What Are the Different Types of Portable Toilets?

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Although they might represent an unglamorous aspect of event management, portable toilets are a crucial component of the success of any project. Those projects don’t just come in one shape or size. Thankfully, neither do portable toilets.

In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the different requirements for portable toilets the types of portable toilets that are available.

The different uses of portable toilets

There are umpteen occasions which might require the rental or purchase of portable toilet facilities, such as the following:

  • Those working on a construction site must spend days, weeks, months or perhaps even longer toiling in the same location, often without access to plumbed toilets.
  • One-off events like music festivals, sporting galas or other outdoor extravaganzas frequently take place in remote locations and must cater to the needs of their customers through portable toilets.
  • Refurbishment of the existing facilities in an office block, shopping centre, entertainment complex or any other premises which experience a high footfall are likely to require an interim solution while the work is being completed.
  • Overflow facilities for a building which does have its own toilet block, but which is hosting an event that is expected to generate more traffic than it is equipped to deal with.

Those are just a few of the many scenarios which demand the use of portable toilets – and each has its own considerations and criteria to take into account. Failure to tailor the type of portable toilet to the circumstances in question could result in any number of problems.

You might find that the toilets you’ve hired are not adequate to accommodate the sheer footfall that they end up experiencing. It could transpire that the waste tanks quickly reach their capacity and require emptying at a rate that is not practical with your means. Perhaps mismanagement of the facilities will cause unnecessarily long queues, leading to disgruntled guests and negatively impacting on the land underfoot. Or the toilets you choose might not be fit for purpose and don’t meet the requisite health and safety standards for your event or project.

With all of those potential issues in mind, it’s imperative that you select the toilets that are right for your needs. Fortunately, there are a wide range of different types of portable toilets on the market, each with its own unique features that make it appropriate for a particular situation.

Here’s a run-through the different types of portable toilets that are available to you, alongside a quick description of their main features and a suggestion of which setting they might be best suited to. Armed with that knowledge, you should be capable of making an informed decision on which portable toilets are right for you.

1)  Thunderboxes

The most primitive type of portable toilet on this list, thunderboxes are essentially nothing more than a box which covers a chamber pot beneath. The box, traditionally constructed from wood but more recently made out of plastic, acts as a comfortable seat upon which the user can perch while conducting their business, as well as keeping the receptacle below (and its unpleasant contents) out of sight.

You might be able to guess from the terms “thunderbox” and “chamber pot” that this type of portable toilet is particularly outdated. It was a popular method of answering the call of nature in a remote location where plumbing was not in place or where the toilet was positioned open to the elements, though it was also used on occasion in a domestic setting without flushing capabilities.

Thunderboxes are still in use today – but they’re growing rarer by the year and they’re certainly not fit for purpose on a site where many people are expected to use them. As such, anyone looking to hire a portable toilet for commercial purposes will definitely want to leave the thunderbox in the past and choose from one of the other options below instead.

2)  Self-servicing portable toilets

Self-servicing portable toilets are probably the next step up from a thunderbox, in that they deploy a removable cassette toilet inside an enclosed cubicle. In essence, what this means is that the toilet consists of two component parts housed inside a plastic cubicle – a detachable seat and flushing mechanism (with reservoir), and a sealed waste tank beneath (the cassette).

The way a self-service portable toilet works is that both the flushing water reservoir and the waste tank are treated with chemical additives that make it safe and effective to use. After doing their business, the user simply needs to activate the flush with use of the manual piston pump and the waste is locked into the sealed container below. Once full, the cassette can then be removed and taken to a drainage or waste disposal site.

Self-servicing portable toilets are not as sophisticated as any of the other models on this list, and as such may comprise something of a last resort. However, they can be an affordable and effective solution to the problem of installing toilet facilities in a remote location when the budget is a primary concern.

