Thetford revolutionises motorhome sanitation with smart toilet system
Thetford, the European motorhome equipment manufacturer, has launched a new innovative smart toilet system, iNDUS, to be more intuitive and allow an average of seven days between empties.
Thetford introduced the new motorhome sanitation system, which is fully integrated into the motorhome, to offer longer usage time before emptying, be more hygienic in use, be easier to add additive to and to work with a smartphone app.
Research done by Thetford indicated that motorhomers often emptied their toilet cassette every two to three days, because they thought the tank was full or they were near an emptying point. The company wanted to increase this and that’s where iNDUS comes in.
The system combines four elements: a macerating toilet, an automatic dosing module for additive, an easy to use one-stop discharge for both the grey and black water tanks, and an app to monitor levels and find emptying points.
The toilet uses water from the grey water tank (adding the right amount of additive) to flush with a choice of a 200ml small flush or the 500ml large flush (you use between three and 10 litres per flush at home). Because this toilet no longer relies on a cassette positioned underneath (hence having to be located next to the side of the motorhome), manufacturers have a greater degree of design flexibility. It also has a soft close lid and a completely different shape to the standard cassette-based system. Plus, at 7.5kg, it is light too.
The two-step macerating action is claimed to be both near-silent and uses much less water – the company has worked to make the amount of flush water used comparable to that of its current cassette toilet set-up. Fresh water savings are made by using the grey water (around 112 litres per four weeks of use), but if you have no grey water available the system will pull flush water from the fresh tank, switching back to grey water when it is available.
As well as dosing the flush water, the automatic dosing module supplies the black water tank and the grey water tank to keep the smells at bay and help treat the contents. All three of these are biodegradable and will only dose the amount that is needed. Under normal use a set of three cartridge for the module should last around four weeks (prices are expected to be around €23 for a set of three, with individual ones costing €11.95).
When it comes to draining the system a hatch on the side of the motorhome provides access to a drawer that pivots out. Place the device (there’s a two-metre hose attached to this) on the drain point, release the valve on the device and then press the button on the pivoting drawer to start the drain.
You don’t need to hold the device down against the drain while this is happening and the cup arrangement hides the contents being drained. The black water tank empties first and is then flushed out by the grey tank in a one-step drainage process.
The app will then notify you when the process is complete, so you can simply lift the device back into the motorhome and continue on your way.
The app also warns you of low additive levels, keeps a track of the grey, black and fresh water tank levels and pinpoints nearby emptying points, powered by information from Campercontact, a popular free app listing motorhome stopovers across Europe.
According to the information supplied by Campercontact, there are currently 750 locations in the UK – part of 25,000 across Europe – that can discharge both grey and black water.
Due to the current situation, Thetford confirmed that it will also be talking to the Caravan and Motorhome Club and the Camping and Caravanning Club to discuss the realities of using this system across their campsite networks.
According to the company, this system can be emptied anywhere where the drainage point goes into a mains sewer. Many toilet emptying points feed into the same sewer system as grey water, but the two emptying methods have developed simply because the methods of emptying are different.
Research showed that as with the toilet emptying schedule, grey water tanks were also emptied more regularly than needed, because of vague level indicators and proximity to emptying points.
This is no concept either, as this system has been integrated into new Bürstner Elegance A-class, which is set to be launched over the coming months. The company expects to see a greater take-up over the next few years, too. The system can be fitted in both single floor and double floor motorhomes and maybe even Fiat Ducato-sized campervans.
Tank sizes will be set by the motorhome manufacturer and, due to the use of grey water to flush the toilet, Thetford anticipate that some may reduce the size of these tanks to improve payload figures.
Though the system is unlikely to be able to be retro-fitted to existing motorhome and campervan models, it is likely that some components, such as the automatic dosing module, may become available to buy and fit.
There are also plans to develop modifications to allow the system to be used for winter sun seekers, where the motorhome stays on one site for weeks at a time. This could include an extra removable waste holding tank that can be emptied manually or a hose extension for pitches that are closer to emptying facilities.
See the new Thetford iNDUS in action below: