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Restless by nature, on a whim I blew off city living and my career, to try my hand at a simpler-slower life in rural Tasmania. It's going to be one heck of a learning curve..join me as I find my feet, fingers crossed!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Composting toilets..unplugged!

One of the bonuses of purchasing this property, it already had a signed off 'council approved' composting toilet installed. Little did we know, what a challenge it would turn out to be.

Two years on & after an unusually warm Tassie summer, we have finally managed to get the system to work. Using sawdust, on a day to day basis, as the only composting medium in the chamber, was our answer. Shredded paper, manure & mushroom compost proved to be a nightmare & we have since been told peat moss or sugar cane mulch is also good. (but rather expensive too!) With our planned renovations, I am determined to stick with a composting toilet, but not this split level system. It's too hard to remove as it's been wrongly installed with the chamber jammed under the eastern side of the house. It's slow to compost, very heavy & awkward to unload on this steep block- We usually tow it out with our ute.
So which one to choose?
One of the first problems, most composting toilets are designed for warmer climates & work at a minimum temperature range of around 14-18 degrees C. Thus the toilet chamber would need to be North facing & have a heated base or some degree of thermal mass surrounding it, to facilitate the composting process. 
That's just not possible here.
Second problem, it's almost impossible to find any models on display as they're not actively promoted or wholesaled in Tasmania, anyway it doesn't seem to be a popular choice? Composting toilets are a huge upfront cost & there are limited models to suit Tasmania's cooler climate.
Here are the results of my research for suppliers..
TASMANIA
Stocks: Nature loo & Sun-mar models
(a model of ea on display @ Stonemans garden ctre, Glenorchy)
 Stocks: Clivus multrum & Ecolet models

AUSTRALIA
Stocks: Rotaloo, Biolet models.
NSW stocks: Clivus multrum, Ecolet, Nature loo & Sun-mar models.
 Stocks: Nature loo & Sun-mar models.
 Stocks: Clivus multrum & Ecolet models.
Stocks: Airhead & Separett composting toilets.
Stocks: Envirolet models. (made in USA)
Ideal for cold climate applications..

Only some models are approved by certain councils, so check before ordering & installation. Finally, if you've been thinking about making the change, do lots of research & ask around for feedback on existing models. I could never go back to a flusher as it's inspiring to see how our waste reduces to such a small amount of hummus. The ongoing costs are very low & it's a relief in dry times, not flushing precious rain-water down the drain. 

We still haven't made up our mind about a model to buy, we are considering moving our existing toilet with a new smaller chamber & then experimenting with our own design on a second unit, to suit our location. But it's going to take time. I'll keep you posted!!

If anyone has some constructive feedback on their experience with any composting toilets, please feel free to leave a comment. Cheers...




2 comments:

  1. You mentioned these but you might like to check out again the models with the 500W heater. It would require an insulated chamber around the unit to retain the heat and reduce the running costs:
    http://www.envirolet.com/enlowwatrems2.html
    which is the US site with better information and:
    http://www.envirotoilets.com.au/eco-friendly-composting-toilet-system-prices.php
    The Aussie distributor with the prices. You may be able to get them delivered from the states.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 500W is a hell of a lot of power if you are trying to keep costs down!

    Sun-Mar Australia have approvals for their systems in Tasmania that use half the power to heat the unit. Their system operate in Canadian winters (where they were invented) so a touch of Tassie frost won't hurt :)
    www.sun-mar-com.au

    Nature Loo are also producing a new version of their split system with a 20W heating element. It's called the Classic 950.
    http://nature-loo.com.au/products/composting-toilets/full-product-list/

    We are spoiled for choice these days!

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