Composting-Toilet-Installation-Heading-(1200x627)

We plan on living full time for a year or two in the van. For a minimum of comfort (and convenience), we really wanted a toilet and after reading about Nature’s Head composting toilets, it seamed like the perfect solution for us!

 

 

The present article covers the installation of the Nature’s Head composting toilet. If you want to learn more about it (pros/cons/emptying frequency/what we like/don’t like/etc) please head over here for our review:

 

 

 

TIME SPENT ON THE JOB: 20 hours

 

TOTAL COST : 1200$ USD (that’s a shitload of money to take a dump, but it’s so worth it!)

 

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MATERIAL:

 

TOOLS:

 

RESSOURCES:

 

PRE-REQUISITE:

  • Get your shit together

 

ALRIGHT, LET’S GET THIS SHIT DONE!

First of all, our composting toilet is hidden in our couch just behind the driver’s seat:

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (1)

That’s the idea…

 

Installing the Air Exhaust

There is no black water or whatever to install with the Nature’s Head, but there is however an AIR EXHAUST. The air exhaust will ensure that absolutely no odor leaks in the van by constantly pulling a very small volume of air from inside the toilet towards the outside world. There is a very small fan (computer-like) that runs at all time; that’s no big deal as it draws just about 0.1 amp. We decided to pass our air exhaust through the floor near the B-Pillar, inside the wall cavity. We got the idea from CargoVanConversion.com, although he is using it as his main van passive intake.

We need to get inside this cavity:

Composting-Toilet-Installation-Camper-Van-Conversion-(39)

Air Exhaust Passage

To access the cavity, we cut a door through the Ez-Cool (you can read our EZ-Cool Installation Article here):

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (40)

 

Behind the Ez-Cool “door”, we drilled a 2-3/8″ diameter hole using a hole-saw (http://amzn.to/2rboMyD):

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (44)

Inside the door…

 

Of course, to prevent corrosion, we sanded the bare edges of the hole and touched them up with primer+paint+clear-coat:

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (43)

Corrosion is for other’s van, not ours.

To prevent the air-exhaust from being sectioned by the hole edges, we improvised something out of a MLV leftover (what’s MLV? See our Floor Installation Article!). Note that a grommet would have been much better, but we did note have one handy…

 

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (54)

The “triangle” shapes of the MLV are in contact with the hole edges

 

Now let’s get under the van, on the driver side where this arrow is pointing:

Van-Side

Here!!

 

 

We can see the exhaust passing through the hole in the floor!

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (49)

MLV is not shown in this picture.

 

To prevent critters from crawling into our toilet (huh), we installed some wire mesh and mosquito screen (not shown in the picture) on this plastic part (included with your Nature’s Head Toilet):

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (47)

The Mosquito screen is not shown in this picture, but it’s very important!!

 

The we just pull the exhaust out (from the hole in the floor) and press-fitted the plastic part:

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (51)

 

The plastic-part is bolted in the upper-left hole of the van’s vent passage (there is a hole in the van. no need to drill):

Wire-Mesh-and-Mosquito-Screen

 

That’s it for the exhaust! Here we are at this point:

Composting Toilet Installation Camper Van Conversion (20)

Note that we don’t pass the exhaust through the Ez-Cool “door”. It pass just behind the toilet so we don’t see it…

 

Installing the Toilet

We like our Nature’s Head, but it still has to be hidden. We built a couch with a removable lid and a nice cushion for that job!

Note: When designing you toilet installation remember that to empty the compost, the upper part of the toilet must be removed. To do so, the upper-part rotates around the hinges in the back and then pulled left. Make sure your enclosure has enough clearance around the toilet to allow this movement!

The upper-part rotated around the hinges in the back

Then the upper-part slides about 2 inches to the left

 

Here is the base of the couch:

We kept things simple…

 

The base holds with corner braces and glue

 

 

The lid is built the same way as the base, except that we glued a 3″ thick cushion on top (with 3M 90 Spray Adhesive http://amzn.to/2sZFy5p) and covered it with fabric.

The cushion is glued with 3M 90 Spray Adhesive, so it doesn’t slip away

 

At this point, hand over the lid and the cushion to your mother-in-law and LET THE MAGIC HAPPENS!*

*Thank you SO MUCH!

It’s magic!

 

The fabric is held with Velcro, so it can be removed and washed:

Lid Velcro

 

The lid is held to the base with small “bracket” we made:

Compostion-Toilet-In-Van-Couch-(3)

The lid fit nicely on the base!

Compostion-Toilet-In-Van-Couch-(4)

Here is a look inside

 

Compostion-Toilet-In-Van-Couch-(12v)

Dump & Recharge Station

 

At last, fill with coco (or peat moss):

Composting-Toilet-Installation-Camper-Van-Conversion-Coco

 

And here are the dimensions:

24″ Height x 24″ Width x 23″ Depth

 

 

As mentioned previously, the small exhaust fan is running continuously. No big deal, as it draw just about 0.1A…

Composting-Toilet-Electrical-Draw-Cropped-01

Exhaust Fan Electrical Draw

 

 

 

ON SECOND THOUGHT

Before living full-time review:

At the time of writing this we don’t live in the van full time yet, but we used the toilet for a few weekend trips. So far, so good! We haven’t emptied the toilet since we first used it (about 3 months ago): there is no odors and we think the Nature’s Head Composting Toilet is THE SHIT!!

