We’re not shy about toilet talk here, and the composting toilet is one of our favorite topics. We have extensive experience of 5 years of composting toilet use, and the OGO is the latest model we have tried. We have tried numerous other models over the years, and in this article, we will be sharing our thoughts on OGO toilet and how it stacks up to the competition.
What Is a Composting Toilet?
A composting toilet is a type of dry toilet that uses a combination of aerobic decomposition and evaporation to treat human waste. Instead of flushing waste into a septic tank or sewer system using water, it is deposited into a separate compartment and mixed with carbon-rich materials such as sawdust, peat moss, or coconut coir. The mixture is then aerated by churning to encourage the growth of microorganisms that break down the waste and reduce its volume.
The end result is a nutrient-rich compost that can be used for gardening or agriculture. Composting toilets can be used in off-grid or remote locations where access to a traditional sewage system is not available. We have been using composting toilets in RVs as they allow us to go off the grid and use far less water. Overall, RV composting toilets are also considered more environmentally friendly than traditional toilets as they do not require water and produce less waste.
RVs come with a variety of toilet types, with the most common being gravity-fed or cassette toilets. However, it is usually relatively easy to replace these toilets for composting toilets if you want less mess and more freedom off-grid.
What Is an OGO Composting Toilet?
An OGO composting toilet is an eco-friendly alternative to traditional toilets that uses an electric agitator and biological processes to break down solid waste. OGO is an American manufacturer of this unique composting toilet design.
It works by separating liquid from solid waste, with the latter breaking down into compost in a self-contained system. This compost can create nutrient-rich humus (the dark organic matter in soil), which people can use as natural fertilizer or return to the soil. They’ll divert liquid waste away and dispose of it separately.
You can power these composting toilets with a regular house outlet, but many operate with solar power, a generator, or shore power in places like an RV, van, or boat. The motor uses very little power and runs on 12V so it’s a perfect fit for campers and vehicles.
Who Makes OGO Composting Toilets?
OGO is an American brand of composting toilets that is trying to innovate the design of a composting toilet. The company is relatively new, delivering its first units in 2021. Their toilet has quickly gained traction as one of the most unique on the market and OGO ships worldwide. We were early adopters and purchased our toilet in early 2022. We previously used an Airhead composting toilet, but wanted to to try out this new design.
While the general principle of the OGO remains the same as other composting toilets, OGO has made some unique modifications to try and make the toilet as user-friendly and installation-friendly as possible. They are constantly trying to improve their product, so it’s possible that current models may not reflect our experience exactly.
As the OGO was very new when we decided to give it a try, we had to ask many questions before making a purchase. We have been pleasantly surprised at how responsive the customer service has been. At one point, we were even directed to the head engineer to talk about the toilet design and our unique use case. We have also shared our feedback with the company and were thrilled to see that they were happy to hear from us and willing to consider our ideas.
What Does an OGO Composting Toilet Look Like?
An OGO composting toilet typically looks similar to a regular RV or boat toilet. It is a bit more square-shaped but has some additional features that set it apart. At 15 by 16 inches, it also has one of the smallest footprints of any composting toilet on the market. This reduced footprint makes it an excellent choice for vans, boats, RVs, and tiny homes.
How Does the OGO Composting Toilet Work?
The OGO composting toilet has two compartments in the tank: one for collecting liquid waste and another for collecting solid waste. The tank also has an electric agitator for solid waste processing, a fan to control odors, and diverters to ensure proper draining of liquid waste.
After separating liquid from solid waste, an electric agitator mixes the solid waste with another medium. It can be a medium like coco coir, peat moss, or sawdust. This promotes aerobic decomposition, resulting in composting material.
The tank of a composting toilet has a fan to control odors. The fan also helps dry out the resulting compost material. This system makes removing the waste matter an easy, painless process. It allows you to add it to a compost pile or dispose of it in a trash bin.
The overall concept of the OGO toilet remains the same as most other composting toilets on the market. The upper toilet bowl has a urine-diverting design that separates it into a bottle, while solids drop into a bucket via a flap you can open. The design of the flap will catch some urine and redirect it to the bottle if the flap is closed.
