Garbage disposals come in varying sizes and brands, designed to meet the needs of various scenarios. Whether you live alone or with a large family, there’s a garbage disposal out there to meet your needs. The size of the appliance you buy is a critical consideration, as it can impact whether or not you can dispose of large amounts of food waste.
So, if you’re on the fence, unsure of which option is better for your home, you’re in the right place. We’re here to tackle this topic, so stick around to learn more!
What Is The Difference Between A ½ HP And ¾ HP Garbage Disposal?
Before we start addressing which option is better, let’s take a look at the primary difference between these two garbage disposals. Obviously, the main difference is the size. A ½ hp motor produces less power than a ¾ hp motor.
Each size has its place, depending on your household’s needs. For a general overview of some of the differences, check out the chart below. Keep in mind that this is a very broad overview, and specs vary from one model to the next.
|½ HP||¾ HP|
|Price range||Less expensive||More expensive|
|Warranty||Average warranties||Longer warranties|
Is A Higher HP Better For A Garbage Disposal?
The horsepower (hp) of the motor is probably the most important aspect to consider when choosing a new garbage disposal. The size you select drastically affects several other aspects of the system, including the overall price.
The sizes of the motors in garbage disposals range from ⅓ hp to 3 hp. Here are a few of the common scenarios where each size appears:
- ⅓ hp: Ideal in scenarios where the disposal is used very infrequently, like in a vacation home
- ½ hp: Minimum size recommended for regular home use
- ¾ hp: Ideal size for most kitchens and families of 3 to 5
- 1 hp: Best for scenarios where you regularly grind chicken bones, coffee grinds, and fruit rinds
- Larger than 1 hp: Commonly used in commercial kitchens, although some models appear in homes with large families of 8 or more
How To Determine What Size Garbage Disposal You Need
There are quite a few factors that go into selecting the best size garbage disposal for your home. Aside from the size alone, you also need to consider how often you’ll use the disposal, the size of your household, and your budget.
The size of your household is a crucial aspect to consider as you begin narrowing down your options. The smaller your household, the less horsepower you need. For example, a home with one or two people will likely find a ⅓ hp or ½ hp garbage disposal sufficient.
You’ll need a larger disposal in homes with three to six people, usually around ½ hp to ¾ hp. For homes with five to eight people, you’ll need a ¾ hp disposal or larger. If you have more than eight people in your household, you’ll need a 1 hp garbage disposal or larger.
There are additional considerations as well. For instance, if you host frequently or do a considerable amount of grinding, a 1 hp disposal is likely your best choice. With that said, a ¾ hp disposal is an excellent choice for most families of 5.
The ¾ hp motor offers plenty of power to grind the food scraps produced by a family of five or six, while the ½ hp motor may fall short.
The size of your garbage disposal directly correlates with its overall cost. Generally, larger models tend to be more expensive, while models with smaller motors tend to be less expensive. You can expect to pay around $500 for installation costs when you start from scratch unless you do the installation and rough-in plumbing yourself.
If you’re simply replacing your garbage disposal, it’s usually cheaper, as you only need to replace the unit itself. With that said, if you’re upgrading to a considerably larger model, you may have to tweak the plumbing, which can drive up overall costs.
If you’re working with a limited budget, the ½ hp model may be the better choice for you. Generally, ½ hp garbage disposals run between $75 and $125, depending on the brand and specs. On the other hand, ¾ hp garbage disposals usually cost between $125 and $200.
Of course, you could go larger if necessary, but keep in mind that the cost climbs in tandem with the size and power of the motor.
Garbage disposals require a fair amount of space in the cabinet beneath your sink. All garbage disposals are designed to fit all kitchen sinks, which have a standard drain hole size between ⅗ and 4 inches.
In homes with limited space beneath the sink, a larger garbage disposal may not be feasible. Smaller motors tend to go hand in hand with smaller models, and vice versa. So, if you’re working with limited installation space, a smaller unit may be the best option.
High-quality garbage disposals are composed primarily of stainless steel grind components. Unlike plastic components, stainless steel components can last a lifetime, often outlasting the motor itself.
Some garbage disposals have plastic elements that dry out eventually, causing cracks in the shell. If you avoid pouring boiling water down the drain, you likely won’t stress the plastic parts, allowing them to remain in good shape for as long as the motor runs.
Try to steer clear of models that utilize galvanized steel, as these units rust quickly. Stainless steel units can be pricier than plastic or galvanized steel, but they tend to be the best of the trio.
Motor size is an essential component to consider, but you should also pay attention to the unit’s features. Other factors include:
- Brand: Various major brands manufacture garbage disposals. A couple of major brands include InSinkErator, Waste King, and Moen.
- Warranty: Most garbage disposals last for about 8 to 15 years. Warranties on the disposals usually extend between one and 10 years, depending on the specific model and brand. The average garbage disposal outlives the warranty it came with, so generally, it isn’t an issue. However, it doesn’t hurt to be covered.
- Noise level: Garbage disposals aren’t exactly known for their silence. However, some brands offer sound-dampening features to help minimize the noise.
- Septic system enzymatic reservoir: If you have a septic system, garbage disposals with this feature give your septic tank a hand, which helps keep the septic tank healthy with the extra enzyme treatment.
- Power cord included: Cheaper garbage disposals often come without a power cord. Although this isn’t a problem, keep in mind you’ll need to buy one for the system, which is usually around $15. Some models are direct-wire professionally installed models that require an electrician to connect it to your electrical system.
Another major consideration is the type of model you want. There are two types of garbage disposals: batch feed and continuous feed. With a continuous feed model, you can continually scrape food scraps into the drain while the switch is on. You can actively run cold water down the drain while running the system to ensure everything moves smoothly.
On the other hand, with a batch feed disposal, you need to have a special magnetic plug in place before the disposal will work.
Generally, batch feed models come with higher horsepower, which translates to a higher cost. Of course, you can find continuous feed models with high horsepower, but they may be cheaper than their batch feed counterpart.
So, Which One Should I Buy?
Both garbage disposal sizes, the ½ hp and ¾ hp, have their place. While they’re usually not suitable for all scenarios, they work well in specific cases. Ultimately, the best option for you comes down to your personal scenario, which includes factors like the size of your household, your budget, available installation space, and features you’re looking for.