Kristen Hicks on June 3, 2016 1 Comment Table of Contents Types of Garbage Disposals Factors to Consider While Shopping Most homes view the garbage disposal as a necessity. Without one, you deal with clogged pipes and smelly, gross food sitting in your kitchen wastebasket more frequently. Even if a garbage disposal doesn’t feel like a necessity to you, it is a fact that they help move more waste out of the landfills, which means many cities require it. For most consumers, your garbage disposal isn’t something you’ll think about much. You simply need something functional and affordable. Nonetheless, you have a few options and variety of factors worth taking into consideration when the time comes to buy a new garbage disposal. Here’s what you need to know. The Two Types of Garbage Disposals When you start your search for a new garbage disposal, you’ll come across two main types. Which choice is best for you mostly comes down to whether you want to prioritize safety or convenience. Continuous-Feed Garbage Disposals The most common type of garbage disposal in home kitchens is the continuous-feed model. They’re easy to use, affordable, and can be activated with any quantity of food and scraps you have to dispose of. If you have a lot to grind at once, you can simply keep adding to it while it’s on. These do often require professional installation, since you need to hook them up to a power switch, but some people who are pretty savvy at home DIY projects may be able to pull it off. The main downside of continuous-feed garbage disposals is that they’re riskier. If anyone ever puts their hand in the drain while the disposal’s on, they’ll suffer serious injuries. And if something other than food, say a piece of silverware, drops in there while it’s in the process of grinding, the disposal can do some real damage to it. These issues are usually pretty easy to avoid though if you simply use your disposal carefully. Benefits: Convenient Affordable Can be used with any quantity of food To Keep in Mind: Potentially harder to install Not as safe as batch-feed garbage disposals Batch-Feed Garbage Disposals Batch-feed garbage disposals are worth considering in homes with children where the safety risks of continuous-feed models are an issue. Batch-feed garbage disposals tend to cost a bit more and aren’t as convenient to use because you can’t always just use them as you go, as the disposal has to fill up before it can be activated. If you ever have a lot of different food to dispose of at once, this model will slow you down. Batch-feed garbage disposals are safer because they’ll only turn on once a stopper is placed over the top. That eliminates any possibility of fingers or hands being hurt by the active blade, but it also makes grinding your food scraps a bit more of a process than using a continuous-feed model. Benefits: Safest option To Keep in Mind: Less convenient to use Large quantities of waste will take a long time to dispose of Usually costs more Factors to Consider When Buying a Garbage Disposal In order to figure out which garbage disposal will be the best fit for your needs, you’ve got a few main factors to consider. Cost This will be one of the most important considerations for most customers. How much are you willing to spend? For a lot of consumers, the most affordable functional option will be good enough. For others, it may well be worth choosing a more expensive model due to the added benefits higher-end models offer. More powerful models will cost more, but will grind a wider range of items and usually last longer. Batch-feed models usually also cost a little more, but come with the peace of mind of being safer. Whatever model you go with, you can likely expect it to fall somewhere in the $75-$250 range, plus the cost of installation unless you’re comfortable doing it yourself. Motor Power You’ll find garbage disposals labeled according to the level of horsepower they offer. For homes with just a couple of people in them who won’t be disposing of many food items, the lowest 1/3 horsepower option may suffice. But if you assume you’ll be good with the lowest level and then find you use your garbage disposal more than anticipated, you’ll end up with a disposal that gets jammed a lot and wears out quickly. Garbage disposals come in a few other sizes up from that: ½ horsepower, ¾ horsepower and 1 horse power. At the highest level, your disposal will be able to handle things like chicken bones and fruit rinds with little trouble. In addition to being able to grind more things, the higher horsepower models will usually last longer since frequent or heavy use will wear out the weaker models faster. If you think your disposal will be getting much use, then going with a higher horsepower garbage disposal is a good idea so you don’t have to deal with replacing it again soon. Noise Some people hate noisy appliances, which is understandable. Garbage disposals do tend to be loud, but some models manage to do their job with less noise than others. Reviewers are usually pretty quick to praise quieter disposals and complain about loud ones, so your best bet for getting an idea in advance of how loud your garbage disposal will be is to check out what reviewers have to say. Safety Garbage disposals can do some real damage if not used safely. If your hand ever ends up close to the moving blades of a continuous-feed garbage disposal, the consequences will be serious. For most adults, it’s not a fate that’s too hard to avoid. But for homes with small children it’s definitely a lesson you don’t want anyone learning the hard way. If you’re concerned about the safety issues involved in having a continuous-feed model, going with a batch-feed garbage disposal should alleviate all those concerns. Durability Garbage disposals cost enough that you don’t want to find yourself having to buy a new one all over again in another couple of years. Adding to that, when they stop working they tend to leak so you may have to deal with ruined cabinets under your sink as well. A garbage disposal that comes from a reputable brand should last you several years, and many even come with warranties to back up their claims of durability as well. As is true when buying many different types of appliances, spending more now may well save you money and trouble in the long run. Features In addition to considering these factors, there are a few features you may want to keep an eye out for: Electric Cord Most garbage disposals need to be hooked up to a switch in your kitchen by a technician, but you can find some models that come with an electric cord, making them easier to install. Auto Reverse Mode This feature helps reduce jamming by clearing the blades of stuck waste. Safety Cover Common in batch-feed models, a safety cover will ensure your disposal won’t start until the cover’s in place, so there’s no chance of anything reaching the moving blades except the food you want to grind. Grinding Stages Many garbage disposals only come with one grinding stage, but you can find models that include up to three. Additional grinding stages ensure that you can grind tougher food items to the point where they’re much more finely ground or even liquefied. If you’re likely to put your disposal to serious work, investing in one with three grind stages is a smart move. Conclusion Choosing the right garbage disposal isn’t exactly a life or death decision. As long as it works, most people will be happy. But picking a model that checks a few other boxes – one that is quiet, lasts a long time, or has good safety features – can leave certain customers far happier than if they just went with the first option they saw. If you take a little time to understand your options and gain an idea of what you want in advance, you could end up with a superior garbage disposal that lasts longer and works better for your needs.