If you’re new to RV life, you’ll have a lot to think about, especially if you’re renovating a van from scratch. If you’re planning a long trip, your RV will be your home base, a place where you want to feel comfortable, relaxed, and safe. One of the most important things you can do, then, is to install a toilet. However, if you’ve never shopped for an RV toilet before, this can be pretty overwhelming.
In our guide on how to find the best RV toilet, we’ll take you through all the different kinds in detail. We’ll also show you some of the best models on the market, including their specifications and their pros and cons. Hopefully, this will help you to pick the best toilet within your budget, that will suit your needs.
Without further ado, let’s check out the different types of RV toilet!
Types of RV Toilet
There are a few basic types of RV toilet to choose from:
Classic RV toilets look a lot like the kind of toilet you’d have at home. Some of the cheaper models are plastic, but you can get porcelain versions – this is great if you want it to feel just like the real thing.
The waste goes into a black tank and is flushed away using a button or foot pedal. Sometimes you may need to add water first. You can then empty it at a dump station, using a hose.
Many people prefer the traditional type of RV toilet. They like the fact that they are permanently attached, and that they feel homely – and the emptying process is pretty straight forward and ‘hands-off’, unlike some of the other types on this list. This is a big selling point when people are considering which type of RV toilet to get. The black tanks can also hold a lot of waste – great for bigger groups of people traveling together, or if you need to wait a while between dump stations.
A cassette toilet looks very similar to a traditional RV toilet, but instead of a black tank at the bottom, the waste goes into a small cigarette tank, which you will need to empty by hand. This is a slightly less convenient process than the traditional RV toilet, and the tanks are smaller, which means you’ll need to empty them more often.
On the plus side, they tend to be more portable than an RV toilet. Some models look very similar to a traditional toilet, however, if that’s what you’re going for.
Porta Potty/Chemical Toilet
A chemical toilet is a little different. It is self-contained, with a chemical tank at the bottom – the top and bottom halves can be separated easily for waste removal. These tend to be cheaper than the traditional RV toilet, but a little less convenient.
They are, as the name suggests, extremely portable, and flexible, too – they can be installed in a variety of places, like boats, in tents, in vans, and so on. Some of them come with special kits which allow you to attach the toilet to the floor while you’re in transit, which is obviously really useful.
Composting toilets are a relatively new creation, and they’re great for those that wish to be a little more environmentally conscious. Liquid and solid waste is separated – solid waste goes into a container, to which you have to add composting material, like peat moss, while the liquid waste goes into a separate tank.
You do not add water to a composting toilet. The liquid waste container can be emptied either at a dump station or in a regular toilet. The solids container must be vented to dry it out and prevent smells and needs to be emptied every 2-3 weeks. It can be put out with the regular trash.
Some people report great success with a composting toilet – so it may be worth considering if you’re willing to get your head around how it works. It may take a bit of getting used to (like remembering to add the composting material), but users like that it’s pretty simple to empty.
A big selling point is that you don’t have to rely on dump stations – giving you a bit more freedom and flexibility in terms of where you go.
What to Look For
So now you know the basic types of RV toilet. The question is, what to look for when you’re trying to find the right one? Here are a few key points to learn before you start.
You shouldn’t use regular toilet roll with an RV toilet, as they can become clogged very easily. Instead, you will need to buy rapidly dissolving tissue paper – bear this in mind as you are preparing your RV.
Feminine Hygiene Products
Feminine hygiene products cannot be flushed at all in an RV toilet– so you need to be prepared for this.
Access to Dump Stations
Before you set off – check out where the dump stations are. You’ll need to make regular stops to empty your toilet, so make sure you work this into your journey plan (if you have one!).
Porcelain or Plastic?
Some people love having a porcelain toilet in their RV, for that true ‘homely’ feeling. However, the plastic option can be a lot cheaper. You’ll have to decide how important this is to you, as a porcelain toilet is definitely more of an investment. They’re also less portable and much heavier.
Good hygiene is vital for successful RV life, and it’s important to keep the toilet clean. Remember to check the seal around your toilet for leakages – this is super important, as small leaks over time can create mold, bad smells, and other issues you want to avoid.
High or Low?
RV toilets come in different heights. If you’re on the tall side, you may want a taller model – there should be plenty of choice out there for you. Also, it sounds obvious, but make sure you’ll have enough room to move in your bathroom after the toilet is installed – and that you have enough room to use it!
Some brands will give you a warranty with your toilet – so if anything goes wrong, you can contact them for guidance, replacements, or repairs. It’s great for peace of mind to know you’re covered if you run into any issues.
