How Much Horsepower Is Needed?

This question is fair and your preferences will mostly depend on your lifestyle. But, let’s first cover some basics on garbage disposals and horsepower. If you’re in the market for a new disposal because yours is leaking or just doesn’t perform the way you need it to, horsepower is one of the primary considerations to think about before choosing your next disposal. 

Many Horsepower Options for You

Residential disposals start at 1/3 HP and can range all the way up to 1.1 HP with the leading brand, Insinkerator. This means that there are tons of options for you to choose from. However, how do you know whether you should choose a 1/3 HP, the ½ HP, the ¾ HP or the full 1 HP disposal?  

A few articles that I’ve read indicate that the size of your household determines the HP that you need for a disposal. While this simple equation is a great decision making method, it doesn’t take your lifestyle into account. For example, my household has 2 people in it, which according to the charts I read from a Google search means that a 1/3 HP or ½ HP disposal is enough for my household. Well, let me tell you that I went through three ½ HP disposals in just a few years before finally upgrading to 1 HP, and I haven’t had a problem since! Everyone’s household and lifestyle is unique and you should consider all factors when deciding how much horsepower your disposal should have. While we can simplify the process to start by size of household, let’s journey further into the expectations you will have from your disposal. 

Lifestyle Questions

Consider the Volume of Home Cooking You Do 

How much food waste are you putting down your disposal? Do you cook in large quantities for a large family or food preparation? Do you use the disposal to get rid of food waste? Do you only put vegetable scraps down your disposal or do you put tougher things down such as peach pits, chicken bones or even beef bones? Okay… I might have hyperventilated at the bones comment, but it’s a thing for some households! I freak out about some things going down disposals (even though the manufacturer says it’s okay based on HP) because we clear so many stoppages in the plumbing system after the fact if disposals aren’t used properly. The HP of your disposal can play a large role in the quantity of scraps you can put down at once as well as what the disposal is capable of safely grinding or pulverizing.  

  • ⅓ HP is often best for a family that doesn’t use their disposal very often and they are only putting small amounts of soft fruit and vegetable scraps down the disposal.
  • ½ HP is the most common size for households and is often the best HP size for a family that puts down a bit larger quantity of fruit and vegetable scraps, but nothing challenging is being put  down the disposal like bones. 
  • ¾ HP is the next level up, and this horsepower is great for households that cook in larger quantities and use their disposals regularly for fruit and vegetable scraps and more challenging items such as peach pits, bones, etc.  
  • 1 HP disposals are best for those households that cook in large quantities and use their disposals all of the time for big amounts of food scraps, waste, and items like peach pits – not bones yet, but we’ll get there.  All HP is not created equal, so stick with me!

Consider the Types of Food Scraps You Put Down Your Disposal

If you’re someone who wants a disposal that will keep up with more challenging quantities and types of food waste, like chicken or beef bones, then stay tuned, they do exist!  

MultiGrind Technology 

What is 2-Stage MultiGrind Technology? To be honest, I had to go to the source and speak with my awesome local Insinkerator rep to find out. Insinkerator has 2-Stage and 3-Stage MultiGrind Technology.  The 2-Stage process adds a GrindShear ring to the grinding process maximizing pulverizing food waste into mush.  

  • ¾ HP disposal has the benefit of 2 Stage MultiGrind Technology vs 1-Stage which allows for tougher materials to be processed by your disposal safely. 
  • 1 HP with 2-Stage MultiGrind Technology can handle those pesky beef bones if that’s your thing.  

Here’s an awesome video from Insinkerator that explains how it works better than I ever could! 

https://youtu.be/UdUd11bf8fg

Consider How Much Entertaining You Do

Above and beyond your normal day-to-day use of your kitchen and disposal, a key factor in choosing your new unit is to consider how much entertaining you do. Seriously, every year without fail people are calling on holidays because they are in charge of the family Thanksgiving or Christmas escapades and, just like that, they’ve jammed up their disposal, backed up the kitchen sink and while it is a story to tell at future family events, it isn’t something you want to experience if you don’t have to– entertaining is challenging enough without having a stoppage at your kitchen sink. How often do you entertain? How many people do you plan on cooking for? My personal and professional opinion is to purchase the disposal that meets your worst-case scenario so you can avoid it all together. 

