Having a flush toilet has been by far one of the most rewarding, peace of mind additions to our home. We installed our flush toilet back in 2013 and have no regrets making the move away from our compost toilet. Now, I must admit I never converted my AC composting toilet to DC. I hooked it up heater and fan and ran it on the home’s AC power system through the inverter. I have no doubt this is why the composting toilet failed us. In the summer and early fall it worked great; in the winter and spring, not so good.
When my wife and I first decided to live off grid, we invested in a composting toilet before meddling with the septic system already established on the property. We looked at a bunch of advertisements, customer reviews, and other people who planned to use one. Unfortunately, I did not put the thought together that I was making my own power and a composting toilet would be flushing that power down the compost hole.
The composting toilet functioned great during the summer months. It purred along heating and fanning the off gas up the vent to the outside. However, winter is another tale. When the clouds began to block the sun for weeks at a time, the power system couldn’t handle the composting toilet’s requirement for electricity. We shut the power off to the toilet and would run it only on sunny days, but that was not enough. The composting toilet after a few days would overflow liquid below the chamber clean out drawer. It is not something we like to talk or reminisce about. I had already decided to not tax the system and as guys most frequently do living on a remote acreage, I went outside even when it was approaching 20 F below zero. However, this only prolonged the inevitable a few more days. With conserving power, the toilet could not function as it was designed. The only way to prevent its overflow was to make a preemptive strike and drain the liquid. I will not go into more details, but needless to say it was a weekly, unpleasant ordeal.
The other season that posed a great deal of trouble was spring. The weather started to warm up enough for the flies to awaken, but it was not sunny enough to keep the toilet running 24-7. The flies found our composting toilet and that in itself is another story we do not like to reminisce about. Needless to say other measures had to be used to combat the fly infestation, which worked, but had to be implemented more often than we would have liked.
Our home had a pipe installed for a flush toilet, but we lacked the necessary financial means to hook it up to the existing septic system on the property. After a year and several months of planning and saving, we finally managed to get our flush toilet. Our flush toilet, like every on grid house, uses water, gravity, and no electricity. I cannot express to you the joy we had when we used it the first time.
Our septic system has a 1500 gallon tank and the required leach field. We have only one toilet dedicate to the 1500 gallon black water septic tank. Our sinks, washing machine, and shower drain into a separate gray water cistern with its own leach field. This system is overkill, but it has served us well, and I doubt the black water septic tank will need to be pumped for a very long time.
Currently, we have retired the composting toilet; it now sits in storage cleaned and sealed. I was planning on possibly installing it in a shop I hope to build someday, but after writing this article, I’m seriously debating the issue.