If you love boondocking, then you’ve probably thought of switching to an RV composting toilet. But swapping out your standard gravity-fed RV toilet for a composting one can seem intimidating. We upgraded our RV toilet to an Air Head Composting Toilet and also ended up removing our black tank, too! We share the entire installation process, Air Head toilet unboxing, and review in this article with videos.
What Is the Air Head Composting Toilet?
The Air Head toilet is a composting toilet designed for off-grid use. If you’re not familiar with composting toilets, you might want to start here: What’s So Great About RV Composting Toilets?
We removed our standard gravity-fed RV toilet from our fifth wheel and replaced it with the Air Head Composting Toilet. This review is based on our own experience using it for full-time RV living since the summer of 2018.
This composting toilet is perfect for people living in small spaces (like boats and RVs!) or in off-grid cabins or hunting camps. It is smaller than a traditional toilet but has a unique design that makes it much more functional than many other composting toilets on the market.
Air Head Toilet Features
The Air Head Composting Toilet is similar to a household toilet in that it has a lid and a seat, but that is where the similarities pretty much end. Like most composting toilets, the Air Head doesn’t connect to any water, nor does it connect to your RV’s black water tank.
Instead, the toilet bowl has a unique design that diverts liquids and solids into separate tanks. The liquids flow forward into a liquid tank in the front. And a lever on the side opens a flap, allowing solids to fall down into the solids tank in the back.
The liquids bucket comes in two sizes: 2 gallons standard or a 1-gallon compact model. This bucket is easily removed by pulling a small metal ring at the bottom forward and grabbing the handle at the top.
The solids bucket is filled about halfway with a peat or coco coir and has an agitator crank to mix the solid waste with the coir. This assists with the breakdown and composting processes. This crank can be ordered on either side of the toilet, depending on what your space allows.
It has a seal around the lid of the toilet to lock in odors, which means no more black tank smell. The Air Head composting toilet also has two vent holes with screens and a small fan. This constantly draws air over the composting waste to dry out the compost and pull odors out of the toilet. These musty compost smells are all vented to the outdoors.
Installation of the Air Head Composting Toilet
When replacing a standard RV toilet with a composting one, you will first have to cut and cap the waterline, remove your old toilet, and do something about the hole. You also have to decide what you’re going to do about your black tank and how you’re going to vent your new toilet.
Capping the Water Line
As mentioned, your new Air Head composting toilet will not need water to flush. So, you will need to find, cut, and cap the waterline. Be sure to turn off the water first!
We recommend using a handy dandy PEX SharkBite End Cap to make this job super simple. Remember to measure your water line diameter to get the correct size.
Removing the Old RV Toilet
Additionally, we recommend cleaning and flushing your old toilet to make this part of the job a bit more pleasant. You should have paper towels on hand too in case of any drips or draining as you disassemble the old toilet.
Combining Black and Grey Tanks…Or Removing Altogether
This is a common thing for RVers to do when installing a composting toilet because you will no longer be using the black tank for sewage. This involves installing a valve that allows you to let your grey water back up into your black tank.
In our case, we were not able to combine our grey and black tanks for additional grey tank capacity because the black tank was stacked on top of our grey. We opted to remove our black tank altogether so we could use that basement space for our future lithium battery bank.
If you are going to keep your black tank, you should cap the old pipe.
The next thing you need to decide is how you’re going to vent your Air Head Composting Toilet. This is commonly done out the sidewall or roof. We did not want to vent out the sidewall because it is near our front door. Since we were removing our black tank, we decided to utilize the black tank vent that was already running up to the roof.
You will have to drill a hole big enough to run your vent hose either in your floor, sidewall, or roof. You will also need to wire your vent fan into 12V power so that it operates all the time on your RV batteries.
Covering the Hole in the Floor
After removing your standard gravity-fed toilet, you will have a hole in your floor. We recommend covering this hole with a piece of wood or a similar object. This is because you will need something very solid to secure the composting toilet brackets.
What the Airhead Toilet Comes With
The Air Head Composting Toilet comes with everything you need to get started. Unlike other compostable toilets, which may be confusing to purchase and install, the Airhead composting toilet makes the job easy. It also comes wired for 12-volt use.
