is many a boat builder's toilet of choice. It’s the top-selling manual marine toilet in the world. Jabsco puts their user front of mind and all fastenings face front or top for ease of maintenance.
- Type: Manual
- Material: Ceramic bowl, wood seat with baked enamel finish
- Size: 13-1/4"H x 17-3/4"W x 16-3/4"D
- Capacity: n/a
- Warranty: 1 year
4. TMC Marine Compact Electric Toilet Small Bowl
Best Electric Marine Toilet
The bestselling Five Oceans TMC Marine Compact Electric toilet is a great entry-level electric toilet that comes with a built-in macerator.
The compact, lightweight design ensures a snug fit and allows you to maximize your space aboard. The porcelain bowl is easy to clean and durable.
The most exciting features this toilet has to offer are the slow closing seat function to aid longer damage-free usage and the convenient push-button flush functionality.
- Type: Electric
- Material: Porcelain
- Size: 14" (355 mm) x 16" (406 mm) x 13 29/32" (350 mm)
- Capacity: n/a
- Warranty: 1 year
5. Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
Best Composting Toilet
The well-established company Nature’s Head created this rugged and user-friendly composting marine toilet to be as green as possible.
Essentially, a composting toilet separates liquid waste and solid waste. Sawdust or peat moss is placed in the composting tank and assists the composting process by drying out the solid waste. Thanks to a low volume air circulation fan it happens in a completely odorless way.
Installation is incredibly easy and maintenance is minimal.
Because of the new technology incorporated into the design of composting toilets, it is a more expensive option when compared to other marine toilets available. However, the benefits far outweigh the high price and this would be a long term investment.
- Type: Composting
- Material: Stainless Hardware
- Size: 22 x 20.5 x 21.7 inches
- Capacity: 2.2 gallons
- Warranty: 5 years
Other Aspects To Consider When Selecting A Marine Toilet:
Now you have a good idea of what to keep in mind when selecting the perfect marine toilet to suit your needs. Your options should have narrowed considerably and making your decision should be much easier.
But before making your purchase, here are some additional aspects you should take into consideration.
Boat Sanitation & Knowing Your Laws
Make sure to check out the rules, regulations, and laws of your country regarding boat sanitation & waste disposal.
Not being familiar with the above could result in you purchasing the incorrect type of marine toilet, being subjected to hefty fines and could jeopardize your lifestyle on the water.
You can find out the rules applicable to you by searching online, asking your local marina or paying a visit to your relevant maritime authority in your area.
Water Usage & Usage per Single Flush
It’s difficult to state how much water usage and usage per single flush is associated with marine toilets because there are many variables that need to be considered. Generally speaking, marine toilets use about half a gallon of water per flush.
How your plumbing is laid out is a large contributing factor in both manual and electric marine toilets. With manual marine toilets, water usage is dependent on how many times you pump it. With electric marine toilets, water usage is dependent on how long you hold the button down.
The Power Consumption Of Electric Toilets
As the name implies, electric marine toilets use electricity. Power consumption is heavily dependent on the model, but on average usage is around 20 amps per pump.
Because the pump time is short enough this doesn’t amount to much and the overall power consumption is lower than what you may have expected.
Water Leaks & Smells
As you can imagine, holding tanks can lead to stinky business. Both good and bad bacteria live in contained waste & that is why it is preferable to have a well-ventilated holding tank.
Thanks to evolving marine technology there are also many types of treatments that can mask or even completely eliminate these unpleasant odors.
Water leaks are also a common occurrence when using a marine toilet but can be handled easily. Make sure to regularly check for leaks.
Another way to keep the stench at bay is to use freshwater as your flushing water. While it can be seen as wasteful, it drastically reduces smells.
Imagine this… You’re relaxing on your boat being gently soothed by the rhythmic sway of the bobbing waves. It’s so peaceful, you could almost fall asleep to the faraway caw of a seagull and… Flush!
The noise made by marine toilets is an important factor that is often overlooked in the purchasing process. Make sure you’re comfortable with the level of noise that your marine toilet will produce and rather opt for a quiet flush.
As far as possible, you want to aim for a marine toilet that has a simple installation process and which you can easily install yourself. If you aren’t comfortable installing an electric toilet, or any type of marine toilet, call in an expert.
The design of marine toilets also plays a part in determining what type of toilet is right for you. Obviously, safety, sanitation, and functionality are the top priorities, but the look of your toilet is also important to a certain degree.
Some toilets tend to look very bulky, rugged and unappealing to sit on. The aim should be to have a marine toilet that you and your passengers feel comfortable using. It shouldn’t be an eyesore and it must match the overall aesthetics of your boat.
Like all things boat-related a marine toilet does require regular maintenance. Keeping a repair kit aboard for your particular make and model of marine toilet is highly recommended.
What your repair kit should include is dependent on the make and model you’re using. A good place to start is by having seals, different kinds of valves and spares on hand.
General Tips For Your Marine Toilets
- As far as possible, purchase marine-specific toilet paper. Not only does it work better with your marine toilet components but it also has less severe environmental effects. Marine paper quickly dissolves in water. If you can’t get your hands on some, use the cheapest, thinnest kind of residential toilet paper that you can find.
- Avoid clogging your system by only flushing human waste and toilet paper. Do not use your marine toilet to dispose of sanitary products like tampons.
- Learn how your marine toilet works. Equip yourself with a basic understanding so that you can easily troubleshoot problems.
- Always keep a bucket on board in case any problems arise that you can’t fix on your own.
- When cleaning your marine toilet use phosphate-free cleaning products and marine toilet specific solutions. Avoid household cleaning chemicals. Not only do these have a negative impact on the environment but they have actually been known to cause damage to marine toilets, specifically any plastic and rubber components.
Take The Plunge and Purchase A Marine Toilet Today
No matter which toilet you decide to purchase, keep the environment that you love to enjoy at the front of your mind. Select biodegradable toilet paper, phosphate-free cleaning products and always dispose of your waste responsibly to help keep our waters clean.
Do you prefer composting or electric, manual or portable, expensive or cheap? Luckily there really is an option to suit every boater’s needs.
A marine toilet isn’t only a smart addition to your boat but an investment that is entirely justified and will last for years.
What are you waiting for? Invest in the perfect marine toilet today and upgrade your boat.