Best Composting Toilet for Off Grid

When looking to live “off-grid” you have to consider alternatives to some of the modern conveniences we’ve become accustomed to. One of these being our toilets.

So what do you use as an off-grid toilet solution?

Composting toilets are the perfect answer to this question – environmentally friendly, easy to install and easy to maintain – to find out more, read on!

We’ll be looking at these four models of “off-grid” toilets in this post:

  • Nature’s Head with Standard Crank
  • Nature’s Head with Spider Handle
  • Villa 9215 AC/DC
  • Sun-Mar Excel

How Composting Toilets Work

Composting toilets are a plumbing-free alternative to a regular flushing toilet, in fact, they don’t require the use of extra water at all! They work by using the natural process of decomposition to break down waste.

Any waters from excrement and urine are evaporated through a vent system, where it is released into the atmosphere – human waste is around 90% water so this is a lot of liquid.

Solids that are left behind after decomposition become handy fertilizing soil which is ideal for use on plants or trees. Any pathogens or viruses are broken down by bacteria during the composting process so the remaining soil is safe and is a great way to save money on commercial fertilizers.

Composting toilets need the perfect balance of moisture, oxygen, heat and organic material to function correctly, by creating the perfect environment for aerobic bacteria to work their decomposing magic.

Do Composting Toilets Smell?

Now we know you must be thinking – “surely all that wastewater is going to kick up a stink as it evaporates?!” But the vent system is designed to eliminate smells and allow for odor-free dissipation. So you won’t be getting whiffs of urine or poop on the wind when using this kind of off-grid toilet.

When it comes to the solid wastes left behind to decompose into useable soil, so long as you are maintaining your composting toilet correctly, there should be virtually no smell.

Composting toilets should be cleaned every 6-8 months to keep them from smelling bad or over-filling.

Quick Tip: To keep your restroom smelling nice, pop some coffee grounds into the drum. You could ask your local coffee shop to hold onto the grounds for you – saving them from going in the trash and giving you some extra matter for your compost!

Do You Put Toilet Paper in a Composting Toilet?

Yes. You can use toilet paper, however, opt for an RV or Marine rated variety to ensure it will break down faster and won’t add any dyes or inks into your compost. The lesser the ply, the faster it will disintegrate in the drum.

It may be a good idea to have a bin for toilet paper from number ones to decrease the build-up of paper in the back of the toilet. Using less tissue will reduce the frequency at which the drum needs emptying.

Are Off Grid Toilets Legal?

Now, this can be answered differently depending on the state you want to live when you begin your off-grid lifestyle. Some states have laws against living disconnected from the power grid and sanitary sewage system, which can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so do plenty of research when looking to buy your land.

Composting toilets are, however, legal in every state and are actually seen as a great way to take some of the strain from the water and sewage systems. So here we have a list of some of the best ones for you to choose from and start turning waste into useful fertilizer for your homesteading venture.

Best Composting Toilets for Off-Grid

Nature’s Head with Standard Crank

[amazon fields=”B003EX7LV6″ value=”thumb” image_size=”large” image=”1″ image_align=”center”]

This Nature’s Head composting toilet is super easy to install, easy to use and looks and feels just like the plumbed in ones you’re used to. The difference comes from how the waste is dealt with. Separating urine from solids in two easy-to-empty containers, keeping odors locked safely away.

Comes with a 5-foot vent hose so you can be flexible with where you install it, but it is also easily removable for emptying and deep-cleaning.

With a 12V power plug, this low-energy composting toilet won’t use too much electricity from your generator when operating the extractor fan.

Not suitable for those who don’t have some form of power source i.e. a generator.


  • Waterless operation.
  • Easy to use.
  • Easy to empty and clean.
  • Virtually odor-free.
  • Designed to withstand harsh conditions.
  • The concealment screen only opens when you sit.
  • Manufactured in the USA.


  • Requires electricity.
  • Could be heavy to empty the drum.
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Nature’s Head with Spider Handle

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Another one from Nature’s Head here, this time with a spider handle as opposed to the standard crank. This allows for a slightly smoother churning of the peat moss in the drum – burying the poop quicker to reduce the chance of smells escaping.

Easy to turn spider handle makes operation quick and simple – ideal for tight spaces and easy for kids to use!

As with the model above, there are 2 separate chambers to keep liquids and solids separate.

The drum can get heavy when full so may be difficult to empty for some people, particularly those living alone or the elderly.


  • Waterless operation.
  • Easy to use.
  • Easy to empty and clean.
  • Virtually odor-free.
  • Designed to withstand harsh conditions.
  • The concealment screen only opens when you sit.
  • Manufactured in the USA.


