Four years… That’s how long it’s taken me from thinking about installing a SOG unit to actually doing it. Action Man, that’s what they call me. Anyway, I’ve done it now! A brief overview follows of a what a SOG unit is, and why we’ve just fitted one, then there are a couple of videos below showing the unpacked kit and how I installed it on our 2001 Hymer B544.
What’s a SOG?
A SOG unit is a simple concept, genius really. Motorhomes and caravans typically have a Thetford Cassette which holds the contents of the loo, meaning you can use the toilet in your home on wheels. Some folks opt never to use them, preferring to use site facilities, and some folks only use them for holding number 1s (wee), not the dreaded number 2s (poop). We were in the second camp for a while, but long term budget motorhoming didn’t include the funds for campsites, so we used the cassette for everything as we frequently free camped or used aires. As an aside I’m convinced, after leaving our cassette unemptied numerous times for a socially unacceptable number of days, that number 1’s honk far worse than number 2s.
And moving on. Both number 1s and number 2s have the unfortunate characteristic of stinking to high heaven, especially if they’re left for a few days, and even more so if they’re jiggled around in a motorhome in 40 degrees heat in Croatia. **shudder** So someone came up with the idea of some thick blue chemical which you pop into the empty cassette with a bit of water. This helps keep the whiff under control, and also helps break down the poop and loo paper. You don’t **have** to use the blue stuff, we tried various other things over time, but the blue chemicals generally did the job best.
The main downside to the blue stuff is it costs wonga (and it’s dubious how harmful it is to our environment, although I’ve never looked into this so don’t really know). A litre of Aqua Kem Blue is coming in at about £12 on Amazon. The SOG unit aims to avoid the need for any chemicals at all. It does this by using a small fan, typically attached to the cassette door although newer vans seem to vet through the roof. This fan is connected via a hose to somewhere on the cassette. Then, when the blade is opened inside the loo (i.e. when you’re flushing it), the fan starts and draws air from inside the van through the cassette and outside, via a charcoal filter to absorb some of the smell. A SOG unit comes in at about £110 (from www.soguk.co.uk or www.outdoorbits.com, for example). In our two year tour, the SOG unit would have easily paid for itself, regardless of any other benefits. As we intend more long term touring, and Ju managed to get a brand new kit for £75 from eBay, we’re fitting one on economic grounds, but we expect it to be a sniff-killer too.
Also, as the hose is always connected to the cassette, any ponging gases which build up in the cassette when it’s not being used get forced outside the van, rather than back inside the cassette housing in the van via the excess pressure valve. In theory, the SOG does away with the stink, as long as the filter is replaced once a year (they cost an exorbitant £9.50 BTW; I’ll be searching for an alternative active charcoal filter, maybe something like this). We’ve checked out umpteen threads on forums, and met lots of people who have SOG units, and the outcome seems to be:
- Folks who haven’t fitted one claim they’re daft expensive, won’t work and stink out your unfortunate neighbours.
- Folks who have fitted one swear by them, and say they do work as long as the filter is changed every 12 months. :-)
Something to be aware of: there are different kits, and different ways of installing them, depending on which Thetford cassette you have. Do your research to make sure you get the right one. Our van has the cassette type on a label inside the cassette housing, and printed on the bottom of the cassette: a Thetford C200. The videos below all refer to the C200 install. Also please note that I AM AN AMATEUR! I’m not a professional installer and although I **think** I’ve installed the kit correctly, I may well be proved wrong. Read the instructions – I read them 3 times and still managed to get it a bit wrong, as the video below shows.
Installation of a SOG Unit with a C200 Cassette
This video shows me installing the SOG unit onto the C200 cassette on our 2001 Hymer B544 motorhome. Apologies for the wind noise, it was, erm, windy. The install took about 2 hours, but would have been a bit faster if (a) I wasn’t filming it and (b) I didn’t cock it up.
The C200 SOG Unit Parts
This video shows the bits and bobs which came as part of the SOG kit. There are PDF brochures and installation instructions also available here (half way down the page). These instructions are a bit different the paper ones which came with the kit; I worked from the paper instructions.
We’ll run the unit for a few months and then give an update on how well it has worked for us.