1/3 HP Vs 1/2 HP Garbage Disposals – Differences Explained

Welcome to the world of kitchen management, where small appliances like a garbage disposal play a significant role in streamlining your everyday chores.

Selecting the right garbage disposal for your home might seem like a straightforward task, but it can become complicated once you start considering factors like horsepower (HP), size of the garbage disposal, and brand reliability.

In a nutshell, a 1/3 HP garbage disposal is cheaper, compact, and ideal for small households with light food waste disposal needs. On the other hand, a 1/2 HP garbage disposal can handle tougher food scraps, is less likely to jam, and suits households where cooking is frequent. This implies that your choice between the two models ultimately depends on your household size, the amount of food waste you generate, and your budget constraints.

If you’re looking for the most popular 1/2 HP garbage disposals, you can see a list here, and some of the most popular 1/3 HP garbage disposals here.

This article will delve into the differences and similarities between 1/3 HP and 1/2 HP garbage disposals, exploring factors such as performance, affordability, longevity, and more.

Differences between 1/3 HP and 1/2 HP Garbage Disposals

When selecting the right garbage disposal for your home, horsepower (HP) is a significant factor to consider. The most common sizes are 1/3 HP and 1/2 HP disposals, and knowing their differences is crucial.

1/2 HP disposals can grind tougher foods

When we talk about horsepower in the context of garbage disposals, it generally refers to the motor’s power. A higher HP garbage disposal, like a 1/2 HP model, can grind tougher food waste such as chicken or fish bones.

A 1/2 HP motor offers more grinding power, enabling it to deal with a broader variety of food scraps. In comparison, a 1/3 HP model may struggle with anything beyond soft foods.

1/2 HP garbage disposals jam less often

The motor size also influences the frequency of jams. Thanks to their stronger motors, 1/2 HP garbage disposals can grind food particles into finer pieces, reducing the chances of a clog. This means that you can dispose of large amounts of food waste with fewer interruptions, which can be a significant time-saver in a busy kitchen.

1/2 HP disposals are suitable for those who cook often

If you have a household that cooks regularly and produces larger quantities of food waste, a 1/2 HP garbage disposal may be the best option for you. These units have plenty of power to handle increased demands, which makes them suitable for families or avid home cooks.

Conversely, a 1/3 HP disposal would be better suited to a one or two-person household with less frequent cooking.

1/3 HP garbage disposals are cheaper

While a 1/2 HP garbage disposal has its advantages, a 1/3 HP garbage disposal is often the best choice for those on a tight budget. The lower horsepower model comes at a lower price point, making it an excellent choice for anyone looking to save a few bucks.

Remember, though, that while you may save on upfront costs, a 1/3 HP unit might not be powerful enough to meet your long-term needs if your household generates substantial amounts of food waste.

1/3 HP disposals have shorter warranties

Typically, a 1/3 HP garbage disposal will have a shorter warranty than its 1/2 HP counterpart. This difference reflects the manufacturer’s confidence in the product’s durability. 1/2 HP models, being more robust and less prone to jamming, generally come with longer warranty periods, offering more peace of mind.

Similarities between 1/3 and 1/2 HP garbage disposals

Despite their differences, 1/3 HP and 1/2 HP garbage disposals also have several similarities. Understanding these can help you make a more informed decision when upgrading your disposal unit.


Despite the difference in power, both 1/3 and 1/2 HP garbage disposals share similar dimensions. Both models are typically designed to fit standard kitchen sinks, making installation straightforward.

Whether you choose a 1/3 or 1/2 HP model, you’ll likely not need to worry about fitting the unit in your kitchen space.

Build quality

As for the build quality, both the 1/3 and 1/2 HP units are usually made with durability in mind. Most models feature corrosion-resistant, stainless steel components, ensuring their longevity.

However, some 1/3 HP models may have galvanized steel parts instead, which are still robust but not as rust-resistant as stainless steel.

