How much does a garbage disposal cost?

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Your garbage disposal breaks. Or you move to a new home. You need to buy a garbage disposal. One of the first things you think about is how much is a garbage disposal going to cost me?

Nobody likes it when they have to spend money where they least expect it. And a garbage disposal can be one of those blind spots that you hardly think about when you become a new homeowner. Or if you already have one, and you’re going about your daily life, it’s one of the last things you think will appear in your monthly expenses.

As we have already briefly covered, garbage disposals cost anywhere from $50 to $300. How much is a garbage disposal going to cost you depends on what you need from the disposal. Buying a garbage disposal is kind of like buying a car. You pay more for added and sometimes exclusive features. You pay more for a better motor, better sound insulation, larger capacity, better design, and so on.

Things that will influence the cost of your garbage disposal:

1. Continuous Feed vs. Batch Feed. A general rule of thumb is that continuous feed disposals will cost less than batch feed disposals. We think this is likely due to the demand of the products. Continuous feed disposals are generally more popular than batch feed disposals, so companies can probably make more of them at a lower cost. There is a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding between the two types of disposal systems, so we wrote a piece about the difference between continuous feed and batch feed, along with their advantages and disadvantages. The main difference is how each system is turned on.

Continuous feed requires turning on the switch, running the water, and inserting food scraps continuously through the opening, hence the name “continuous feed”. Batch feed requires inserting food scraps and plugging the cover to close the opening and turn on the disposal. When you insert the cover, water will seep through, but other food scraps can’t enter. So you’re essentially grinding food in batches hence the name “batch feed”.

This may not apply to most people, but there is one other kind of waste disposal made for homes using septic tanks. According to some regulations, you might not even be allowed to install a garbage disposal to use with a septic tank. You’ll have to check with your local authorities. Or you have to buy a disposal that’s used specifically with septic tanks. These can be more costly.

2. Horsepower. The motor horsepower will influence the price of a disposal. Garbage disposals typically come in 4 types of horsepower. From smallest to largest, they are 1/3 horsepower, 1/2 horsepower, 3/4 horsepower, and 1 horsepower. Needless to say, the weakest 1/3 horsepower disposals are typically the cheapest. The strongest 1 horsepower disposals are typically the priciest. More horsepower translates to better grinding abilities, less jams, and better versatility. Although price is an important factor to consider in purchasing a waste disposal, we also think that function is important. So we typically encourage people to go for disposals with at least a 3/4 horsepower motor.

3. Noise Insulation. A garbage disposal is probably the noisiest thing you’ll operate in your home on a daily basis. In the past, noise insulation was basically nonexistent. You probably remember the noise that comes out of your parents’ and grandparents’ kitchen. Luckily, manufacturers these days are better at making disposals with quality noise insulation. A good rule of thumb is that 3/4 and 1 horsepower garbage disposals will have better noise insulation because they are made with better materials and design. This also means the better the noise insulation, the more you’re likely to pay.

4. Material. When you mix a power product with water and daily usage, you’re going to get a lot of wear and tear. That’s why the material of the disposal is important. And the better the material, the more you’re likely going to pay. While we don’t expect disposals to last forever due to the nature of the product, getting something with good quality materials can save you a ton in future repairs. The grind components are the most important and you’re probably going to be choosing between galvanized steel and stainless steel. The more the product has stainless steel components, the pricier it tends to be.

5. Warranty. The longer the warranty, the better the level of support that you get from the warranty, the more you’ll typically end up paying. At the lowest end, you’ll find garbage disposals with one-year warranties that do not include in-home service. On the other end, you’ll find garbage disposals with lifetime warranties that include in-home service.  

Other smaller things that will influence how much does a garbage disposal cost are anti-jam features, chamber capacity, and design/appearance.

Below, we picked three garbage disposals in three price ranges: “budget”, “mid-range”, and “premium”. We also tell you what kinds of features you typically get in each of these price ranges so you can use that as a guide in your purchasing decision.

Budget Garbage Disposal

“Budget” garbage disposals are the ones that have a weaker 1/3 or 1/2 horsepower motor. Because of this, you’ll have to be careful with what you put in it – accidentally or intentionally! Otherwise you’ll wound up with jams and pricey repairs. They typically have a continuous feed system and are compact enough to fit under most sinks. Even with a smaller motor, they are usually noisier than most other disposals because they don’t have the premium features such as sound insulation. At a lower price range, they also offer the shortest warranty coverage.  

Our Budget Pick

Mid-Range Garbage Disposal

Our category of “mid-range” disposals refer to those with a 3/4 horsepower motor. There are many mid-range continuous feed and batch feed disposers. They have larger chambers than the budget models and work more effectively and efficiently. These disposals will come with better parts like stainless steel chambers and have certain features like noise reduction. Because they strike a balance between price and function, they are generally the more popular buys.

Our Mid-Range Pick

Premium Garbage Disposal

“Premium” models have all the bells and whistles. They typically have a 1 horsepower motor and will grind through everything you throw at it. They have great warranties such as 10-year warranties or lifetime warranties. They are among the quietest disposals thanks to quality sound insulating components. Most of the parts are made of good quality material such as stainless steel, so even with a lot of grinding they hold up a great number of years. And did we mention that they look really nice?

Our Premium Pick

So to conclude and to answer your question of how much does a garbage disposal cost, it totally depends on what you need. For light users, go for a budget model. For heavier users, go for a mid-range or premium model. Realistically, you should spend around $100 or more for one because anything lower you’d be purchasing garbage and not a garbage disposal!

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