Amount of Users
Some toilets will only be sufficient for a small number of users – this is definitely the case with composting toilets, some of which only allow for light usage. It’s worth checking this if, for example, you’re going on a journey as a family and there are quite a few of you using the toilet.
Some tanks are bigger than others. If you have a lot of people using your RV toilet, you’ll want a bigger tank. Bigger tanks can get pretty heavy, though – thankfully some of them come with wheels or handles to make emptying them a little easier.
Tank Level Indicator
It can be difficult to tell when your tank needs emptying. Thankfully, some models have a built-in tank level indicator, helping you to know when it’s time to empty it out again.
What’s to stop your toilet from moving while you’re on the road? This can be a problem with the more portable options out there – some of them offer a kit which allows you to attach the toilet to the floor while you’re on the go.
The better models of RV toilet will have measures in place to contain odors. Whether that be valves to help contain smells or the material of the inner bowl (some materials ‘trap’ odors) – check if the reviews suggest that the toilet you’re looking at does a good job of keeping bad smells away from the rest of the RV (and the people in it).
Many models of RV toilet come with a water spray, which is great for when the flush isn’t quite powerful enough. This helps to keep things and clean and hygienic in your bathroom.
Top Brands of RV Toilet
When it comes to buying an RV toilet, you’ll see a few brands popping up again and again. Here’s a quick overview of some of the more well-known brands:
Dedicated to ‘making mobile living easy’, Dometic has served millions of customers all over the world. Formerly part of Electrolux, they concentrate on mobile living, selling everything from blinds to refrigerators to, of course, toilets. They have a wide variety of toilets with lots of different features and at varying price points – so you should be able to find something that suits you with Dometic.
Thetford has been creating innovative products as far back as 1963, so you know they have a lot of expertise. They focus on mobile sanitation products for RV, marine, camping, and truck markets – they also produce the popular Porta Potti toilets, which are best-sellers around the world.
If you’re after a composting toilet, Nature’s Head is your best bet. They produce one model – but they’ve done a great job of it. Their composting toilet can be used in tiny homes, cabins, houses, RVs, and campers. Originating in the US, Nature’s Headfirst started selling composting toilets in 2007.
Founded in 1966 with one employee and one product, Camco specializes in RV products and are now a huge company with lots of employees and plenty of expertise. They sell everything from grills, heaters, RV covers, and of course, toilets – all the essentials that you need for your RV experience.
Frequently Asked Questions About RV Toilets
There are many questions you may have about RV toilets. Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions:
Is RV toilet paper really necessary?
Some people say it isn’t, as long as you don’t use too much. However, many people prefer to use RV toilet paper as it dissolves more quickly, and the last thing you want to be dealing with is a toilet blockage when you’re supposed to be out there exploring/relaxing! It’s also a little more environmentally friendly, which is a bonus.
How much do RV toilets cost?
It really depends – they range from around $70 all the way up to over $1000 – so you should be able to find something within your budget.
Can you poop in an RV toilet?
Yes, you can poop in an RV toilet! Some types of RV toilet require you to empty the solids part of the tank separately though – for example, a composting toilet.
How do I clean an RV toilet?
You can’t be as harsh with an RV toilet as you would be with an ordinary toilet – no abrasive brushes or harsh scrubbing. Make sure you use a toilet cleaner that is approved for use with an RV toilet, as normal toilet cleaners will be too harsh. Usually, you’ll have to add a little water, use a cleaner, and gently clean it using a sponge or cloth.
Can I put bleach in an RV toilet?
No – definitely not. Harsh cleaning products will damage your tank, which could be disastrous (and expensive).
Are RV toilet seats universal?
No – they do tend to be slightly different in shape/size, so it’s best to contact the manufacturer or check their website for a replacement if you need one.
Do RV toilets smell?
If they’re installed and used correctly, then no, they shouldn’t smell – you need to maintain it properly though to stop it from smelling.
Do RV toilets hold water?
Yes – at least, most types do. You press a lever with your foot to allow fresh water to rush into the bowl.
Can my tank freeze in the winter?
If you’re in very cold temperatures, it’s a possibility. Check the manufacturer’s instructions on how to deal with freezing temperatures.
What is an RV macerator?
A macerator can either be built into your toilet or purchased separately. It’s usually electric-powered (although some are water-powered – these are not accepted at some campsites or parks, however). They turn anything that goes into your black tank into a kind of slurry. When you empty the tank, you can use a much smaller hose. It makes the disposal issue a neater and more hygienic prospect. They can be expensive and require maintenance, however, and there can be issues with blockages that may put you off using one.
How much weight can an RV toilet support?
This will depend on the make and model. You may want to check with the manufacturer before you buy if you’re concerned.