3)  Standard portable toilets

Standard portable toilets are probably what instantly springs to mind if someone mentions the idea of a porta potty. In the form of single-occupancy cabins, standard portable toilets use a recirculated chemical flushing system comparable to that found on aeroplanes. After use, the flush is activated by a foot pedal or handle pump, which sweeps the waste into a separate tank for treatment.

Once in the tank, the waste is treated by recirculated chemicals that meet all relevant health, safety and welfare standards for use in a public setting. This helps to break the waste down and prepare it for disposal, as well as maximising the available space in the tank. Meanwhile, the fact that the tank is a secure and leakproof entity apart from the toilet itself helps to prevent unpleasant odours and keep the toilet clean.

These types of toilets come in a variety of different types, sometimes offering a number of additional features. Depending on your needs and the capabilities of the supplier, standard portable toilets can include a variety of additional features. They’re convenient in that they don’t require connection to either the mains water supply or a drainage system, while their lightweight construction makes the highly mobile.

4)  Hot wash site toilets

Hot wash site toilets are basically the same as the standard portable toilet outlined above, but with the inclusion of a handbasin, tap and, most importantly of all, a 3kW water heater situated above both. This means that those using the toilet can access hot water instantaneously at any time of the day, which is no small advantage for certain situations.

Hot wash site toilets are ideal for construction sites, for example, where workers are likely to be handling dirty substances on a regular basis. Giving your staff the ability to practice proper sanitation with the availability of hot water is vital to boosting employee satisfaction, raising standards of hygiene and preventing the spread of germs and bacteria. Alternatively, you might wish to opt for a hot wash site toilet if it is to be deployed during colder months of the calendar, since the small home comfort of accessing hot water cannot be underestimated.

Equally suitable for both short- and long-term rentals, hot wash site toilets do come with the caveat they must be connected to a 230V (16A) power supply. Event organisers are asked to bear this in mind when choosing an appropriate portable toilet solution for their project.

5)  Mains connected portable toilets

As the name suggests, a mains connected portable toilet is hooked up directly to the mains water supply in a premises. This means that the toilet can take advantage of access to unlimited water, allowing for full flushing facilities and, depending on the model chosen, a sink with cold or hot water.

As such, a mains connected portable toilet works in exactly the same way as one installed in your home or workplace. This makes it an ideal option for situations where sanitary facilities are required on a longer-term basis. That could be a building site or to pick up the slack while extensive renovations to a property are ongoing. With greater cleanliness, reduced odours and higher standards of hygiene, mains connected portable toilets are a cost-effective solution which offers a premium experience.

Because the waste is flushed right down the drain, there is no need for a tank to be emptied or for the toilet itself to be maintained as frequently or as intensively as other alternatives. Rental of a mains connected portable toilet from LetLoos includes recommendations for site location, full installation, ongoing maintenance and eventual removal of the unit once the project is complete.

6)  Compost portable toilets

One underappreciated fact is that human waste can be put to good use. Urine is rich in nitrogen and sterile immediately upon exiting the human body, which means it can be used as a fertiliser straight away. Solid waste takes longer, but once exposed to oxygen over a prolonged period of time, it will break down into effective compost material that is completely free of all pathogens.

With that in mind, the trickiest challenge is separating liquids from solids so that both can used responsibly. Compost portable toilets get around this difficulty by containing twin bowls (one for urine, one for faeces) or extracting any liquid from the waste via the use of a pump. Electric vents are adopted to minimise the prevalence of unpleasant smells. Best of all, compost portable toilets do not use any water in flushing away the waste, which makes them extremely kind on the environment and easy to implement even in the most remote locations.

Compost portable toilets are ideal for locations where sustainability and eco-friendliness is a priority. They are an excellent option for multi-day festivals situated out in the back of beyond such as Glastonbury, where they have been employed since 2016. Alternatively, they can provide a more permanent fixture for outdoor sporting clubs such as golf, lawn bowls or even allotment communities. For the latter, there’s an added convenience that the compost can be used onsite.

