One lesson evolution has taught us, is that if something…
- Is loud, and
- has sharp teeth,
… it’s probably best to be careful around it.
When it comes to garbage disposals, this natural reaction has been reinforced by a surprising number of scenes in movies and television where someone plays a gory, accidental game of “This Little Piggy”.
This fear leads some families to choose a batch feed garbage disposal over the more common continuous feed type.
Is this justified, though?
Are batch feed models really the best garbage disposals?
Continuous Feed Vs Batch Feed Garbage Disposals
The main difference between the two is exactly as their names suggest: continuous feed disposals keep running for as long as a switch, usually mounted to the wall above the sink, is flipped.
With a batch feed disposal, you have to insert the stopper to start the machine, making the process safer but also more laborious since you have to do one load at a time.
This means that a continuous feed machine is better for large amounts of waste. Though it is possible to overload it, you can keep rinsing dishes or chopping vegetables while it’s doing its thing.
It’s also recommended to leave the faucet running while using it to prevent jams and other problems, so it uses more water than a batch feed garbage disposal. It can also be slightly less energy-efficient if you leave it running for a long time.
The Pros and Cons of Continuous and Batch Feed Garbage Disposals
On the other hand, batch feed disposals use the cover to turn on the machine, which does away with the need for a separate activation switch. It also decreases the amount of electrical work needed.
In fact, most batch feed garbage disposals come with a power cord attached, so you only need to affix it to the sink and drain line. The stopper absorbs some of the noise caused by grinding, but how your garbage disposal is mounted and how powerful it is have a bigger impact on this annoyance.
Continuous feed garbage disposals are easier to maintain and clean, but also more prone to damage from cutlery (and wedding rings) falling down the chute. In the same way, it is possible to mangle your fingers if you’re very careless.
Finally, the splash guards incorporated in most continuous feed models don’t work perfectly. You may get a few drops of garbage water in the face, particularly when disposing of tougher types of waste.
So, Which Kind of Garbage Disposal Works Best for Families?
If you have small children, especially those with a fondness for mechanical gadgets, a batch feed disposal might be best. The chances of them actually injuring themselves are low, but the extra peace of mind can make up for the slightly higher cost.
Realistically, though, childproofing your house isn’t that much of a concern once they’re tall enough to reach the kitchen sink on their own. In practice, the only real advantage batch feed disposals have over continuous feed models is a slight edge in safety. You may well decide that getting a more powerful continuous model for the same price is actually the more prudent option.
There are already plenty of hazards in the typical kitchen: boiling liquids, sharp knives, and poisonous detergents to name only a few. Singling out the type of garbage disposal you have as a potential safety issue just isn’t reasonable; the more important point is to warn and supervise your children appropriately.