best marine toilet

5 Best Marine Toilets 2018

Leaving your boat to find somewhere to use the toilet can be time consuming and frustrating. A marine toilet is the answer to your problems and is specifically designed for the harsh marine environment.

The best marine toilet is the Nature’s Head Self Contained Composting Toilet, which uses all stainless steel hardware and dissembles quickly for fast emptying.

A marine toilet can come in a variety of forms such as a composting, manual, electric or completely portable alternative. Choosing between them is dependent upon your requirements and whether there is enough space onboard.

Best Marine Toilet Heads

Before jumping straight into the first marine toilet you see, you need to ensure that it compatible with your boat. Space is the main issue and a compact toilet for your boat that functions correctly can be hard to find.

Depending upon the cost of your boat/yacht will most probably reflect on the marine toilet you purchase. There are many cheap examples but there are many luxury or clever environmentally friendly toilets.

A Marine toilet is a worthwhile investment and it will easily add value to your boat. Below is a list of the best marine toilets that are odorless, environmentally friendly and quiet onboard your boat.

Marine ToiletTypeFootprint
Nature's HeadComposting22 x 20.5 x 21.7 inches
Jabsco 37010Electric20.8 x 20.8 x 16 inches
Five Oceans TMCElectric19 x 14.4 x 14.8 inches
Jabsco Twist 'n' LockManual17.7 x 17.7 x 13.2 inches
Camco 41545Portable16 x 16 x 17 inches

Nature’s Head Composting Marine Toilet


Toilets are not the most exciting things to talk about but technology has improved massively with many new self contained systems becoming popular on boats. The Nature’s Head marine toilet is one of the most popular composite toilets you can buy thanks to a clever design.

Developed by two sailors for usability, it has been designed to withstand the harshness of the marine environment and can be used anywhere. It has been built to last with a rugged design and all stainless steel hardware.

Many toilets that use a holding tank system suffer from bad odors (As you can imagine). However, this marine toilet uses a low volume air circulation fan to reduce the odors and make to surrounding area smell less like a toilet.

The whole toilet has been designed with usability in mind, even the seat has been developed for maximum comfort. Overall, it is the best composite marine toilet you can buy and worth the premium price.

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Jabsco 37010 Series Electric Marine Toilet


If you have a good electricity supply that can handle the additional draw from a marine toilet, then the Jabsco 37010 is ideal. It is available as a 12 or 24 volt system with a powerful macerator and water flush-ability.

Compared with some of the alternative marine toilets, it is a very good looking model thanks to a china bowl and enamel coated accessories.

The construction also leaves a small footprint too at just 14 5/8 inch wide and tall. This is perfect for those with a very limited space to work with but they do offer a larger size if you have plenty of space to work with.

If noise is an issue, most electric marine toilets will have a powerful macerator and bowl scavenger pump. However, although noisy it does save the need of manually removing the tank as its flushed away.

Overall, it is the best electric marine toilet you can buy and the 37010 is very popular with boat owners around the world.

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Five Oceans TMC Marine Electric Toilet


Electric marine toilets are by far the most popular and there is a wide variety available. Both Jabsco and Five Oceans are leading the way and the BC 1560 is one of many that is developed by Five Oceans with the emphasis on power.

Features of the BC 1560 include a push button flush, dual function pump, macerator with high capacity scavenger pump and more. Five Oceans also offer a range of spare parts and installation/conversion kits, which is useful for long term ownership.

Overall, the Five Oceans TMC BC 1560 is the best cheap electric marine toilet and offers excellent performance at an affordable price.

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Jabsco Twist ‘n’ Lock Manual Marine Toilet


Jabsco also offer a manual marine toilet with a “Twist n Lock” safety handle and flush control leaver, which can be installed on the left or right. As with the electric marine toilet alternative, the bowl can be a small or large size for those with limited space.

Thanks to a powerful self priming pump, this toilet can be installed above or below the waterline. The toilet itself uses a hygienic china bowl for easy cleaning and a wooden seat and cover with a durable baked enamel coating for durability.

Overall, it is the best manual marine toilet and developed by Jabsco, which is a major brand in the marine toilet market. The main benefit of a manual marine toilet is the ease of installation and this is pretty much plug and play.

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Camco Portable Marine Toilet


Installing a simplistic marine toilet may still be too much for certain boats or you may only need it on a very rare occasion. This is where a portable marine toilet becomes very useful and its worth paying the extra over the basic versions.

Camco offer a range of portable toilets for boats but the 41545 model with the premium styling is the one to go for. In terms of the specification, it has a 5.3 gallon detachable holding tank with a 3.75 gallon flush tank. It also only weighs 11.5 LBS when empty and 31.5 LBS when full, which means its easily transportable.

