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When considering a toilet for a camper or other small living environment, there are a few different types that you can choose from. Cassette toilets are among the most popular and are also very convenient and easy to use. These types of toilets are affordable and portable so they are easy to use in many different scenarios.
They are similar to the type you would find in your home. They contain a bowl that will hold freshwater that you do your business in and then flush it down into a waste holding tank. The only difference is that when you flush it down, you have to eventually dump that waste tank.
While similar to the standard toilet in a home, there are also many differences. There are a variety of different brands, types, and models on the market. Among some of the top brands that you can choose from and include:
- And a bunch of lesser-known brands that you can find at online retailers
The one you choose is simply a matter of the features that you want and how much you want to spend. Some of these brands have been around for a while and are tried and true. Dometic and Thetford are among the most trusted names in the camping industry so these are always a good choice. You probably know the name Dometic from the refrigeration products that they make. I installed a Dometic refrigerator in my van and it has been a great product. Let’s talk about toilets though.
This series of toilets also has other models that you may prefer.
- Porta Potti 565 – The largest toilet that Thetford offers with a 4-gallon freshwater tank and a 5.5-gallon wastewater tank. It features a standard-sized toilet seat and also has an electric flush on it that uses batteries. It even includes a hidden toilet paper holder.
- Thetford Porta Potti 345 – A smaller toilet that still maintains a 4-gallon freshwater tank but only a 3.2-gallon wastewater tank. You’ll have to dump this one a little more often.
- Thetford Porta Potti 335 – Even smaller with a 2.6-gallon freshwater tank and a 2.6-gallon wastewater tank.
- Thetford Porta Potti 135 – Same size as the 335 but offers a pump flush rather than the standard piston flush like the other models.
The main difference in these toilets will be the size. The amount of space that you have for a toilet will probably be the deciding factor on the one that you choose. I wanted something as small as possible but also big enough to feel as though it was comfortable and not so awkward.
Thetford Porta Potti 365 Quality and Features
The Thetford Porta Potti 365 toilet that I purchased and use in my camper van is basic. I prefer products like this since there is not much to them and very limited functionality that can go wrong. It is a simple toilet that has a freshwater reservoir at the top along with a wastewater tank.
As with all of these toilets, this one has a flushing mechanism that pulls out and makes it easy to flush the waste down into the blackwater tank. It also features a gauge so that you can determine when your wastewater holding tank is full. Personally, I never really use this because I generally know when it’s time to change it. I keep my toilet changed every day or two when I am out on the road so that the gauge never really comes into play.
However, this is a good feature if it’s something that you want to use. If you intend on going longer periods between dumping your toilet, this gauge might help you to keep from overfilling your wastewater tank.
Using The Thetford Porta Potti 365 Toilet
Using this type of toilet is very simple. It doesn’t require anything special which is why I like it. It isn’t wasteful since you only need to put water in it and possibly some type of chemical or even vinegar to help with smells. I use Walex Bio-Pak chemicals in mine. These work great at keeping the smell down but they do have a bit of a chemical smell to them that can permeate your van or small camping area.
The smell is pleasant but some people might not like this type of chemical smell around. It smells like a typical fresh toilet smell and nothing special. Oftentimes I do use vinegar but I have found that these chemical packets Keep it smelling fresher for longer. You only notice the smell of the chemicals when you flush the toilet and some of the chemical smell escapes.
The first step to using this toilet is to fill the top reservoir with fresh water. This will be the water that will be used to flush the toilet when you use it. In the case of the Porta Potti 365, this reservoir is 4 gallons. I generally fill it up almost to the full level. To accomplish this, you simply use the piston pump to pump the freshwater into the bowl.
Once this is filled with water, you will want to add some type of deodorizer and waste breakdown chemical to the waste holding tank. This is not a necessary step but I have found that it makes a big difference in how long you can go without dumping your toilet or having unpleasant odors in your living area. It’s easy to do with the tablets mentioned above. You can simply drop one in and it will do the rest for you.
Once this is done, you are ready to begin using the toilet.
To use, pump a little bit of freshwater into the toilet bowl so that the bowl has water in it like a standard toilet. Once you have done this, you can relieve yourself. After you have done your business, you can simply flush this waste down by pulling the lever in the front of the toilet. The waste will be flushed into the wastewater tank below. This wastewater tank is sealed off so that no smells should escape.
To dump the toilet, you will simply need to remove the top portion of the toilet by using the lever on the back. Once you have removed the top from the bottom, you will then be able to dump the bottom portion into an approved waste dumping site. You may also choose to dump it into a standard toilet, a pit toilet, or a portable toilet that can often be found in construction areas.
