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4 Types of Garbage Disposal: What’s Best for You?

Types of Garbage Disposal
Written by Callum Strempel

Garbage disposals are invaluable tools that will make cleaning your kitchen a breeze. However, there are a lot of types and sizes, so it can be confusing which one you actually need.

Here is a breakdown of all you need to know about garbage disposals.

Does the type of garbage disposal matter?

Yes, it matters. Every type of garbage disposal has features that make it unique to a certain type of user.

For instance, if you don’t produce a lot of kitchen waste, a low horsepower, batch feed disposal would be great for you.

On the other hand, f you’re someone who loves a tidy kitchen and efficiency, a high horsepower continuous feed disposal would be your first choice.

4 Types of Garbage Disposal to Be Familiar With

1. Batch feed garbage disposal

Batch feed garbage disposal

A batch feed garbage disposal is designed to break down a batch of food waste all at once.

To use it, let your garbage disposal fill up with kitchen waste first. Next, use the lid to cover the unit. Once you place the lid, the unit will start and grind up everything.

Most batch feed garbage disposals do not start until you place the cover on it.

Cost

The average cost of a batch feed garbage disposal is around $200. The installation costs depend on a number of factors. For example, it will be about $400 dollars for both parts and labor to replace a unit.

If you are installing a new unit, you may also need to buy a new sink to fit it. That can be up to an additional $400 dollars on top of the disposal unit installation and the cost of the sink.

For the handy people among us, these costs are lower because you don’t need to pay labor and just need to buy the parts.

Maintenance

Luckily, batch feed garbage disposals usually don’t require any kind of complex wiring, so it shouldn’t give you a lot of electrical problems.

With this type of disposal, you will need to clean it out of excess waste and keep the blades sharp by putting ice in the unit and running cold water through it.

Pros

  • With the lid cover, it’s hard for things to fall in, minimizing the chance of foreign objects falling in
  • Only starts once it is covered, making it a safer option for those worried about losing fingers
  • Good for people who only generate small amounts of kitchen waste
  • Uses less water than other types of disposals

Cons

  • Can take a long time to break down large amounts of waste
  • Easy for waste to sit, which allows bacteria and germs to get into your kitchen easier.
  • More expensive than the continuous feed type

2. Continuous feed garbage disposal

Continuous feed garbage disposal

A continuous feed garbage disposal will run as long as the power is switched on. Water needs to be running while in use and also for a few seconds afterward so everything passes through the pipes.

Cost

The average cost of a continuous feed unit is $150-$200.

When you install a continuous feed type, you will need to wire it to the rest of the electrical system in your house.

In total for the installation, plumber, and electrician fees, it may set you back $500.  

Maintenance

You will need to make sure your home’s electric and plumbing systems are properly maintained so the disposal doesn’t have any problems.

The unit will need to be cleaned and its blades maintained.

Pros

  • Able to crush a large amount of kitchen waste
  • Most common type of garbage disposal unit so lots of options to choose from
  • Simple on and off functions
  • Keeps the kitchen tidy all the time
  • Cheapest option

Cons

  • No protection against accidents
  • Uses a lot of water and electricity
  • Complex installation process

3. Undercounter garbage disposal

Undercounter garbage disposal

An undercounter garbage disposal is small and installed underneath your sink, near an existing drain line. You don’t need to cut into walls to set it up, which makes it easy to install.

Cost

The average cost of an undercounter garbage disposal is up to $300.

The best part is you can easily install one yourself and just need to invest in a good set of tools, around $30.

If you aren’t handy, you will have to hire a plumber.

Maintenance

Undercounter garbage disposals are easy to install and maintain because they are removable. This means you can troubleshoot easily if there are any problems.

Pros

  • Easy to install
  • Runs very quietly
  • Hassle-free maintenance

Cons

  • Expensive

4. Manual garbage disposal

Manual garbage disposal

A manual garbage disposal is simply a garbage disposal that doesn’t run on power. These types can rarely be seen today and they have been replaced by automatic systems in recent years.

Pros

  • Doesn’t require power
  • Can be used anywhere, anytime

Cons

  • Human-powered
  • Can’t break down food as efficient as electric disposals
  • Hard to find due to lack of use

Different Parts of the Garbage Disposal

  • Motor

Garbage disposals come with four standard motor sizes, all measured by horsepower: 1/3HP, 1/2HP, 3/4HP, and 1HP.

The horsepower dictates what kind and how much food can be processed. Most home garbage disposals are around 1/2HP and restaurants use 1HP disposals.

Garbage disposals use two kinds of motors: induction and permanent magnet motors. PM motors are stronger and are often used for batch feed garbage disposals.

  • Grinding chamber

The grinding chamber is where all of the food is ground down. The size of the chamber is determined by the motor.

The expensive models’ chamber will usually be made from stainless steel, making cleaning easier and offering a more durable option.

  • Auto-reverse

An auto reverse is a function that runs the motor in reverse. This helps with jams and prevents overloads due to foreign materials in the grinding mechanism.

  • Metal or plastic mount

The mount attaches the garbage disposal unit to the sink.

A metal mount will offer better strength and durability, but a plastic one is cheaper and works fine with small motor units.

How Does a Garbage Disposal Work?

What Sizes Do Garbage Disposals Come In?

The size of a garbage disposal is measured by the motor power from 1/3 horsepower to 1 horsepower.

a) 1/3 horsepower

1/3 horsepower systems are the smallest and cheapest, but the least efficient and more prone to rust. Buy one of these if you don’t produce a lot of waste or don’t plan on using a garbage disposal often.

b) 1/2 horsepower

They are a good balance between cost and efficiency. However, if you have a family and use the kitchen every day, this is not the best option.

c) 3/4 horsepower

They are great for family homes and small restaurants. These models can break down most food waste, but don’t put any small bones in it or it could jam.

d) 1 horsepower

are workhorses, able to break down everything, including chicken bones. Get one of these if you run a restaurant or are cooking from home a lot.

How to find the right type of garbage disposal for you?

All types of garbage disposals are useful, but it comes down to what kind of functionality and kitchen size you have. The most important part to decide on is what motor size you want since it determines what you can put in it.

If you use your kitchen a lot or just want to keep it very tiny, a continuous feed garbage disposal is the way to go. They are the most common option and widely available.

If you don’t produce a lot of kitchen waste or want to save on money and electricity, the batch feed garbage disposal is your go-to choice.

If you want to save as much on installation costs as possible, an undercounter garbage disposal is a good choice, but you will be buying the unit at a higher cost than the other options.

What foods can be put into different garbage disposals?

  • Fruit and vegetable scraps
  • Pits and seeds
  • Cooked meats
  • Fishbone
  • Ice

What foods cannot be put into different garbage disposals?

  • Oil and grease
  • Shells from oysters or clams
  • Large bones
  • Eggshells in large quantity
  • Non-food items

FAQs

1. How long does a garbage disposal last?

Ans. A garbage disposal will last you around 10 years.

2. What is the average price for garbage disposal?

Ans. The average price for a garbage disposal is between $50-$600

About the author

Callum Strempel

Licensed Plumber

Hi, I’m Callum, a full time plumber with a plumbing license issued by my state. So far, I’ve spent nearly a decade and a half installing and fixing a wide variety of plumbing components and units. My profession inspires me to talk about the kitchen and bathroom (and the plumbing system) so confidently and knowledgeably that I offer my free consultations to help neighbors and fellow homeowners every now and then. As I enjoy installing faucets, sinks, showers, and fixtures, I love to see people enjoying services from those components for years to come. So, I write every week to inform you and others. Will you mind going through some of my articles on this website?

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