7)  Long drop portable toilets

Another eco-friendly option, long drop portable toilets have also been used for Glastonbury for many years running, becoming something of an institution for Britain’s largest and longest running music festival. Again, the clue as to how these contraptions work is contained in the title.

Instead of storing the waste in a separate tank that is attached to the main toilet unit, long drop portable toilets are connected to a huge portable tank buried underground. After flushing the toilet, the waste is carried to the tank and stored safely away from the eyes and nostrils of anyone using the tank later in the day. That makes it both more hygienic and better smelling than some other alternatives. Like the compost option, it’s also water-free, giving it excellent green credentials.

Long drop portable toilets are best suited to multi-day events in remote locations, such as the music festival mentioned above. The portable tank is sizable enough for use over a prolonged period, but its capacity is limited – and emptying it is an onerous task, so it doesn’t lend itself well to frequent maintenance.

8)  Accessible portable toilets

Disabled access is an important consideration for event organisers operating in any industry. With an easy access portable toilet from LetLoos, you can ensure that everyone is able to use the facilities while under your care, regardless of their own potential mobility issues or other disability requirements.

Our easy access portable toilets are much like our standard portable toilets – but with a few key modifications. First of all, the dimensions of the toilets are considerably larger (2,220mm x 1,575mm x 1,575mm, as opposed to 2,310mm x 1,118mm x 1,219mm in a standard cubicle), allowing for the easy entrance and exit of wheelchairs.

There are also appropriate handles on the walls to allow for additional support for those who need it, while the LED lights inside are activated via motion sensor to make their use as straightforward and stress-free as possible.

At LetLoos, we have also recognised that the requirements of disabled users and mothers with young children can coincide in some areas. For that reason, all of our accessible portable toilets also contain baby changing facilities, so that both parties can be accommodated in one simple solution.

9)  Baby change portable toilets

Bringing along the whole family to an outdoor event can help to create memories that last a lifetime – but it can also involve certain challenges, none more so than when a baby figures in the equation. For the parents of a young family, the provision of adequate baby changing facilities can prove to be a godsend when stranded out in the wilderness with nowhere private to tend to the needs of a new-born.

In addition to the WC, baby change portable toilets also contain a dropdown table or other surface upon which the changing can take place, as well as a bin specifically designated for disposing with dirty nappies and plentiful handwashing facilities. With everything that is needed to safely, cleanly and quickly change a baby’s undergarments, they’re ideally suited to events where families are likely to be in attendance.

LetLoos have taken the initiative in combining our accessible toilet units with our baby changing facilities, utilising the expanded dimensions of both to service the needs of two distinct parties. In this way, you can kill two birds with one stone by hiring a baby changing toilet and an accessible toilet all in one.

10) Portable toilet cabins

While all of the options on this list up until this point have featured single-occupancy cubicles, a portable toilet cabin takes the concept of portable sanitation facilities to the next level. Instead of being housed in a small cubicle in which there is little room to do more than stand up and turn around, portable toilet cabins offer larger dimensions with plenty more elbow.

How you use this additional space will depend upon your unique requirements and the capabilities of the supplier you choose. There is significant variety in how the cabins can be configured, however, with floorplans containing all types of additional features such as urinals, shower units and even sports changing rooms. As such, portable toilet cabins can offer greater flexibility and lend themselves to a wider range of purposes than single, standalone cubicles.

Some of the situations in which portable toilet cabins might make sense include an outdoor music venue which is planning to host several events over the course of a prolonged period of time or a sporting extravaganza located out in the middle of nowhere.

11) Luxury toilet trailers

If portable toilet cabins are one step up from a standard toilet, luxury toilet trailers are another level up once more. Equipped with a range of features to create a VIP experience for your guests, our luxury loos are constructed with premium-quality materials and treated to a high-class finish.

Our luxury toilets contain flushing WCs, a glass bowl sink and an attractively sloping silver tap, replicating the look and feel of a pristine toilet in any indoor environment. They are also, of course, far larger than a standard toilet, meaning there is plenty of room to manoeuvre inside. Meanwhile, the sizable mirror which is fixed in place over the sink provides the perfect place for guests to check their appearance before returning to the action.