Top RV Toilets – an Overview
Now, we’ll take a look at five of the best models of RV toilet on the market today. First, here’s a quick overview of the specifications for each type:
Nature’s Head Composting Toilet
None – ‘dry’ toilet
Separate liquid and solid tanks
Thetford Aria Deluxe
Electric pulsating flush
Swivel dumping elbow
Dometic 310 Series Standard Height
Foot pedal power flush
Porta Pottie 565E
Best Composting Toilet – Nature’s Head Composting Toilet
A composting toilet is a great choice if you want to avoid having a black tank to deal with. They’re definitely a more ecologically friendly choice, as it cuts down on water consumption. Nature’s Head is a great brand, and they know their stuff when it comes to composting toilets.
It doesn’t look as much like an ordinary toilet as some of the other models on this list. It also uses no water – this could take some getting used to, and you’ll need to make sure everyone is on board with it before you buy one.
It’s fairly easy to install, though – you attach the unit to the floor with brackets, run a ventilation hose outside, and then hook up a small 12v fan – all of which is easy enough to do. Nature’s Head provides you with detailed instructions on how to do this.
When used properly, it is odorless, and the waste is easy to remove. It is designed to separate liquids from solids, allowing the solid waste to stay dry (the addition of liquid will make the solid waste smell bad). You can empty the solid waste into a trash bag – this is great because it means you don’t have to rely on finding a dump station, giving you more freedom in terms of where you want to go.
The lack of a black tank will give you more space. Black tanks also add a lot of weight to your RV – so if that is a concern, this could be a great choice for you.
Another great thing about Nature’s Head is their customer service – they offer a lot of support on their website, and they’re easy to get in contact with if something goes wrong. Plus, they offer a free five-year warranty – so if something goes wrong, you’re covered.
Some people find that the urine tank gets full very quickly, which is a little inconvenient. Plus, it’s not suitable for a bigger party of people – it’s better suited for just a few users.
Specifications of Nature’s Head Composting Toilet
Here are the facts you need to know:
Waste disposal: Separate liquid/solid tank – emptied in regular trash
Flushing system: None – dry toilet
Warranty: 5 years
Pros of Nature’s Head Composting Toilet
- Better for the environment
- Don’t have to rely on dump stations
- Frees up space in your RV due to lack of a black tank
- Good customer service
- 5-year warranty included
Cons of Nature’s Head Composting Toilet
- Doesn’t look or feel the same as a regular toilet
- Can take some getting used to
- Urine tank fills up quickly
- Not suitable for bigger groups
- Pretty pricey
Best Luxury Model – Thetford Aria Deluxe Toilet
If you’ve got a little more to spend and you really want that home-away-from-home experience, the Thetford Aria might be the one for you. It weighs 66lbs, which is pretty hefty. However, it’s brilliant if you want a well-designed, porcelain model.
It has a one-touch electric pulsating flush but uses half as much water as some other types of RV toilet, so it’s still an environmentally conscious choice.
It’s tall, making it great for taller users or users with mobility issues.
If you want a good quality toilet, this could be the choice for you. It comes with a one-year warranty, too, so at least for the first year, you’ll be protected.
Specifications of the Thetford Aria Deluxe
Here are the basics:
- Weight: 66lbs
- Waste disposal: Black tank
- Flushing system: Electric pulsating flush
- Warranty: 1 year
Pros of Thetford Aria Deluxe
- Looks and feels just like an ordinary toilet
- Great for taller users or users with mobility issues
- Pulsating flush is easy to use
Cons of Thetford Aria Deluxe
- A little more complicated to install than some others on this list
Best Budget Toilet – Camco 41544 Travel Toilet
Are you on a tight budget? If so, don’t worry – a toilet is not out of reach. Although this model feels more lightweight than a regular toilet, it still does the job – and it’s a lot cheaper than the previous model on this list.
The Camco 41544 has two tanks – a 5.3-gallon detachable holding tank, and a 3.75-gallon flush tank. In terms of flushing, it works pretty well – it has a pumping flush to clear the bowl, and the interior is made of a slick kind of material to help prevent odors from sticking. It has a sliding gate valve – this means that odors won’t leak.
The downside? It’s small – and maybe a little less comfortable to use than some others on this list. It also feels less like a ‘real’ toilet, so if this is an issue, you may not enjoy using it.
In terms of waste removal, the swivel dumping elbow makes removal pretty straightforward. It also has handles for easy transportation.
