Informational Guide

Batch Feed Vs Continuous Feed Garbage Disposals

We look at batch feed vs continuous feed garbage disposals to help you choose the right type for your home.

by Holly Curell

Garbage disposals are excellent kitchen additions, helpful in reducing kitchen waste and preventing clogged pipes. But out of the different models and types of garbage disposals, how can you know which is the best for your kitchen?  

Maybe you didn’t even know there was more than one type! In fact, there are typically two - Batch Feed and Continuous Feed. Which one is best will depend on your specific needs. This guide details the epic battle of batch feed v continuous feed garbage disposal units. 

Batch feed and continuous feed garbage disposals have the same basic functions. Food waste is dropped inside them, then ground up into minuscule pieces that are easily absorbed into the water stream, preventing them from clogging up the drain. 

Some people even collect the garbage disposal product and use it to create compost. 

The difference is in function, and often cost. Batch feed devices, as the name suggests, break down food waste in large batches rather than piece-by-piece. These models are activated by placing the cover over the drain hole and twisting it to turn the machine on. This makes them much safer to use and much more cost-effective when it comes to energy and water usage.  

Man Pouring Waste Into Garbage Disposal

Benefits Of Batch Feed

  • Safer
    As most batch feeds need the plug to be covered in order to function, accidents are nearly impossible. No trapped fingers or mangled forks!
  • Easy Installation
    Unlike continuous feed, batch feed disposals don’t require extra electrical installation for a switch on the wall, as the activation is within the drain cover.
  • Little Risk Of Accidental Disposal
    With an open hole in your sink, it’s all too easy for the wrong item to go tumbling down and end up ground up. Imagine it’s a precious wedding ring or a child’s toy - disastrous (for both you and the garbage disposal)! With a machine that only runs when turned on and if a cover is over the plug, any dropped items can safely and easily be retrieved unharmed.
  • Uses Less Energy and Water
    As it needs to be turned on for each use instead of continuously on, it uses much less energy and water than a continuous feed, making a much smaller dent in your bills!
  • More Powerful Motor
    Batch feed garbage disposals are often a higher quality item, as the motor needs to be more powerful to deal with a great deal of waste at once. 
  • Less Noisy
    The cover for the garbage disposal helps to muffle noisy motors, and the machines often come with noise-reducing features such as nylon-coated grinding parts, or insulation for the mounting baffles.

Negatives Of Batch Feed

  • Costs More
    Because it deals in batches of garbage, these kinds of disposals need more powerful motors and noise reduction aids. Therefore, they will usually cost a bit more than continuous feed garbage disposals.
  • Takes Longer To Use
    It can be a lengthy process if you have a lot of garbage to dispose and you have to wait for each load to finish before you can process the next. 
  • Easier To Clog
    While garbage disposals can cope with a great deal of tricky waste items, with high-end ones even able to churn down bones, it’s possible something you put in will get stuck. With a large amount of waste at once, batch feed disposal units have a higher risk of such incidents. 
  • Potential Health Risk Due To Build-Up Bacteria
    As you need a large chunk of garbage in order to run the disposal, food waste may be left a long time to build up in your sink. This creates the risk of bacteria developing, which may be a hazard to health and kitchen cleanliness. 

What Is A Continuous Feed Garbage Disposal? (Overview + Pros & Cons) 

Just like a batch feed garbage disposal, a continuous feed garbage disposal also tackles practically all food waste and meal leftovers.

Unlike a batch feed model, the continuous feed disposal is turned on at the wall and stays on as long as required. Its convenience is likely why is it is the more popular of the two choices when it comes to consumer preference. 

As you prep meals or clean the kitchen, you can easily drop waste into the disposal and let the machine take care of grinding it up. This is very handy in terms of convenience - you don’t need to perform more actions than dropping the food down the hole.

As they don’t need as powerful a motor as batch feed disposals, these kinds are usually a little cheaper 

Benefits Of Continuous Feed

  • Cheaper
    Another factor in its popularity is the slightly cheaper price tag, as this machine does not require as powerful a motor.
  • More Convenient
    You don’t have to remember to turn it on for each use or wait for enough leftovers to build up in order to run the machine.
  • Creates A Cleaner Kitchen
    Cleaning as you go prevents food waste from being left to gather bacteria and other nasties. It also means nasty smells are less likely to accumulate.
  • More Popular Choice Means More Options
    There are models out there for every kitchen, and more models are available for continuous feed garbage disposals rather than batch feed disposals.

Negatives Of Continuous Feed

  • Less Safe
    Continuous feed garbage disposals are always open and always turned on, meaning it is possible for accidents to happen. This makes them the less safe option should you have children, pets, or be particularly accident-prone yourself.
  • Easy To Grind The Wrong Thing
    With a batch feed disposal, should something fall in accidentally, it's very easy to reach in with some pliers and remove it, with little risk of injury. This is not so true of continuous feed disposals. If it’s dropped in, it’s ground up and gone.
  • Tricker Installation
    As continuous feed garbage disposals need an on switch, usually placed in the wall, you can be limited on placement.
  • Higher Water And Energy Consumption
    Devices that are always on can be drains on our energy usage. Continuous feed disposals also use more water than their batch feed friends. This may be reflected in your bills.

