May 17, 2019

5 Best Garbage Disposals for Kitchen Renovations

Garbage Disposal Lineup (side view - small)

This page is for finding best garbage disposals for a home sink or kitchen renovation. Perhaps you're buying for a DIY project or for a contractor who is going to install the garbage disposal for you.

Either way, this page is designed to help you through the decision making process.

It's important that you get good information for this type of purchase, because a garbage disposal unit is a long-term investment. They can't be easily uninstalled and replaced, so you need to make sure that you're getting a good unit up front.

In this article we've highlighted the best garbage disposals, focusing on products that have consistently out-performed and out-sold everything else on the market.

For each garbage disposal we highlight, we'll cover its basic features and talk about how it might (or might not) work for you in your particular situation.

You'll be able to make an educated decision, based on the following factors:

  • Strength of garbage disposal (what type of food it can handle)
  • Quality of materials
  • How noisy it is (or isn't)
  • Ease of installation
  • Overall product reputation

These are the most important factors to consider when buying a garbage disposal. We'll filter through all of it for you and give you the best options for what you'll pay.

Best Garbage Disposals: Top 5 Picks

Garbage Disposal

HP

RPM

People

Food

Waste King L-8000 Garbage Disposal

1

2800

8

Bones

InSinkErator Badger 5 Disposal

1/2

1725

4

Fibrous

InSinkErator Evolution Garbage Disposal

3/4

1725

6

Bones

Waste King L-2600 Disposal Unit

1/2

2600

4

Fibrous

InSinkErator Evolution
Excel Garbage Disposal

1

1725

8

Bones

Those of you doing a full kitchen renovation might also be interested in checking out our roundup of best farmhouse and apron sinks.

HOW DOES HORSEPOWER IMPACT MY PURCHASE?

The horsepower of your garbage disposal can be loosely correlated with the number of people in your home. Typically HP is measured between 0.5 and 2. For those wanting more information on HP and other features, we'll go more in-depth beneath the product reviews.

Best Garbage Disposal Based on Horsepower

1. The Waste King L-8000 Garbage Disposal (waste King Series)

Waste King L-8000 Garbage Disposal

When choosing the best garbage disposal, keep in mind that the numbers attached to each unit speak to a part number within a series which usually means the higher the number, the nicer and more powerful the unit will be.

The Waste King disposal series has a range of options where a higher series number means an increase of the following specs:

  • Horsepower (1 HP in the L-8000)
  • RPM (speed)

These are the two features that will have the most say in how much power you have. As HP and RPM increase, the power of your unit increases as well.

Here's a full list of features for the Waste King series:

  • Stainless steel flange and grind material
  • Very easy to install
  • Powered by a wall switch (just plug it in - no hard wiring required)
  • Insulated for sound (quieter operation)
  • Splash guard
  • Continuous feed (runs when the switch turns on until you turn the switch off again)
  • Easy to clean

The major variables to consider, if you buy within the Waste King brand, would be the HP and RPM numbers. Since the price difference isn't tremendously high, we'd recommend going with the L-8000 since it's the most powerful of the current series roster.

You can use the following button to browse the L-8000 on Amazon, checkout other units in the series, or read reviews from folks that have already purchased it.

Pros

  • Great price point
  • Extremely easy to install
  • 1 HP gives it some muscle 
  • Warranty from Waste King is great

Cons

  • Not the quietest option

2. Insinkerator Badger 5 Garbage Disposal (1/2 HP)

Badger Series - One of the Best Garbage Disposal Models

Some of the Badger garbage disposal series on display in Lowes. 

The Badger 5 is one of the lower-end members of the Badger series, which is a garbage disposal designed for home use.

It uses a single stage grinder at 1/2 HP, which is enough to handle about 26 oz. of food at a time. The Evolution series by InSinkErator is more powerful, though probably overkill for a lightly-used kitchen.

One major complaint we have about the Badger 5 is that it does not include a power cord, which means you'll have to procure that as an additional step.

