Garbage disposal units are often frowned upon because some people perpetuate the idea of zero food waste, so why would we invest in these units anyway, right? As good as that may sound, zero waste is a concept that’s very difficult to put into application, so the next best thing is to manage your waste as best as possible in the interest of the environment.
So, instead of bad-mouthing garbage disposals, we are going to take an objective look at what they can and can’t do, and let each of you determine if you could get use out of one of these.
Pros & Cons of Garbage Disposals
Just like every other product on the market, garbage disposals have benefits and drawbacks that make them suitable for some of you, but maybe not so much for the rest. When it comes to opting for such a unit, some of the most common pros and cons that people often talk about include:
Pro: They keep the pipes cleaner. It is a well-known fact that most of us tend to put dishes in the kitchen sink while they still have scraps of food on them. When that food goes down the drain, it doesn’t always dissolve, which causes blockages and grease build-up in the pipes. When you use a garbage disposal, you are basically grinding the food scraps into small particles that prevent your pipes from getting clogged.
Con: They tend to be high maintenance. Even if they are generally good units, they do require a lot of cleaning, because food scraps can still linger inside, decay, and start causing terrible odors. What you’ll need to do is make sure that you clean the disposal once a week and only after you’ve disconnected it from the electricity source.
Pro: They make it easier to clean your kitchen. A lot of families deal with the problem of leftover food scraps. That means that when you’re done eating, you need to take your plate to the trash can, scrape whatever food is left there, and then take it to the sink. With a garbage disposal unit, you can reduce the time it takes to clean the kitchen after having prepared a meal and eaten it.
Con: Some models can be dangerous. Units that have a continuous-feed system will grind food for as long as they’re powered, which means that the drain is always exposed. In consequence, it somehow increases the chances of you hurting yourself while using it, but it also increases the odds of other stuff falling in there (pretty much everything from kitchen utensils to the ring on your finger). However, batch-feed models eliminate this problem, but they are more expensive.
Pro: They tend to be compatible with many different types of plumbing and sewage systems. It is quite unlikely that you will end up buying a unit that doesn’t work with your septic tank or municipal sewer, but this is the kind of information that you should double-check before buying.
Choosing a Garbage Disposal
When you’re looking to invest in a garbage disposal, there are a few things that you have to think about first. Buying a garbage disposal that’s right for you isn’t just about scouting products to see which one offers the best features, but also about knowing what your household needs as far as these machines are concerned. While there are many different features that might be more or less useful to you, three aspects require your attention: motor strength, noise output, and waste produced.
#1: Motor Strength
The strength of the motor on your garbage disposal is important for many different things. First of all, it establishes the volume of waste your garbage disposal can handle. Then, it also establishes how well the waste can be grinded. Needless to say, a stronger motor can grind garbage finer compared to what a weaker motor can do. It’s important for the waste to be grinded as much as possible. Otherwise, it can clog the drain.
Knowing about the strength of the motor means looking for information related to the unit’s horsepower, but what does that mean exactly for you? How much hp is enough for your home. Consider the following:
- Units that have ⅓ hp motors are amongst the weakest ones on the market. They still manage to get the job done in certain situations, but one of the reasons why these disposals are selling so well is because their low-power motor makes them more affordable. Their rather compact size also makes them a suitable choice for small apartments.
- Models with ½ hp motors are better for small homes. They are, however, mostly suitable for light use and can’t really handle grinding very hard food scraps.
- Then, you have your ¾ and 1-2 hp motors, which are considerably more powerful than the other two we mentioned above. For instance, garbage disposal units with ¾ hp motors are capable of grinding bones and hard vegetables, while units with 1-2 HP motors can handle even harder food waste.
#2: Noise Output
A garbage disposal can be quite a noisy product, and some of you might be discouraged by the noise output of such a unit. The only way around this is to look for units that have all sorts of sound-proof technologies that are looking to counteract this noise problem. As you’ll see in the second part of this article, where we look at some of the best and popular garbage disposals, there are products that embed all kinds of technologies to minimize noise output so it becomes bearable. However, you need to keep in mind that quieter units come at a cost.
#3: Waste Produced
Then, you are going to have to consider the size of your household and the amount of food waste you produce. Depending on that, you’re going to need a garbage disposal unit with a motor that has more or less horsepower, so here is what you need to know:
- If you live in a small apartment with a maximum of 2 other people, then you could use a disposal with a ⅓ or ½ hp motor.
- For families that have between 4 and 6 people, it would be more useful to get a unit with ¾ hp.
- For families with 7 or more people, 1 hp units are a much better choice.
- 2 hp units can handle a lot of food waste, but they are more common for commercial use.
Even with these classifications in mind, there are a few things that we still have to mention. For instance, ⅓ hp models aren’t powerful, as we mentioned before, so they are best excluded from your potential shopping list. Also, 2 hp units have way more power than a regular household could potentially need, which is why they are more useful for business use, such as in a restaurant.
Types of Garbage Disposals
There are two main categories of garbage disposals you can expect to find on the market:
- Continuous-feed models are units that allow you to throw in food waste while the unit is running. In fact, these are the most common types of disposals because they are available at really good prices. These units are powered by wall switches, and this usually means that you might need to call in an electrician to take care of the wiring. The alternative is opting for models that have an air switch.
