Garbage Disposal Buyer’s Guide Featured image

Not everyone owns garbage disposals in their kitchen and there’s a lot of confusion for the different types that can be purchased. If you’ve considered buying one and are looking to learn about the differences between garbage disposal models, then this article will help make that decision easier to make.

Not every garbage disposal is the same

Two types of garbage disposal

Even though there are many models of garbage disposals that you can easily buy at home improvement centers, there are specifically two types of disposals that are different from each other. Because of their function differences, spotting them by name will make your choice easier once you learn what they do to food scraps, and why.

The Continuous-Feed Garbage Disposal

Continuous-Feed Garbage Disposal

The name pretty much tells you everything you need to know about this type of disposal since you can continually add leftover food and scraps while the machine is operating. The trick that makes this work best is having water running while the garbage disposal is mulching scraps. This helps to keep the machine from becoming clogged or becoming jammed.

Once the scraps have washed down the drain, the machine can be turned off, and then the water is turned off after that. Even after you turn off the machine, there will still be small particles that need to be washed down the drain. Depending on how many scraps were being ground-up, it will be advised to wash them down the drain so they are washed away into larger drain pipes that lead to the main sewer or into your septic tank.

Continuous-feed disposals are lower in cost because they have a simple on and off function and are perfect whenever you need them. As long as you have a steady water supply, only the strength of the continuous garbage disposal will determine how much waste can be mulched at a time.

The Batch-Feed Garbage Disposal

Batch-Feed Garbage Disposal

This model is available for homes that are looking to save on their water consumption and reduce the amount that is used compared to continuous-feed disposal. The Batch-feed is designed to be filled with food waste and water and is then sealed off. The machine is turned on and the food waste is turned into liquid pulp in a matter of minutes. The disposal can then be drained and the remaining waste is washed down the drain.

Another key feature that makes this disposal ideal is a safety feature that prevents children from putting their hands into the sink while the sink is operating. This is achieved with a stopper that is placed over the sink drain that locks in place and keeps any waste from coming back through the sink opening when it’s turned on. This plug also reduces the sound of the garbage disposal much more than continuous-feed models.

Aside from electricity use, this model can save more on electricity but the decision to choose the right size based on power will be the biggest concern you will choose.

Why is there a difference in horsepower?

Garbage Disposal horsepower illustration

Back in the days of Tim Allen who was the star of Home Improvement in the early 1990s, everyone knew that familiar catch-phrase “More Power”. Whenever you see garbage disposals with higher horsepower, these machines are telling you that they can handle higher amounts of food waste and dense material that’s ground-up. There are some exceptions to horsepower that are based on the number of family members too.

Based on the amount of food waste that a typical family is putting inside their disposal, it’s generally suggested that horsepower matches the level of food waste to be ground up. This isn’t always the case, but in general terms, horsepower dictates what is being mulched and what each model can essentially handle.

For 1/3 HP models

According to statistics, these disposals are perfectly fine for a single resident or a young couple living in a small home or apartment. It’s not meant for a lot of food but is great for vegetable scraps and peelings, but not so much for grinding chicken bones. This level of power will easily get jammed if too much food is put inside the disposal at the same time, so only small amounts are best to dispose of when using it.

For 1/2 HP models

This disposal is better suited for the traditional family home with one or two children. It can handle more waste as long as there is a slow and steady flow when feeding the disposal. It could still jam up if an entire batch of food waste is added all at once. Continuous-batch disposals will need plenty of water to prevent jamming from occurring. It’s a good choice if there is moderate scrap such as small soft bones, veggie scraps, and peels.

For 3/4 HP models

Larger families that have continual kitchen activity will certainly enjoy this all-purpose disposal with optimal power. Because of the step-up in power, it can handle food scraps that can handle family dinners or holiday events. It’s strong enough to grind through bigger bones like chicken and gristle but probably not turkey or beef bones. These models often have sound buffer housings that make them quieter than other models.

For 1 HP models

If you feel the need for speed and something more like a wood chipper in your sink, then a 1-horsepower garbage disposal will handle many of the more problematic materials like turkey bones, pork gristle, and some small pieces of baked beef-bone. Because these high-power models can handle jamming problems, many of these disposals will sense if there is a jamming danger. Keep in mind these disposals are pretty big, so it does take up sink space.

How much power do you need?

Aside from learning about continuous-feed and batch-feed disposals, the next choice is deciding how much food waste you intend to mulch. You’ll expect to pay more for batch-feed models, but in the long run, save more in less electricity and water that’s used. Then again, if you live in a region that doesn’t have water limitations, then the continuous feed is a great budget-priced solution.

You may also want to check which model is better for homes with septic tanks and feature added functions that are good for the natural decomposition of food waste. If you have a home that has a direct sewage pipe to the main sewer, this is typically not a concern. Just the horsepower can determine what you want to reduce according to how much waste you typically have in your kitchen.

By k3nrpsd

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