The major feature the OGO offers that none of the other toilets we have tried had is the electric auger/churner. When you are done using the OGO, you press a button similar to flushing a standard toilet that runs the auger in the solids bucket. This button also has a light that will come on when the urine bucket is full and needs emptying.
This electric auger requires 12V power that can be provided from an adapter or directly wired if installed on an RV or boat. This 12V power also powers the exhaust fan. The toilet features a small exhaust fan that is a standard size and easy to replace. This can also be swapped from one corner to the other if needed for installation.
The toilet is robust overall, with a good solid feel. But the urine bottle cover must be firmly in place to achieve strength and stability. The toilet seat is also robust enough to sit on when closed and does not have noticeable flex.
The overall design of the toilet is completely square, with minimal protrusions from the main unit. This creates a pleasant aesthetic that is easy to fit in small spaces. Compared to other composting toilets on the market, the OGO, by far, has the most unique and appealing shape to us. The square shape might seem like it would be weird to sit on, but it’s surprisingly comfortable. The actual seat has rounded edges when the lid is open.
The toilet is completely plastic in construction except for a few stainless steel metal components and wires. The plastic on the exterior is a matte soft feel that seems to clean up ok. Much of the mechanical components of the toilet are plastic welded together, and there are a few nuts and bolts as well.
The toilet has two lids. The first lid covers the seat that needs to be kept down when not in use for proper airflow and to keep bugs out.
How Do You Get Rid of the Waste?
To empty the solid waste container, unlatch the hooks on the sides of the toilet and pull the front drawer out to reveal the inner workings of the toilet. Then, pull the solids bin either forward or from the top.
You would treat the solid waste from an OGO composting toilet like any organic byproduct. During the time it has been in the toilet, some decomposition has already started. So, you can add the solid matter to a compost pile to produce humus. This, in turn, can be fertilizer for a garden, helpful in other agricultural applications, or blend into the soil.
The liquid waste diverts into a separate container. You can remove the liquid tank for disposal at a dump site or in a traditional toilet. Simply unlatch the hooks on the sides of the OGO and tip the front panel away to reveal the liquid container. Remove it from the toilet and take it to where you want to dump it.
As urine contains nutrients like nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus, it is safe to pour on the ground. You may choose to pour it near trees and plants. However, please do not dispose of it near a watershed.
Can You Flush Toilet Paper in an OGO Composting Toilet?
Yes, you can flush toilet paper in this composting toilet, as its agitator will blend the toilet paper into the solid waste and composting medium. However, it is crucial to note that OGO recommends using single-ply or biodegradable toilet paper, which decomposes better.
For the serious boondocker or off-grid dweller, it is much more space-saving to dispose of your used toilet paper in a closable waste bin so you don’t fill your toilet faster with paper. This means fewer and further between times of emptying. We personally have adopted a hybrid approach, where the most lightly soiled paper goes into the waste bin, and all the rest can go down into the toilet.
How Often Do You Dump It?
The frequency of emptying an OGO composting toilet depends on usage. According to OGO, their toilets will generally need to be emptied every 25 to 30 uses for solid waste. The liquid bottle holds 2.4 gallons and has an indicator warning light. This bottle should leave you with 5 to 6 uses before you must empty it.
Based on our personal experience, we can go more than 3 weeks using the toilet daily before having to dump the solids tank. Since we have plumbed the urine container into our black tank (more on that later) we do not empty the liquids. However, we would expect unplumbed that this would have to be emptied daily.
Installation of the OGO Composting Toilet
Installation of the OGO composting toilet depends on the modifications you need to make and supplies you need to get. Depending on your DIY comfort level, you could probably get it a replacement done in a day.
We have installed 3 OGO composting toilets in various tightness situations and always found a way to make it work. The air vent design also can be swapped from side to side to choose the best outlet location, which helps installation significantly.
Can the OGO Toilet Plumb the Urine?
The toilet can operate with a urine bottle that is easily removed, or you can plumb the liquids directly into a waste line. At the time of our installation, we came up with two unique ways to do the plumbing on our own, as OGO did not offer a urine plumb kit.
We installed OGO composting toilets in both our overland truck camper and our Class A motorhome, as well as a friend’s truck camper as well. These are the methods we used.