The toilet includes a toilet bowl, solids tank with agitator, solids tank lid, liquid bottle, crank handle, composite wood seat, brackets to hold it in place, mounting hardware, 5 feet of hose, hose connectors, fan and fan housing, 50 paper bowl liners, and a peat brick (US orders only). They have more accessories available should you need more venting hose, additional liquid buckets, or vent fans.
There are also a few things you can customize. You can choose a household or marine seat and what type of fan housing, tank type, and liquid bottle size you want. You can also decide which side you want the crank handle on.
Using and Emptying the Airhead Composting Toilet
Since your Air Head will come with a peat brick, you’ll already have the basics to get started. You should also receive an instructions booklet to follow.
You need to empty liquids every day with two people using the toilet full-time. But don’t worry, the process is very simple. All you have to do is remove the tank and dump it outside, into a sewer connection, an out-house, or a plumbed toilet. (If dumping outside, just remember to follow good outdoor habits, and dump away from water sources, campsites, and so on.) When on the go you can also empty urine into a temporary storage tank to be dumped later.
The frequency of emptying the solids tank depends on use and how many people are in the RV using the toilet. Even with regular use, you’ll only have to dump the solids tank every 2 weeks. And with a smaller group, it could last up to a month or longer before emptying.
To dump your solid waste, you will remove the entire toilet (again, this is easy to do thanks to the impressive design). The top part comes off, and you can dump your solids into a trash bag to toss out. Add in more dry compost moss or coir to refresh the toilet.
Pro Tip: Use disposable gloves when emptying the tanks.
Review of the Air Head Composting Toilet
We installed this toilet in our RV in June of 2018. We chose the Air Head composting toilet because of several specific design features we felt it had over the competition.
Advantages of the Air Head
First of all, we considered the toilet shape and size. We have a very small water closet in our RV, and we couldn’t have too big of a toilet. The Air Head model dimensions fit the bill. It is very portable, can be installed pretty much anywhere, and you can get the crank and vent hose on the side that works best for your RV. We also liked the shape of the seat and bowl better than other models.
Next, we really like the build quality. The hardware on the Air Head is all made of high-quality stainless steel. The seal on the toilet seat is made from a good quality rubber that hasn’t shown hardly any wear in the years of use so far. It also made sense to help keep odors from getting out of the toilet and to prevent any bugs from getting into the compost.
Finally, we liked that removing the liquids bucket was super simple and didn’t mean disassembling the whole toilet. It pulls out very easily and quickly, is comfortable to carry and pour, and is easy to reinstall. The solids tank is also very easy to disconnect from the vent hoses (we didn’t glue them) and brackets.
Downsides of the Air Head
The urine tank has a small, opaque sight glass that makes it somewhat difficult to see how full the tank is. We made this process easier by leaving a flashlight in the bathroom that we can hold up to the tank and easily see the level.
Emptying the urine tank every day takes a bit of getting used to, but you can always get a second urine tank to quickly swap out and dump when it’s convenient.
Another downside is not specific to the Air Head but for all composting toilets: the urine tank smell. This will happen, and it really is just something you’ll need to get used to. It can be helped by pouring a little vinegar or bleach into the tank every couple of days and swishing it around to break up the crystals that form. Tip: Do this in a well-ventilated area, like outside, and don’t breathe the fumes!
Would We Go Back to a Conventional RV Toilet?
There is no way would we go back to a conventional RV toilet! After experiencing the ease of using a composting toilet, we couldn’t be happier with the switch.
In this video, we fully explain why we love using a composting toilet:
The two major benefits of a composting toilet are:
- You don’t use any fresh water to flush your toilet,
- You don’t have to dump a black tank.
This means that your fresh water lasts longer, and your boondocking stretch is not limited by your black tank filling up! Your composting toilet tanks can be taken care of anytime, anywhere. This allows you to boondock for long stretches of time or to use that water you’re saving for a little bit longer shower.
Since making the switch, we have also loved not having to deal with a black tank! Dealing with the solids bucket is so much simpler for us. We also definitely do NOT miss the lingering black water tank smell that seems to plague RVs everywhere.
Overall, we’ve been very happy with our Air Head toilet installation!
The Air Head Composting Toilet Is Worth It!
The Air Head Composting Toilet is an amazing upgrade every RVer should consider making if they are excited about boondocking. Although it comes with a high price tag, the off-grid benefits are many and may be well worth the money for you!
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