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Old 16-01-2015, 08:17   #1
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Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

Want to replace our energy-gobbling electric head. Our Eco-friendliness ends when we detect sewage aromas. Have seen testimonials on Airhead site. What are the pros and cons in real life?
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Old 16-01-2015, 09:05   #2
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

the only issues with compost heads in general is when a large number of folks are sharing it some problems happen just like electric heads. the urine seperation is the key to composting, some models are better than others. i developed the habit of sitting to pee during 12-18 hour shifts on the water when it was my only opportunity to sit, its also a habit that helps in some compost models. some models seperate either way.

compost heads can be put in a wider variety of places than plumbed heads. making it easier to have both types on a boat.
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Old 16-01-2015, 09:57   #3
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

To search this forum (or any other website) in Google

in the search field, type: www.cruisersforum.com: Airhead

you'll then be furnished with the many threads on the subject.
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Old 16-01-2015, 10:00   #4
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

The other two common composters are the NaturesHead and C-Head.
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Old 17-01-2015, 06:14   #5
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

We've had an airhead since 2007. We'll never have a holding tank again.


It takes a little getting used to, as does anything, but nothing difficult or hard to do. You will need to develop some sources for the 'composting' material. You can get it online, some hardware stores and some plant places. The coconut coir is easier to find than the peat moss.


Probably the biggest adjustment for men is to SIT for #1. It's much easier when underway. Also prevents visitors from splashing the surrounding area.


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Old 17-01-2015, 09:21   #6
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

If men were the ones that had to get down on their knees to clean around the head, they would learn to always be seated when urinating. I'm single, and It wasn't until I got a boat that I learned how much back splash there is to that simple act. Now it is normal for me to drop my pants and sit down. Now as to air heads, I have known a few in my life. Mac
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Old 17-01-2015, 11:53   #7
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

Airhead (or its generic equivalent) is probably the single most beneficial piece of equipment I ever added to my boat. NO holding tank/hoses to retain odors, NO (Mr Coast Guard) black water overboard inshore (or offshore) AND topping all NO disassembling the jammed up head! Those above who point out that it's "best" to sit are absolutely correct -how hard is that? Had an Airhead on my last boat (Gemini 105m) for almost 15 years and my current boat came with a C-head. BTW if in a marina/on a mooring , I used a heavy plastic bag to empty the 'tank' and used the enriched peat moss for fertilizer.

Bill svbeyond (now a Leopard 38)
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Old 17-01-2015, 12:13   #8
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

I'm a very happy Nature's Head owner. Basically identical to Air Head. C-Head is another which is similar, although smaller holding areas.

Pros:
  • Simple.
  • Safe; no thru-hulls.
  • Self-sufficiency; can stay out forever, without worry of over-filling the holding tank.
  • Much reduced chance of leakage.
  • Cheaper; in the long run, assuming you need to pay for pump outs.
Cons:
  • Only suitable for 2 (perhaps 3) full-time crew.
  • Pricey to buy; although quality standard marine heads are close in price.
  • Intimacy with outflows; you do have to manage the urine and compost bucket.
  • Guest training; most people won't be familiar with how to use them, although the same can be said for most marine heads.
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Old 17-01-2015, 12:25   #9
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

I will never go back to holding tanks, never! Easy choice since you tried for some time.
Pär
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Old 17-01-2015, 15:10   #10
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

Go below for #1. Only at the dock.
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Old 18-01-2015, 00:23   #11
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

Some thoughts on composting heads.

We have the Nature's Head. Interesting side note when we bought it we used it for a little bit then loaned to our friends boat. They used it, for maybe a couple of months, and then installed their own Natuer's Head. Ours came back to our boat, which was in the yard at that time.

Years ago I lived with an outhouse wherein we first peed outside. The container was a 55 gallon clamp top steel drum. The dry stuff was chain sawdust from the summer's firewood work. The significant thing, as already pointed out, is the separation of urine from faeces. Second to that is aeration of the faeces which is where the AirHead and others make progress.

It is important to note that not much "composting" happens if the head is used daily because in maybe 4 weeks (2 people) the head container has to be emptied and recharged with dry stuff. We use coir from coconuts bought as cellophane wrapped bricks as it is renewable, while peat moss is not. So I prefer to describe our head to guests and visitors as a desiccating head. The dry stuff and the 24x7 fan pulling cabin air into the chamber and exhausting it out on deck dries out the faeces. When the 4 weeks are up that mixture is not offensive to my nose. But if you want olfactory offence don't tend to the urine container. By the second day it's beginning to smell; by the third day strong; by a week gagging.

