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What Size Garbage Disposal Do I Need (Best HP)

The size of the garbage disposal you need depends on the amount of food waste your household generates on a daily basis. Garbage disposals are typically measured by their horsepower (HP) rating, which indicates their power and performance level.

Here are some general guidelines to help you choose the right size garbage disposal for your needs:

  • For households with 1-2 people and minimal food waste, a 1/2 HP or 3/4 HP garbage disposal should be sufficient.
  • For households with 3-5 people and moderate food waste, a 3/4 HP or 1 HP garbage disposal is recommended.
  • For households with more than 5 people and heavy food waste, a 1 HP or larger garbage disposal is recommended.

It’s important to note that larger garbage disposals are generally more expensive than smaller ones, so it’s a good idea to choose a size that fits your needs without overspending.

If you want to know more about what each size garbage disposal can accomplish, continue reading;

Garbage disposal size comparison

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;

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.

Garbage disposal sizeNo. of people in the houseFrequency of cookingWhat to grind
1/3 HP1-2RarelySoft foods, fruits, and vegetables
1/2 HP1-2Once or twice a weekfish bones, soft foods, cooked meat, vegetables, etc
3/4 HP2-43-4 days a weekchicken bones, meat, vegetables, etc
1 HP2-4+DailyBeef bones, chicken bones, meat, vegetables, etc
Garbage disposal size guide

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 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 practically cannot grind 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.

Add food waste in small amounts when using a 1/2 HP garbage disposal. 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 suit 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

It’s important to choose the right size garbage disposal for a few reasons:

  1. Efficient operation: If you choose a garbage disposal that is too small for your household’s needs, it may struggle to process the food waste efficiently. This can lead to clogs, jams, and other issues that can reduce the unit’s lifespan and performance. On the other hand, if you choose a garbage disposal that is too large, you may be wasting energy and money on a unit that is bigger than you need.
  2. Safety: Garbage disposals can be dangerous if they are overloaded or misused. Choosing the right size ensures that the unit is able to handle the amount of food waste your household generates without putting you or your family at risk.

For example, 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.

Therefore, it is important to size the garbage disposal correctly.

How do Horsepower and compatibility with kitchen sinks relate

When it comes to compatibility with kitchen sinks, the horsepower rating of garbage disposals do not matter. This is because Garbage disposals are universal; they will fit any sink with a standard-size drain hole of 3.5 inches.

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.

My name is Thomas Anderson, author of DisposalQA. I have 15 years experience working as a plumber in CA, and this is where I answer common questions about garbage disposals.