Power of a garbage disposal


Home Food Waste Disposer Power of a garbage disposal

By Recycling.com/ 21 February 2020 Shares

Power of a garbage disposal

This page is part of the Garbage Disposal Guide.

It all depends on your household, the amount and type of food waste that is disposed on a daily base and the available space in your kitchen cabinet, maybe you already store a trash can in one of your cabinets. Garbage disposals for consumers can be categorized in roughly three categories:

  1. Light use: 1/3 HP
  2. Medium use: 1/2 – 3/4 HP
  3. Heavy use: 1 HP


The table below can be used to determine which type of garbage disposal you need whether you need a light, medium or heavy-duty garbage disposal for your household. It is important to have the right strength disposal in order to maximize its lifespan and minimize problems like clogging.



1/3 HP

Average RPM

+/- 2000 RPM


1 – 2 users

Food Waste

Soft food scraps like fruit rinds.



1/2 to 3/4 HP

Average RPM

+/- 2200 RPM


2 – 4 users

Food Waste

Food scraps like potato peels.



1+ HP

Average RPM

+/- 2500 RPM


4 – 8 users

Food Waste

All food scraps like fibrous foods.

Video: How does a InSinkErator garbage disposal work?

Curious how a garbage disposal works on the inside? This video will show you exactly what happens on the inside and will hopefully help you make the right choice for you as well.

More about powerful garbage disposals

A common misunderstanding among garbage disposal users is that all disposals can handle any type of food scraps. However, this is not true. Home waste disposal motors can range from 1/3-HP to 1-HP and this can make a huge difference in their performance. While a 1/3-HP motor can only handle lighter food scraps like soft fruits and vegetable peels, powerful 1-HP disposal can usually grind up higher volumes and tougher types of food waste. A 1-HP motor can even withstand the challenge of grinding up fiber food scraps, like corn husks and harder leftovers like small bones, contrary to weaker disposals.

A failure to follow these guidelines can in the best-case scenario lead to resolvable jamming and clogging, and worst-case scenario leads to breaking the disposal or serious leaks and water damage. Find out more information on how to use food waste disposals properly.

Pros and Cons of a 1-HP garbage disposal


  • Can mindlessly insert food scraps
  • Fewer clogs and jams
  • Longer warranty
  • Higher lifespan
  • Quieter (when insulated)


  • Expensive
  • Bulkier
  • Noisy (when not insulated)

Is a 3/4-HP garbage disposal also powerful enough?

During your search for the right garbage disposal you have probably also encountered ¾-HP options and may now be deciding between purchasing a ¾ or 1-HP garbage disposal.

So, which one is better for you? If it is important to you that the machine can handle any of your food scraps, we do recommend the stronger 1-HP models. The extra 0.25-HP does make a difference in the performance, especially in weaker induction motor models. The extra 0.25-HP gives the motor 33% more power which is the deciding when it comes to fibrous food and hard leftovers. Therefore, if you really want a disposal that you can use without separating your different types of food waste then a 1-HP disposal is most for your kitchen.

Waste disposal size comparison

Below you can see the size of different types of kitchen sink disposals. The disposers with a 1/3 and 1/2-HP motor are much slimmer than the 3/4 and 1 HP versions that are way bulkier. The comparison shows that more powerful food waste disposals do require more space in a kitchen cabinet, especially horizontal space.


More power, more weight

Besides the larger dimensions of a more powerful garbage disposal, also the weight differs quite a lot. When we compare the weight of a 1.1-HP InSinkErator PRO1100XL Pro Series (15 pounds) with a 1/3-HP Moen GXP33C GX PRO Series (7.75 pounds) we see that the InSinkErator is 7.25 pounds heavier, that is two times more.

What happens when your garbage disposal isn’t strong enough?

If you have a garbage disposal that cannot handle the food scraps that you feed it can cause two types of problems (jamming and clogging) and the consequences of those problems can extend beyond the garbage disposal itself.


Jammed-up garbage disposal

For example, if you feed a 1/2-HP garbage disposal a chicken bone it can jam, which means you need to take the garbage disposal apart to unjam it or manually force it to unjam by inserting a specific tool underneath the disposal and forcing it to turn. However, the jam could break the motor meaning you may need to replace the entire disposal or it could even cause the shell of the disposal to crack leading to a leak. An unnoticed leak can cause severe water damage to your kitchen cabinet and can even extend to your kitchen floor.

Clogged pipes

Likewise, if you feed your 1/2 or 1/3-HP disposal too many food scraps at a time it can result in clogging. This means the water and food scrap will not drain out of the disposal, which can lead to an overflow of water and again, water damage. To fix a bad clog the disposal may also have to be dissembled by you or a plumber, which is a hassle and costly. Therefore, if you have a weaker garbage disposal we recommend carefully separating food waste types from one another, and if you don’t want to make the extra effort then a 1-HP garbage disposal is the way to go.

Garbage Disposal Guide
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Garbage Disposal Guide

By Recycling.com/ 21 February 2020 Shares