Lack of noise insulation and premium features

Lastly, both the 1/3 and 1/2 HP garbage disposals often lack noise insulation and premium features like auto-reverse, which are typically found in higher horsepower models such as the 1 HP garbage disposal InSinkErator Evolution Excel.

Thus, while these models offer basic functionality, if you’re looking for a quieter operation or additional features, you might need to consider an upgrade to a higher horsepower unit.

Can I replace a 1/3 HP garbage disposal with a 1/2 HP?

You can replace a 1/3 HP garbage disposal with a 1/2 HP model if your household produces larger quantities of food waste, or if you’re experiencing frequent clogs with your current 1/3 HP unit.

Bear in mind, though, that while the 1/2 HP model may offer more power, it also comes at a higher price. The installation process should be straightforward, as the dimensions of both models are usually similar.

Best 1/3 HP garbage disposals

When it comes to 1/3 HP garbage disposals, there are only two models I highly recommend, the Waste King L-111 and the InSinkErator Badger 1.

Waste King L-111

The Waste King L-111 Garbage Disposal is an efficient, compact unit with a surprisingly powerful 1/3 HP motor. Easy to install with a pre-installed power cord, it handles most food waste effectively with its 1900 RPM speed. Stainless steel components enhance durability, while a reset button offers added convenience for troubleshooting.

This garbage disposal from Waste King operates quietly and provides excellent value. Its combination of performance, ease of use, and the included limited in-home warranty makes it a worthy investment for any modern kitchen.

InSinkErator Badger 1

The InSinkErator Badger 1, on the other hand, boasts reliable performance, rust-resistant galvanized steel components, and a reputable brand backing it.

It provides efficient waste management with its 1/3 HP motor and quick lock sink mount for easy installation. Its rugged steel construction promises longevity. For its price point, it offers a great balance of performance and cost, making it a suitable choice for smaller households or those seeking a basic disposal unit.

Best 1/2 HP garbage disposals

When it comes to 1/2 HP garbage disposals, I highly recommend the InSinkErator Badger 5 or the Waste King L-2600.

InSinkErator Badger 5

The InSinkErator Badger 5 Garbage Disposal is an excellent choice for homeowners looking for a compact, durable, and reliable garbage disposal unit. Its 1/2-horsepower Dura-Drive induction motor delivers consistent performance, while the 26-ounce grind chamber size is more than enough to handle the daily food waste of a small to medium-sized household.

The machine’s galvanized steel construction ensures long-term durability, and the quick lock sink mount offers easy installation for DIY enthusiasts.

Waste King L-2600


The Waste King L-2600 Garbage Disposal presents a great blend of efficiency and durability. With its 1/2 horsepower, 2600 RPM permanent magnet motor, it provides adequate power for most household tasks, effortlessly grinding food waste into tiny particles that are easily flushed down the drain.

The disposal’s EZ Mount twist-and-lock design ensures a hassle-free, user-friendly installation process, and its compact form factor allows it to fit conveniently under most sinks, maximizing kitchen space.

Which garbage disposal should you choose?

Selecting the right garbage disposal depends on your specific needs and circumstances. For smaller households with less frequent cooking, a 1/3 HP garbage disposal might suffice. It’s affordable and capable of handling small quantities of soft food waste.

However, if your kitchen sees a lot of action, a 1/2 HP garbage disposal may be the best choice. Its higher horsepower and grinding power make it suitable for larger households and tougher food waste.


In conclusion, the main difference between a 1/3 HP and 1/2 HP garbage disposal lies in their motor power, grinding capabilities, and suitability for different household sizes. Remember, the better the disposal fits your needs, the higher the satisfaction you’ll get from its performance.

Don’t just consider the upfront cost—think about your long-term needs, the type and volume of food waste you generate, and the model’s reliability and warranty. Whether you’re a small household needing to dispose of occasional scraps or a bustling kitchen needing a workhorse, there’s a garbage disposal out there that will serve you well. Happy selecting!

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