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Garbage Disposal Buying Guide

Garbage Disposal Buying Guide

A commercial garbage disposal, or disposer, is an asset to any commercial kitchen. Garbage disposals cut labor costs by quickly removing waste that is difficult to dispose of, and they help save money on waste collection bills. This buying guide will go over how to choose the best garbage disposal for your business to make the selection process simple.

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What Size Garbage Disposal Do I Need?

The horsepower rating determines the size of a garbage disposal. When deciding on a garbage disposal, consider the foods you will dispose of and how much you will dispose of, and then compare that to the horsepower rating of your unit. If you're providing limited service and just grinding up fruits and vegetables, a garbage disposal with a maximum of 1 hp should work for you. Cafeterias, butcher shops, or facilities that dispose of large amounts of meat should use 5+ hp garbage disposals. Most full-service restaurants fall somewhere in the middle.

Each manufacturer will have its own criteria to help you rate what size garbage disposal you need for your application, and you should use that literature to finalize your decision.

Garbage Disposal Horsepower

Use the chart below to easily visualize what garbage disposal horsepower you will need based on the type of waste you are disposing of and the volume of your establishment.


Garbage Disposal Special Features

There are a few key features that you may want to consider when buying a commercial garbage disposal:

  • Auto-Reverse: Allows the disposer to change the grind direction automatically to clear jams. Look for this in the control packages. More basic models will have a manual reverse or no reverse.
  • Water-Saving Modes: Some manufacturers offer models with water-saving control packages that can reduce the amount of water going down your drain with each use.
  • Noise Reduction: This is important if your kitchen layout makes it easy for sound to travel between the warewashing area and the front of the house. Garbage disposals are noisy, so having features, such as additional components or insulation, that help to reduce that noise will improve the ambiance for customers and employees.

Diagram of a Garbage Disposal

The diagrams below show some popular disposer setups to help you envision how a new one might look in your kitchen! Dish rooms that do most of their pre-scrapping in a compartment sink will probably find it more helpful to install their disposer there. If you do most of your pre-scrapping at a soiled dish table or a sink with a drainboard, then installing a scrapping cone will likely make more sense.

Be aware that most manufacturers do not recommend connecting the drain on your disposer to a grease trap.

Disposals come with options to match virtually any need, and if you are not sure where to start, our knowledgeable customer solutions team can help you find an option that works for you.

Garbage disposal sink setup diagram
Garbage disposal scrapping cone setup diagram

How to Clean a Garbage Disposal

For light cleaning, grind a few ice cubes and lemon through the disposer to deodorize any bad smells. For heavy-duty cleaning jobs, turn off the disposer and clean with a stiff brush and a solution of soap and hot water. As with any equipment, though, your owner's manual is the definitive source on how to care for and maintain your disposer, and you should defer to those recommendations.

Garbage Disposal Maintenance

Below are some maintenance tips to follow to ensure your garbage disposal is properly cared for.

  • Run the disposer before loading. Start the disposer before feeding waste into it, and load the waste in at a steady pace. Overloading it with lots of food at once or pre-loading the grind chamber with food can cause clogs or jams.
  • Allow the disposer to run a few minutes after disposing of all food waste to completely flush out the interior.
  • Never reach in the disposer with your hands. If you need to get an object out of the grind chamber, make sure the disposer is off and use tongs, pliers, a screwdriver, or other tools to grab it.
  • Do not put grease or oil in the disposer, as this can clog the drain.

Garbage Disposal Pros and Cons

Garbage disposals offer several benefits for commercial applications, but before buying, you need to educate yourself on what these machines do and do not do.

