What is an air switch?
A garbage disposal air switch is that shiny push button switch you see on many kitchen countertops. It is used to switch ON and OFF a garbage disposer. It uses air pressure to turn on a switch that electrically connects the disposal to the mains. So basically an air switch is a switch that is used to turn on another switch!
Air switches are more aesthetically pleasing and ergonomic than regular wall switches.
There is a wide variety of air switches and they have a wide range of industrial applications. But to operate a garbage disposal you need to buy one that is specifically made for it.
How does an air switch work?
The working of a garbage disposal air switch is somewhat similar to that of a wireless switch but instead of the wireless signal, the on/off mechanism is triggered by a gush of air.
An air switch has 3 main parts;
- A push-button unit
- An air tube
- A power unit
The push-button is what you see on the countertop. This unit has bellows that force a small quantity of air each time you push it.
The air tube connects the push button unit to the power unit.
The power unit is a receptacle that has an air switch inside it. It is this air switch that makes a clicking sound when you push the button. This power unit is plugged into the mains socket. It has an outlet to plug in the power cord from the garbage disposal.
This is how an air switch works; when you push the countertop button a small quantity of air is forced through the tube into the air switch which turns on. This opens an electrical connection between the mains and the garbage disposal. Another click on the push button will close this circuit.
Best Air Switches for garbage disposals
1. InSinkErator STS-00 dual outlet sink top switch
To be honest there are other air switches that are more popular but I chose this one because InSinkErator is a trusted brand name and they are one of the leading figures in the garbage disposal industry.
The InSinkErator air switch has dual outlets that allow connecting a garbage disposal as well as a hot water dispenser or any other appliance at the same time. When the garbage disposal is turned ON the power to the second appliance is cut-off and it will be reconnected once the disposer stops running.
It comes with a 33-inch long power cord and a 6-foot air tube which allows for flexibility in installation.
It also comes with two buttons; chrome and white. It is also available in Satin Nickel finish. You can easily pop the ring of the push button body ad replace it with any other colored decorative button.
The push-button unit has a height of 2-3/8 inches and itis suitable for countertops which are up to 2 inches thick. A hole of 1.25 inch should to be drilled to install this button unit.
Being InSinkErator this unit is much pricier when compared to other models. It is covered under a 1-year warranty. It is suitable for all InSinkErator garbage disposals (as well as those by any other brands).
2. Cleesink air switch kit
Cleesink is another garbage disposal manufacturer that sells its products throughout the USA.
Unlike the InSinkErator one above this air switch kit comes with a single power outlet so you can connect only the garbage disposal with it.
However, this is not a big disadvantage as most power sockets come with 2 outlets. Since the air switch uses a power cord its power module doesn’t obstruct access to the second outlet, you can plug any other appliances there.
The kit comes with a 1.5 meter long air tube and a long power cord so you can install this unit anywhere under the countertop.
The button switch is available in 10 shades. It comes in two lengths; 2 inches and 2.5 inches. But these two don’t come in the same kit, you have to opt for it.
Since the buttons are available in two lengths it can be fitted on countertops with thickness up to 2.5 inches. The suitable hole size is 1.25 inch which is the same as the standard size for a sink soap dispenser. It is suitable for any garbage disposers under 2 HP.
3. Etoolcity garbage disposal air-switch
This is another popular garbage disposal air switch, popular due to its reliability and cheaper pricing.
It comes with different specifications, you can opt for a single outlet or a dual outlet model. Also, the pushbuttons are available n 2″ and 2.7″ sizes so it can be installed in 2.7-inch thick countertops.
The switch kit comes with a 2.5 ft long power cord as well as a 5ft long air tube. The buttons are available in Stainless steel polished and finished shades.
The pushbutton can be installed in a 1-1/4 inch hole. The switch kit is suitable to power garbage disposals up to 2 horsepower rating.
This air switch comes with a warranty of 2-years, more than that for the InSinkErator. If you are looking for a cheap and reliable garbage disposal air switch this one is a great option.
4. Bestill air switch kit
This is another popular air switch that can run any garbage disposals rated under 3 horsepower. It has dual outlets that let you connect two kitchen appliances at the same time.
It comes with a 3-1/3 ft power cord and a 5 ft air tube. The unit can be installed on countertops with thickness up to 3 inches. Installation requires a 1-3/8 inch diameter hole on the countertop.
