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How Macerating Toilets Make RVs Better!

An RV macerating toilet is a special type of toilet that has some advantages over gravity flush toilets. These are commonly used on high-end RV’s, but they do come with some drawbacks as well. We have a macerating toilet in one of our RV’s and have a lot of experience with it. Today, let’s take a look at what makes these toilets different and the pros and cons of having one in your RV.

What Is a Macerator Toilet? 

The most common toilet in an RV is the gravity flush toilet. This toilet uses gravity only to flush waste into the RV’s black tank. These toilets are very simple and work well; however, they have a few drawbacks. First of all the toilet must be located over the black tank or very close to it as the waste needs to “fall” into the tank.

This can be a big limiting factor as to where a toilet can be placed in an RV. The second is that when the toilet flushes, it directly connects with the black tank and can belch sewer odors into the living space.  

Standard gravity-fed RV toilet
Standard gravity-fed RV toilet

Unlike a gravity flush toilet, a macerating toilet can be installed anywhere in the RV and is sealed from the black tank for minimal odors. A macerator toilet grinds up waste and paper, similar to a garbage disposal. These toilets have a pump that pumps the waste into the holding tank, so the toilet doesn’t need to be directly over the tank.

This makes them perfect for adding a second toilet to the RV or installing it where a gravity flush would not work. Examples of locations where a macerating toilet is required would be the forward area of a fifth wheel or over the Class A coach engine. We even had one located on a slide!  

How Do Macerating Toilets Work? 

Macerating toilets require electricity and work with an electronic water valve and a motor that grinds up waste and paper at the push of a button. There are usually two flush options on most RV macerator toilets: one for liquids and one for solids. The difference in the flush is how much water is used. The flush buttons usually include a tank level sensor as well. In the photo below the little light in the lower right is yellow indicating tank half full. These sensors are required because a macerating toilet can overpump a full tank, which would be very bad!

Macerating flush panel

When a flush is initiated first the toilet will open an electric valve and fill with extra water. Then there is usually a small pause before a powerful motor grinds and pumps the waste out. These motors make some noise but usually are pretty quiet.

Pros and Cons

An RV macerating toilet has some great benefits but also some drawbacks.

Pros of RV Macerating Toilets

An RV macerating toilet typically feels more like using a residential household toilet. Instead of flushing with your foot, a button is used, and the bowl will automatically fill with water.  Another big benefit of macerating toilets is they help prevent clogs in the RV’s black tank wastewater system. Because waste is ground up, normal toilet paper can be used as well.

One of the largest pros we have noticed is the lack of smell. Because the toilet is isolated from the black tank by way of a trap and pump (similar to household toilets), there is no smell when flushing. The flush also feels much closer to that of a residential toilet in a house.

Another pro to a macerating RV toilet is the ability to install it anywhere in the RV. This gives the RV manufacturers many more options for design, and you may find a layout that is more preferable. 

Cons of RV Macerating Toilets

One of the biggest cons to an RV macerating toilet is that they are not as efficient on water.  This is because they need to have a certain amount of water to run the flush cycle, and you have no control over it. This is not a problem with hookups but can be a limiting factor if you want to use the RV off the grid.  

macerating toilet in our RV, look into RV toilet open
This is a look into our macerating toilet, notice that there is no at the bottom of the toilet, water sits in a trap against the pump so its always sealed from the black tank even during a flush.

Macerating toilets also have more moving parts and could incur a more complicated and costly repair if something went wrong. Additionally, because the toilet requires power, you may not be able to flush it if the coach’s electrical system fails or your batteries die.  

Macerator Flush Toilet vs Exterior Macerator Pump

You may have heard of an RV macerating pump but not the toilet. An inline macerating pump can be used at the RV dumpsite and typically attaches to the exterior waste tank gate valve or built into the system.

These macerating pumps allow you to dump on an incline because they actually pump waste. This is a popular modification many people make when wanting to dump their black tank at home. 

A macerating toilet will not pump your waste uphill, but it will grind your waste before it ever enters the holding tank. Inline pumps grind up waste as it leaves the holding tank. Dumping with an inline macerator pump is great for long-distance dumping or uphill dumping but almost always takes longer. 

