Are all garbage disposals created equal? Let’s take a look at some of the factors that might determine which disposal will be the right choice for you and your home.
For many of us living in the modern world, the garbage disposal has become an absolutely indispensable time-saving tool. It makes kitchen cleanup fast, easy, and convenient, while erasing unpleasant tasks like painstakingly scrubbing food into the garbage can or unclogging a sink drain plugged with food particles.
Continuous Feed vs. Batch Feed – Which is Better?
There are two main operation types when it comes to disposal design—continuous feed and batch feed.
Continuous feed is the most popular design style, as a flip of the switch immediately starts the grinder. This style is perfect for large amounts of waste, and saves you time as you can leave the motor running and feed food particles while preparing a meal. The popularity of continuous feed designs has also made their prices more manageable than batch feed units. The two main downsides of continuous feed disposals are that they need attention from the operator to switch them on and off, and their water usage is relatively high.
Batch feed machines, on the other hand, use less water and don’t require constant attention. They’re also relatively safer. You simply place the waste in the disposal, cover it with a stopper or cover, and the machine begins to grind. The downside of this approach is that a large amount of waste can be cumbersome to process, as you’ll be adding batches, placing then removing the cover, and repeating this process a few times.
In general, there are three power ratings when it comes to disposals. The majority of models will either offer ½ horsepower, ¾ horsepower, or 1 horsepower worth of disposal strength. While this might not seem much when you think about your car, when it comes to grinding waste it’s a perfectly serviceable power range.
1/2 HP designs are generally smaller, which makes them a good option for small households without a great deal of organic waste being produced in the kitchen. However, they can have a hard time with more difficult tasks like grinding up citrus peels or small bones.
The next step up is a ¾ HP model, which can handle fruit and vegetable peels with ease and may even be able to manage a few smaller bones every once in a while.
If you have a large family or household that produces a great deal of food waste, you’ll likely want to opt for a 1 HP option. These can handle tough rinds, bones, and most other standard food waste with ease. They can be larger and more expensive, but if you can manage it, they’re dependable options that will work effectively for just about anything you throw at them.
The key factor to consider when it comes to disposal size is fairly obvious—will it fit under your sink? It’s important to do some accurate measuring before you begin the process of selecting a disposal. The nicest model in the world won’t do much good if it can’t fit in the space beneath your sink. Fortunately, there are many options available to ensure that you can find one that’s the right fit.
When it comes to price points, there are two primary options that will affect your potential costs the most—whether you go for an aluminum disposal or a stainless-steel design. Aluminum disposals are generally cheaper, falling in the $60-$150 range, but they can be more prone to corrosion and eventual leaks.
While stainless steel models will usually cost over $150, they tend to last longer, decrease the need for maintenance, and insulate against disposal noise far better than aluminum models.
What about noise?
A disposal system with better noise insulation will generally cost more, but it will be up to you to determine whether that added cost is worth the quieter operation. Do you have young children who might be disturbed by the disposal? Or do you have housemates who keep later hours than you and might wake you up in the middle of the night? These are factors you’ll want to consider.
Installation Factors to Consider
Here are a few additional questions you’ll want to consider when it comes time to replace or install a garbage disposal for your kitchen.
Is your plumbing up to the task?
If you experience frequent plumbing clogs or backups, a disposal’s added waste might make the problem even worse. Your first priority should be to have your septic system repaired, emptied or enlarged before buying a garbage disposal.
What will installation cost?
In addition to the cost of the unit itself, you’ll want to consider installation cost. While a replacement unit might only cost around $150 for equipment and installation, a brand new install will require a new receptacle, switch, fitting, and more, and can run up to $500. The average disposal also will take around 1-2 hours to install, so factor this time cost in as well.
How long will my new disposal last?
A quality disposal unit should be expected to last between seven and ten years under normal use.
How can I keep my disposal in good shape?
Never use bleach or corrosive cleaning liquids to cleanse your disposal, opting instead for organic materials like salt, vinegar, lime peels or ice. These are much less damaging alternatives that will still help increase the life span and functionality of your disposal.
Which Garbage Disposal Should I Buy?
As is the case with many home appliance decisions, the purchase of a new disposal for your home is highly personalized. Use the criteria outlined above as a guideline, but ultimately you’ll need to determine your own unique needs to purchase a garbage disposal that serves you and your family effectively and efficiently.
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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on December 17, 2020. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.