What HP (Horsepower) Garbage Disposal Should I Buy?

When considering the right garbage disposal unit for your situation there are a couple things you need to think about. 

One of the most important factors is how powerful the disposal should be to suite the needs of your family. In this article we will look at how much power your garbage disposal should have. In a garbage disposal context, strength is measured in Horsepower (HP) and models on the market typically range from 1⁄3 HP to 1 HP. 

Understanding Horsepower and Disposals

The best way to think about HP is in terms of how many people each garbage disposal can service.

Keep in mind: 

These are guidelines that can vary based on factors like how much food each person consumes and what sort of materials are put into their garbage disposal. Yet, in general, you can go by the following: 

HorsePower Per Members of Household Cheat Sheet 

  • 1⁄3 HP - 1-2 person household 
  • 1⁄2 HP - 3-4 person household 
  • 3⁄4 HP - 5-6 person household 
  • 1 HP - 6 or more person household. 
Garbage Disposal HP by Household

HP rating for garbage disposals based on household population. (View Larger Image)

Actual Size Also Matters

Generally speaking the bigger the motor of the disposal the bigger the actual unit as well. So be sure that your sink can accommodate the appropriate size/HP garbage disposal required for the members of your household. 

Thinking It Through

Now you know the “standard” to go by, what happens when you go to purchase that particular size garbage disposal and realize it is quite a bit more money than the one with less HP?

You may be tempted to cheat and install one with less power promising yourself you will be gentle with the new addition to your kitchen. Don’t do it! Chances are that even if you are pretty careful about what goes into your disposal, you will end up replacing the first one and purchasing a second long before you should, spending more than if you had sprung for the recommended size in the first place. 


The question of how much HP your disposal needs depends on how hard it will be working.

We suggest considering the number of people in your home and your general lifestyle (triplet teenage boys may have more weight in the equation than triplet one-year-olds) and then take a look at our roundup of best garbage disposals based on performance and cost.

Hopefully this helps you determine the Horsepower necessary for your kitchen's garbage disposal. 

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