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Written on: 08/03/2012 by alert4u (2 reviews written)

Campers, caravaners, boaters etc. will already be familiar with cassette type toilets but there are sound reasons why a Thetford Porta Potti 365 can provide hygienic and convenient benefits even when regular flushing toilets are nearby.

Hopefully the regular flushing toilet in your home will never fail but as an emergency facility or in other circumstances where a portable toilet would be an advantage, a Porta Potti is worthy of consideration. For people with mobility problems, chronic conditions or those recovering from surgery, an occasional en-suite facility providing a “proper” toilet at the bedside, even as a temporary measure, can offer real comfort and benefit.

Externally the Thetford Porta Potti looks like a simple creamy-white coloured plastic box measuring 35cm wide x 38cm long x 40 cm high. It is in fact two cleverly designed tanks. The top tank acts as a pan and cistern and the bottom tank is for the waste. By lifting the lid, a conventional looking toilet seat and bowl are revealed although unlike a standard loo, there is no water at the bottom of the bowl. The flat base of the bowl is in fact a trap door which, is operated by a “T” bar handle at the front of the unit. Behind the lid to the right is a filler cap, which is used to fill the upper tank with up to 15 litres of water. A pink coloured additive is usually used to ensure that this reservoir of water remains free from odours and bacteria. On the left side rear of the lid is either a button that powers a battery operated pump or a concertina type bulb that operates a manual pump depending on the model chosen.

The principle is quite simple in that once the natural functions have been completed, pulling the “T” bar handle will open the trap door and discharge the contents of the bowl into the waste tank by force of gravity. The waste is not flushed away in the conventional sense but is stored in the tank (or cassette) and treated by a chemical which breaks it down and kills the bacteria that causes odours. This chemical is a special “one shot” treatment that the user deposits into the tank prior to refitting it after having been emptied. The pump mechanism on the left rear of the unit merely provides jets of water to clean the bowl.

An indicator on the front left of the lower tank moves from green to red as the tank fills to its limit of 21 litres. From experience, the tank will reach full capacity and will require emptying after 5-6 days full time use by 2 adults. If a spare lower tank is available, it can be charged with a shot of “blue” chemical, fitted to the top tank and the toilet is then ready for use. The full cassette can be stored until emptied at a chemical waste facility (Elsan point,) sewer manhole or, down the bowl of your flushing toilet.

A clip at the back of the unit allows separation of the two tanks and the top tank simply clicks back into position when it is refitted.

Once the bottom tank has been disconnected you will see where the outlet from bowl was when the two tanks were joined. The trap door mechanism is sealed by a large black rubber seal, which ensures that the contents of the tank do not leak and there is a further small black rubber moulding that seals a vent operated by a push button. This button introduces air into the tank and assists the emptying process but the main feature of the bottom tank is a large diameter pipe (approx. 50mm) with a screw cap on the end. This pipe swivels to various positions and once the cap is removed, it is the means by which the liquidised contents of the tank are discharged. Although quite heavy when full, the tank empties quickly, smoothly and with little or no mess or noxious smells. After a rinse or two with clean water the cap can be refitted and the cassette is ready for use again.

The Thetford Porta-Potti 365 is robust and well constructed and replacement seals plus other spare parts, tanks etc., are readily available and simple to fit. I believe that although the design is functional rather that ornamental, at around £95.00, the Porta-Potti is good value for money and has a long life expectancy.

As a final thought and because we tend to take so much for granted, it may be of interest to know that even in the 21st century, around 40% of the worlds’ population (something like 3 billion people) do not have access to a toilet of any kind.

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