Being on the road, with or without a certain destination in mind, brings a heady combination of rush and peace. The adventure that comes with living in a van, traveling, and seeing sights that not everyone has the chance to witness, is something that can neither be easily replicated nor replaced. Whether you’re only in it for the annual road trip or you’re a camper at heart, you’ll surely be familiar with both the fun times and mishaps when it comes to staying in an RV or pop up camper. Even veteran campers have things that they wished they knew when they were just starting out on living the van life, such as having the proper water source, cassette toilet, shower area, and being sustainable, among many others.
In this blog post, we’ll delve into cassette toilets first. Knowing which one would suit your vehicle and lifestyle the best will bring huge changes to your camping life! Having a portable toilet right from the start of living in a van will improve both sanitation and comfortability, which will help you adjust to the lifestyle.
What is a cassette toilet
Cassette toilets are a common fixture that you’ll see in European RVs, a permanent toilet with a portable holding tank that makes camping life a lot easier. Bear in mind to not confuse cassette toilets with portable toilets. With cassette toilets, the toilet is permanently attached to the RV, and only the holding tank is removable or portable. On the other hand, with portable toilets, the whole toilet system (toilet and holding/waste tank) is removable/portable, which is a good feature for when you prefer to take a dump outside of the RV.
Nowadays, even in America, a lot of RVs for sale have cassette toilets in them compared to the traditional RV toilets, which brought a surge of popularity for cassette toilets. Numerous manufacturers that were solely based in Europe before are now venturing into more countries due to this.
Benefits of having a cassette toilet in your RV
Why is a cassette toilet the best pick for RV?
A lot of campers prefer the cassette toilet over the usual RV toilet because of its portable holding tank feature. With traditional RV toilets, you’d have to drive to a place with a dump station before you can clean out the holding tank. This can be quite a hassle when you’re camping at a site with no nearby dump station in sight. On the other hand, with cassette toilets, you can camp out anywhere regardless of the presence of a dump station. Since it has a portable holding tank, if there are no available dump stations nearby, you can simply remove it, go to the nearest public restroom, and dump the contents of the holding tank there. This way, you no longer have to worry about prioritizing the availability of dump stations when picking for a camping site.
Also, having an option to buy a replacement for the portable waste tank will save money in the long run. This way, if the waste tank gets damaged, you only need to buy a new portable tank of the same model—you don’t have to change the toilet, too!
Furthermore, portable cassette toilets preserve the smell of clean air inside your RV with its chemical reservoir that breaks down waste and prevents the odor from wafting out from under the drain valve. Lastly, there is no need to separate liquid and solid wastes when you’re using chemical cassette toilets, which makes everything more convenient for you.
How does a cassette toilet work
Cassette toilets are very easy to use and maintain. The way it works is very similar to how a home toilet would operate. In a nutshell, here’s how it works: a compact toilet bowl is installed permanently in the RV over a removable waste tank, the waste is flushed directly into the waste tank after flushing, and you must remove the portable tank when it’s full.
In general, all models of cassette toilets have three main components, namely, the toilet, flush/water source, and the portable waste tank.
- As previously mentioned, the toilet is permanently fixed in the RV. All models have a control handle that enables you to open and close the valve between the toilet and the waste tank underneath. Some models have a toilet that turns 180 degrees to allow maximized space usage, while some can only rotate at a 90-degree angle.
- Pump flush
- The flush makes use of fresh water to direct the waste down into the waste tank. For most models, the water is usually sourced from the RV’s central water tank, while some models have their own water holding tank.
- Portable waste tank
- The waste tank is usually accessible from a cassette door located outside, on the driver’s side, of the RV. This makes retrieval of the waste tank easy when you need to dump the contents.
- The waste tank is a chemically treated reservoir; a chemical solution goes into this tank, which breaks down the waste and prevents bad smells from permeating through the RV.
To use the cassette toilet, all you need to do is make sure the water source is connected to the RV’s central water tank or if the model has its own water tank, make sure it’s filled properly. Check if the chemical solution is in the wastewater reservoir. Once everything is set up, you can go ahead and use the toilet. Just make sure that the valve is open prior to using it, so that the waste can travel from the toilet to the reservoir after flushing. Once you’re done and you’ve already flushed, close the valve and toilet lid.
Monitor the indicator of the waste reservoir regularly; check if it’s nearly full. It is always better to empty out the toilet before its capacity is maxed out to ensure a fresh-smelling vehicle. Also, always monitor the availability of fresh water for the flush, whether it’s your RV’s central water tank or the toilet’s own water tank.