Still, it runs decently quiet and - in our experience - rarely has clogging issues. 

Small kitchens and town houses with one to three people are good fits.

Pros

  • Great price point
  • Extremely easy to install
  • Good size

Cons

  • Power cable not included
  • Somewhat noisy

3. Insinkerator Evolution Compact Disposal (3/4 HP)

Insinkerator In Box

The Evolution Compact and SpaceSaver XP models are similar (the same as far as we can tell).

As we mentioned, the Evolution series is nicer than the Badger series, but also more expensive. 

That said, for kitchens that might need something a little more robust, the Evolution Compact could be a good compromise. At 3/4 HP it's stronger than the Badger 5 and runs a good deal quieter, which might be nice if you use the garbage disposal a lot. 

The Compact will also have a lot of appeal if you're working with a small cabinet space or limited room underneath your sink. 

Also, this unit has two stages of grinding, as opposed to the single stage in the Badger 5.

It can also handle a larger volume of food at one time, and can grind up heavier items like chicken bones (though we wouldn't necessarily testing it with food waste that heavy).

  • Two grinding stages
  • 3/4 HP
  • Easy to install
  • Quieter than the Badger series
  • Compact (fits in smaller cabinets)
  • Power cord not included

Pros

  • Powerful
  • Two grinding stages
  • Quiet
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Power cable not included
  • Expensive

4. Waste King L-2600 Garbage Disposal Unit (1/2 HP)

    For smaller jobs or more lightly used kitchens, you could save some money in the Waste King series by going with the L-2600.

    It drops down to 1/2 HP, though the unit still runs a continuous feed and is only slightly slower than the L-8000.

    We like this one for smaller apartments or homes where you don't often prepare large meals. At its price point, you'll have a hard time getting a better garbage disposal at a lower price tag. 

    Otherwise, its feature list is predictably similar to the L-8000:

  • Stainless steel flange and grind material
  • Very easy to install
  • Powered for a wall switch (just plug it in)
  • Insulated for sound (quieter operation)
  • Splash guard
  • Continuous feed
  • Easy to clean

Pros

  • Still pretty fast
  • Great price point
  • Compact size

Cons

  • Only 1/2 HP (not as powerful)

5. InSinkErator Evolution Excel Disposal (1 HP)

The InSinkErator Evolution Excel

Not only does this version of the Evolution series get us up to 1 HP, but it also has three grinding stages, making it one of our top recommendations for homes with a septic system. This means it'll grind food waste into a finer substance that's easier for your plumbing system to handle.

This particular model is also much quieter than others in the Evolution series, due to the Sound-Seal technology that InSinkErator uses.

You also get a Jam-Sensor and a seven year "we come to you" warranty, which is a warm blanket of encouragement to potential buyers.

Aside from a heftier price tag - which we'd expect with this specs list - the Excel is a fantastic value, ideal for larger households and a good option if you want your disposal to be more septic-friendly.

Garbage Disposal Lineup (side view - small)

The Evolution series houses some of the nicest garbage disposals on the planet.

  • Almost noise-free
  • Fantastic warranty from InSinkErator
  • Three grinding stages
  • 1 HP
  • Continuous feed
  • Low electrical use

Pros

  • We LOVE the warranty
  • Three stages of grinding is great for plumbing and/or septic tanks
  • Extremely quiet
  • Powerful

Cons

  • On the expensive side

Additional Information

Garbage disposals are confusing because they seem like an intensely technical topic that's hard to understand on the surface. But, they're actually quite simple and easier to setup than most people realize.

Terminology and Definitions

There are a lot of parts and "buzzwords" to keep track of when shopping for the best garbage disposal. While we've explained most of the really important ones while reviewing the above products, we also wanted to include a section that defined these terms in a quick, easy-to-read section.