Best RV Macerator Toilet: Thetford Tecma

Thetford 38457 Tecma Silence Plus 2 Mode 12V RV...
  • Amazingly powerful, yet virtually noiseless turbine pump
  • Remarkably elegant European styling
  • Solid porcelain base with molded plastic seat and cover

Although pricey, this macerating toilet is highly recommended for RVers. It is convenient, quiet, and features a push-button wall-mount for flushing. The push-button panel also has a sensor to let you know when your black tank is empty, half full, and full. The Thetford Tecma RV macerator toilet is made with a porcelain base and feels like a regular household toilet. 

Thetford is also well known for its macerating products and makes a great macerating adapter for dumping. 

this is our tecma toilet
This is our techma macerating toilet in our motorhome

Are Macerating Toilets Worth It? 

There’s no doubt about it – there are many benefits to using a macerator toilet in your RV. It protects your black tank from build-up and clogs, it feels like a residential toilet, and it is very simple to use. However, they do have the drawbacks of complexity and cost, so you tend to find them on higher-end RVs. Ultimately, whether or not this toilet is right for you will depend on your wants and needs. We personally really like our macerator toilet, but we only use it when hooked up and use composting when on the move. Check out the tour of our motorhome to see how its used.

Luxury Living On Wheels: The Ultimate Tour of Our Customized Monaco Motorhome

Macerating toilets aren’t your only RV toilet alternative. Composting toilets are another great option. Learn more here: What’s So Great About RV Composting Toilets?

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About Tom Morton

Tom, a Pacific Northwest native, is our technical genius. Born in Washington and raised in Alaska before settling in Michigan. He's the man who keeps our operation running, both figuratively and literally.

With a background in Electrical Engineering, Tom specializes in RV solar systems and lithium batteries. He made history as the first documented individual to use a Tesla battery module as an RV battery. Tom has personally assisted countless RVers with system installations and has educated thousands more through his videos and articles.

Cinematography is another of Tom's passions, showcased in his work on the Go North series. You can see his camera skills on display in The RVers TV show on Discovery Channel and PBS where he also stars as a co-host.

Tom's mechanical expertise extends beyond RVs to boats, planes, and all things mechanical. He's renowned for taking on maintenance and repair projects single-handedly and is often spotted underneath RVs, making him the technical backbone of our endeavors.

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Jerry

Saturday 23rd of March 2024

What is the estimated cost for installation for those of us who would like to avoid such projects?

Tom and Caitlin Morton

Wednesday 27th of March 2024

Most of the time macerating toilets are not installed aftermarket, but it is possible. You would need a competent RV tech willing to take it on to do it and it would be a few thousand dollars for sure. I have removed one but never installed it. Will depend heavily on the RV design how easy it is.

Cathy

Saturday 5th of August 2023

The Tecma toilet is great...till the controller goes out and then "nobody" has a replacement...nobody!!! HELP US!!! Somebody make a replacement!!

Mortons on the Move

Monday 18th of September 2023

Oh no I hate to hear that. They can usually be orderd online, but delivery might take a while. Our RV came with a spare because its so critical!

John

Sunday 28th of November 2021

Hi there My wife and I have a sailboat we plan to live at least part of the time. We have to use our shower hose to fill up the toilet We would like an easy way to flush and pump out when we are out far enough Can one add on macerator pump do both?

Mortons on the Move

Monday 29th of November 2021

Usually one pump cannot fill and dump, but adding one to dump your tank is very doable. If your toilet is a macerator already then you can get something like a whale gulper diaphragm pump to pump out.

John

Friday 3rd of September 2021

Regarding the cassette toilet and Boondocking in the wilderness? I guess if you have a good shovel you can go old school and just dig a deep home somewhere if there is no bathroom around...

Mortons on the Move

Saturday 4th of September 2021

In theory yes, in actuality it's frowned upon because many of the camping toilet chemicals need to be broken down in a holding tank or are toxic to plants and animals. It also would not be very fun to try and bury it. If you are looking to do this a composting toilet is a much better option as there are no chemicals and it's a much cleaner solution with the separation. We have been fertilizing trees on our property for years with our composting toilet.