Condo Blues: How to Research and Buy the Best Size Garbage Disposal for Your Kitchen

Sunday, March 11, 2018

How to Research and Buy the Best Size Garbage Disposal for Your Kitchen

For us, Compost Season stops when the bin freezes shut during the winter. That’s when we reluctantly switch to using the garbage disposal to dispose of vegetable scraps. 

I say reluctantly because the garbage disposal that came with our condo jams easily and often, sometimes smells bad, and often shakes so violently that it comes loose from the plumbing pipes and sprays gunk inside the kitchen cabinet. Good times!

The “experts” say you shouldn’t put any of these items down a garbage disposal.
  • Vegetable peels
  • Eggshells
  • Pasta, rice, potatoes/potato peels, beans, and other starchy foods
  • Coffee grounds
So what exactly are you supposed to put on a garbage disposal? This list is pretty much everything we cook with and eat.

Although it explains exactly why even though “experts” claim a 1/3 horsepower mini garbage disposal like mine is the “correct” size for a two person apartment or condo household and why I celebrated the day when it finally became unfixable so I could replace it.

How to buy a garbage disposal
It really isn't the old garbage disposal's fault. At the very beginning it was a bad match. 
Keep reading to learn why and how to avoid the same situation when buying a garbage disposal.

When the garbage disposal started leaking from the side and needed to be replaced I practically did a happy dance. Finally a chance to buy a garbage disposal that doesn’t stink!

What Size Garage Disposal Should I Buy?

How to buy a garbage disposal that won't jam
Hi everyone Lacey here! I volunteered to take care of all of the food scraps so Lisa didn't have to waste her time researching, buying, and installing a new garbage disposal. She declined my offer even though I was trying to help her with that low resource green living thing she keeps blathering on about.

Appliance experts say your should buy a garbage disposal based on the number of people living in your home. I think that is the worst way to determine what size garbage disposal you need to buy.

Instead of looking at the number of people in your household, I suggest you can buy the correct size garbage disposal for you by looking at:
  1. How much you plan on using it
  2. What type of ingredients you cook with
  3. What type of things you plan to put down it
  4. The available space under your sink
  5. How much money you want to spend

There are four sizes of garbage disposal motors

  • 1/3 horsepower (HP) garbage disposals are the weakest motor available and are best for very light duty use because they jam easily. From personal experience, light duty use is probably someone who cooks with more prepared ingredients than fresh (no judging, OK?) or is primarily putting small serving of cooked/soft leftovers, science experiment cooked vegetables from the back of the fridge, etc.  All my 1/3 HP garbage disposal could comfortably handle was coffee grounds and eggshells. Chuck a small broccoli stalk down there and it would shake off the plumbing in revolt.
The 1/3 HP garbage disposables are the physically smallest and least expensive type of garbage disposal (around 80 bucks) but may rust out need to be replaced earlier than the other types.

  • 1/2 horsepower garbage disposals are slightly more powerful than the 1/3 horsepower models but not by much. 1/2 HP garbage disposals are best for light duty use. Again, if you cook with slightly more fresh vegetables or eat fresh fruits .  If you don’t use your garbage disposal all of the time, this might be one to consider.

  • 3/4 horsepower garbage disposals are for medium plus use. A 3/4 HP motor can usually handle things like egg shells and all vegetable peels – basically for families who cook with more ingredient type foods.  The more powerful motor means they have less of a tendency to jam. Of course, as you go up in horsepower, you also go up in physical size and price.

  • 1 horsepower garbage disposals are for heavy use kitchens (although in my meals from scratch kitchen we consider this Normal Use. Not bragging, just explaining why the others won’t work for our household of 2.) If you cook all of your meals from scratch and have things like banana peels, vegetable peels, starchy food like potatoes peels, etc. then 1 HP motor is one to consider because you can put everything on the expert no no garbage disposal list down it and it won’t jam (from experience.) The 1 HP is the most powerful garbage disposable motor you can buy and it will grind pretty much any difficult thing you put down it except bones.

I wasn’t messing around and knew we needed a 1 HP garbage disposal. Next was to decide on the brand and model.

What size garbage disposal do I buy
Hello, lover.
Disclosure: I am including affiliate links in this post for your convenience

There are two major garbage disposal brands, InSinkerator and Waste King.

Both companies also make garbage disposals for other home appliance brands.  I compared the two main garbage disposable companies and they were pretty equal in their reviews for quality and performance. The only difference seems to be the size of the unit and price. Both companies are probably  going to hate me for saying this but hey, I don’t work for them, and that’s my opinion.

I was still smarting from my experience with the InSinkErator Badger 1 (it looks like this) which made me less inclined to shell out the 300 bucks for 1 horse power InSinkErator Evolution Excel (it looks like this) plus a few extra bucks to buy the power cord because it comes separate. This is common because many garbage disposals need to be hardwired to your home's electricity to meet code. Mine does not. I have a dedicated outlet under my sink for the garbage disposal (whether you have one or not depends upon your city and state building codes.)

The reviews for installation, performance, and longevity for the 1 horsepower Waste King 1 HP Legend L-8000 (it looks like this) are practically identical to the  InSinkErator Evolution Excel.

The only real difference between the two kitchen disposals are:

  • The physical size (but both models will process the same amount of kitchen scraps) 

  • Waste King has a lifetime warranty (the InSinkErator's warranty is only a couple of years)

  • The power cord comes attached to the Waste King (Waste King also sells a hard wired version if you need it.) while I'd have to buy and attach a separate power cord (also called a pig tail) to the InSinkerator before I installed it. It is't difficult to attach a power cord to a kitchen disposable but if I can skip that step when the specs of both models are practically identical, then why not?

The final deciding factor (along with the lifetime warranty, and attached pig tail) is the Waste King cost $200 less if I  buy the Waste King garbage disposal on Amazon here. 


Installing a garbage disposal is extremely easy no matter what brand you choose. The InSinkerator and Waste King installs practically the same way. First you install the brace through the sink drain hole. Next you screw the disposal into place in a locking ring under the sink. Lastly, you either plug it into an outlet (per my local building code) or hard wire the disposal to your home's electrical system.

how to install a garbage disposal
If you can screw a jar lid closed you can install this garbage disposal. Although a second pair of hand s is helpful because it is heavy!

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