I have an electric toilet in the after head in our boat. It is a Jabsco conversion unit -- one of those which can be attached instead of the manual pump in the regular Jabsco manual toilet.
It was probably the same age as the boat when I bought it, so nine years old. The electric motor
died the day before I expected VIP guests on board last summer in Dartmouth. It was an incredible pain -- no parts available in that time frame -- but the day was saved by the ability to install a regular manual pump in place of the electric conversion unit.
Despite this episode, I love the toilet and plan to install the same thing in the forward head. Electric toilets macerate right at the toilet, before anything is sent into your plumbing
. Because of that, I figure that the chances of a clog are greatly reduced, and any clog which does occur should be localized at the macerator, instead of in the hellishly difficult to clear discharge piping. I experienced my first (in decades of cruising) clogged marine toilet just days after the episode above -- the same VIP guests managed to clog that toilet on their last day aboard, following which I spent nearly a week in plumbing
hell. The desire to never repeat that story is another big reason for installing the second electric toilet forward.
I am going to stick with the Jabsco conversion units. They are built like tanks
, first of all. They are relatively inexpensive. They are very noisy, but I can live with that. A great advantage of this particular type is that you can keep a manual pump on board as a spare in case of any problem. The electric conversion unit can be swapped for the manual pump unit in about three minutes flat -- simples.
As far as maintenance is concerned, it is less than with a manual toilet. The pumps do not require lubrication. Each electric toilet has two impellers -- one for the supply side, and one for the discharge side. These impellers may need replacing once in a while. I think that's about it, besides the usual maintenance of the pipes, flushing
out with fresh water before leaving the boat, flushing
out with some kind of acid or another (vinegar, Harpic, etc.) to keep down calcium deposits, being carefully to flush through very thoroughly after No. 1 to prevent those calcium deposits in the first place. In that regard, electric toilets have an advantage in that the user is less likely to be lazy and not flush through long enough.