We installed the OGO and plumbed the urine in our overland truck camper using rigid tubing and plumbing techniques. The OGO replaced a standard gravity-fed RV toilet that sat directly over the black tank.
The rigid tubing allowed us to make a simple cup that would press against the lid when it closed and seal it as if it were connected to the urine bottle. It allows the toilet to be used as normal and easily remove the solid waste bin.
We had to devise a different solution for plumbing our motorhome liquid waste into its black tank. This toilet sits on a slideout and was previously a macerating toilet, which meant it ground and pumped the waste instead of relying on gravity like most standard RV toilets. We used flexible tubing to plumb the liquids of the OGO into our motorhome black tank.
Since this tubing was in the back of the toilet location, we needed to get a little creative. We first drilled a hole in the back of the toilet to align it with the existing plumbing. Then we used clamps to secure the tubes and prevent leaking.
Since we didn’t have a good air vent, we also wanted to use the same line for venting (venting through the black tank). This required a T at the back of the toilet. Sine the fan of the toilet provides positive air pressure, as long as we created a P trap with the line, the smell should not be an issue. And it has worked very well. The only drawback is that the way we connected the tubing requires that we remove it each time we open the top lid. This only takes a minuet as its a simple pipe clamp.
The Advantages of Using the OGO Composting Toilet
One of the key advantages of using this particular composting toilet is its ability to reduce water usage. Traditional RV toilets use high amounts of water to flush away waste. We love to boondocking in our RVs, and conserving water means we can stay out longer without refreshing resources.
Because solid waste processing results in compost matter, an OGO toilet means we dump our black tank a lot less. We hate this nasty chore, and would much rather empty the composting toilet.
Additionally, composting toilets rely on natural processes to decompose waste. Therefore, they produce much less wastewater than traditional toilets and do not require chemical additives to break down solids. As an added benefit, they don’t smell as badly as normal RV toilets! Anyone who tells you composting toilets stink is just spreading one of the many myths about composting toilets. Because the vent and fan pull the earthy stench right out of the bucket, you never smell a thing.
Finally, the OGO has one of the smallest footprints of any composting toilet. Their sleek design makes them particularly useful in tight spaces like vans, boats, RVs, and tiny homes. We do not think any other model composting toilet would have fit in our overland truck camper due to the shape and size the the bathroom.
What Are the Drawbacks?
One of the drawbacks of using an OGO composting toilet can be waste disposal. Some people aren’t comfortable handling the disposal of either liquid waste in a bottle or solid waste compost material. In addition, you must maintain the toilet by adding a new composting medium.
Some people also consider the electric agitator a drawback. It is highly efficient when processing solid waste but requires a power source.
Though the agitator is highly effective, to indeed be odorless, the OGO composting toilet requires venting. This process requires additional installation requirements and components. If you can, we like plumbing the vent right into the black tank vent. However, depending on that access, you may have to drill a hole in the side of your RV to vent the toilet out. This is a relatively simple thing and not really a drawback, just an extra step.
Our Thoughts And Comparison
Overall the OGO is our top choice for composting toilets that are available today. We have installed and tried the Airhead, nature’s head, and now OGO. While each has its advantage, the electric agitator of the OGO seems to make it last far longer and compost much better. The mechanical design of the OGO is a bit more complex than some competitors, which could be a drawback in the reliability department. However, we have not experienced a failure yet.
As for use, no composting toilet is exactly like using a regular toilet and takes so much time to get used to. In general, the OGO is on par with the comfort and usability of competitors we have tried. Like mentioned before, the square design may seem weird but is surprisingly comfortable.
Is an OGO Composting Toilet a Good Choice?
Weighing the benefits and drawbacks, an OGO composting toilet is an excellent choice. It is particularly beneficial for anyone looking to reduce their environmental impact and save water. It also saves space when you use it in tight quarters. This style of composting toilet eliminates the need for a black tank or septic system.
All these advantages make this composting toilet an ideal solution for those looking to adopt more sustainable practices. You can utilize it at home or in an off-grid environment, like a van, boat, or RV.
Would you use an OGO composting toilet? Let us know in the comments below.
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Sunday 2nd of April 2023
So what happens with a composting toilet when you get the nasty flu/virus or food poisoning that gives you bad diarrhea? Can the composting handle that kind of event?