Update: Unfortunately, Bumblebee Farm was sold in 2014 and is no longer providing the services shown below.
In June 2013, we got into discussions with Brigit Strawbridge who runs Bumblebee Farm in Cornwall (formerly Newhouse Farm from the TV series “It’s Not Easy Being Green”) about the possibilities of a compost toilet within their new ‘camping field’. MyTipi were supplying a Tipi which would be used as accommodation for courses and for people to hire for ‘glamping’ holidays, but they needed a toilet just for the campers, and in line with the ‘green’ objectives of the project, a waterless compost toilet was the obvious choice.
As we were down in the area on holiday, we popped over to meet Brigit and assess the site. Having decided the best place to site the toilet, we discussed the other items needed, including solar panels, battery and lighting as this area would be totally off-grid. We left Brigit to sort out a shed and to get the site prepared.
“I am absolutely delighted with the compost toilet Martin installed at Bumblebee Farm this summer. We already have a very basic compost toilet that has been in use here for the last 7 years, but guests who haven’t experienced compost toilets before are sometimes quite reluctant to use it.
The Villa 9010 looks so much like a ‘normal’ loo, that those who have been previously put off by the thought of using compost toilets seem happy to give this one a go!” – Brigit Strawbridge
In late August, we returned to do the installation of the Separett Villa 9010 and found a beautiful shed in situ and willing volunteers to help with the digging of the soak away pit etc.
Installation was fairly straightforward if slightly annoying due the location of a vertical support in the centre back of the shed exactly where the Villa 9010 vent pipe was going to go. The Villa 9010 comes with one 90 degree vent pipe bend, but fortunately, I had another Villa 9010 in the van with me as I was due to drop one off in Bristol on the way back – a quick call to that customer and they were happy for me to take the 90 degree bend from their toilet and post a replacement! With the extra bend, I ‘dog-legged’ the vent pipe around the wooden support and out the back of the building.
I took the urine directly out the back and into an adaptor, from where I used standard 32mm polypipe to run to the soak away pit. Over the winter, Brigit plans to line the inside of the shed with tongue & groove panels to make it even nicer for guests!
With the toilet screwed down, I could move onto the solar panel side of things. The 50 watt panel is slightly over-specified but as there is a possibility of some shadow at certain times of the day, better safe than sorry. In due course, the panel will be mounted on the shed roof using fixings we supplied.
The solar panel feeds into a charge controller, which in turn charges the 12 volt, 85Ah ‘leisure’ battery. From the supply side of the charge controller, I fitted a small automotive fuse box to provide 2 independently fused power connections – one to the Villa 9010 toilet fan and the other to an infra-red movement sensor and 12 volt LED strip light. This means that when it’s dark, as soon as someone enters the toilet building, the light will come on automatically and switch itself off after they have left. This ensures nobody can accidentally leave a light on by mistake and drain the battery down!
The LED strip light and movement sensor are available from our webshop either as individual items or as part of a lighting kit.
The installation took around 5 hours in total, not too bad considering we had a couple of obstacles to overcome, and included all the electrical installation work too. After a lovely meal, we retired into our accommodation for the evening – the Tipi!
Finally, here’s a video Clare Foster took of me explaining the installation etc…
NB — since publishing this article, Bumblebee Farm has changed owners and no longer offers accommodation or camping facilities.