  • Decreased costs for solid waste removal and garbage bags
  • Your drain is less likely to clog, which means fewer costly plumbing bills
  • Less waste sitting around means fewer odors, which also makes your facility less attractive to pests
  • Much easier to get rid of food scraps in the disposer than to scrape them into the trash can
  • Less waste in the trash can means fewer trips to the dumpster for your staff
  • Increased costs for maintenance and water/electric use
  • Pro installation is recommended for optimal safety and warranty compliance
  • If sound travels easily from your sink to the dining area, a disposer could disrupt the ambiance
  • Some areas may restrict use - check with your municipality for applicable regulations
  • Some items cannot be put in the disposer, so correct training for staff is important

Garbage Disposal Parts

Below are some popular garbage disposal parts and accessories that you can use to enhance the functionality of your disposal or keep it in top working condition.

Garbage disposer cone


Necessary to mount the main disposer unit to the sink.

Salvajor disposer adapter for Atomic and American Delphi cones


Allows you to install new disposers onto existing cones.

InSinkErator 15259A control box


Turns the unit on and off. Reversing switch is available to change the grind direction.

Hobart VALVE-SOL110 solenoid valve

Solenoid and Flow Controls

Ensures water flows into the disposer at the proper time.

Salvajor 288A vacuum breaker

Vacuum Breakers

Prevents dirty water from backflowing into your portable water supply.

Electric utility meter

How Will a Garbage Disposal Affect My Utility Bills?

Due to the increase in water and electricity used to run a garbage disposal, your utility bill will inevitably go up. Read on to learn how much garbage disposals will affect your utility bills.

Water: In general, you can expect smaller units (2 hp and less) to utilize around 5 GPM (gallons per minute) and larger units (3 hp and over) to utilize around 8 GPM. Exact usage figures will vary, so check the literature for your specific model number.

Electricity: High-wattage units will cost more to operate than low-wattage units, and running the disposal more frequently will also increase operating costs.

The equation below can be used to get a more accurate figure for potential run costs in your establishment, based on the national average electricity rate of $0.166 per kilowatt-hour. We have also provided a breakdown of estimated daily run costs for the different disposal horsepower ratings.

["Average Kilowatts / Hour" Figures] X [Your Electric Rates (in Kilowatt-Hours)] X [Hours Per Day]

1/2 to 1 Horsepower

Average Kilowatts/Hour: 0.8 - 1.2

Daily Run Costs ($0.166 per Kilowatt-Hour)

1 Hour: $0.13 - $0.20

2 Hours: $0.26 - $0.40

3 Hours: $0.40 - $0.60

1 1/4 to 2 Horsepower

Average Kilowatts/Hour: 1.2 - 1.6

Daily Run Costs ($0.166 per Kilowatt-Hour)

1 Hour: $0.20 - $0.27

2 Hours: $0.40 - $0.53

3 Hours: $0.60 - $0.80

3+ Horsepower

Average Kilowatts / Hour: 2.0 - 2.4

Daily Run Costs ($0.166 per Kilowatt-Hour)

1 Hour: $0.33 - $0.40

2 Hours: $0.66 - $0.80

3 Hours: $1.00- $1.20

Garbage Disposal Alternatives

If your area has restrictions on using disposals, other options offer many of the same benefits. Always check your area’s regulations to see what is permitted.

Pulper/Waste Reduction System

A good option for high-volume applications, a pulper/waste reduction system uses a disposal to grind up waste, but rather than sending everything down the drain, the processed waste goes to a de-watering tank. Water is separated from the waste and sent down the drain, while the remaining solid waste is ejected into a trash can with its mass and size greatly reduced.

Scrapper/Waste Collector System

Allow your staff to scrap and rinse dishes in one step with a food scrapper/waste collector. This system replaces a traditional pre-rinse setup by recirculating water over a scrapping basin. Water-soluble items are ultimately sent down the drain, and the remaining waste is caught in a collection basket that can be easily removed, emptied, and replaced.

Compost Bins

Creating a compost program in your restaurant is a sustainable way to dispose of food waste. Kitchen compost bins can fit seamlessly into existing kitchen workflows and are used to dispose of food scraps from prep work, overly ripe fruits, coffee grounds, and coffee filters.

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