How often should you empty a cassette toilet?
With the help of the chemical treatment within the water reservoir, you won’t need to empty out a cassette toilet as often compared to bucket toilets that usually require daily cleaning. It is recommended to empty out and clean a cassette toilet every 2-3 days to retain a fresh and clean environment within your RV. The disinfectants that go together with the chemical toilet are helpful when cleaning the toilet. Simply mix water and a liquid bio detergent so that the remaining wastes in the tank can be disposed of in liquid form, which makes cleaning and maintenance easier. Water and ammonia or distilled white vinegar can also be used to keep the tank and toilet smelling fresh.
Also, it is very important to carefully read and follow the user manual’s instructions. Do the indicated maintenance check and cleaning on the valve blade and seal to prevent any mishap from happening while you’re on the road.
Features to look for in a cassette toilet
Size, Weight & Capacity
Ensure that the model that you’re buying can easily fit in the RV without any repercussions. Consider the working area that you’ll be left with when the cassette toilet is installed. If you want something that can double as an extra seating, look for tall chemical toilets that will be comfortable to sit on. If you’re only looking for a toilet that you’d only use solely during relieving yourselves, then it’s better to opt for shorter models to save up space.
Also, it’s important to take note of the weight that the whole toilet system will be when it is full, and make sure that you can handle the weight when it’s time to carry it to the dump station. If you bought a 5-gallon chemical toilet, make sure that you can carry it when it’s full, which can weigh up to 30-40 lbs.
For the capacity, consider the number of people that the toilet will accommodate and your access to dump stations. If you’re only travelling by yourself and will be camping in areas with dumping stations, a 3-gallon cassette toilet may be the perfect choice for you. But if you have less access to dumping stations or you’re traveling with one or two more companions, then opt for a toilet that has a bigger capacity.
For flushes, choose your preferred flushed type. Some models have a pump flush, while some have a battery-powered flush. Both are useful, but some people prefer pump flush better because you won’t need batteries for it. Another thing to consider is the toilet’s flush nozzle type. It’s better to pick a three-way nozzle because it keeps everything tidier after every flush compared to a single sprout flush.
Not all cassette toilets have colored indicators that will tell you when the tank is nearly full (or already full). It’s better to opt for a model that has one, so that you can plan ahead and make your way towards the nearest public restroom or dumping station. This also makes cleaning and maintenance easier because toilets with no indicators can be pretty difficult to monitor, and sometimes leaks happen when you’re not paying close attention to the capacity.
Lid lock and sealed valve
Always pick a model that has a tight lid lock and valve between the upper and lower tanks to prevent splashes and leaks and to avoid bad odours. Sometimes, pressure can build up in the waste tank, and opening the valve can cause some splashes. So, it’s better to open the valve first while the lid is tightly locked, to make sure that you won’t get splashed by wastewater.
Waste tank handle, wheels, and emptying spout
Toilets with a large capacity can become very heavy when full, as mentioned earlier. Make sure to pick a brand that offers carry handles for easier maneuvering of the tank when it’s time to clear it out. Some models even have extendable handles and wheels, which is a great pick for heavy waste tanks because you can carry them like luggage. Also, look for a model that has an emptying spout, so you can easily pour out the liquid waste accumulated in the tank.
Noteworthy Cassette Toilet Manufacturers & Models
Thetford is one of the most renowned cassette toilet manufacturers. This brand is widely known among traveler folks because they do not only make models for RVs but they also have models for boats. Their products are available in numerous countries. Thetford offers toilets with waste tank capacities ranging from 2.6-gallon to 5.5-gallon. Here are some noteworthy cassette toilets for sale made by Thetford:
- Thetford Porta Potti 260B
- This model has a 2.6-gallon waste water tank, which is ideal for a solo camper or if you frequent a dumping site. It’s fairly easy to carry due to its capacity, and it takes up less space inside the RV with its small and compact design (14” x 13.4” x 15”).
- It has an average of 27 flushes and has a flush pump.
- For cleaning convenience, it has a rotating wastewater/emptying pour spout and a sealed drain valve.
- Thetford C402-C
- This model is one of the most popular cassette toilets due to its huge capacity of 5.1 gallon. This is a good choice for campers who travel in twos, or someone who doesn’t frequent dumping stations every day. This has a 12-volt pump and flushing system and has an average flush capacity of around 56 flushes.
- The waste tank also features a retractable handle and fitted with wheels, which makes cleaning much easier!
- C402-C also has left-hand and right-hand entry models for easy installation in your RV.
