Thetford versus Vacuflush

Submitted: Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 at 06:07
ThreadID: 124196 Views:5677 Replies:11 FollowUps:4
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I'm trying to decide whether to put in a Thetford or a Vacuflush to our new 20 ft BT. It seems the Thetford is low-tech and reliable (more or less nothing can go wrong). However, it needs chemicals and uses quite a lot of water per flush. It also occupies a large space in the ensuite and can't be fitted into the "wheel well" as the holding tank is an integral part of the unit and needs to be able to slide out for emptying. It also tends to be smelly?
By contrast, the Vacuflush looks flash (ceramic), is smaller, uses much less water, doesn't require chemicals and the tank can be separate to the pedestal so the pedestal can be mounted in the wheel well. It produces no smells? However, it requires a vacuum pump and is (perhaps?) less reliable.
Any comments on which is the best way to go, or other issues I'm not aware of or have been mistaken about?
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Reply By: Black Cobra - Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 at 10:28

Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 at 10:28
Have the Vacuflush and love the look of the normal toilet and no chemicals. The only draw back is the noise of the system working but during the day it is not a problem. At night when we go to the loo we do not flush as it is normally No.1's and then we just flush in the morning.

If you decide on the Vacuflush give me a call and I will give you some tips on the way BT should install it.

AnswerID: 573379

Reply By: Innkeepers - Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 at 17:20

Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 at 17:20
Hi Bandicoot,
Not sure if we can be of any help here and certainly don't want to confuse you any further....

We have the Thetford and yes it can get smelly in hot weather if you haven't emptied it after 3 days....we use BioMagic and find it great....breaks down quickly for easier empty out.....However we find 3 days is normally full enough to empty anyway... because it's a simple gravity fed holding blockages.

We have friends with a beautiful 33 foot Swagman Australis and camped with them at a fossicking field on the Plenty Highway last year....they have the VacuFlush and it's great until it blocks up....then YUKKO...whose job is it to fix that and you can't call a plumber out there....chuckles...

The blockages occur for them because ne of them uses a fair amount of loo paper on big jobs and the vacuum hole is rather blockage... not fun....

We discussed it around the campfire one night and decided we'd raher the Thetford and let the smell indicate it was time to empty.... rather than deal with a blocked pedestal hose....

Hope this helps
Rick & Julie
AnswerID: 573380

Reply By: Bushtucker Man - Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 at 20:24

Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 at 20:24
Hi Bandicoot,

We have the Thetford in our 20ft which will be ready for pickup in 3 weeks, also had same in our 1st BT without problems, smell or otherwise, keep it simple. Always used chemicels in the 1st but will be going to Biomagic for this new one.

You can always hang a shower curtin in the ensuite to cover the toilet when showering as Trish does hence no wiping down the throne after showering.

Cheers, Stan
AnswerID: 573381

Follow Up By: NIK `N` OFF - Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 at 20:34

Tuesday, Nov 13, 2007 at 20:34
Thetford for us, having previously used the porta-loo style the Thetford Cassette is luxury, since owing the van we used the small sample bottles of chemical's but since then we have only used the pink top tank chemical. With almost constant travelling we found the waste turns into a slurry and is easily poured out and the smell is no more or less than a vacuflush.

A tip: Using the pink top tank chemical if you give the flush a push before #2's it makes the plastic surface slippery :-)

Oh and last person to shower wipes over with a chamois, 20 sec job
FollowupID: 848858

Reply By: Sue & Jeff - Friday, Nov 16, 2007 at 06:59

Friday, Nov 16, 2007 at 06:59
Hi Bandicoot...We pick up our 20ft BT end Feb.08, and have decided to go with the Thetford (after much research). Don't like the idea of using chemicals much, so the deciding factor for us was reading the post from Rob n Son (ID12237). We are having a SOG Toilet Ventilation Unit (Kit type B for all type C200) put in. BT won't put one in for you, but you can probably install it yourself after reading Rob's instructions. If you go to the AUSSIE TRAVELLER site you will see the different SOG Units. If you decide to go this way, it might pay you to heed Rob's variation's and switch set-up. (ID4214).