HP - stands for horsepower and is use in relation to the garbage disposal's motor

RPM - indicates the speed of the garbage disposal

Grind Stages - the number of grinding wheels present in a garbage disposal

Flange - connects the unit to the sink's drain for the purpose of expelling contents

Splash Guard - rubber cover that goes into the sink hole and prevents contents from splashing out into the sink

Grind Chamber Capacity - usually measured in ounces, indicates the amount of food a garbage disposal can process at one time

Continuous Feed - means the garbage disposal can run and continually have contents fed into it as it processes

A Beginners Guide to Garbage Disposals

How Garbage Disposals Work

What happens to the food you put down a kitchen garbage disposal? 

Although you may have some ideas about the answer to this, you may also be surprised to find out garbage disposals work a bit differently than many people believe. They are actually amazing little appliances and work relatively simply, adding to their popularity in home kitchens across the country. So, how do they work? 

The food waste goes through an opening in your sink and into a canister outfitted with a number of lugs. When the disposal is turned on the lugs spin around using centrifugal force to push food waste to the far side of the canister where it is pulverized between the lugs and the grind ring on the inside of the canister. 

After a few seconds (depending on the kind and amount of food waste), water running into the canister from the kitchen sink flushes the processed food waste into your home’s pipes. This water is treated like the rest of your wastewater, either in a treatment plant or by your home’s septic system. 

If you are anything like me this may come as a surprise. Many people think that the garbage disposal is a glorified blender sitting underneath the kitchen sink with spinning blades when in reality there are no blades involved.  Disposals actually work in a pretty basic way to bash food until it is small enough to safely travel through your home’s pipes. Knowing this can inform the way you use your disposal as well as maintaining it and troubleshooting problems that come up.

The Grinding Process

  1. Run the tap water for 10-15 seconds BEFORE turning on the disposal: This is a really important step that often gets missed. Running cold water down the disposal for a number of seconds before feeding the disposal will help it to effectively grind up the food and also keep debris from shooting up out of the disposal.

  2. Turn the disposal on: It’s not time to feed that food waste down the grinding chamber quite yet. You want to make sure the mechanism is on first. 

  3. Carefully and slowly feed the food waste into the grinding chamber of the disposal through the opening in the sink:There will probably be a rubber splash guard at the opening so carefully make sure the food has passed beyond that before continuing to feed more waste down the disposal. Be sure to keep your fingers clear of the inside of the canister as you do, though! Listen for the food to finish grinding and leave the chamber, and keep the cold water running directly into the disposal for about 20 seconds after the chamber is empty to completely flush the food out. 

Important Features of a Garbage Disposal

  1. Strong and durable grinding components made of stainless steel are preferable.
  2. Insulation around the grinding chamber helps to reduce noise.
  3. A reset button to help troubleshoot can be a lifesaver if your disposal stops working.

Understanding Horsepower in a Garbage Disposal

Horsepower may not be something you are familiar with since most kitchen appliances have no such unit of measure. Garbage disposals, however, come in a wide range of horsepower from ⅓ HP to 1HP or even, in some cases, 2 HP. Understanding which power rating you need can be confusing, but a good rule of thumb is to think in terms of the quantity as well as the type of food the disposal will be handling when deciding on horsepower. Here is a cheat sheet to give you an idea of how HP corresponds to use in the kitchen.

  1. One to Two Person Household / Light use: Likely to need only ⅓ HP especially if the kitchen is not frequently used for hosting large groups of people or cooking complex dishes. In terms of the kinds of food the ⅓ HP disposals can handle, think soft cereal crumbs, cooked rice, or pieces of bananas. 

  2. Two to Four Person Household / Moderate use: Consider purchasing a disposal with ½ HP. These disposals can handle food that is a little tougher like raisins, toast, pieces of egg, small bits of meat, and cooked vegetables.

  3. Four to Six Person Household / Moderate to Heavy use: ½-¾ HP is likely a good fit for homes in a mid-size range that want to be sure they have some “wiggle room” for those times when the disposal will get more use. A disposal in this category can process some fibrous foods like potato and apple peels, grizzle, and fatty items like peanut butter or cheese in addition to the previous list.