This toilet has a button that you push while you are dumping it so that airflow allows the wastewater to flow more easily. Pushing this button gives the toilet a good smooth flow. This toilet is easy to dump at a standard RV dump site.
I would suggest wearing rubber gloves when dealing with dumping the wastewater tank. However, it really isn’t a messy job if you are careful. I have never had an issue with any of the waste leaking or getting onto me in any way. The process is easy to do and the wastewater flows out of the pour spout easily.
Thetford Porta Potti 365 For A Camper Van
If you are planning to use this toilet for a camper van or other small camping unit, it is a great choice. It is a good size and can easily be stored away if you do not have a place that it can remain continually set up. Many people use a sliding drawer or a bench seat that the toilet can easily be stored into. Once The drawer is pulled out or the bench is raised, the toilet is revealed making it out of sight and out of mind for the most part.
Many people are afraid of the odor that might persist from having a toilet like this in a small space. However, my experience has been positive with this cassette toilet. I have not found this to be the case and for the most part, the toilet has no smell that comes from it. Of course, this will depend on what you use the toilet for. If you intend to use it only for liquids, you should have no problems.
If you do intend to use it for solids as well, you will have a little more difficulty keeping the odor away. There really is no getting around this. While you can use deodorizing tablets that break down the waste and keep the odors down, they can only do so much. I would suggest that if you plan on using this type of toilet for solids as well as liquids, make sure that you have a plan to keep the toilet dumped out and cleaned on a regular basis.
My toilet sits in my shower all the time and is held in with bungee cords when I am driving. It sits tight and is always ready to be used. It’s convenient for me to be able to pull over at any location and hop back into the living area and relieve myself. All of this without ever leaving the van. It’s super handy when you are traveling long distances or are in a location where it may be difficult to find a public bathroom.
I would not want to be without this toilet in my camper van. I would much rather use it then have to go into a convenient store and use public facilities. Since the toilet is so easy to maintain and dump, it gets used quite often in my van and has been a great choice overall.
Pros And Cons
- It’s convenient. Having a toilet like this that can travel with you gives you a convenient place to relieve yourself when you don’t want to stop at a public restroom.
- It’s well-built and high-quality. It feels like a substantial toilet when you sit on it so you won’t feel like you are copping a squat on a flimsy toy. This toilet is built to be used and should last for years if properly maintained.
- It’s an affordable option compared to other types of toilets. You can spend over a thousand dollars on some types of toilets. A cassette toilet allows you to create a convenient throne in your camper for less.
- It’s small and doesn’t take up much space. You can keep it out in the open or you can store it away easily. If you build a custom bench or cabinet for it, no one will ever know it exists.
- It’s easy to maintain. Fill it with fresh water and then dump the wastewater as needed. Clean it as needed by sloshing some water and vinegar in the waste holding tank and that’s about it.
- It does not put off unpleasant odors. I have used mine for over a year and have not noticed any unpleasant odors. It does a good job of keeping any odors sealed in as long as you take precautions and use deodorizing chemicals and keep it dumped and cleaned.
- Not as comfortable as a home toilet or the larger models. Although it is well built, it is not nearly as comfortable as the home toilet you may be used to. The Porta Potti 365 is not a full-sized seat so it does hurt a little if you sit on it for any length of time.
- Has to be dumped and maintained. Although easy to do, dumping a toilet can be a dreadful chore when out on the road. However, you’ll have to do this no matter what type of toilet you have in your rig. It’s just part of the fun.
UPDATE: I have noticed a problem with the seal between the freshwater tank and the wastewater tank over time. There are times when the toilet bowl does not hold fresh water and it will drip immediately into the waste holding tank. So, when you relieve yourself in it, the liquid just flows right into the waste tank without having to flush it. I haven’t figured out why it does this but it seems like the weather affects the seal and you must make sure the top part of the toilet is seated perfectly onto the bottom part.
A cassette toilet is a great option for those who want a toilet in their mobile living space. The Thetford Porta Potti 365 has been perfect for my camper van and it would provide a great way to have any portable toilet in any type of camper. Overall, this toilet is an excellent choice for those needing something large enough for multiple adults to use but small enough to be able to store away easily.
For the price, a cassette toilet is a good way to include an easy-to-use toilet in any situation. Whether it is a van conversion, a truck camper, a tiny home, cabin, or any other situation where you could use a mobile toilet unit, it will serve your needs well.
The Thetford line of toilets offers something for everyone. Whether you want the large fancy model or a small basic one, they are all high-quality and the only difference is features and capacity. It’s an affordable choice for those looking to include some type of toilet in a camping type of living environment.