  • Requires electricity.
  • Could be heavy to empty the drum.
  • Spider handle needs to be operated by hand (rather than by foot like the crank design).
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Villa 9215 AC/DC

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The Villa 9215 was designed to be permanently fixed into a homestead rather than for boats, RVs or tiny homes. The larger ventilation system means that it fits standard US plumbing sizes and the change of fan type means it will work on both AC or DC power.

Improved fan and vent mean that excess moisture can be vented further away from the unit, meaning any nasty smells should not be apparent nearby the toilet.

No peat moss, coconut husks or any other organic matter is needed in this toilet, the fan is developed to draw out moisture and take away any smells that may be in the drum.

The fan is only single-speed – can’t be adjusted to increase ventilation speed if needed.


  • Easy to fit with standard-sized piping.
  • Virtually odor-free.
  • The concealment screen only opens when you sit on the toilet seat.
  • Removable urine diverter (only needed if females in the household) to direct liquids to the front of the bowl.
  • Comes with a bio-drain tab to clean the urine line.
  • Includes 10 compostable bags for the drum.


  • Doesn’t use a peat moss base for decomposition.
  • No crank to mix solids into a compost base – just goes into a bag.
  • Composting occurs once the waste is removed.
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Sun-Mar Excel

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The Sun-Mar Excel is the only toilet that does not require any electrical source to function, so if you are 100% off-grid then this is the ideal choice for you. It’s also a great option for any small space or if you’re just looking to take some pressure off the sewerage system to have a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

The rotating Bio-Drum is easy to use and ensure the compost is well-mixed, aerated and any moisture is distributed throughout and drained away easily.

Below this drum is an evaporation chamber that takes away excess liquids and moisture helping the compost to dry out and decompose faster. Sun-Mar has a motto to help make using the Excel super easy – “if you pee you let it be, if you poop you add a scoop”, then mixing is done every 2 days using the “churning” handle.


  • 100% non-polluting.
  • Waterless operation.
  • No separation of liquids and solids needed – all go into the Bio-Drum.
  • No power supply needed so completely off-grid.
  • Easy to use.
  • Removable finishing drawer which only collects compost.
  • Emptying only needed 3-4 times per year with average usage.


  • Pretty expensive.
  • Extra products needed such as ‘Compost Sure Green’ as bulking material and ‘Micro-Mix’ (a blend of microbes and enzymes) to stimulate the decomposition process.
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What to Look for in the Best Composting Toilets

Whether for your outhouse, RV, tiny home or self-sufficient homestead, there are a few main things to consider when shopping for compost toilets.

  • Size
  • Ventilation
  • Capacity
  • Using the Compost


It’s important to know that the toilet is going to fit into your existing setup or is suitable for a space you are designing specifically for the toilet i.e. an outhouse or cabin. You may also need to have space to fit a ventilation pipe if your toilet has a fan and this would also mean needing a power source.

If the toilet has a crank handle, you need to have space to be able to operate this.


As mentioned above, many composting toilets require the use of a fan to remove excess moisture and help with any odors which may occur in the drum. This means you will have to fit a pipe that vents this outside, so it will need to go through a wall and some are not made with standard plumbing-sized hoses, making it a little more tricky to install.

Any drum vent that uses a fan will need to have access to a power source, so you will need an off-grid generator if using one of these toilets – they are usually fitted with just 12V fans.


Depending on how frequently you’ll be using the composting toilet, drum capacity will be important. If it will be used by the entire family on a daily basis, you will want a larger drum to avoid needing to empty it as frequently. If it’s for a holiday home or cabin that will only be used a few weekends throughout the year, you could go for a smaller capacity.

Compost toilets that separate liquid waste and solid waste into two chambers will more likely need emptying more frequently when it comes to the urine tank.

Are You Using the Compost?

If you’re planning on using the fertilizer which these toilets can produce for trees or plants, then you will want a toilet that carries out the decomposition process well and not one that will leave you with plastic bags of human waste that you have to dispose of in a specialised way. 

If you’re just using a composting toilet to keep “off-grid” then having a usable end product may not be a big deal for you, so just think of the considerations we have mentioned above.


After looking at some of the best composting toilets for off-grid living, we’ve chosen our winner based on the fact it is truly ideal for off-grid living.

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The [amazon link=”B001CFQFL0″ /] uses no electricity, is 100% non-polluting and actively decomposes waste to allow for the successful creation of usable fertilizer. This toilet can be placed pretty much anywhere and used for a number of applications, including those looking to create a self-sufficient lifestyle homesteading.

A close second for us would have to be the Nature’s Head  Composting Toilet with Standard Crank. This would be best used by a smaller household, perhaps of just one or two people using it on a semi-regular basis to allow for more time for waste to decompose. This loo also doesn’t use bags, so it is a little more eco-friendly.

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