  4. Four to Six+ Person Household / Heavy use: ¾-1HP - If you know you will be using the disposal often or are likely to cook a lot at home, or if you have a large family you should definitely spring for a disposal that has some serious power so it can stand up to whatever you throw at it. This could include more fibrous items like celery peels, apple cores, eggshells and in certain cases fish bones. 

Important Note: Although these are general guidelines be sure to check with the manufacturer about your specific disposal. Some manufacturers advise against ever putting things like eggshells, celery peels and small bones down the disposal while others boast their high horsepower models can handle these items specifically.

Understanding RPM in a Garbage Disposal

Another feature of garbage disposals is RPMs. Basically, this refers to motor speed. 

Where horsepower determines what sorts of food can be processed by the disposal, RPMs determine how quickly the motor will operate when processing the food. The higher the RPM rating the less likely your disposal is to jam.

The RPM rating will coincide with the horsepower, and although this rate is worth considering, we don’t recommend getting too hung up on it mostly because the manufacturer is apt to base this number on the horsepower. In other words, if you choose a disposal based on the number of people in your household and the kind of food waste you will need to process the RPM rate is likely to be able to keep up with the horsepower. That said, keep an eye on the RPMs of the disposals you are considering especially when comparing two of the same horsepower. If one disposal has a higher RPM rate, with all other features being equal, our advice would be to go with the disposal with the higher RPMs. The more powerful the motor (horsepower) the more important this becomes as the disposal works harder and processes a higher volume of food waste. 

Buying a disposal with an insufficient RPM rate may mean you end up freeing food that has jammed the disposal more often than you would like. Most garbage disposals do come with a small wrench or recommend using an Allen wrench to free the jammed food, but doing so more than once in a while will quickly defeat the purpose of having a disposal. Once again, RPMs are certainly worth considering although not as huge a factor as horsepower to determine the right disposal for your needs.

Different Brands and Types of Garbage Disposals

Choosing a reliable brand when buying a disposal is extremely important to getting a unit that will stand the test of time and serve you well. In fact, we recommend deciding on a brand before going any further in your search for a disposal. Honing in on 1-3 brands you like will help the process feel a lot less overwhelming than trying to compare individual disposal units regardless of their brand. 

To help you out, here is a list of some top brands in the industry. A brand may be known for a particular feature you value or don’t particularly care for which is why we have listed quite a few brands. Our advice is to do a little bit of research and choose a couple that stand out. At that point you are ready to take a closer look at the individual models offered by each and do some comparisons.

  1. InSinkErator
  2. Waste King
  3. Moen
  4. KitchenAid
  5. Waste Maid
  6. Becbas
  7. American Standard
  8. Emerson Evergrind

Residential Models

Although there are many to choose from, here are some of the more popular models for home use.

  1. InSinkErator Badger Series, particularly the ½ HP model: Homeowners value the known entity of the InSinkErator name and the fact that ISE disposals can be easily swapped out for one another. Many people claimed these models lasted about a decade or, in some cases even longer, leaving them to “not mess with success” and purchase another. The high rating ISE gets for easy installation and value should be noted  especially for those who are looking to avoid professional installation.

  2. InSinkErator Evolution Compact: Also from InSinkErator the Evolution Compact proves an excellent option for home use. At ¾ HP it can handle a lot and is perfect for those looking for some power in a low profile model. Customers love the mounting system and also praise this model for its low noise level and easy installation.

  3. Waste King L - 8000 1 HP: One of Waste King’s most popular options, this model provides a lot of brawn with limited noise. Waste King’s EZ mount system makes a great option for DIYers, and with over 7,000 customer reviews and 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon, the proof is in the pudding.

  4. Waste King L - 111 ⅓ HP: A stellar choice for those with limited space, this narrow, light model is said by some to be even quieter than the Badger from InSinkErator. Great for small families and tight spaces.

High-Power Models with Multiple Grinding Stages

High power garbage disposals are designed to ensure that anything that goes into them gets completely obliterated. 