Hope this is of some help.

Sue & Jeff
AnswerID: 573382

Reply By: adams44 - Friday, Nov 16, 2007 at 07:42

Friday, Nov 16, 2007 at 07:42
Have usd the vacum flush now for almost 2.5 years not often for the big job's as we also use a jimmy's thunder box and leave it buried with out the paper of course that gets buren.
We find that it is great and have had no problem and of course no chem's and breaks down on the flush.
AnswerID: 573383

Reply By: Wherrol - Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 18:37

Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 18:37
Hi folks,

We looked into all of this as well.

We decided that because of the layout of the van (centre ensuite) and because I hate the smell of chemicals the vacu flush was the way to go.

Also disposing of the waste in the bush, and septic systems with the chemicals seemed to be of some concern. Or maybe we just read too much!

Last night we were doing more research and found that Camec have now released the 500 series: They state:
Sealand Vacuflush 500 Plus
Sealand Technology's new Vacuflush 500 Plus Series toilet features a deeper bowl, increased seat height and a quiet flush. The Hush Flush seat reduces the vacuum generated flushing noise by 70 per cent. Press the pedal lever and the vacuum evacuates the bowl instantly as fresh water rinses it clean, eliminating the usual odours of a saltwater flushing toilet. The 500 Plus Series uses about 600ml of water per flush - just a drop in the bucket compared to other systems and draws only four to six amps of current (at 12 Volts) per flush. By eliminating the accumulation of impurities and salt residue, the Vacuflush 500 Plus Series fresh water operation reduces maintenance requirements and extends the life of the system components significantly.

Enquiries: The Camec Group.
Tel: (03) 9799 6455.

We only found this info last night and have sent an email to Bushtracker and await their reply. It may be that it is untested, or unproven, or it may be that this is what is on every van anyway, or maybe it might be a yacht design, or maybe there is something else we have not thought of. We shall see.


Allan and Sharon
Hope th
AnswerID: 573384

Follow Up By: Paul and Barb - Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 22:24

Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 22:24
Hi Allan & Sharon,

I was just wondering what happens if you are camped in the bush for a couple of weeks and need to empty the tank, do you pack up everything and drive to the nearest dump point, possibly hundreds of Klm's away?
There is no way that we use 600ml each flush in our thetford.


FollowupID: 848859

Reply By: Wherrol - Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 22:49

Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 22:49
Mmm interesting Paul. We did think of this, we only plan to be out up to about 5 days. We have 4 tanks in the van, and the 100 ltrs bladder tank in the truck. And we plan to be more near water courses, rather than nowhere.

And, having said all of this we are novices...and we are very prone to changing our mind.


Allan and Sharon

AnswerID: 573385

Follow Up By: Paul and Barb - Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 23:26

Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 23:26
Sorry, maybe I didn't word it properly, I was more concerned about dumping the toilet waste. If you don't believe in burying it in the bush, the only other alternative is to drive to a dump point. I assume that the waste tank is built in and that you will have to use a hose to dump it.

With the thetford it's just a matter of removing the 20L waste tank, taking it to an area out of the way and digging a hole and burying it. We always carry a long handled shovel which makes digging easier. Alternatively, if we are passing through a town with public toilets in a park we dump the waste there. A bit more difficult if you have to connect up a hose etc.

FollowupID: 848860

Follow Up By: gottabjoaken - Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 23:37

Tuesday, Nov 20, 2007 at 23:37
Yes, Paul,

That is what you do if you have the cassette version of the vaccuum flush.
With the added advantage that there are no chemicals that you are pouring down the hole.

If you have a built in black water tank rather than a removable cassette, then you would have to dig the hole within reach of your dump pipe...