The button unit is available in 6 shades; oil rubbed bronze, matte black, brushed gold, brushed nickel, copper and polished chrome.
The kit comes with a 1-year warranty. It is also priced cheap.
Advantages of using an air switch
Air switches have many advantages over wall switches. Some of them are;
1. Safe to use
Wall switches are directly connected with electricity. So when flipping a switch with wet hands there is a big chance of getting electrocuted. An air switch, on the other hand, is not directly connected with electricity. So the countertop push button is not going to have any electricity in it and so you have zero chance harming yourself.
2. Doesn’t need batteries or power
Air switches work solely with the help of airpower, they do not need batteries or any other forms of electric power. This totally eliminates the need of frequently replacing batteries.
3. Aesthetically pleasing
Push button air switches are more aesthetically pleasing than wall switches and wireless switches. They come in a variety of finishes that matches the sink and faucets, this gives you a lot of options to choose from.
Air switches are easy to use than wall switches. They can be installed in ten countertops, under the sink or in any place that is convenient for the user. They are also the best option for kitchen islands.
5. Low cost
Garbage disposal air switches aren’t costly. They are available within a price range of 20 to 60 bucks. When compared o the safety and convenience they offer it is not a price at all.
How to install an air switch for a garbage disposal?
Air switches are also called countertop switches and sink top switches since they are mostly installed on the countertop. The installation process is pretty simple, and it may take up to 15 minutes including the time to drill a hole on the countertop.
Here is a 7 step guide to install a garbage disposal air switch;
Step 1: Drill a properly sized hole on the countertop or any other place you want to mount the push button. You can also use a standard sink hole if that’s available.
Step 2: A rubber gasket comes with the package. Insert it between the button and the countertop.
Step 3: Insert the push button unit into the hole, and tighten it using the plastic nut which comes with the unit.
Step 4: Screw in the power unit under the countertop wall or any place you choose.
Step 5: Attach one end of the air tube to the button unit, and the other end to the power unit.
Step 6: Plug in the power cord of the garbage disposal into the air switch power module.
Step 7: Plug in the cord of the power unit into an AC power socket.
Note: Follow steps 6 &. 7 in that order to avoid any electrocution from the mains. Also, make sure you properly seal the push button unit.
Common garbage disposal air switch problems and troubleshooting
Garbage disposal air switches are not without problems. Regular use can cause wear and tear to the push button, and there can be problems with the power unit as well. If your unit runs into any problems try troubleshooting it before buying a new one.
here is how to troubleshoot your air switch.
Case 1: The air switch is not working and it is not making a clicking sound then there must be air leakage.
In this case, follow the below steps;
Step 1: Disconnect the air tube and check for any blockage. Replace the tubing if it is too old or leaking.
Step 2: If there are no leaks on the air tube then dismount the push button unit.
Step 3: Pop open the button and ring of the unit, and remove the bellows. Check if the bellows is damaged. If that is the case you can buy a new button unit. Here is one.
Step 4: If the button unit and the air tubing are good then the problem must be with the power unit. In this case, I recommend replacing it than trying to DIY repairing. If you have enough electrical expertise open the unit and check for any loose connections.
Case 2: Disposer running only when the button is pushed in
If the disposer unit works when you keep the button pushed but it stops when you release it then there is a problem with the air switch (the unit that is located inside the power module). if this is the case then you have to replace the power unit.
Case 3: The disposal unit is not working but the air switch makes a clicking noise when pushed
Step 1: Decide whether the problem is with the garbage disposal or not. For this connect the disposer directly to the mains outlet.
Step 2: If the disposer is working then the problem is with the power module of the unit. The best option is to replace it.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does one air switch fit all garbage disposals?
Yes, you can use any air switch to operate any garbage disposal as long as the power rating of the disposal is within that of the air switch’s range. Usually, all air switches support disposals with ratings up to 1.5 HP.
Is the button unit made of Stainless Steel?
No, the push button unit is usually made of plastic. It does come with stainless steel and a variety of other finishes though.
Are dual outlet options better than single outlet ones?
It totally depends on your requirements. I am not a fan of dual outlets, they are totally unnecessary in my case. You can connect an extra appliance to the dual outlet but it won’t work while the disposer is running. If you already don’t have enough receptacles then it is a good option.
What size hole does an air switch need
It totally depends on the model you buy. Most air switches need a 1.25 inch dia hole.