First month on the road review: 

(The following text is extracted from faroutride.com/first-month/)

We would definitely install it again if we had to do it over. You might get away without it for weekend trips, but for full-time living it’s just so-much-better. We empty the liquid tank every 3 or 4 days if using the composting toilet exclusively, or every week if using other toilets. We’re getting between 2-4 weeks autonomy for solid depending on the temperature (cold slow down composting action) and depending if we use other toilets occasionally.

We bought compressed coco fiber (http://amzn.to/2hMo5u7) because it’s MUCH more compact to carry than normal coco fiber! This block is 5in x 11in x 11in and equals to about 3 cubic feet!

Kempf Compressed Coco Coir. Buy from Amazon.

 

 

 

 

WANT MORE?

Check out our Build Journal, learn everything about The Van, read our VanLife Guides, or if you’re new to this start by reading The Prologue.

 

 

 

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ABOUT US

Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!

 

 

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CHEERS!

 

 

 

18 comments

  1. Comment by GABRIEL ELKIND

    GABRIEL ELKIND Reply August 30, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    I need to drill a hole in my Transit to install my natureshead. Do you guys know how to tell where is OK to drill? I was thinking about installing it behind the wheel well. Hard to get the information from Ford.

  2. Comment by Kurt

    Kurt Reply August 24, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    I love the site…just curious. How sturdy is the couch when sitting on it directly rather than on the toilet. I ask because there is no frame to any of it…just the 3/8 ply

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply August 25, 2018 at 9:39 am

      It’s super solid! Take a 2’x2′ 3/8 plywood and walk on it to convince yourself 🙂
      Moreover, it’s almost sitting on the toilet so it cannot warp.

      cheers!

  3. Comment by Mahea

    Mahea Reply May 6, 2018 at 7:53 pm

    Curious, I see that there is space in the box on the left side of the toilet. Did you leave that space there so the toilet would be in the center of the box? To save space would you be able to make the box for “fitted” to the toilet?

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply May 6, 2018 at 9:15 pm

      It’s there because the toilette’s top section must be slided left to remove it. We fill that extra space with toilet paper and such.

  4. Comment by Jay

    Jay Reply October 9, 2017 at 9:16 pm

    I’ve used the same system as JT (5gal drywall compound bucket and sawdust) for over 4 years sailing full time and now in Honu (the Transit conversion). Nothing could be easier or less trouble. Like what you’ve done but $0 (or almost as the box has some cost) is better than $1200. Great blog. Thanks.

    • Comment by Mahealani Velazquez

      Mahealani Velazquez Reply May 1, 2018 at 12:09 pm

      Is there a chance you could have made the box smaller to save space? Or are those measurements the smallest recommended for usability? Thank you!

      • Comment by Antoine

        Antoine Reply May 1, 2018 at 12:17 pm

        You could shave 1 inch width, but you won’t be able to completely remove the lid to empty the solid tank (which is fine, we take the whole toilet out anyway);
        You could shave 1-2 inches in the back. Actually more than that, but you wouldn’t be able to open the lid to remove the liquid tank.

        Note that we use the little extra space to store toilet paper rolls, some pharmacy items, etc, so it’s not a bad thing!

        Cheers!

        • Comment by Mahea

          Mahea Reply May 6, 2018 at 7:55 pm

          Good point! Thank you!

  5. Comment by JT

    JT Reply July 11, 2017 at 11:05 pm

    I’ve had great luck with my composting toilet, which cost zero dollars. Orange home depot bucket, found toilet seat + lid, and box built around it with pallet wood. Filled with sawdust. Works great!

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply July 12, 2017 at 7:01 am

      Yep, we considered the DIY option as well because it’s suppose to work too. We finally splurged on a fancy Nature’s Head because it’s easy and clean to handle.
      It’s all good!

  6. Comment by Meghan

    Meghan Reply June 22, 2017 at 11:18 pm

    Finally!! We have been waiting patiently on your pooping prose!! Pleased as pie for your helpful pointers in this post.

    Seriously, concur with above; so appreciative of your attention to detail and your guidance to others on our build journeys. Take good care.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply June 23, 2017 at 7:57 am

      Thanks for taking the time to write this, we appreciate it!

  7. Comment by Sarah

    Sarah Reply June 22, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    I love the attention to detail you have regarding the construction and finish of each of these projects.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply June 22, 2017 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks for the kind word!
      Have a great day 🙂

  8. Comment by Hack Saw

    Hack Saw Reply June 20, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    Great review. Takes a load off my mind.

    • Comment by Antoine

      Antoine Reply June 20, 2017 at 10:58 pm

      Pfff I see what you did there!

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