Garbage Disposal Buyer’s Guide
A garbage disposal, otherwise known as a food waste disposer, allows you to push your food waste such as egg shells, potato peels, fruit rinds, and bones down into your sink’s drain area where it will be ground up and pulverized into tiny particles, and then washed down the drain to your water treatment plant or septic tank.
There are a number of benefits to using a garbage disposal. Not only does it keep foul-smelling, rotting food waste out of your trash cans, but it also keeps it out of landfills. When food waste makes it to landfills it starts releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. In turn, causing pollution to our air quality and negatively affecting any neighborhoods that are located near or around a local landfill.
A garbage disposal is a great alternative. Not only is it hygienic for your kitchen and house, but it helps promote green and responsible living. Once pulverized food particles make their way to the local water treatment plant after running through your drains, the plant will convert the food waste into either methane gas which is a renewable resource capable of running the plant, or they can convert it into fertilizer to help local farms and other growers.
How Does a Garbage Disposal Work?
Most people are under the impression that a garbage disposal uses blades (much like a blender) to chop up the food. This, however, is not the case. When you push your food waste into the disposer, it lands on a turn table, which when turned on, spins at an extremely high speed. The centrifugal force and the lugs/impellers that are attached to the turntable push the food towards the wall of the unit.
The wall of the garbage disposal unit is called the stationary shredder ring, which looks much like a cheese grater. When the food waste hits the shredder ring, it is ground and pulverized into tiny particles that will wash safely down the drain into your waste-water system or septic tank.
How Do I Choose a Garbage Disposal?
There are a number of different options and features that a disposer unit can feature depending on the model you buy. Here is a list of everything you will need to know about a garbage disposal before you make a purchase.
Types of Disposers
- Continuous-Feed: This type of disposer is the most common for households everywhere. It is also the simplest, quickest, and easiest to use. You can continuously push the food waste into the chamber as it’s grinding until you are finished, then flip off the switch to turn it off.
- Batch Feed: With this type of unit, you can only grind the food in batches. Once you load the chamber until it’s full, you place on the cover or plug and grind the food until it’s complete. You then fill up the chamber until it’s full again and repeat this process until all of your food waste has been discarded. While it does take a lot more time and energy, it is also the safety to use. No cutlery or hands can enter the chamber while it is on, which puts many people at ease.
- Induction Motor: This is the most common type of garbage disposal motor. It is also the same type of motor that runs other common household appliances such as washers and dryers. It is very reliable and contains less moving parts which creates greater longevity and quieter noise output. Induction motors run at smaller RPMs but always run at a constant speed no matter what size load of food waste it contains.
Some induction motors will also feature an auto-reverse mechanism which will change the direction of the spinning turntable each time it is turned on. This ensures less jamming and also promotes even wear of the grinding components.
- Permanent Magnet Motor: This type of motor is a light-weight, variable speed motor and often found in other small appliances such as hair dryers, blenders, and power tools. PM motors run at higher RPMs but will slow down the larger the load of food waste that enters the chamber.
- Three-Bolt: The three-bolt mounting system is the most commonly seen for disposal installation. It creates a strong and secure connection with its stainless steel design, yet it is quick and easy because you simply screw on and screw off as necessary.
- Threaded-Ring: This style of mounting system features a lightweight plastic-and-aluminum design and allows a user to simply attach a threaded support ring to the sink flange which then attaches to the sink. A mounting ring will then attach the disposer unit to the sink flange, and voila! A quick and easy installation process is complete.
Garbage disposal units can be connected to a power source in one of two ways. Depending on the building code in your area, you will either have a hardwired unit or a unit that gets plugged directly into a wall electrical outlet. Some models will even come with a power cord as part of the package, but if they do not, many manufacturers offer power cord kits that you can purchase separately if needed.
Construction Materials & Components
- Plastic: Most low to mid-end disposal units are constructed of plastic or thermoplastic polymer grind chambers. This helps reduce and resist rust and corrosion but don’t last as long as stainless steel models.
- Stainless Steel: High-end models will typically feature stainless steel chambers and grinding components which greatly resist rust and corrosion and greatly extend the life of the unit.
- Galvanized Steel: Some disposer units will be constructed with galvanized steel which does tend to be long lasting, but can eventually corrode and rust as time passes.
- Single Stage- Many lower grade disposer units only have a single grounding stage after which the food particles are passed into the drain. Single stage grinding units produce larger food particles and can be prone to clogging and jamming, especially with harder food waste.
- Multiple Stage- The more grinding stages a unit puts the food waste through, the more liquefied the output will be creating less to no jamming and handles hard food waste with ease.
Garbage disposal can be very, very loud. The vibration and grinding components themselves cause a lot of noise. Higher end models will feature chambers and components that are insulated to greatly reduce the noise output, bringing relief to homeowners who don’t want to hear a kitchen appliance that sounds like a small plane landing in their house.
Garbage disposal motors range from 1/3 HP to a little over 1 HP. The higher the Horsepower, the easier and quicker a unit will grind down food waste, which in turn helps prolong the life and usage of the motor. Higher Horsepower is also recommended for a household that finds themselves cooking often for a large number of people.
Larger than 1 HP motors are generally used for commercial kitchens and can go up to 5 HP and require 3 Phase wiring.
Basic or standard models of disposers will typically come with smaller grind chambers than their higher-end counterparts. The larger the grind chamber, the more food waste you can dispose of in one go-round. This is especially important for larger families or families that cook often.
So the question is, which is right for my needs?
For avid cooks and people with large families that find themselves using their garbage disposal often, a continuous feed unit that features a high Horsepower motor (1HP), with a large chamber capacity, and multiple grinding stages will be your best option.
For small families who occasionally use their disposal no more than a couple times a week, a smaller unit, either continuous feed or batch feed, with a motor utilizing ½ to ¾ HP with a single grinding stage will do just fine.