Other Features to Consider Before Choosing Your Next Garbage Disposal

Warranty

Disposals come with different warranty periods based on not just the horsepower, but also the grade of the disposal. The grade of the disposal defines not only its features, like the MultiGrind function, but can also define the housing and component grades within the disposal–upgraded materials come along with the higher end models. These differences can start with galvanized steel grinding components, upgrading to stainless steel grind components all the way up to alloy stainless steel.  While warranty is nice to consider, you’re much less likely to have to use it with the stronger models. 

Sound

Sound is a big one for me. The last thing I want while trying to have a relaxing evening at the end of a long day is to announce to my neighborhood that I am using my disposal… maybe it’s just me. When I’m trying to make an epic meal with my husband or entertain my friends, it is beyond a nuisance to interrupt my calm conversation and glass of wine with what sounds like a lawnmower going off in my kitchen. Well, it must not be just me because there are actually quiet disposals out there! Yes! The Quiet Series with Insinkerator touts some serious noise reduction and the top end model is the quietest garbage disposal on the market. If quiet is important to you, then this is certainly a model of disposal to consider; the Quiet Series comes with both 2-Stage and 3-Stage Mult-Grind options as well as a LeakGuard Liner.

DIY Reset If a Jam Occurs

Out of all of the options a disposal can give you, this one hits the top of my professional list. Most of us have jammed up a garbage disposal in our day. I own Robins Plumbing, Inc and I’ve personally done it numerous times while I had a ½ HP disposal. This is where things truly get important for me as a professional and a homeowner who lives a real life and doesn’t want to have to call a plumber every time I goof and put something down my disposal that shouldn’t be there (silverware and shot glasses mostly). A lot of manufacturers make it quite challenging for homeowners to unjam or reset their disposal without the professional assistance of a plumber. The top reason we continue to provide Insinkerator brand disposals to our clients after 22 years is because they have been designed with the client in mind, not the plumber. They unjam with ease and they are super easy to reset. We have an awesome quick video on how this is done here

Smell

While smelly kitchen sinks aren’t uncommon in most homes– and we have some tips on how to make your kitchen sink smell fresh– a lot of times the odor is caused by bacteria growing on the disposal splash guard, also known as a sink baffle. The antimicrobial feature on disposals is to help prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria.

Anti-Jamming 

If your household is a little tougher on disposals and you’re experiencing frequent disposal jamming issues, then something to strongly consider are anti-jamming features like Auto-Reverse technology and Jam-Sensors.  The auto-reverse feature automatically reverses the plate within the disposal and unjams it without the need of the Allen wrench manually performing this. Jam-Sensors are designed to detect jams in advance like magic crystal balls, just kidding, it’s science and engineering, no magic involved.  This feature monitors changes in the torque of the plate within the disposal and if it senses that it needs more torque, then it activates and applies more torque when necessary to help prevent jams within the disposal. 

How Does the Technology Work on Upgraded Disposals

Insinkerator has done a brilliant job of creating a thorough video that explains some of the upgraded features and benefits for you to consider with your next disposal.  

https://youtu.be/jt-M8mQ1HFs

Side by Side 

I know I’ve given a lot of information, so I borrowed this awesome infographic from Insinkerator that shows a clear path of most of the features that their disposals provide. Of course, if you have any questions or would like a consultation with one of our team members on what disposal could be right for your home, don’t hesitate to call us. Keep in mind, this disposal could be with you for a decade or more, so taking a few minutes to research what is going to work best for your household today and for the years to come is a smart move!