As discussed earlier horsepower HP and RPM levels can go a long way to making that happen because both of those features relate to power. Multi-level grinding stages is another feature that helps food get processed in some higher end disposals. In fact, more and more disposals are being made to grind food multiple times, thus ensuring that food gets thoroughly broken down. 

The way that these multi-level grinding disposals work is basically the same as a single level disposal, only after the food waste has been hurled around in the grinding chamber it gets washed down another level of the chamber (think stories of a house). There it goes through the same process again, and in some places the waste travels down to a lower level still before getting washed down the pipes, completely pulverized to the point of near liquidation. 

The theory is that once the food is processed against the stationary outer rim and the spinning lugs, doing the same thing again in a different chamber will result in food getting even smaller. The lugs in each chamber are different sizes designed to target smaller pieces of food. In addition to having these multiple levels inside the grinding chamber, some models even increase the torque in the first chamber to help keep larger, tougher food waste from causing jams. 

Choosing a Garbage Disposal

Choosing a garbage disposal may seem overwhelming but in reality the process can be broken down into a couple of steps. If you take care to do the following we think deciding on the perfect disposal will be pretty simple.

  1. Step 1: Choose a brand. As mentioned previously, it may be best to take a quick look at the brands we have listed and focus on one or two that appeal to you.

  2. Step 2: List important features. Once you determine the most important features in a disposal it will be easy to see which models best align with your priorities.

  3. Step 3: Consider installation. Purchasing a disposal that can feasibly be installed without hiring a professional is an important step. It does little good to purchase a cost effective disposal if you end up needing to pay an arm and a leg just to have it installed.

  4. Step 4: Factor in cost against life expectancy. It might be easy to see which disposals are expensive and which aren’t but don’t forget to consider how long the unit is expected to last. Paying a bit more might very well be worth the cost if you have good reason to trust the disposal will last a decade or longer versus only half that time. In such a case you end up saving money and aggravation. Looking at reviews as well as the warranty offered by the manufacturer are both good ways to guess at the life expectancy of your disposal. 

Comparing Garbage Disposal Features

Horsepower (HP)

Horsepower is probably the single biggest consideration just because it determines the sort of use your disposal will be suited for. When shopping for a garbage disposal, after deciding which brand or brands you will consider, deciding what horsepower to buy is the next step. Although other specifications like RPMs are also important factors, nothing may make or break your results like buying a disposal with the appropriate power. That said, the differences in HP are not going to be extremely sensitive to a bit of variance once in a while. In other words, if you are a 2 person household that rarely cooks and settles on a ⅓ HP disposal but puts a rogue carrot peel down once, that isn’t going to automatically cause a problem. If it did there would be little point in even manufacturing ⅓ HP disposal. Definitely follow the guidelines and purchase the HP that matches your lifestyle but don’t fret about every little scrap of food going into your disposal.

Noise Levels

Noise level is a factor that will vary in importance depending on personal preference. Obviously, if the level of noise the disposal causes is so great that you end up avoiding using it in most circumstances, you may as well not have a garbage disposal. On the other hand, purchasing an appliance that is designed to grind food while expecting no noise is probably unrealistic. Some folks are going to place a higher premium on the noise level of the disposal than others. Our advice is to determine how important a quiet disposal is to you based on your preference and living situation and choose accordingly.

Motor Speed

Motor speed (RPMs) and horsepower go hand in hand for the most part. Remember that motor speed will determine the likelihood of jams in your disposal while HP is the strength of the motor. You certainly don’t want to be constantly freeing jammed food from your disposal so if you need a powerful machine with plenty of HP, it’s a good idea to get one with high RPMs too. Our advice is to decide on HP and then look for the highest RPMs of the disposals in that category. 

Parts/Grinding Stages

The number of grinding stages the food goes through can really make a difference in how efficiently your disposal works. For those with some flexibility in the budget, we recommend looking for a disposal with multiple levels of grinding. Lots of newer models come with this feature and the more HP you need the more important multi-level grinding becomes. If you are working within a narrow budget finding a disposal like this could be harder. Take time to look at all the options and consider some of the lesser known brands that offer great quality machines which are likely much less expensive. You may be able to find something with a multi-level grinding feature in your price range.

