Garbage disposals come in different sizes, aka horsepower ratings. The most common sizes are 1/3 HP, 1/2 HP, 3/4 HP, and 1 HP. For a first-time buyer, it can be challenging to choose between these different sizes. This article is a simple guide to help you through this process. So what size garbage disposal is the best?
3/4 HP is the best size for garbage disposals. A size of 1 HP is recommended to grind hard food items. For those who cook rarely, a 1/2 HP or 1/3 HP garbage disposal will suffice.
If you want to know more about what each size garbage disposal can accomplish, continue reading;
What size garbage disposal do you need?
Here is a table to quickly find out the size of the garbage disposal you need;
|Garbage disposal size||No. of people in the house||Frequency of cooking||What to grind|
|1/3 HP||1-2||Rarely||Soft foods, fruits, and vegetables|
|1/2 HP||1-2||Once or twice a week||fish bones, soft foods, cooked meat, vegetables, etc|
|3/4 HP||2-4||3-4 days a week||chicken bones, meat, vegetables, etc|
|1 HP||2-4+||Daily||Beef bones, chicken bones, meat, vegetables, etc|
The ‘size’ of a garbage disposal commonly refers to its horsepower rating, not its external or internal dimensions. The more power rating it has, the more it can grind. So it makes sense to think that a large family that cooks often needs large-size garbage disposal and vice versa. Let’s see what the commonly available disposal sizes are;
As mentioned before, garbage disposals mostly come in 1/3, 1/2, 3/4, and 1 HP sizes. There are also disposal models with 5/8 HP and 1.1 HP sizes, even though they are available in limited numbers and are not that popular. Normally, for a household garbage disposal, 1 HP is the maximum power rating.
Read on to know what each size garbage disposal is capable of doing, and their pros and cons.
1/3 HP: Not recommended, but if you must
1/3 HP garbage disposals are entry-level disposals that are suitable for those who rarely cook. If you are a person who lives on a diet and eats healthy foods, this size is an apt choice. But don’t ever think of putting leftover pizza in it.
Even though 1/3 HP is the entry size, most plumbers wouldn’t recommend it. It is too underpowered, and it practically cannot grind any non-veg foods. Trying to grind any hard food items or adding lots of food can easily jam these disposers. If you live on soft foods, vegetables, and fruits, this is a good choice, but you can get a decent 1/2 HP garbage disposal for a few bucks more.
Also, an entry-level size like this doesn’t come with any noise insulation technologies as the companies focus more on making them cheaper. If you want a quiet disposal with more features, look for a 3/4 or 1 HP disposal.
1/2 HP: Entry level
Most plumbers recommend this as the entry-level size for garbage disposals. This is suitable for a household of one or two people who are not seriously into cooking. This size can handle food wastes like fish bones, cooked meat, veggies, fruits, and soft foods.
When using a 1/2 HP garbage disposal, take care to add food waste in small amounts. While it can handle almost all disposal-friendly food wastes in a regular household, don’t expect it to grind loads of food at a time. If you had a party or a special occasion, I recommend using the trash can instead.
Like 1/3 HP size disposals, 1/2 HP garbage disposals do not have any premium features or noise insulation. But they are very popular due to their low pricing and the right grinding capabilities.
3/4 HP: Most popular
This is my favorite garbage disposal size. It is not too big nor too small, it is just the right size garbage disposal for my taste.
3/4 HP garbage disposals are suitable for a family with two to four people, ideally a couple with two kids. These disposals can grind most household food wastes, including chicken bones, fruit pits, raw meat, etc., but don’t try to grind beef bones in them. Some models like Evolution Compact can grind celery and other fibrous veggies, which are not normally put in a garbage disposal, thanks to a premium feature called MultiGrind, where food wastes undergo multiple grinding stages, which makes them finer and less prone to clog.
Many 3/4 HP garbage disposal models come with noise insulations and some premium features (click here to check those). These premium ones cost much more than a 1/2 HP disposal, but there are pocket-friendly models like Waste King 3200 if you are not looking to spend much money.
1 HP: Most powerful
1 HP garbage disposals are the most powerful among household garbage disposals. They have bigger motors that provide ample grinding power to dispose of all sorts of household food wastes. Many models in this power range also come with impressive noise insulation technologies which muffle the sound of their large motors.
1 HP garbage disposals are suitable for a large family and those who cook daily. It can even grind beef bones when fed in small quantities. Some premium models are also equipped with anti-jamming technologies to reduce jams, even though a 1 HP disposal rarely jams.
The importance of choosing the right size and why horsepower matters
The performance of garbage disposals increases with the increase in their horsepower rating. Disposals with higher HP motors can grind more varieties of food waste easily. They also tend to jam less compared to smaller garbage disposals.
