Best Marine Toilets for 2023
Nature's Head Self Contained Composting Toilet
Jabsco Twist n' Lock
Raritan Marine Elegance
Choosing a marine toilet is not always the easiest job. You have a variety of marine head types to choose from. You need to decide if you want an electric marine toilet or a manual toilet. You may want a composting toilet as well. Does it have a piston pump? How big is the water tank? Do you have space to even fit the size of the toilet bowl? Will it meet pollution regulations or drain your battery? There is a lot to consider when hunting down the best marine toilet.
Let’s take a look at the features of the best marine toilets on the market.
Things to Remember
Picking the best marine toilet means weighing several factors. The best marine toilet needs to be more than just fit on your boat. It needs to meet all safety and jurisdictional requirements. It needs to be easy to maintain and to clean. It also needs to be comfortable to use and easy to install. These are the factors that separate the best marine toilet from just any old boat toilet.
Type of Toilet
As we have seen, there are four options when it comes to choosing marine toilets. The best marine toilet for you really depends on your boat and your personal requirements.
Electric Marine Toilets: Electric marine toilets are very easy to use. Once you are done, a simple push of a button is all that’s required. These kinds of toilets either drain into a black water tank or the ocean. The electric component is the macerator that is included in the unit. They will also feature a scavenger pump. A macerator grinds up solid waste to make it easier to dispose of. Because water pressure is a concern on a boat, this is ideal. Less pressure is needed to pump any waste that has been reduced to a slurry with a macerator.
One potential downside of electric marine toilets is the learning curve. You’ll need to hold down the button long enough for the ways to be macerated and pumped away. If you’re not used to how this marine head works, you may not hold the button down long enough. That can eventually lead to clogs in the pipes.
Another thing to consider about electric marine toilets is power requirements. They will draw a good deal of battery power. And they can also potentially be noisy. If you’re out with guests on a boat, an electric toilet can be somewhat distracting. The best electric marine toilets will balance power needs with performance.
Finally, an electric toilet does use a lot of water. If you’re drawing from your own fresh water supply, this can drain it very quickly.
Composting Toilets: The newest kind of marine toilets are composting toilets. These work a little differently than traditional marine toilets. A composting toilet has two separate compartments in it. One compartment is for liquid waste. The other compartment is meant for solid waste. The solid waste compartment is dry. It allows for the waste to be mixed with another component like sawdust or peat moss. A fan allows for ventilation. When mixed with the dry components, composting is allowed to begin. If all goes according to plan, it breaks down fairly quickly and there is no noticeable odor. Plus, as an added benefit, it’s good for the environment.
You don’t need to use water for a composting toilet, which is great for small vessels. And they produce far less odor than any of the other kinds. You can even build your own.
The major issue with composting toilets is proper use. If the composting is not done correctly, the results can be disastrous. You could end up with a bug infestation. Additionally, if you plan to use it long term, you’ll need extra storage for the compost.
Portable Marine Toilets: If your boat is too small for a bathroom at all, that a portable marine toilet is the best choice. Portable marine toilets can be used just about anywhere on the boat. The upper half of a portable marine toilet is the water tank. The lower half will be the holding tank. These are obviously not meant for long-term use. However, if you’re up for a day trip on a boat, this is a great solution. Portable marine toilets are often the most affordable option as well.
The big upside of portable marine toilets is their size. They can be used on any small craft. Ironically, this is also the downside. They are small and will need to be emptied often.
Manual Marine Toilets: Manual marine toilets are some of the most common kinds of marine toilets. As the name suggests, you need to manually pump these to get them to work. Water will help the bowl drain and a switch valve will open it for the waste to flow out. You can pump in either saltwater or freshwater to help drain these toilets. They often come in very compact sizes as well. That makes them ideal for medium to small-sized boats. Because there are no electric components, they are often easier to set up.
Manual marine toilets are often very cheap. Maintaining them is not that difficult either. The biggest problem with these is making sure everyone knows how to use it properly. Manual marine toilets can clog very easily. They can also be over pumped.
If your boat has a bathroom, it’s probably not very big. If it doesn’t, then you have even less space. The best marine toilet has to make the best use of the space you have available. You need to make sure you have room for the holding tank plus the toilet. If it needs to go through the hull, like an electric marine toilet, you need to be aware of how to make that work.
Another thing to keep in mind is how it fits against the hole. It’s one thing for a toilet to be able to be installed, it’s another for it to be comfortable to use when someone is on it. If it doesn’t work unless you’re hunched over, it may not be the best choice for your boat toilet.
The size of your boat toilet holding tank is important. You don’t want a marine head with no holding capacity. Likewise, if it’s too big, your boat may not have the space to accommodate it. And if it’s an electric marine toilet, you may not be able to handle the power needs.
How you maintain your marine toilet is of critical importance. Is there a holding tank that will need to be emptied regularly? How difficult is it to access and clean? Will you be able to supply it with enough water? These all need to be considered before you settle on the kind of marine toilet you’re going to use.
Part of this also relates to odors. Some models are exceptional at reducing smell. Others, not so much. You need to be aware of whether you have to invest in deodorizing liquids or compounds. The last thing you want is to be trapped on a boat with the smell of sewage.
What the toilet is made from plays a significant part in this. Some of the lightweight plastics that portable toilets are made from are hard to clean. As well, the design of some toilets does not lend itself well to a thorough cleaning. At least not in a way that can be done without removing the whole toilet in scrubbing it out. So you need to be aware of the cleaning process, and how much time and effort you’re willing to give to it.
Composting heads will be entirely noise free. However, electric toilets especially can get very loud when they’re in operation. The best marine toilets have safeguards in place to help lessen motor sounds. Cheaper ones can get extremely noisy, however. Even some manual toilets can produce distinct and distracting noises. If you’re on a boat by yourself, the noise may not be a concern. However, if you’re up with your family or a group, you may want something a little more quiet.
You have a few options when it comes to buying a marine toilet. Portable toilets are usually made of some kind of plastic, like polyurethane. That makes them lightweight and fairly durable. Porcelain bowls are more like home toilets. They’re strong and easy to clean, but they will be heavier. They can also be fragile. You’ll also need to be aware of what kind of metal parts your toilet has. If you’re pumping in seawater, you’ll need something made from stainless steel. The salt water will corrode anything else quickly. This applies to any kind of fasteners or other metal parts that may be involved.
Depending on where you sail, you may have different rules to follow for your marine toilet. Some places require that you pump your marine toilet regularly. Other jurisdictions require you to have a holding tank of a certain size. But that’s not true everywhere. Research this ahead of time before you go on any trips. That way you won’t be met with any bureaucratic red tape and surprises.
Because of the limited space, you want to make sure you’re getting the most efficient toilet you can’t. If you’re opting for electric, look for a macerator pump. This will be able to grind up solid waste. It means you can store more and or have a smaller holding tank. This will also be good for the environment. It helps the waste decompose faster. Composting toilets are of course even better at this job. An electric toilet with a macerator pump can do a decent job as well.
The Bottom Line
If you’re serious about boating, you need to have a marine toilet. Otherwise you’re always going to be tethered to shore. An extended stay at sea means that you need to have the proper marine head for your vessel. With so many potential options available, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about this. Make sure you’re taking all of these factors into account before you make your final purchase. The kind of boat you have, in the way you use it, will greatly affect the kind of marine toilet that will work best for you.
Remember to be responsible with your waste disposal. Keep an eye out for environmentally friendly options whenever possible.