Since the solids have not composted, at least for full time liveaboards, the solids should, in my opinion, be use as a fertilizer _only_ in certain conditions: under tree crops and covered with some earth or a thick layer of leaves. Never put the solids on a place where root or leaf crops are grown. Never covers a lot of territory, but consider that if you are not in control of those solids for a time of 6 -12 months, when you leave them they are not ready for your plate. The fruits and nuts of trees are mostly above contamination. However, low to the ground tree produce can be contaminated by up-splash from rain.

As a last thought, my understanding of the no-discharge rules are that if our urine and faeces are deposited into _any_ container that container becomes a Marine Sanitation Device and the contents are subject to the no-discharge rule. Here's another however, if we go over the side directly into the waters ours is not subject to the no-discharge rule.

So... I sold a new electra-san device at a loss, before installation, to make the choice of a "desiccating" head. We don't like traditional head smell and we don't mind the upkeep of our new head. The old holding tank space was converted to a freshwater tank. The holes for plumbing, 4, (2 heads) were glassed closed.
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Old 19-01-2015, 14:27   #12
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
I'm a very happy Nature's Head owner. Basically identical to Air Head. C-Head is another which is similar, although smaller holding areas.

Pros:
  • Simple.
  • Safe; no thru-hulls.
  • Self-sufficiency; can stay out forever, without worry of over-filling the holding tank.
  • Much reduced chance of leakage.
  • Cheaper; in the long run, assuming you need to pay for pump outs.
Cons:
  • Only suitable for 2 (perhaps 3) full-time crew.
  • Pricey to buy; although quality standard marine heads are close in price.
  • Intimacy with outflows; you do have to manage the urine and compost bucket.
  • Guest training; most people won't be familiar with how to use them, although the same can be said for most marine heads.
Pretty much this, except I'd add that there is NO smell at all from my Natures Head. The only time is when emptying the pee jug. And I've stuck my head right in to check.

btw: an amazing tip someone told me that works - dump two of those small packets of sugar you find in coffee shops into the pee jug. It reduces the smell when you are emptying it to virtually nothing. I do it every time after I empty it and it makes emptying it so much more pleasant.

Another note - PLEASE PLEASE use coconut coir instead of peat moss. It works just as well and peat moss is not sustainable at all! (1mm of growth per year, and 30/40% of peat moss does not regrow at all!)
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Old 19-01-2015, 15:21   #13
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

I've installed both traditional marine heads with various configurations and a composting head. To me, neither is superior. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Which wins in the end to me depends on the boat, the cruising ground and other such factors.

Cruising the islands in my monohull where it's convenient to dump every day, I much prefer a traditional marine head with gravity feed holding tank. The space and weight of a fairly small holding tank is a non-issue and I find simply opening a trough hull to be a much easier way to dispose of sewage than dealing with half composted compost and emptying bottles of urine. It's cheaper too and requires no electricity.

Where I really appreciated a composting head was on my small trimaran which I used more on lakes and bays where dumping overboard was not an option. Obviously the weight and space of a large holding thank does not go well with a small trimaran. Since the cruises were fairly short, I never filled the composting bin, so could leave it to completely finish composting before having to dispose of the compost. While more expensive to install, and requiring a fan, it was a great solution for that use.
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Old 16-11-2015, 19:08   #14
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

So... I'm just about convinced. But here's a question:

I have seen a few references suggesting that the liquids side can be plumbed to an existing holding tank. Since there is no flush water, the holding tank could go for a long time before needing to be emptied. The only complaints I have managed to find about the air head refer to the liquids disposal.

Has anyone plumbed theirs?
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Old 17-11-2015, 01:24   #15
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Re: Airhead experiences? Don't get funny.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike OReilly View Post
I'm a very happy Nature's Head owner. Basically identical to Air Head. C-Head is another which is similar, although smaller holding areas.


Pros:
  • Simple.
  • Safe; no thru-hulls.
  • Self-sufficiency; can stay out forever, without worry of over-filling the holding tank.
  • Much reduced chance of leakage.
  • Cheaper; in the long run, assuming you need to pay for pump outs.
Cons:
  • Only suitable for 2 (perhaps 3) full-time crew.
  • Pricey to buy; although quality standard marine heads are close in price.
  • Intimacy with outflows; you do have to manage the urine and compost bucket.
  • Guest training; most people won't be familiar with how to use them, although the same can be said for most marine heads.
Generally agree but:
- Price is likely a wash (assuming you are replacing the system or have to run hoses in inaccessable areas). Add in pump out costs, replacment pump parts and replacement hoses, and it's not even close.
- Yes, it is more intimate but you get to pick the time with a composter. When a traditional head fails...you get intimate even if bouncing thru 6' waves or cross your legs.
- Most land lubbers don't know how to operate a traditional head, so at best training is a wash. Personally, I think it's a lot simpler to say #1, just go. #2, open the trap door and go.
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