Do Garbage Disposals Need a Dedicated Circuit?

If you’re installing your own garbage disposal or having one installed for you, you might be worried about the logistics of it. Is there anything you need to do in order to better prepare. Do you need a dedicated circuit?

Garbage disposals should have a hardwired or connected outlet through a grounded electrical outlet. A dedicated circuit is strongly recommended. While it can be connected through the dishwasher, the best option will be in the disposals manual.

So what about these disposals is what requires a dedicated circuit? How does it all work? What’s the best option? We’ll break it down for you into laymens terms, and help you figure it all out.

When Installing a Disposal….

Your kitchen is probably the most electric area in your entire house. It uses more electricity than most bedrooms or entertainment rooms. Coffee makers, blenders, fridges, stoves, dishwashers, food processors, and even the garbage disposals all need electricity. This means you don’t want to skip out on anything or disregard any electrical help or requirements. You don’t want to blow a fuse in your kitchen, it could corrupt it’s whole system.

When installing a garbage disposal, you’ll need to be just as careful with its electrical as with its plumbing. Ideally, a garbage disposal should be on its own 15-amp or 20-amp circuit. However, your other choice is to have it share a 20-amp circuit with the dishwasher. This way they can share a similar electrical space. As the sink is normally close to the dishwasher, this can often be a better option.

Whilst it can be an option, should it be? It’s recommended to put disposal and dishwasher on its OWN circuit. Typically a 15 or 20 amp if you want them together. The average washer can pull 10 amps and the disposal averages between 4 and 8. Meaning 15 to 20 is your sweet spot for electrical flow.

So you have your electrical lingo and ideas, what about outlets?

Garbage disposal typically plugs into a 120-volt GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) outlet under the sink. If an outlet like this isn’t available under your sink, you’ll have to have an electrician install one.

If You’re Installing in an Old Home

In older homes that have not had their wiring systems updated, it is very common for kitchen wiring to be undersized for the electrical demands of a newer kitchen. It is not uncommon, for example, for a kitchen to have only two or three circuits, and it to be used by only your basics, such as your fridge, dishwasher, and your disposal may be either on the circuit or not able to fit at all. Old wiring often is forced to stay in place, which can make it hard to install a disposal (if your home doesn’t have one) on a circuit that’s already full or in a new area.

If You’re Installing in a New Home

This is a much easier issue to deal with as many new homes have separate circuits. These are going to make it easier to install a garbage disposal, and at the amount of amps you want, without causing any extra problems. Most homes have separate circuits for these, and thus, make it so much easier for not only you to install it, but a licensed professional.

Things to Look Out For:

If you happen to be installing your disposal on your own, there are a few electrical things that you’re going to need look out for. One, if you happen to try to use your disposal and you notice that the rest of the electricity in your kitchen, shorts. If this happens, then there’s something wrong with the wiring, it’s most likely that something is taking too much energy, and thus shorting the rest of the units.

Another thing to look at is the disposal itself. The vibration caused by the operation of a garbage disposal can cause electrical connections to separate. Check for any loose connections in the wire compartment box at the base of the disposal. You wouldn’t want it to become lost whilst using it, otherwise you might run into some deeper problems.

When installing, another issue you’ll need to look in at the plug-in that it’s in. The disposals cord is often located within the sink cabinet. The outlet is controlled by a switch (which is the switch that turns the disposal on and off) however the outlet is often wired as a split receptacle so that only half of the outlet is controlled by the switch.

The other half is always powered and can be used by another appliance, like your dishwasher. It’s important to make sure that your wiring is properly “split” and that one end isn’t getting more energy than the other. Especially if you have a higher powered disposal that might steal some of the energy.

Certain Disposals….

Certain disposals need their entire own circuit to function, as they take up so much power. Most of these types of disposals are ones used within restaurants so you don’t have to worry too much about ones installed within your own home. However it is important to note that the bigger the disposal, the more power it’s going to take up. If you happen to purchase or install a bigger disposal because you know you use it alot, you might need to look in on having it have it’s own circuit to avoid electric overflow.

There are some disposals though that are small, and can be on a connected circuit. These ones are smaller than ones commonly found in homes, and can be a bit cheaper. These ones also often don’t last long. If a disposal has an average lifetime of about 10 years, these ones can have between 2 to 5. If this is the case then it may cut out sooner than you would like it to. However because these are cheaper, you can replace them at a reasonable cost.

However you decide to go, whether you have a large disposal, or a small one, electricity can be a hard thing to mess with. Ultimately if you’re all too intimidated by the whole thing, your local plumber will know much more about this issue and we recommend consulting or hiring them.

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