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    How to Determine the Right Size Garbage Disposal

    Four different sized houses

    Selecting the right sized garbage disposal for your home is an important decision. With so many choices, you may feel overwhelmed at first, but it's not as difficult as you might think.

    Purchasing a garbage disposal too small for your household can lead to drain clogs and jams, leaving you annoyed and frustrated. But buying one that's too large, can mean you spent more money than necessary. This article will show you exactly what size garbage disposal to purchase.

    Finding The Right Sized Garbage Disposal

    There are several factors that you'll need to consider when purchasing a garbage disposal. Selecting the right size is on the top of the list.

    How Much Horsepower Do I Need?

    Garbage disposals measure their grinding strength in horsepower. When the motor has more horsepower (hp), the disposal will be more powerful. In other words, a 3/4 hp motor will have more grinding power than a 1/2 hp motor. 

    The higher the horsepower, the better the disposal will operate. This means fewer jams and a finer pulverization of food waste. When food waste is finely pulverized, you'll experience fewer clogged drain lines, and place less stress on the water waste system.

    Household Size

    One method of determining the correct-sized horsepower, is to factor your household size into the equation. 

    If you have a family of 5, you'll need either a 1/2 hp or a 3/4 hp disposal; but in some cases, a 1 hp may be the best fit. This may not seem helpful, since you only eliminated the 1/3 hp.

    1 to 2

    People

    3 to 6

    People

    5 to 8

    People

    8+

    People

    1/3 hp

    X

    -

    -

    -

    1/2 hp

    X

    X

    -

    -

    3/4 hp

    -

    X

    X

    -

    1 hp

    -

    -

    X

    X

    Which is why using the above chart should only be viewed as a guideline to your individual situation. For example, if you do a lot of entertaining or heavy grinding, a 1 hp disposal would likely be your best choice. But for most family's of 5, a 3/4 hp will do the job just fine.


    1/3 Horsepower

    The starting point for garbage disposal motors is 1/3 horsepower. If you'll only be grinding soft foods, such as vegetables, live in a studio apartment, or you're on a very tight budget, a 1/3 hp may be a decent fit.

    Many people purchase a 1/3 horsepower garbage disposal because they are the least expensive. However, they also have the least amount of power than any disposal on the market. This means that the unit will be prone to jamming, and you'll need to be extremely careful on what you put into the grind chamber.  

    Another concern is the build itself. Since 1/3 hp disposals are the most economical, they're often built with the least expensive internal components. Which results in a shorter service life. 

    If you're considering purchasing a 1/3 hp garbage disposal, your best bet would be to buy from a quality manufacturer. Both of these garbage disposals would be decent choice: InSinkErator's Badger or Waste King's Legend-111. However, your best move would be to buy a 1/2 hp instead.


    1/2 Horsepower

    Many plumbers recommend the 1/2 horsepower garbage disposal over the 1/3 hp as it's typically better constructed and has a little more power. Although, you should keep in mind, this is still a lower powered disposal, and is only suitable for light use. 

    The 1/2 hp disposals' tend to also be budget friendly, and can frequently fit into tighter spaces due to their smaller size. They're an excellent choice for vacation homes, condominiums, or apartments.

    Manufacturers generally don't put a lot of bells-and-whistles on 1/2 hp garbage disposals, but purchasing reputable brands will help increase the quality. 

    With 1/2 hp disposals' it's critical that you slowly feed the food waste into the grind chamber, being careful not to overload the disposal. Also, use a strong flow of cold water.

    The InSinkErator's Badger 5 and Waste King's Legend-2600 are well-made disposals from quality manufacturers. They're also reasonably priced and have plenty of positive consumer reviews. 


    3/4 Horsepower

    The 3/4 hp garbage disposal is often thought of as the work horse among disposals. It's suitable for normal home use, yet powerful enough to handle Thanksgiving dinner scraps. In fact, it's likely the most common garbage disposal installed in single family homes!

    More horsepower means less jams and fewer clogs since the disposal is capable of finely pulverizing. But like any disposal, there are things that should never be ground.  

    Manufacturers also put more features in their 3/4 hp garbage disposals. Many are designed to operate so quietly that you'll hardly know they're even running, and stainless steel components prevents rusting and adds years of service life.

    However, the larger motor size also means that they may not squeeze into tight spaces as easily as the 1/2 hp, but in most situations, this isn't a problem. 

    Expect to see a higher price tag, although, you typically get a longer warranty. So unless you're planning on moving, it's usually worth the investment.

    We don't think you can go wrong with the InSinkErator Evolution, but Waste King also makes a nice 3/4 hp disposal with their Legend-3300 model.


    1 Horsepower

    The 1 hp disposals' are not only powerful, but they're designed for household's with heavy use. They can even be effective in light commercial environments, such as offices, since they tend to be more "forgiving" than other garbage disposals.

    Although, just because you'll have plenty of power, doesn't mean that you shouldn't treat your disposal with care. But you can rest assured that a 1 hp unit can handle some of your more challenging waste, such as chicken bones. 

    Typically the 1 hp garbage disposal is the top of the line model for most manufacturers, so they tend to be very well made. Many have stainless steel components, which virtually eliminates rust. Their powerful motor makes jams and clogs extremely rare because they are capable of pulverizing the waste into fine particles.

    It's not uncommon for a 1 hp disposal to have all the fittings and technology a manufacturer can offer. Look for features like auto-reverse, multiple grind stages, and jam sensors. Also, in many cases, you can expect these disposals to run quieter than even the 3/4 hp units.

    It's important to note that the 1 hp disposal is larger in physical size due to it's powerful motor. This may not be a concern, but if you're short on under-sink space, you'll definitely want to take measurements before buying.

    Be prepared, 1 hp garbage disposals are significantly more expensive. They do however, come with a longer warranty, and are unlikely to cause you any trouble for many years.

    The Waste King Legend 8000 is an excellent choice and offers the best warranty around at 20-years. Although, our favorite 1 hp disposal is the InSinkErator Evolution Excel. The warranty is only 7-years, but it's an incredibly quiet disposal that has all the bells-and-whistles, such as jam sensors and auto-reverse.