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How Many Amps Does a Garbage Disposal Use? – Answered

Written by Edwin Jones / Fact checked by Andrew Wright

how many amps does a garbage disposal use

A lot of folks can’t do without garbage disposers when handling their day-to-day food waste. Since it’s a regular go-to appliance, we can’t help but wonder, “How many amps does a garbage disposal use?”

Garbage disposal amps range between 10 and 20 amps, but some pull as low as 5 amps. To check, you can let the garbage run continuously and then use a clamp meter to measure its working amps.

Another way is to read the product’s specification sheet by downloading it online or checking the manual. It should give the average amperage load.

The Varying Amp Draw of Garbage Disposals

If we observe most garbage disposals’ amp draw, we can surmise that 20 amps are the ceiling. If we consider 10 amps as the minimum, that means the average is 15 amps.

For a hardwired garbage disposal to switch setup, you will likely need at most a 20A dedicated circuit breaker. Keep this in mind if you’re wiring garbage disposal.

However, we also can’t deny that there are products out there that have been designed to save as much power as possible. I’m talking about 1/3 hp 1 hp food waste disposers that only pull around 3-4 kWh per year and have average amperage loads that are a little over 5 amps to 10 amps.

Such ranges clearly defy the average figure stated above and highlight the importance of referring to the specifications sheet first before relying on rounded-up numbers. Garbage disposal wattage is rarely a set figure, as with most electrical appliances.

Types of Garbage Disposers

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While there’s generally no direct relationship between an appliance’s amps and horsepower, horsepower is typically what retailers and brands use to rate the appliances available in the market.

This categorization is not so much about the unique functionalities of each disposer as it is the amount of power they consume while running.

  • Some experts say that 3/4 hp pulls a bit close to 14A, while a 1/2 hp garbage disposal may pull 6A, and the same can be said for 1/3 hp varieties.
  • A 1 hp garbage disposal unit may draw 16A.

Even so, these are often just estimates of the full-load running amps. We also have to remember that no motor is ever really 100% efficient, resulting in fluctuations.

Another point we can’t ignore is the starting amps, which apply to almost any type of appliance. Sometimes, this could be as high as 6x the motor’s running amps. For example, if the appliance is rated at 5 amps, then that would mean you’ll actually have to account for 30 amps.

To get the most reliable electrical rating, always check the actual product you bought or do real-time measurements and calculations. Better yet, confirm the figures by contacting the manufacturer about them.

How You Can Check the Current Draw in Real Time

Nothing beats checking the amps using a clamp meter because you’ll get more accurate figures without relying too much on manual calculations. You have to make sure you’re doing it properly, though, to avoid incorrect readings.

For one, don’t forget to use an AC line separator to which you’ll plug the garbage disposal before getting a reading. Don’t clamp around the disposer’s cable; attach the meter on the separator instead once you’ve plugged the disposer and turned it on.

Is Power Draw Your Main Concern?

If it is, it will be better to use an energy meter. You can also try manually calculating your electrical usage with the help of a clamp meter and voltmeter.

Get a couple of current measurements using the clamp meter as you let the disposal run continuously. Then, measure the voltage with a voltmeter and tally the number of hours you intend to run it per day.

Another way you can calculate power consumption is to use the conventional formula kWh = (W x Hours) / 1000

Garbage disposal power tops at 1 hp, which is roughly equivalent to 746 watts. Incidentally, this already proves the tables that state all garbage disposals have a wattage of 700W wrong.

Let’s assume you’re running the disposer 1 minute a day, once after cooking lunch and once after dinner. 365 minutes in a year is 6 hours.

(746W x 6 hours) / 1000 = 4.476 kWh

That’s still pretty close to the range I stated above, huh? Ultimately, this figure may fall short of or overshoot the actual consumption, again, due to the variables I’ve mentioned above.

Dishwasher use also isn’t factored in. Most folks run these two at the same time.

FAQs

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What size wire for garbage disposal?

Always match the wire size with the circuit breaker you’re going to use for the disposer. Let’s say you’re planning to put it in a 20A circuit along with a dishwasher. That would mean you need to use a 12 AWG copper wire.

A 15A circuit is another common setup in most homes. For this, you’ll need a 14 AWG copper wire.

Related: How Many Amps for a Dishwasher

Can I put a dishwasher and garbage disposal on the same circuit?

A setup with the garbage disposal and dishwasher on same circuit is fine, but make sure you account for the current loads of both appliances.

Most homeowners upgrade their circuits to 20A to accommodate the total loads of the two while making sure that the combined load doesn’t exceed 80% of the circuit’s rating.

If you have a copy of the National Electric Code, you can verify this info by checking section 210.23 (A)(2).

Does a garbage disposal have to be on a dedicated circuit?

It’s recommended but not necessary. The disposal unit is not considered a continuous load appliance. That rings true for dishwashers, too, which is why they’re often put together on the same circuit.

The best step is to consult your electrician about it and consider what’s ideal for the product you bought.

Can I use a regular switch for garbage disposal?

It’s okay to use a standard switch; however, it’s hard to ignore the perks of an air switch for garbage disposers.

Not only is it less of a hassle to install and easier to use, but this switch ensures your safety as well because it relies on air pressure rather than electricity to be activated.

Moreover, using air switches means you won’t have to worry about turning on the lights if you want to start up the disposal.

Conclusion

You definitely don’t need to have intimate knowledge about the anatomy of garbage disposal to know the answer to the question, “How many amps does a garbage disposal use?” To make your life easy, refer to the specs sheet for garbage disposal measurements.

If you have time and the right tools, try following the steps I’ve shared here. After all, what’s better than getting actual figures? That’s still more reliable than sources that say all disposers have 15 or 20 amp loads.

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