The type of garbage disposal you purchase will depend on your household needs. If you don’t throw much food in the sink, then a lower power machine will work just fine; there’s no need to spend an extra $100 to $200 on a unit designed for heavy use. However, if you’re planning to dispose of food down the drain multiple times a day, a higher power machine is a better choice and could save you from an expensive repair bill.
A garbage disposer works much like a cheese grater. As you push food waste down into the drain, impellers pull the food against a stationary grind ring. The shredder breaks the food into small pieces that can safely pass through your plumbing and into the the city water waste or your septic tank. Disposals with higher horsepower ratings are able to handle larger load capacities, which helps prevent clogs in the drain or jams in the machine.
Although it may seem like the larger units are a better choice, this isn’t always the case. We recommend choosing a model with a horsepower rating that suits your needs (typically the ½ HP version is perfect for general use). Another important consideration is the materials used in construction. Look for a unit made with materials that won’t break or corrode, such as stainless steel.
How to Decide Which Garbage Disposal Buy
¼ Horsepower Garbage Disposal: With a price tag ranging from $60 to $90, the ¼ HP disposal is often the cheapest choice. However, we don’t recommend the ¼ HP for regular household use. This size unit works ok for grinding and catching small scraps, but shouldn’t ever be used for whole pieces of food. The ¼ HP units are great for studio apartments or 1 bedrooms where little use is expected.
½ Horsepower Garbage Disposal: The ½ Horsepower is the the unit we recommend for most household applications. These units are strong enough to grind most types of food scraps, and can handle a decent amount of food waste. When using your disposal, be sure to only feed small amounts of food into the disposal at a time (never pack food into the drain). With the ½ HP units, you’ll want to avoid hard to grind items such as rinds, celery, and potatoes. These items tend to clog household disposals. The ½ HP unit is perfect for the moderate use expected from a small family of 3-4 people.
¾ Horsepower Garbage Disposal: You might consider the ¾ HP unit if you plan to dispose of the majority of your food scraps down the sink. These larger units are good for large families that use their disposal daily and frequently. This unit would most likely be overkill for a family of 4 or less.
1 Horsepower Garbage Disposal: A 1 HP model is not necessary in most household applications. Save your money and go for either the ½ or ¾ model. The 1 HP model should really be reserved for commercial uses or kitchens with constant, heavy use.