Cassette Toilet VS. Composting Toilet: Know the Difference

Many travelers now prefer to live full time in recreational vehicles for many reasons. One common worry one can have the difficulty of finding or incorporating restrooms in the RV build. Indeed, this will be a big problem because toilets are a major need. Well, worry no more since you have a cassette and composting toilet to choose from that can replace your traditional RV toilet. The challenge now would be the right choice to make. 

A cassette toilet and composting toilet come with a removable waste tank that you can dump when full instead of all waste mixing in the black tank. Composting toilets keep solid and liquid waste in separate bins and work by composting while cassette ones mix all the waste in one removable tank. 

Having a restroom is a huge difference in your RV living and having alternatives to the traditional type that will fit your lifestyle is even greater. These toilets offer travelers comfort and ease while traveling and never having to worry about a thing. This article will help you choose which one is better, between a cassette and composting toilet.

Dissecting The Differences of Cassette and Composting Toilets

Like any other toilet, cassette and composting types aim to receive human waste and flush the waste properly to a dumping tank. However, you should know the differences to determine what is best to install on your RV. 

Form and Design

The major part of any toilet is the bowl and the lid. However, when it comes to the flushing system and storage, both will differ. Also, in design and appearance, you can easily distinguish the two. 

The cassette toilet is a bench-style toilet that is made to fit your RV design. It also has a lid and a toilet that can be designed to pivot and attached closer to the wall to allow good space for easy removal of the waste tank. Some may also be equipped with wheels that make moving the toilet convenient and easier. 

A cassette toilet has the actual toilet bowl that is installed inside the camper. The black removable tank is normally accessible from the outside of the camper. Note that its maximum capacity is around five gallons only. 

On the other hand, composting toilets have many complex designs that you can utilize according to your preference. Some of which are self-contained systems, multi-chambered or split systems. 

In most RVs, the composting toilet has two buckets, with one for solid and liquid waste. These wastes are separated, which contributes to the functionality of the setup.

Functionality and Working Mechanism

The primary difference between the two toilets lies in their functionality. At a basic level, composting toilets keep solid and liquid waste separate. Solids flow into the container while liquid flows into another container, and both these waste tanks are removable. 

The bottom of the solid waste tank has a composting medium that aids in breaking the solid waste. The composting material can be sawdust or peat moss.

A fan will then blow air on the solid waste and out the RV just like an exhaust fan, and it dries out the waste forcing the odor out of your RV. The liquid, however, is captured in a different tank that you can dump out in any comfort rooms or dumping stations.

On the other hand, the cassette toilet does not utilize the separation technique but has one waste tank for solid and liquid waste. It also has a flush system that utilizes water to get rid of the waste. 

After it gets full, you can remove the waste tank and dump it out in proper dumping stations. Remember that even though there are hundreds of dumping points across many places, these are not readily available for you. 

Some of these are only exclusive to camping guests or may also charge you a fee. One option is to bury your waste properly, but you have to double-check the local laws when doing this. 

Energy, Water Consumption and Eco-Friendliness

There are certain aspects of cost-effectivity and being eco-friendly that also make cassette and composting toilets different. Composting toilets tops the battle when we talk about water saving and being eco-friendly. This composting toilet is a life-saver in big cities or if your RV is too small.

Generally, this type of toilet has no environmental impact and even helps in the natural process of composting waste naturally without chemical additives. 

At the same time, since it does not require water, you can indeed help conserve water on the planet. However, energy-wise, it might be at a disadvantage over cassette toilets since it requires energy for the exhaust fan used to blow away solid waste to the bin.

On the other hand, cassette toilets may not be as eco-friendly as composting ones. Still, you can save energy since it utilizes the traditional flush system, which does not require energy input. You might have to remember that most cassette toilets limit the volume they can hold. Hence you have to empty them from time to time.  

When you go to the bathroom in a cassette toilet, there would be a valve on it. You can allow the waste to flow into the tank, stored there until you remove it and dump out the waste or its contents. Many of these cassettes have light indicators to warn you when they are full.

For other RV toilet alternatives, you can read a detailed article at this link.

Knowing A Cassette Toilet: Benefits, Downsides, and Maintenance

This type of toilet is the one that has been permanently installed in your RV or Van with a removable black tank to it. The black tank can be dumped by hand. Just remove the tank and dump it out in an appropriate receptacle drain.

More on the Benefits

Cassette toilets are very easy to use since you have to empty the contents in any dumping station. It works as easy as a traditional toilet and can be flushed in one press. It is also one of the top options in RVs with limited space inside.

The Drawbacks of Having Cassette Toilets

They may have had some great features and benefits, but some downsides to having these toilets. Due to construction and water usage, cassette toilets are prone to waste management and odor issues. 

Since you have to dump the tank by hand, you are more likely closer to your waste than you think, and many other van or RV users find this as a deal-breaker and have decided to find other options and solutions.

Price and Maintenance Cost

When it comes to maintenance, cassette toilets require a little more than composting ones. You will need chemicals to ensure that the toilet’s components are well-maintained and that you can somehow minimize the odor to almost a negligible level. 

You also have to periodically check the rubber seals on the cassette so that no leaks may occur. If planning to buy one, cassette toilets range from $112 to $700 that you can get in Amazon or other shopping stores near you. 

Composting Toilets: A Greener Choice

Composting is a very nice term, especially for environmental advocates, and you might be able to save the planet just by shifting to composting toilets. Here are some of the benefits and downsides of this greener option.

The Benefits of Using Composting Toilets 

Composting toilets produce and use no water. Because they do not use water, no plumbing goes down to the composting toilet. There are more options in dumping, and these toilets do pretty well in controlling odors. 

When you use composting toilets, treatments are not necessary because they do the work mostly independently. You will not need any water source when you go fully off-grid in reducing your RV waste. 

The Drawbacks of Using Composting Toilets

Drawbacks of composting toilets you want to keep in mind include the space that can accommodate the composting toilet in your RV since it has two separate tanks. Do not worry, though, since you can have smart design choices in the market you may consider. 

You may also experience occasional urine odors that you need to address. They do not have high maintenance costs but should be regularly cleaned to avoid odor from building up, especially in the urine. 

You have to keep in mind that if the temperature drops at least 50 Fahrenheit, the naturally occurring aerobic bacteria in a composting toilet will begin to slow down in their breakdown processes. 

If the temperature remains that low, the bacteria may even die off almost immediately. This will leave you with the odors you were trying to avoid in the first place. So it’s very important to keep your composting toilet cool. 

At the same time, since they are very compact and have small ventilation, the result is more likely unbearable since it needs more upkeep for you to control the smell. Without consistent treatment then the odor will spread and affect the rest of your trip of living. 

Price and Maintenance Cost

Composting toilets does not cost too much. Once you have installed it properly, you will only have to worry about a little ongoing cost since it pretty much works on its own. You also have to check on the exhaust fan. 

Again, it would be best if you cleaned it, especially the liquid container tank properly. It is ideal to empty it every two days to avoid overflowing or odor build-up. A well-maintained composting toilet will not emit any foul odor, and this should be your goal. 

Some composting toilets are more expensive than cassette types that can cost as high as $1000, but remember that you might be saving more in the long run. 


Both cassette toilets and composting toilets have their place in the camping world. I think there is no such thing as better between the two since they work differently and the choice will be up to you. Remember that it is vital to consider the pros and cons of having them, and knowing their main difference is just the starting point. I hope that this article has helped you find the perfect “non-traditional” toilet for your RV.

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