If you’re interested in leading a more off-grid lifestyle, then installing a waterless composting toilet is a great way to make a start. This will help reduce your burden on our environment and lessen your footprint on the planet. If you combine solar power to help run your composting toilet this is going to reduce your impact even more and help you save some money (and maybe a few dead dinosaurs!) along the way.
Why do composting toilets need electricity?
Great question, and it’s worth noting that not all composting toilets need a power source but having a low voltage power source added to your composting toilet can assist with ventilation and evaporation. This is where a solar power component can come in extremely handy. Most composting toilets only require a small amount of power so they’re well suited to using solar power to run ventilation fans within the system.
A few self contained composting toilets require more power to run a heater, fan and sometimes a mixer which assists the composting process and evaporates the excess fluids. Unless you have a large solar system with battery backup these are not ideal for off-grid living.
Solar power for composting toilets
Ecoflo offers several types of solar systems that can be connected to our composting toilets, for example, a 20 watt system or a 40 watt system. Your requirements will depend on your location, the number of fans connected and if you have any lighting connected.
The systems are 12 Volt meaning everything connected must be rated 12 volt power. It also means that you don’t need a licensed electrician to install the system.
The systems come with a range of different accessories like an amp regulator, a battery, wiring and connectors. Let’s run through each item to get a better understanding of what they are and how they work.
The solar panel
The solar panel is the item that draws energy from the sun and converts this into energy. There’s a few different methods that solar panels use to produce energy – ours use photovoltaic cells if you’re interested in finding out more about them.
As the name suggests, the regulator regulates the amount of energy that gets transferred between the solar panel and the battery system. As solar panels use the sun's energy to create power, the amount of power they generate will depend on how much sun the panels get. In sunny Queensland they’re more likely to get a lot of sun so a regulator can work your ventilation fan whilst also charging your battery. In less sunny locations a larger solar panel or multiple panels may be required.
Similar to an every day rechargeable battery, our range of batteries enable you to store the power you generate from the sun. Commonly they are closed cell deep cycle lead acid batteries and come in varying sizes (Expressed as Amp-hours and is Energy storage capacity). The size of the battery you require will depend on your power demand and on the solar panel’s ability to recharge. For example if you have cloudy weather for several days you will require a battery with adequate capacity to run your system for that period.
Wiring and connectors
These are the elements that bring everything together. If you follow the instructions that come with our packs you’ll be on your way to generating solar power for your composting toilet in no time!
The ventilation fan
This will be included with your waterless composting toilet. Most of these are 12 volts and between 0.16 and .42 Amps.
Do solar panels help with the composting process?
In a way, yes. If your composting pile gets too wet it’s possible that the pile turns anaerobic (starved of oxygen) you will kill off all the good Bacteria, Actinobacteria, Fungi and Moulds that help break down the waste in your composting toilet. So yes, the ventilation fan will indirectly assist with the composting process in your toilet.
How long do solar panels last?
This will depend on the amount of usage they get and how well they’re maintained (out in extreme weather, next to the ocean, disturbed by animals, etc). All these items will slightly change the lifespan of your solar panels. In saying that, because solar panels have little to no moving parts you can expect many years of reliable use from them in the right conditions.
If I have an existing solar power setup, can I add my toilet to this?
Most certainly! It’s worthwhile finding out the output of your system to make sure that our range of ventilation fans are compatible with your solar system. If you’re not sure and would like some advice please feel free to call us on (07) 3889 6144.