Installation Ease

Easy installation is of the utmost importance for those DIYers who don’t necessarily have a ton of electrical or plumbing experience, because hiring a professional can undercut your budget requirements. Since we are talking about a small appliance that is a couple hundred dollars at most, it makes no sense to pay someone to install a disposal when there are lots of options on the market targeted at even inexperienced DIYers. We strongly recommend carefully reading reviews and weighing the ease of installation heavily when considering which disposal to buy. 

Price

Obviously price is important to everyone to some degree or another. Carefully weighing cost against features offered is an important step in shopping for a disposal. Depending on the features you value, you may be able to save money by going with an “off” brand that is less expensive but comparable to a brand name disposal. In some cases the lesser known brands have excellent quality units with many of the features of the other brands and a much lower price point. In other cases purchasing a top-of-the-line model from a name brand company could be well worth the investment as long as you are doing so intentionally because of features and not simply for the name. Beginning your search with an idea of how much you would like to spend is also a good idea. Chances are there is a disposal out there to fit your budget as well as your needs. If you need some ideas be sure to check out our list of great options under $100 and also under $150 here.

Consumer Reputation

Once you have chosen a brand and power level with features you value, checking out what other customers have to say about your choice can be helpful. We would caution that doing this as a first step could be a bad idea however, since people will inevitably have different experiences and opinions. Instead, look at the reputation of the disposal lastly, using the claims of customers to double check the research you have already done. 

  1. Look at broad “good” vs. “bad” reviews. You want to go with a product that has a vast majority of excellent reviews. Keep this list of features in mind as you look at what customers evaluated. Also take a look at how many people have reviewed the product. A five-star rating with a total of 10 reviews is quite different from a five-star average rating from 5,000 reviews.

  2. Also look for keywords and skim lots of different reviews; both good and bad. Someone may have an experience that could be helpful to know about, and it’s always a good idea to go in with as much knowledge as possible. 

What’s the cheapest garbage disposal that’s still decent value?

If you are interested in a disposal that won’t break the bank, check out our roundup of best disposals under $100 and under $150. The Waste King L-1001 1/2HP is our choice for best value for lowest cost. This model is praised up and down by happy customers who said it is an excellent purchase and at around $50 the price can’t be beat. Having the added benefit of a known, established company like Waste King as well as a two year warranty definitely convinced us that this disposal is the real deal even at a super low price.

What’s the quietest garbage disposal?

When it comes to noise level there are some pretty quiet disposals on the market. Our favorite is the InSinkErator Evolution Excel 1HP. At the high end of the ISE disposals this model astounded customers time and again by just how quiet it managed to be. Fortunately that isn’t the only thing it has going for it. This disposal can chomp a corn cob to bits, and one reviewer remarked on the low noise level with which it did so. At a bit higher price point we think this guy is worth every penny for those looking for a super quiet disposal. If this is you, check out our write up on quiet disposals here which will give you a well rounded look at your options.

What’s the most powerful garbage disposal for residential Use

Although there are lots of excellent choices on the market, the Waste King L-8000 stands out in particular for power. This 1HP model has customers raving about how easily and quickly it eats up their leftovers. Even items that may not be recommended (in one case an entire bag of oranges, and in another small chicken bones) don’t stand a chance against this beast. And at a fraction of the cost of some of the top of the line models from other brands, you can’t go wrong.

Which garbage disposal is best for a septic tank?

If you need a disposal that works well with a septic tank, take a look at our piece on garbage disposals for septic tanks here. 

Conclusion

The bottom line? Shop around and make sure you get something from a reliable brand that's powerful enough to handle both the amount and type of food you intend to use it for, while keeping an eye on noise levels, price, and the more peripheral features. If you have questions about garbage disposals, keeping a clean kitchen, or our review process, feel free to drop a line in the comments section below.

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