- Batch-feed models are your other option, and these work by letting you throw in food inside them in batches. This particular type of disposal unit will only work when the drain is covered, which not only reduces the risk of injury, but also helps prevent other stuff from falling down the drain. They are a viable choice for kitchen islands because they don’t need a wall switch. However, people usually avoid buying them because of their higher cost.
Garbage Disposal FAQ
How do I know what size garbage disposal to buy?
If you check our section above on waste production, then you’ll see that the power of the motor should depend on the size of your household. Small homes with one or two people can use ½ hp motors, those of you that share a household with 3 to 5 other people could use a unit with a ¾ hp motor, while larger families need a 1 hp motor on a garbage disposal.
Is a garbage disposal worth it?
The only one who can establish that is you, and the way to do that is to consider the benefits that such a unit can bring and see if that’s something that you could use yourself. For instance, if your household produces a lot of food waste, a garbage disposal is a really good option. It prevents garbage odors and can help you get rid of food leftovers that you can’t donate, such as meat bones.
Can you install a garbage disposal yourself?
Good news is that most garbage disposals that are now available on the market are pretty easy to install if you have the right tools at your disposal. You need to make sure that the garbage disposal unit of your choice is compatible with your existing plumbing. Most manufacturers and sellers will ship their products with a comprehensive list of instructions that will guide you through the installation process every step of the way.
Best Garbage Disposals
Our very first suggestion is InSinkErator Garbage Disposal. It features a bunch of integrated technologies that some users will be delighted by, starting off with the SoundSeal Technology – aimed at reducing noise output so that you can actually stand in the kitchen while this baby is operating. It’s made with stainless steel components to ensure long-term durability. The grinder uses 2-stage grinding technology to make food scraps finer compared to other models, with everything in here being powered by a ¾ hp induction motor. The quick lock mount makes it easy to replace this garbage disposal with another one, as the lock is compatible across all InSinkErator models. The disposal measures 8.75 x 8.75 x 12.6 inches and weighs a total of 19 pounds.
Next up, let’s give a round of applause as we welcome the Waste King Legend Series garbage disposal, a unit powered by 1 hp motor with 2,800 rpm with sound-insulation technology and the promise to never jam. Aside from the relatively high-speed motor, there are other characteristics that make this disposal a good buy. It is easy to install and you won’t need any professional help in doing so. It comes with a pre-installed power cord to make things easier too. It’s made with stainless steel components that can withstand the test of time as well as a variety of conditions that would normally lead to rust or corrosion. You can activate the disposal via the wall switch.
We welcome yet another InSinkErator garbage disposal with a few characteristics that are different compared to the other model we’ve looked at earlier. It is a quiet unit that will manage to deliver the power you need and expect from a good disposal. It comes with alloy stainless steel components, which are the benchmark of quality construction when it comes to these machines. It features 3-stage multigrind technology to make sure food scraps are broken down as much as possible, preventing clogs and blockages. It has a 1 hp induction motor similar to what you can find across all of InSinkErator’s garbage disposal units.
Here is the Badger 5, another really good garbage disposal brought to you by InSinkErator. It is a product that gives you the functionality of a disposal with the features of a high-end unit, even though the price doesn’t skyrocket at all. It is designed with the same Dura-Drive induction motor that InSinkErator uses in all its products, only this one has ½ hp. And, just like the others, it’s made with stainless steel components to ensure the disposal has a long lifespan.
Let’s change things up a bit and look at this Hissun garbage disposal, a product with a few aces up its sleeve. First of all, you can find this unit in three different motor power options: one with ¾ hp, another one with ½ hp, and one with 1 hp. The high-quality motor is designed with German precision and engineering, offering continuous motor feed for as long as the unit is operational. It is designed with anti-vibration technology and advanced sound insulation, so it’s quieter compared to other similar disposals. As other quality garbage disposals, this one also has stainless steel components, so durability shouldn’t be a concern.
The Waste King L-1001 garbage disposal unit offers power for getting rid of food scraps in an efficient way. What you can expect is plenty of juice from the 1.2 hp 2,600 rpm motor that comes with a magnet to prevent jams. It has dishwater hook-up and can be mounted without any professional help, which is always a plus and a money-saving deal. The compact design will help you save some space under the sink, and the 27.3 oz chamber capacity should be enough for most homes. Thanks to the pre-installed power cord, you don’t need to mess around with any electrical work. The unit is wall switch-activated and really simple to use.
The last product in today’s list of suggestions comes from InSinkErator once again, and for a good reason. This is a really good unit that comes with technology suitable for homes that have septic systems. The company offers you Bio-Charge, a technology that automatically injects microorganisms to make sure that food waste is broken down properly. It comes with a ¾ hp motor that uses the same induction power as the other motors that are integrated in the company’s disposals. It features 2-stage multi grind technology, alongside SoundSeal technology to prevent the disposal from being unbearably noisy.
In general, it’s a good idea to avoid food waste as much as possible, especially when you consider the current landfill troubles our planet has to face. However, garbage is difficult to avoid in its entirety, especially if you have a large family to cook for on a regular basis. Investing in a garbage disposal is a good idea because these units can grind everything from peach pits to beef bones.
This will help you get rid of foul odors resulting from this kind of trash, as well as reduce the chances of critters being attracted to your garbage. If you’ve decided to spend money on a garbage disposal, our comprehensive guide should teach you the basics of what it is that you have to pay attention to before adding a product to your shopping cart.