We offer three different sizes of luxury toilet trailers: 1+1, 2+1 or 3+1, with a maximum capacity of 125, 175 and 250 guests, respectively. This allows you to tailor your choice to the parameters of the situation and give your guests sufficient opportunity to use the facilities as and when required.

Still not sure whether to upgrade? Explore our list of 20 reasons why you should choose luxury portable toilets for your event, to help you decide.

12) Portable urinals

Portable urinals are an excellent option when space is at a premium. Not only do they occupy very little room themselves, but they also slash queues for standard portable toilets dramatically. This means that more people can relieve themselves at once, resulting in happier customers and enhanced hygienic standards.

The portable urinals supplied by LetLoos come in a range of different sizes, from single units to multi-bay models, allowing you to accommodate the guests you expect to receive. As well as providing prompt installation and removal services which will pose minimal disruption to your routine, we also include a weekly cleaning service as standard for all long-term portable urinal rentals.

As portable urinals can only be used by men, they’re ideal for events where large groups of male attendees are expected – whether that’s a sporting event, musical festival or corporate conference. However, the benefits aren’t enjoyed exclusively by the male population – as mentioned above, they can also help to alleviate the strain on other toilet facilities and ensure everyone can relieve themselves in a more timely manner.

13) Welfare units

For anyone overseeing the administration of a construction site, dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s with regard to health and safety is a huge consideration. When renting a welfare unit from LetLoos, you can rest assured that all of our units are compliant with the requirements of the HSE Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations put in place in 1992.

The exact facilities contained within our welfare units are negotiable depending upon your specific needs. Having said that, all units come equipped with a chemical toilet and hot water handwashing facilities, as well as being stocked with all of the essentials you might need for the duration of the project, including appliances such as kettles and microwaves and accessories such as soap and toilet paper. We even throw in a box of biscuits with each contract to make sure your team hit the ground running!

All mobile welfare units are steam cleaned prior to arrival on your site and are ready to use immediately. For longer contracts, we’ll include a weekly cleaning and maintenance service as standard, meaning that our welfare units really are a one-stop shop for all your portable toilet needs in a busy construction site environment.

14) High-rise portable toilets

Some construction jobs take place at great heights – but that doesn’t mean that those employed in carrying them out don’t hear the call of nature! A high-rise portable toilet is designed to cater to the needs of those working at heights, employing unique dimensions and an innovative design to allow it to go where other toilets simply cannot.

Perhaps the greatest factor in achieving this impressive feat is the dimensions of the toilet. Smaller than the other alternatives on this list, a high-rise portable loo can be manoeuvred through doorways, corridors and freight elevators so that it arrives where it is needed most. Made from specialised materials such as galvanised metal and sealed casters, its robust enough to withstand extreme weather conditions, while still offering adequate privacy and comfort to those who need to use it.

As you’d expect, these types of portable toilets are only intended for use in high-up locations, such as a high-rise construction site where incomplete architecture or other structural concerns make a standard portable toilet unfeasible. As such, they have a very specific use – but an invaluable one.

Find the right type of portable toilet

After reading about all those different types of portable toilets, we’d hope that you find yourself a bit better informed about the choices that are available to you. However, we also understand that such a breadth and depth of options can seem a little overwhelming, with many event organisers still unsure which type of toilet is best suited to their circumstances.

That’s where LetLoos comes in. As one of the leading suppliers of portable toilets and sanitation services in the UK, we consider ourselves experts on all facets of the subject. For that reason, there’s no one better placed to offer you advice or any answer questions you might have regarding the choice of portable toilets for your project – and our friendly team are always here to help.

To learn more about the specific types of portable toilets that we stock and to enquire about which might be most appropriate for your needs, why not get in touch with us today? We can provide all the answers you’ll ever need, as well as a free, no-obligation quote on the costs associated with hiring one of our units for your next project.