Overall, it is the best portable marine toilet that can please the majority of people and is a better alternative than a bucket! There are cheaper alternatives but with this Camco model, it is very unlikely to collapse and is much more durable.

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Marine Toilet Buying Guide

As people spend time at the sea, there comes a time that one needs to help themselves. Having to get of your boat is not only time consuming but there is not always a toilet around to do so. Many boat owners may refer to a marine toilet as a head and this goes back in history where sailors used the toilet in the ships head right at the bow.

Nowadays, a marine toilet comes in many different styles and types to choose from. In short, below are some of the factors that you should consider:

  • Fine China – A porcelain bowl is flawless, so durable and easy to wash as compared to a plastic one.
  • Splashproof – Electric marine toilet pumps require a splashproof motor; clear instructions are needed for hand pumps
  • Footprint – The outward measurements of the marine toilet should not be too large for fixing in your headspace.
  • Heavy metal – For the boats that utilize salt water, the softening machinery should be bronze or stainless steel.
  • Freshwater – You should work on the heads to ensure the flashing water is fresh such that it does not create any odor.
  • Suck gain – The vacuum flush heads always consume less water as compared to the conventional ones.
  • Separation – The intake of water and the place of discharge should be situated on the opposite faces of the keel.
  • Access points – Ensure that every area that needs servicing and maintenance is accessible.
  • Electric – The wiring should be appropriate such that it supports the present draw of the motor.

When you are researching marine toilets, you will find that they come in a composting, electric, portable or manual form. However, these can be further categorized as a cassette or pump out toilet type.

Marine Toilet Background

You should already know that a boat that has a toilet is far much better than that which has no such facilities. By simply adding a toilet to your boat, you will see much more use and a boost in resale value of your boat.

There is very little requirements but it should have enough capacity to carry the contents of the bowl in a flush, cleaning of the bowl to avoid staining and avoiding the smelling of the holding tank from reaching to the bowl.

You will also need a lot of maintenance to keep it clean and a very conducive environment far from noise. For those that are electric, its vital that you have a large marine battery for the electrical draw.

If a sewerage system lacks in a boat, it means there is the need for a portable marine toilet by which the waste is disposed of manually.

Cassette Toilets

This is a toilet with a removable waste tank. It comes into two major forms, which is integrated and freestanding. With an integrated toilet, water for rinsing can be taken from the boat water system and in the latter; some limited water quantity is found in the upper part of the structure (bowl and seat).

The cassette marine toilet can be a simple two-part box to a far more elaborate model that has an electric flush and swivel seats that would resemble your home toilet.

The cassette toilets are affordable, simple and reliable. They also require minimal space. The fact that there is a portable tank to dispose of the waste rather than carrying around the whole boat is also an added advantage.

Nevertheless, you have to keep the rinse reservoir fully functioning because the carrying cassettes can get heavy and quite agricultural to use when it comes to smell and to the practical process of making your tanks empty by hand. When using modern cassettes, the flow is improved once you empty them out. If by any chance you have not experienced a splash back you do not need to carry around a box of your sewage.

boat toilet

Pump Out Toilets

This type of toilet leaves portability and rather uses a mounted tank that is permanently attached to your boat. This means that you have to use a marina pump-out whenever you want to empty it. However, when on a live-aboard boat, a couple will scarcely flush or pump out the toilet more than one time every three or four weeks. There are no odors even when porcelain is used rather than a plastic model, and this makes it feel and looks like your home toilet.

This type of toilet comes either with a remote tank or a ‘damp- through’ unit, in which the waste is transported through by vacuums or pumps through a pipe network. They mostly involve a macerator that cuts the waste into smaller portions before it is sent through the pipes. This is done to avoid blockages though you still ought to be careful to use only the minimum lightweight, biodegradable toilet papers or else you will have to incur the cost of repairing.

Pump- out toilet is complex and a bit expensive as compared to cassette toilets though many prefer them instead. The toilets can operate with an electric flush or a manual flush. It comes with a wooden seat, and a china bowl; which is reliable and simple, tailor-made for thin spaces, quite in the middle of the night, civilized in operation and is affordable enough such that it is easy to replace fairly at regular intervals.

Latest Technology – Composting Toilets

Once the waste is stored in a tank, liquid chemicals offer the basic methods of dealing with the smell. The chemicals can be put directly into the waste tank or be mixed with the rinse water for the toilet. More alternatives like the enzyme-based and nitrates are increasingly needed in this age to replace the chemicals for they speed up the decomposition process.

There is also a new type of toilet called the composting toilet that uses peat moss or sawdust to do away with the smell and render it harmless. They require little maintenance, use no water, and there is no threat of blockages. It is also easy to dispose of the waste. Their usability on small boats is not limited by their size but their steadily growing appeal.

