Count the number of people that live in your home. One to two people in a small condominium or apartment could benefit from a 1/3-horsepower garbage disposal. A small family of two to four people in a single-family dwelling might consider installing a 1/2-horsepower garbage disposal. A larger family of four to eight or more should install a 3/4- to 1-horsepower garbage disposal.
Purchase a 1/3-horsepower garbage disposal for minor, infrequent use. A 1/3-horsepower garbage disposal cannot grind bones or hard food scraps. It can only safely handle soft waste items such as vegetables. Consider a 1/2-horsepower for general food items, excluding bones. A 1/2-horsepower can grind the harder food items to wash down your drain safely, it can also handle once a day use. A 3/4- to 1-horsepower can handle larger amounts of food including bones. Consider installing this size for frequent use at each meal preparation.
Buy a 3/4- to 1-horsepower garbage disposal for quieter operation. Larger garbage disposals have more sound insulation than smaller ones. If the noise level of your garbage disposal is an important factor, choose the largest one your sink can hold.
Check the strength of your sink before making your final decision. A small thin stainless steel sink in a small condo or apartment building, may not have the ability to hold a garbage disposal. Garbage disposals weigh from 16 to 30 lbs. and when in operation can put additional strain on your sink.