- Thetford Porta Potti Curve 550E
- This model has the biggest capacity and most unique design. It is large (18” x 18” x 16”) and sturdy, and boasts a huge capacity of 5.5 gallons. This toilet has an average of 56 flushes in between cleaning. This is the best pick for an RV housing 2 or more campers or if you’re going on a long road trip with few dumping station stops.
- This has a battery-powered flush and it also has a convenient toilet paper holder.
- One of the best features of this model is its water level indicators of both its top and bottom water tanks, which makes monitoring a lot easier. Also, cleaning is made easy with the tank’s rotating pour spout, carry handles, and sealed drain valve.
SereneLife offers innovative lifestyle products, ranging from electronics, indoor and outdoor appliances, sports appliances, and more. Their cassette toilets are worth mentioning due to their large capacity and lightweight yet sturdy build. Here’s a model that’s worth checking out:
- SereneLife Portable Toilet SLCATL320
- This model has the second largest capacity, with a 5.3-gallon wastewater tank reservoir. It has an average of 50 flushes in between cleanings. It has a dimension of 16.5” x 13” x 16”.
- It is equipped with a powerful manual flush/piston pump flush, which is fed water through its own 3.5-gallon clean water reservoir.
- A notable feature of this model is its double-sealed drain valve that closes tightly to prevent waste and odor leaks, and a sturdy build that enables it to double as a secondary seating for your RV.
- Cleaning and maintenance is easy with its rotating pour spout and carry handles.
Dometic is another well-known brand for cassette toilets, with models for sale around Europe, U.S., and Canada. Dometic boasts products that are highly durable, made with ABS and high-density polyethylene, and adding stainless steel hold downs to their large capacity toilets so that you can drive without worrying about disturbing the installation of the toilet. Surprisingly, you can even stand on these heavy-duty toilets if you need to reach for something—that’s how durable these toilets are. These added benefits, however, are reflected in the pricey cost of Dometic toilets, but it’s proven that the added costs are worth it. Like Thetford, Dometic offers various models with different capacities, ranging from 2-gallon up to 5-gallon. Here’s a model that you might want to check out:
- Dometic 301097506
- This model has a large capacity, featuring a 5.0-gallon waste water tank. with an average flush count of 50-55 flushes.
- It has stainless steel hold-down brackets for a more secure installation that won’t budge even when you drive around and encounter some bumps on the road.
- This has a push-button pressurized flush and has a dimension of 13.5” x 15.5” x 16.5”.
- There are handles on both top and bottom tanks, which makes moving and cleaning easier. Also, its rotating pour spout and sealed drain valve adds to the convenience of cleaning the toilet.
Other Noteworthy Tools for your RV life:
In addition to cassette toilets, we have a brief list of items that are proven to be useful if you’re getting ready for your next RV trip, and some can even be brought along on your trip to make your life easier.
- Amp Wires, Breakers, & Circuit Charts
- This blog post that I made features a comprehensive chart and recommendations for extension cords, wire sizes, etc., to make sure that you use the proper electrical equipment to avoid damaging your appliances in your RV. Having a busted appliance while you’re on the road is a recipe for disaster, so you have to be careful! Read through the blog post to choose the safest and most affordable extension cords, service wire, etc., for your camping needs.
- Waste Oil Heaters
- For a dedicated camper, the RV life does not stop even when winter starts to set in. Check these waste oil heaters and find one that can provide you the extra warmth that you need. These heaters are also a perfect addition to your house! This type of heater makes use of waste oil, which means that if you use this heater instead of the traditional ones, you’re even helping with lessening the amount of oil waste!
- Welders, plasma cutters, & mini metal lathes
- Being on the road means you gotta have something that you can easily take with you anywhere. And one thing that camping taught me is that you should be prepared for impromptu construction projects because sometimes, things just don’t go ahead as planned. Surely, these TIG welders, MIG welders, engine-driven welders (these ones do not need an external power source!), plasma cutters, and mini metal lathes can be useful for fixing something in your RV or cutting wood at a campsite! With these tools, you can do some woodwork and metalwork with ease, whenever you need to. Check out these UV light sanitizers as well
Well, this marks the end of our discussion on cassette toilets. I hope this article helped you decide and shorten your list of which among the cassette toilets that are up for sale on Amazon or your local hardware store is worthy to check out. A lot of beginner campers have regrets about not having the right type of toilet at their disposal, so I’m happy to provide information that can lessen such mishaps. I hope this blog post will help you conquer the camper life with ease!