While Architectural Digest describes yurts as “an architectural wonder of the world” — and it is without doubt — inside my yurt it’s the loo that’s the showpiece.
It’s Saniflo‘s Sanicompact 43— a very superior toilet in every way. It’s high quality ceramic; it’s almost silent; it’s about the most waterwise-efficient toilet you can get… and it took less than 5 minutes to install in the yurt! And it has a soft-close lid & seat — you just tap it and it slowly closes on its own.
CapeInfo’s requirement was that the yurt — and all its services/utilities — should be completely independent of municipal services. Using a biodigestor also means that nearby waterways or underground water is not impacted at all. The moment one connects to municipal services or installs a septic tank, some approvals are going to be necessary. A composting toilet wasn’t an option — waterborne sewage is the norm and composting toilets are often associated with flies and smells.
It is… as far as I know… the only toilet suitable for this application where blackwater is treated by a biodigestor — for the following reasons:
- It uses only 3 litres of water for a full flush; 1.8 litres for a half flush. A conventional toilet uses at least double that and will just flood the biodigestor with water, reducing its efficiency and necessitating a far larger biodigestor.
- The toilet can be used where conventional gravity-draining is impossible. The toilet pumps the blackwater to where it needs to go — in this case, up into a biodigestor above the ground alongside the yurt. Since it includes a macerator, the biodigestor’s process is speeded up.
It’s usually marketed as the solution for adding a toilet to any room in the house, without requiring major construction or renovation.
I was worried that the 550 Watt pump/macerator, along with the 370 Watt water pump, might be too much for my solar system — 300 Watts of PV panels, 3 x 105Ah batteries and a 1.5kW inverter. Saniflo’s motor must be very efficient because it made no impact on the solar system at all. It’s usually the start-up spike that challenges batteries and inverters. (The fridge only uses 55W but its startup can reach 860W.)
The Sanicompact is not cheap! But if one considers savings in installation, construction and plumbing costs, lifetime water savings… and — if one uses a biodigestor — no municipal blackwater connections, it is a no-brainer.
Plumbers (and Saniflo) would probably be horrified at the yurt’s installation… but then it is a tent and can be moved quite easily. We used ordinary Class 3 black irrigation piping and the standard plastic fittings associated with that. It can’t get any cheaper.
Installing the Sanicompact in the yurt was a matter of connecting the unit’s outlet pipe to the biodigestor, the water inlet pipe to the greywater system, and plugging it in to the electrics. I spent more time thinking “Is this all there is to it?” than it took to install! It really is “plug and play.”