Specifications of the Camco 41544 Travel Toilet
Here’s what you need to know:
- Weight: 13.9lbs
- Waste disposal: Swivel dumping elbow
- Flushing system: Pumping flush
- Warranty: 1 year
Pros of Camco 41544 Travel Toilet
- Very light
- Sliding gate valve prevents odors
- Great if you have a smaller budget
Cons of Camco 41544 Travel Toilet
- Doesn’t feel as ‘realistic’ as a porcelain toilet
- Small – so may not be as comfortable to use for taller users
Best Mid-Range Toilet – Dometic 310 Series Standard Height RV Toilet
If you’re looking for a great all-rounder, Dometic is a good brand to go for. It has a power flush using a foot pedal. It looks just like an ordinary toilet – with a slow-close enameled wood seat, it looks pretty neat.
It has a drop-away ball and valve system, meaning that waste stays locked away, preventing odors from permeating your RV.
The 310 series comes in a variety of sizes, so you can pick which one you think is best. It has an adjustable water level, and is pretty easy to install, using two bolts and a water connection – users have praised how easy it is to install.
It also has a two-year warranty, which is great.
The only downside is, a few customers have complained about the toilet arriving with cracks or damage from shipping – this seems to be a common problem, but Dometic have resolved these issues with their customers by sending replacements.
Specifications of Dometic 310 Series Standard Height RV Toilet
Here’s the basics you need to know:
- Weight: 23.2lbs
- Waste disposal: Black tank
- Flushing system: Ergonomic foot pedal power flush
- Warranty: 2 years
Pros of Dometic 310 Series Standard Height RV Toilet
- Looks and feels like a normal toilet
- Comes in a variety of heights
- Easy to install
Cons of Dometic 310 Series Standard Height RV Toilet
Some customers reported that it arrived with cracks or damages
Best Cassette Toilet – Porta Pottie 565E
Another Thetford model, the Porta Pottie line of cassette toilets are known for being reliable and well-liked. It’s completely portable, which is really handy, plus it’s quite tall compared to other cassette toilets.
It’s designed to look like a regular toilet, despite being lightweight and portable. It has a battery-powered electric flush, a flush lever, and a tank level indicator. It also comes with a hold-down kit, to keep it in place while you’re on the road.
Although the cassette tank will not last as long as a traditional, permanent RV toilet, if you want something a bit more versatile with the ability to move it to different places, the Porta Pottie 565E would be a good choice.
A few customers had issues with the water pump breaking down after a few months of use – Thetford was able to replace them, but that’s still something to be aware of. They do give you a three-year warranty, which is reassuring.
Specifications of Porta Pottie 565E
Here’s what you need to know:
- Weight: 13.45lbs
- Waste disposal: Cassette tank
- Flushing system: Electric flush
- Warranty: 3 years
Pros of Porta Pottie 565E
- Very lightweight and portable
- Looks like a ‘real’ toilet
- Easy to empty
Cons of Porta Pottie 565E
- Some customers found that the battery-operated water pump broke down
- The tank needs emptying more often than some of the other models on this list
We hope this has helped you to understand a little more about the different types of RV toilet and to figure out which one best suits you and your loved ones.
If you’re investing a lot of time and money into making your RV feel like home, a traditional RV toilet is probably your best bet – and in that case, you can’t really go wrong with the Dometic 310 Series. They’re reasonably priced but have enough features to make them feel like a ‘real’ toilet – and if you’re spending extended periods of time on the road, then this could be pretty important to you. If you’ve got a little more money to spend, you could go for a higher-end model, but the Dometic has great reviews and will save you a bit of cash to spend on other things.
However – what you will need will really depend on your circumstances and what you’re looking for. All of the models on this list offer different things – so really, it’s a personal decision based on your budget and your needs.
Finding the right toilet for your RV is one of the most important steps you can take to guarantee a comfortable and happy experience for everyone – we hope this article has helped you to figure out which is best for you.
RV Toilet Maintenance – a Few Tips
There are a few things you can do to keep your RV toilet working as it should:
Check everything thoroughly before you leave
This is an obvious step, but if you’re in a rush, you may forget. Check that the flush is working correctly and that there are no leaks anywhere. It’s way better to realize something is wrong now than to realize once you’ve already set off.
Repair the toilet seal
The toilet seat can easily become worn away in places, which will lead to leakages and smells from your black tank permeating the RV. Make sure to periodically check the seal when you’re on the move.
Use a tank treatment
Tank treatments clean out your tank, preventing blockages, which will help your toilet to run smoothly. Tank treatments are essential and need to be done every now and then, otherwise, you might run into a more costly problem later.
Keep things clean
And lastly – clean your toilet as you go along (using the right cleaning products, of course). Bad smells can quickly spread through the rest of your RV, and you don’t want to have to deal with that when you’re relaxing, cooking, or trying to sleep!