Common Problems With Marine Toilets

Most of the problems with marine toilets come up from lack of good maintenance or attempting to flush a bulky waste through the system. Keeping watch for common mistakes or problems that mainly affect the working of marine toilets as listed below, it helps to keep the system working effectively.

Water Leaks

This is a common occurrence for many pump handles of the marine toilets especially when the handles have not been lately checked. The pleasing news is that this water that escapes is the sea water used for flushing and therefore one does not need to worry about it cannot cause serious health problems.

It is also very easy to fix, the problem comes in only when the seal near the rod to which the pump handle is mounted breaks or is worn out. When a problem occurs, simply remove the big plastic nut that is on top of the pump to reveal the old seal then replace it. Regular checkup of the system helps you to become familiar with it and therefore makes it easy to treat common problems.

Calcification

It is not easy to discover when the outlet pipework gets clogged with calcium deposits. This is because the problem occurs slowly by slowly thereby making it hard to easily spot the first signs of the clogging that later lead to impaired performance; when one is not keen, they only realize the problem when it is too late to repair.

Regular flushing of the marine toilet with some mild acids such as vinegar that may help to slow down the buildup of the calcium deposits, this does not completely do away with the problem though.

A sanitary grade pipe is much expensive, but it is mostly not necessary to replace the pipes. If the pipe is removed from the boat, it is possible to mechanically remove the calcium by hitting or bending the pipe against a hard surface then flushing it with water. If need be, repeat this process as many times as you can. You should not underestimate the effects of the calcium deposits in the discharge pipes.

toilet on boats

Joker Valves

The valves at the outlet of the pump can also become filled up with calcium deposits; this generally impairs the operation to such a point that it stops functioning well. One of the ways to discover if this has happened is when the flushing of the bowl becomes a hard task; if the joker valve has failed to seal as well the clean seawater that is to be sucked into the pump, it also tends to draw all the content of the waste pipe.

As the pumps stay for long, its rubber components begin to wear out. The service kits present for all the pumps do contain replacements for all the components, the joker valve included.

Smells From Marine Toilets

Smells might have their origin from one of two different sources; a sewage smell may insinuate that the outlet hoses do not have a proper sanitary grade. If a regular plastic hose is used, the smells from the inside eventually transfer to the outside and then to the cabin.

Another possible cause of the sewage type of smell in a boat is a result of a leakage from the outside of the system. It is advisable to always check every joint in the plumbing with a cloth that is dry. This helps in identifying any leakages that might be too small to notice with naked eyes.

The second type of smell that might be seen is that of hydrogen sulfide that carries a different smell of rotten eggs. It results from a breakdown of bacteria of the organic matter in an environment that lacks enough oxygen, conditions that are found in an inlet pipe in various harbors.

This kind of water has got all the life that mostly causes the foul smell, and if left for so long without being checked it grows and reproduces till the oxygen found in the water becomes exhausted, and everything in there dies.

The major problem is, therefore, most reported on boats that are not frequently used, but this can be solved by the installation of a chemical treatment that is put into the freshwater flush system or the inlet pipe that is used before leaving the boat. Both the options are so easily fitted and are readily available from the Chandlers.

Blockages

This is a nightmare that every boat rider experiences once in a while, but if the system is used and maintained well you might not encounter the problem. If a blockage happens, do not try to use force to do away with the blockage of this may lead to more problems. Rather, give it time for this makes some blockages pliable and hence able to go through the system easily.

If the blockage doesn’t move after you give it time, the only left solution is taking the pump apart. If this has already been done while servicing you easily knows the procedure, and it should be quick not a very pleasant task. While clearing the blockage, it is not advisable that you investigate the inner working of those pumps.

Important Boat Toilet Tips

  • Ensure your batteries are always in perfect condition and that they are always charged.
  • Ensure that your visitors know how to use the toilet to avoid causing breakages.
  • No matter the trust you have upon your board systems, it’s sensible to utilize onshore facilities when they make an appearance.
  • In case you are using a cassette toilet, ensure you have an extra cassette or two for security purposes.
  • Use affordable, light and biodegradable toilet papers to ensure there is no breakage.
  • To sustain your boat’s trim; the holding tank must be mounted in the center of the vessel.
  • A pump out the marine toilet is better and preferable for a good and wonderful emptying operation.
  • Ensure you keep a check on your systems regularly to ensure everything needs on smoothly and in case it is not, to ensure that it is repaired.
  • Have a bucket in the store always for emergent cases in case the other systems might fail or dysfunction.

Conclusion

The marine toilet is available as a composting, electric, manual or portable type and there is no single type for all boat owners. Some boats may have a limited space or no electric, which makes some marine toilet heads out of reach.

With toilets in general, it is worth paying the extra for a better quality product. No one enjoys an unhygienic toilet that feels like it is going to collapse and with so many good examples as shown is this article, it makes sense to invest into a high quality model.

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