Choosing the right size garbage disposal will avoid clogs, jams, and even damage to the disposal itself. If you cook regularly but buy a 1/3 Hp disposal to save money, that disposal is going to jam daily. It cannot handle much food waste at a time, and don’t ever dream of grinding anything harder than a bell pepper.
This will also lead to clogs in the drain pipes. Constant jams also burn out the motor, so it will be a real surprise if the disposal survives its warranty period.
Choosing the wrong garbage disposal size will cost you in the long term, not to mention the headaches you will suffer.
Other things to consider while deciding on garbage disposal size
While performance is an important factor to look for when buying a garbage disposal, there are a few other things too you should be aware of. Here they are;
The prices of garbage disposals increase with their sizes as well as the inclusion of premium features. A 3/4 HP disposal always costs more than a 1/3 HP one. But whatever power range you are opting for, there are wallet-friendly disposal models. The price depends on the brand name too. Waste King’s Garbage disposals tend to be on the cheaper side, while those by InSinkErator are on the pricey side. Large size disposals in the 3/4 to 1 HP range are available at cheap and premium pricing. The cheaper ones won’t have much noise insulation, but they will get the job done. The pricier ones are quieter, and they get the job done too.
Build quality & warranty
The build quality of garbage disposal varies within power ranges. Entry-level garbage disposals with sizes 1/3 and 1/2 HP are made of low-quality materials compared to those with 3/4 & 1 HP ratings. The entry-level disposals have galvanized steel construction, whereas the top-end models are made of stainless steel.
The build quality also reflects in the warranties given to these products. The entry-level disposals have the shortest warranties, ranging from 1 to 4 years. The warranties of high-end disposals range from 8 years to a lifetime.
Garbage disposals are equipped with either permanent magnet motors or induction motors. Brands like Waste King use permanent magnet motors, while InSinkErayor uses induction motors. Both types of motors have their pros and cons. Garbage disposals with permanent magnet motors run at around 2700 RPM, irrespective of the motor’s horsepower rating. Those disposals with induction motors run slower, most of them at 1725 RPMs.
High-speed motors help to cut food more times in a second, and so they reduce jams. But those with induction motors are generally quieter.
There are two types of garbage disposals based on their feed type;
- Continuous feed
- Batch feed
Continuous feed disposals are those units where food can be fed continuously, whereas, for batch feed disposals, the food scraps need to be added in batches. You can find more information on this in this article; Batch feed vs continuous feed disposals.
Batch feed models are safer since they must be covered with a magnetic cover to operate. If you are concerned about your children’s safety, this type of garbage disposal is the best choice. However, these models are available only in 3/4 and 1 HP sizes. On the other hand, continuous feed-type disposals are available in all power ratings.
What size garbage disposal fits your sink?
You can fit any size garbage disposal to any sink. This is because Garbage disposals are universal; they will fit any sink with a standard-size drain hole which is 3.5inches. But most disposals won’t fit a sink that is more than 1/2 inch thick. You can use a special extension to counter this.
While any garbage disposal will fit your sink, it is also important to consider its external dimensions. Generally, the dimensions of a garbage disposal increase with its motor size, but you can find many compact options even among 1 HP size disposals. When you choose a garbage disposal, make sure that you have enough space under the sink to install it. A rule of thumb is, the height of the space should be at least 8 inches more than the overall height of the disposal.
Frequently Asked Questions
Given below are some of the most common questions regarding garbage disposal size;
Do I need 3/4 or 1 HP garbage disposal?
3/4 HP garbage disposals are more popular than 1 HP since they offer enough grinding power and are cheap. So in most cases, a 3/4 HP is your best choice. But if you have many people in your house and you cook often, a 1 HP garbage disposal is recommended. For further info, read the differences between 3/4 and 1 HP garbage disposals.
Is 1/2 HP garbage disposal enough?
1/2 HP is an entry-level size for a garbage disposal. If you are not an avid cook and do not need to grind hard food items, this size is a good choice. When compared to more powerful disposals, 1/2 HP models tend to be cheaper. So it is a good choice if you are budget conscious.
Here is a quick comparison of 1/2 HP and 3/4 HP disposals for in-depth reading.
What is the most common size garbage disposal?
The most common garbage disposal size is 3/4 HP, followed by 1/2 HP size. The 3rd common popular size is 1 HP, and the least common size is 1/3 HP.
Which are the popular brands of garbage disposals
The brands I often recommend are Waste King, InSinkErator, and Moen, in no particular order. InSinkErator and Waste King are the leading brands in the industry. Their garbage disposals are fundamentally different, so you may find it in your interest to refer to the following articles.
The 1/3 and 1/2 HP disposals by all the above brands are very similar, but their large size disposals differ in pricing and features. The top models of InSinkErator are feature-rich and pricey, and those by Waste King are basic and cheap. Moen disposals come in between these two. The disposals by all these brands get their job done irrespective of their prices and features.