The size of any product is its dimensions. But when it comes to garbage disposals, or especially when answering the question ‘What size garbage disposal do I need?’ it is all about the grinding power of the disposal and has nothing to do with its dimensions.
Funny enough, there is another disposal size question; ‘are all garbage disposals the same size?’ which is not at all about power ratings but about whether they fit all sinks.
The dimensions of the disposal are irrelevant here because most houses have ample space under the sink to accommodate one (I don’t remember seeing one above 16″ height). Also, a more powerful disposal need not be bigger in size. But just in case, you mistakenly got here looking for a small size garbage disposal that fits the tiny space under your sink, refer this post: 5 compact garbage disposals.
For all others, here we go;
What size garbage disposal do you need?
Generally, the power ratings of household garbage disposals are;
- 1/3 HP
- 1/2 HP
- 3/4 HP
- 1 HP
The size of garbage for your home depends on;
- The number of people living in your household
- The frequency of cooking/disposal use
- The kind of food wastes you want to dispose of
Definitely, the frequency of cooking is more when you live with more people. But there can be lots of exceptions, let’s say, student’s apartments are unlikely to see much cooking despite the number of people living there.
Also, the kind of food wastes you want to dispose of is an important factor in deciding your garbage disposal size. There are lots of food items which shouldn’t go down the disposal, which you can refer here, but there are exceptions. Some top-end models by manufacturers like InSinkErator claim to be able to dispose of items like small chicken bones and even eggshells which otherwise damage disposals. So if you want to dispose of hard food items then surely even if you live alone you will need a more powerful disposer.
Let’s see what size disposals are best for your home:
1. 1/3 HP
These are the least powered garbage disposals. Obviously, they are useful in households where the number of people is like 1-2, and they don’t cook much (or order food online). These disposals are usually the cheapest ones as well.
I personally don’t prefer these disposals as they are so low powered. As I mentioned before it all depends on your needs, so there is nothing wrong if you decide to want a 1/3 HP disposal.
2. 1/2 HP
Many of the most sold disposals fall into this category. They have ample power for a small family, and their prices are comparable to those of the 1/3 HP ones.
1/2 HP disposals are best suitable for homes with 1-3 people who cook frequently. Occasionally, if you happen to have a few more visitors, just make sure you don’t cram everything down the disposal, just add them in small batches.
3. 3/4 HP
This is also a popular size which is suitable for any household with 1-5 people. The majority of houses in the USA fall into this category.
These disposals have ample power, and you have more models to choose from than from any other category. You can get low-cost models as well as high-end ones which have lots of features like multi-stage grinding and noise insulation.
Many people choose a 3/4 HP disposal over a 1/2 HP one because price-wise the difference is not that huge, and also, they get more grinding power.
4. 1 HP
1 HP disposals are the most powerful ones used in households. Anything above that is used for commercial uses.
1 HP is definitely plenty of power for your kitchen, these disposals can grind almost anything effortlessly. If your home has 4+ people, or if someone there aspires to be a professional cook, or if you want to dispose of harder food wastes this is the right disposal for you.
As the saying goes, with great power comes a bigger price tag. These disposals are usually premium ones which come with lots of fancy features, so expect a higher price tag if you are planning to buy them.
Are all garbage disposals the same size?
Obviously, the question here is whether a garbage disposal fits all sinks, or, whether all of them fit a sink.
All standard kitchen drainage holes have a size of 3.5-inch diameter. All garbage disposals are made to fit this size.
Just in case the drainage hole size of your kitchen sink is different there are accessories you can buy to fit a disposal.
Are all garbage disposals interchangeable?
No, just because they are all made to fit a 3.5-inch sinkhole doesn’t mean they are interchangeable. The reason is disposals use two kinds of mountings for installation; 3-bolt and EZ, the details of which you can read here.
If your existing disposal is using a 3-bolt mounting and the new one is EZ mount then you will need to remove the setup completely to install the new disposal.
If the new disposal is manufactured by the same company most likely they can be easily replaced but not always as all companies use both kinds of mountings.
Also depending on the size (dimensions) of the new disposal, you may want to change the position of the connecting pipes. This will add further complexity to replacement.
That being said, replacing a disposal with a new one is generally a simple task which you can do by yourself, I was just showing you the worst-case scenario.