Batch Feed Vs. Continuous Feed Garbage Disposals: Key Differences 

The price tag is usually the biggest attraction for consumers, and would certainly explain the appeal of the continuous feed disposals over batch feed. The batch feed is best viewed as the more luxury item.

It will have a more powerful motor due to its requirements, and will potentially be more durable. Batch feed garbage disposals also tend to be bigger, so the space you have available will certainly be an important consideration.  

Space Under Sink Required

Both batch feed and continuous feed disposals come in all sizes, but the batch feeds are generally larger and will need more space under your sink. Also, if you are opting for a machine with a more powerful motor, you will need more space to accommodate it.

Noise Level

The more powerful the motor, the more noise it is likely to make. However, disposals with really powerful motors may tend to cost more but will also give you more value for your money by including insulation that will reduce the noise created. Batch feed disposals often have more powerful motors, so therefore are more likely to be quieter, especially as they also work with a cover over the drain.

Motor Size and Horsepower

This is an important consideration as it may indicate the quality of the machine and its durability. Disposals have a horsepower of between ⅓ to 1 hp. Most batch feed garbage disposals tend to be on the upper range of this scale, as they need more power to deal with a lot of waste at once.

Continuous feed disposals come in all speeds; however, the lower the horsepower, the more likely jams and other maintenance issues will occur. The minimum recommended horsepower for any home garbage disposal is ½ hp.

Grinding Speed

Speed is measured in revolutions per minute. This is how fast the blades will spin and break down the food waste. The higher the speed, the less time it will take for the disposal to deal with your leftovers.

The slowest you should consider is 1500 RPM, with some models reaching 3000 RPM. Both continuous feed and batch feed models come in a range of speeds, with batch feeds tending to tip towards the upper end of the scale.

Grinding Stages

It’s possible to buy disposals with up to three different grinding stages. The more stages, the finer the food waste will be ground up. Machines with more stages can cope with more troublesome trash like bones and coffee grounds.

Cheaper models are likely to only have one stage, and cheaper models are also more likely to be continuous feed. 

Power Usage

While it's convenient that you won't need to turn a continuous feed disposal on for every tiny bit of rubbish, being left constantly on is a potential waste of power. Batch feeds will use less power as they are only turned on when the plug is engaged. 

Water Usage

Continuous feed disposals also use more water than batch feed disposals, as they are dealing with a constant flow of waste instead of a block at a time. If your water and power usage is a concern, batch feed disposals may be the more frugal option.

Safety

Batch feed garbage disposals are by far the safer of the two. They do not work unless the cover is on, meaning the likelihood of accidents is vastly reduced.

Ease of Use

Both kinds are fairly simple to use, but continuous feed disposals only need the flick of a switch to work.

Should the cover for your batch feed disposal be lost, the device would not work at all.

Sink With Water Coming Out Of Tap

Ease of Maintenance

Cheaper models will be more prone to jams and breaking, with rust also being an issue if the components are made of cheap metals. A stainless steel disposal will last longer and need less maintenance. Both types of disposal will need regular cleaning to ensure they continue working well. 

Cost

Batch feed garbage disposals will generally cost more due to the higher-powered motor, but you will get quality for your money. Many models include noise reduction features. 

There’s no clear winner in this competition. It all comes down to your individual requirements and personal budget. 

Larger families with young children generating a great deal of daily waste may benefit from the capacity capabilities and safety features of the batch feed disposals, whereas families living in small apartments may find the convenience of continuous feed disposals better suited to their lifestyles and waste production.  


People Also Ask (FAQs)

Are garbage disposals one size fits all?  

Not at all - there are sizes for all kitchens, with models able to deal with the demands of restaurant kitchens. Look for a disposal that will fit the space you have available

Which is bigger, 1/2 horsepower or 1/3 hp?  

½ horsepower will be more powerful than ⅓ horsepower. It is recommended that any garbage disposals in homes should have at least 1/2 horsepower. 

How long should a garbage disposal last?

A good quality garbage disposal should last around 10 years. Those made of materials such as stainless steel will be more durable as they will be able to cope with a steady stream of water.  


Conclusion

Garbage disposals can be handy tools for any kitchen. Batch feed models have less variety than continuous feed disposals but are of greater quality when it comes to horsepower, durability, and materials used.

As with any device, you will get what you pay for, so considering a more expensive model may save you time and money in the future as it will last longer and be less likely to jam or break down. 

Holly Curell is the editor extraordinaire for Plumbing Lab. Having grown up in Michigan, Holly has spent time living in New York, Virginia, & currently North Carolina, where she lives with her husband & family. Holly loves DIY & has years of experience with at-home plumbing problems that arise from having 3 kids & living in colder climates. When she's not writing about her plumbing knowledge, Holly enjoys reading, hiking & relaxing with family.

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