Buying a garbage disposal can seem daunting especially for first time buyers.
In this article we will review 10 tips across four categories to help you purchase the best disposal for your particular situation. We'll making suggestions based on the following:
- Price point and brand
- Power needs
- Deciphering reviews
- Features to watch
If you'd like to skip to the shopping, checkout our best garbage disposal roundup page with top suggestions for a wide range of budgets.
Choosing Price Point and Brand
1. Decide what to spend
The first step in narrowing down your options is to focus on one or two brands with a few models that are already in your price range. Although disposals generally stay near $200 retail, it can be helpful to decide on your own ceiling number that you are willing to spend.
Well known and established brands tend to be a bit more expensive but are often worth the cost when weighing experience against a lesser known product. Though brands like Emerson Everclear, Waste Maid, and American Standard, while not well-known, tend to meet a quality standard comparable to brands like InSinkErator, Waste King, and Moen.
MORE: Browse through our top choices under $150 here.
2. Consider purchase location
Most brands can be purchased online but if you are more likely to buy from a brick-and-mortar store your options are slightly more limited. In this case it can be helpful to go on the website of your local big box store and check out the disposals they have in stock or are able to order.
Lowes are Home Depot are the two most well-known location-based retailers.
You may even be surprised to find options in other stores you didn't know carried disposals like Costco which carries American Standard, so be sure to research local in-store options thoroughly.
Determining What Power You Need
3. Choose your horsepower (HP) rating
The next step is to decide what horsepower (HP) you need. Different power levels are available in all brands which means you can easily find a model to fit your needs. Horsepower is arguably the most important feature in a garbage disposal since it will determine what you can safely put down the disposal and how effectively the unit will function.
Buying a unit with too much power could mean over-paying but buying one without enough will mean the disposal won't be able to keep up with the needs of your home and could end up costing you more money in repairs or replacement down the road.
The following "cheat sheet" will help to determine the correct power:
- 1/3 HP Disposal: Best for those living alone in small spaces such as studio or one bedroom apartments. These models are recommended for very small amounts of soft food scraps like crumbs and soft cereal. Though less expensive they are most likely not made with durable stainless steel grinding parts and are not ideal for those who cook at home a lot.
- 1/2 HP Disposal: Ideal for small families of 3-4 people and can handle items like vegetable peels and cooked meat scraps.
- 3/4 HP Disposal: Able to take on more fibrous vegetables like celery and apple peels as well as cherry pits and soft bones. 3/4 HP units are best for most families and those that cook or entertain often. Although not the most powerful units, they're durable and can easily dispose of waste from families of 4+ people.
- 1 HP Disposal: These units can obliterate anything that comes their way including banana peels and chicken bones and don't mind heavy use from large families and those who cook and entertain a lot.
Reviews are an excellent tool for those shopping for disposals, especially for first time buyers.
Although the individual experiences of customers can contradict each other, taking the majority of ratings into consideration will offer peace of mind and help increase the odds that you are getting a high-value and reliable unit when purchasing a disposal.
4. Check star ratings
Pay attention to the star rating and the number of reviews the product has. A 5 star rating with a total of 7 reviews is quite different from a 5 star rating with 1500 total reviews.
5. Look for the negative reviews
After skimming through some of the reviews of a disposal you're interested in, carefully read some of the poor reviews as well. Considering the bad experiences of other buyers can go a long way in providing perspective on issues that could arise which you may not have considered before.
The closer you get to purchasing a specific disposal the more carefully we recommend reading through what customers have to say about the product, company and buying experience in general.
Features to Watch
When shopping for garbage disposals as a first-time buyer there are some factors to keep in mind to ensure you are satisfied with your purchase. Carefully consider the following list of features in a disposal to avoid any surprises:
6. Ease of install
One of the most important features that a disposal can offer a homeowner is an easy installation.
Garbage disposals are often made so DIYers can install and replace easily, even those with no prior experience. The low price point of disposals compared with other appliances makes them ideal for DIY installation, and hiring a professional to install a disposal is likely to undermine your budget since you will pay for labor as well as the unit itself.
Be sure to take measurements under your kitchen sink before deciding on a garbage disposal, as there are lots of low profile options on the market for those with limited space. Even if space isn't an issue in your kitchen, it's worth taking a look under the sink to be sure the disposal you buy won't take up space you have allocated for storage.
8. Noise Levels
An important aspect of owning a disposal is considering how much noise you are comfortable with.
Some customers aim for a very low sound level in a disposal, reasoning that they are buying somewhat of a luxury amenity which should interfere as little as possible with the environment of the kitchen. Others don't put the same premium on a quiet disposal concluding that an appliance made to grind should have some noise associated with it.
Regardless of where you come down on the sound issue, keep in mind the size of your home and kitchen relative to the noise level of the disposal you buy. In general, a larger home can tolerate a bit more noise than a small one, and a single family home doesn't have the added concern of disturbing the neighbors that apartments and condos do.
More: Browse some of the quietest garbage disposals available
9. RPMS (motor speed)
RPMs are worth considering once you have settled on a horsepower rating since the higher the RPMs the better your disposal will be at avoiding jams.
Warranty and customer service reputation are both crucial to a good buying experience. Many companies offer excellent warranties covering in-home service and parts.
A warranty that extends for many years can also be a good indication of life expectancy of the disposal. If the company is willing to cover service for five years they are probably expecting the unit to last at least that long. Aside from the specifics of the warranty, doing business with a company known for good customer service can be a life saver if you have a question about installation or a problem with your order.
When all is said and done, shopping for a garbage disposal for the first time really isn't as daunting as it seems. Disposals span a variety of cost, power, size and brands as well as featuring many different components like low noise and high RPMs which means there is something for everyone.
Finding the best option for your home and lifestyle doesn't have to be overwhelming or frustrating, and this list of tips can help you hone in on the best choices on the market.
Take your time and do your research carefully, considering everything on this list and you will be on your way to owning a disposal that makes your life in the kitchen much easier.
Molly is a mom of two, DIY enthusiast, real estate investor, and a fan of modern kitchen decor.