FollowupID: 848861

Reply By: Wherrol - Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 00:06

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 00:06
Thanks Paul.

Yes the vacuflush comes with a cassette.

The advantage of no chemicals is that we can dump the waste in any toilet anywhere (or so we are given to understand).

As opposed to the chemical version, which, we understand from a lot of reading, mucks up septic systems, and is not, apparently good for the environment. We read a letter in one of the caravan magazines from a Caravan Park owner who begged folk to think before they dump their waste as the chemicals muck up their septic system.

Having said that we really only went vacuflush because of the layout of the van (centre en-suite) and found out hte other advantages later. Well we think they are advantages anyway. We understand their is enviro chemicals.

What we really are concerned about is more wires and circuts that could go 'funny'. No idea what just it may have some nasty niggling electrical something.

We really appreciate the feedback. This site is just fantastic everyone is so helpful. Good luck Mr or Mrs Bandicoot we probably confused you.


Sharon and Allan
AnswerID: 573386

Reply By: Deleted User - Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 01:19

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 01:19
There seems to be a real hang-up about chemicals.
I have had a septic system at home for twenty years and any label which says "safe for septic" is exactly that. To attempt to justify a more expensive complicated toilet system on the perils of toilet chemical is just nonsense.

Washing powder, soap, tooth paste, shampoo, conditioner, car emissions etc etc are all chemicals and nobody gets too concerned about why toilet chemicals.

AnswerID: 573387

Reply By: The BrakeAways - Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 03:32

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 03:32
I was at the 4WD and caravan show in Perth over the past weekend and there was a display tent there of RV accessories, including loos.
They had the two models of Thetford side by side and also the Vacu-flush. It was really good being able to see them up close and personal (but clean) and also to fiddle around with them and see exactly how they work (?) plus how the casettes are removed etc.
I also had a long talk to the salesman.
The Thetfords have almost no working parts and are almost bullet-proof. The larger Thetford has wheels on its waste casette which makes it easy to wheel away to a waste tank or somewhere to bury the waste; otherwise it would get quite heavy. The suction-release valve on the waste tank is also out of the way (this valve allows air to enter the tank when pouring and therefore the waste to easily flow out without gurgling all over the pourer!). It seems very easy to clean.
The smaller Thetford has a more "standard" looking pedestal and it can swivel, which is handy. However, it's waste tank is smaller.
The Vacuflush seemed much more complicated, with springs and several large O-rings that need lubrication, etc. It seemed harder to push the waste tank into the unit itself. It also has the vacuum pump. If there is a leak anywhere in the system, then the vacuum pump will come on more often to maintain the vacuum.
Whilst the Vacuflush does allow the waste casette to be in a different location to the pedestal, the length of the connection must remain short, and it shouldn't have any vertical "bends" that might form some sort of poo-lock in it.
Having said that, the Vacuflush is a good looking unit and does use less water. My only real concern is reliability.
Since I guess "Choice" magazine won't be running a more scientific comparison of the various issues, everyone is ultimately going to have to make up their own mind.
The salesman recommended the genuine Thetford chemicals. He assured me not only are they safe for the unit, but also completely safe on ALL septic systems.
However, there are other chemicals out there (he didn't comment on the "Bio" ones) that aren't as safe for septic systems, in his opinion!
More comments yet??
AnswerID: 573388

Reply By: Cowcockies - Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 06:52

Wednesday, Nov 21, 2007 at 06:52
We have been using various models of chemical toilets in 3 trailer sailers, a camper van, and two caravans over the last 35 years. The 20ltr Thetford in our BT is the best to use so far. We changed to the environmental BioMagic as seems to be the only product acceptable in all waste disposal systems.
In our experience the Vacuflush is only an advantage in a restricted area.
Thetford is available in a10ltr unit but it has to emptied so often it becomes a real chore.

David & Sue
AnswerID: 573389

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