Currently the most popular and best selling garbage disposal brand is InSinkErator. They seem to be the most competitive with regards to quality, price, and durability. While there are other great brands available, InSinkErator is quite prevalent at most home improvement stores. Often they may be the only choice available.
Aside from brand there are several important elements to consider when selecting a garbage disposal. The price is usually dictated by the unit’s horse power and size. Other things to consider are noise level, components, and special concerns like a septic tank.
This guide is organized by horse power so it can apply to any brand of garbage disposals.
1/3 Horse Power - The lowest horse power garbage disposals available are 1/3 horse. Although they may seem like a great economical option their utility level is quite limited. They get easily jammed and usually have the cheapest internal components which will rust out in the shortest amount of time. This option should only be considered for very limited or temporary use.
1/2 Horse Power - This is usually the minimum horse power recommended for typical home use. These can usually be purchased for less than $100 so they are still an affordable option. They are smaller and can usually easily fit into tighter spaces. This unit size is a great option for those who do not use their disposals all of the time and do not over feed the garbage disposal.
The noise level tends to be quite high for these disposals. Also, it is important to run a lot of water with these units to help all of the food go down. Whenever possible opt for a 1/2 horse power garbage disposer with Stainless Steel Grind components which will make it last much longer.
3/4 Horse Power - This is a great size for a garbage disposal which can serve most kitchens quite well. At this size they will have plenty of power for all those left overs and more. Most like the InSinkErator Compact (my favorite) can grind things like potatoe peels, celery, and much more with no problem.
With this much horse power disposals will not get jammed so easily and many more features are available. Stainless steel grind components for instance offer a much longer life, so look for that whenever possible. Also, most disposals at this size will have more sound protection, so they can run even quieter than the 1/2 horse power units. One thing to keep in mind though, these tend to be a bit bigger than the 1/2 horse power disposals, so make sure you have the room to install one under your kitchen sink.
1 Horse Power - Do you feel like grinding chicken bones, fruit rinds, coffee grounds and much more? Well disposals of 1 horse power will do the trick. Most of the 1 horse power models are the top of the line like the InSinkErator Evolution Excel. They can end up being quieter than even the 3/4 horse power models. All at this level should be fully stainless steel in the grinding chamber, have more room for more food at at time, and be virtually impossible to jam.
Note that these will tend to be quite large and you will need quite a bit of space under the sink. Units of this size with reverse osmosis systems can end up taking up the majority of the room under the sink. These are great units. If you have the room and the money a 1 horse power garbage disposal can be well worth it.
Homes With Septic Tanks - Septic tanks require additional consideration but a garbage disposal is not out of the question. There are garbage disposals that have a special cartridge on the side of the unit that injects the food waste with a natural microorganisms to help with the break down of the food. These cartridges can be less that $15 dollars and last up to 6 months. On top of helping the septic tank they also have a citrus scent that help with controlling the odor from the sink and drain.