Do you really need an electric composter? I’m not convinced.
But if they encourage those who do not do so already to deal with their own food scraps at home, then I’m all for it. Anything that reduces the burden of food waste in our society can only be a good thing.
Those who live in cities or in small properties can often find it a challenge to deal with food waste and compost at home.
Electric composters claim to make the whole process a lot easier – and faster.
So to help you decide whether an electric composter is right for you, we’ve reviewed three top models.
Read on to find our in-depth reviews:
- Best Electric Composter: Vitamix Foodcycler
- Best Multi-Purpose Electric Composter: Beyond Green Composter
- Best Full-Size Electric Composter: Oklin GG-02 Composter
And our analysis of electric composters in general, with some answers to some common FAQs.
Best Electric Composter: Vitamix FoodCycler
If you are looking for high-quality products, and are not too concerned about cost, then the Vitamin Foodcycler is certainly one of the best options to consider.
At around $400, this is certainly an investment. But if you have a problem with excess food waste and want to turn it into a quality fertilizer for your plants, then this appliance will do the job.
This machine will take your daily household food scraps and turn them into a lighter and much smaller quantity of fish-flake-like material.
This is not a true compost, but it will break down in potted plants and provide them with the key nutrients they need.
The machine will dehydrate, grind then cool the material in just 4-8 hours. This means you can get rid of food waste much more quickly than in conventional composting systems.
And keep your food waste out of landfills even when there is not a municipal composting scheme in your area.
Each time you run it, the Vitamix Foodcycler will use approximately 0.8 kWh. Multiply that by the cost per kWh on your supply and you will know how much money it will take to run it.
Bear this cost in mind when making your decision about whether this is the right option for you. And remember, if you do not have renewable power, electrical devices will not be a sustainable choice.
Another ongoing cost to bear in mind with this device is the cost of the replacement filters. The machine will tell you when these need to be replaced, and the replacements cost around $25.
Of course, financial costs are not the only costs to consider. The environmental costs of not composting food waste can be dire.
So if you cannot compost at home in any other way, then we think this could be one of the best options for a small household to deal with food waste at home.
Size and Capacity
This is a countertop gadget that will not take up more than about a square foot or so. So this means it can be a good choice for those with limited space.
However, it will still take up countertop space – and this is something to consider if you are very limited on the kitchen area.
The small 2.5-liter bucket will fill up quickly – so most small households will typically want to run this every day or two. It is sufficient in size for a couple or small family.
But may not really be practical for larger households. Single people may sometimes find that they do not fill the bucket so quickly, which can be a problem as when left for any length of time, the contents will potentially begin to smell a little.
Dehydrated, ground, and cooled material in 4-8 hours.
- Size: 12.6 x 11 x 14.2 inches
- Weight: 27 lbs
- Capacity: 2.5 litre bucket
- Colors: Gray/ black
- Processing Time: 4-8 hours
Best Multi-Purpose Electric Composter: Beyond Green Composter
If you are looking for an electric composter which can handle pet waste as well as food scraps then we think this is an excellent option to consider.
It is another relatively compact solution for fast home composting, which can handle pet waste, beyondGreen bags, and food scraps including meat, fish, and dairy.
It uses heat, air pump, and air filter technology to break down these compostable materials in just 5 days and create compost in just 2 weeks. The internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
One of the things we like about this product is that it is made from recycled and recyclable materials. Internal components are made from food-grade metals which will not rust.
We also like the fact that it helps you tackle pet waste as well as the usual home composting items. It is also compatible to run with a battery or solar panel, which is beneficial for those generating their own power, or those who live off-grid.
The innovative two-chamber system of this composter makes things easier.
You can add waste at any time to the upper chamber, and when it is full, transfer to the lower chamber and start the process over again. The lower chamber then keeps on curing.
The model comes with everything you need to get started. This includes a power supply, baking soda, and 3-pound box of sawdust pellets. It also comes with a guide to help you learn about the composting process.
The finished product is high-quality, high-nitrogen compost that you can use directly in an outdoor garden.
Size and Capacity
The size and capacity of this bin make it a great choice for single pet owners, and small households with small gardens. It allows you to deal with food waste and pet waste quickly, even when you do not have much space.
Compostable material in 5 days and compost in 2 weeks.
- Size: 20” x 12” 20”
- Weight: 22 lbs
- Capacity: 5 lbs per day or 4 gallons weekly capacity
- Colors: Black/green
- Processing Time: 5 days, 2 weeks for finished fresh compost.
Best Full-Size Electric Composter: Oklin GG-02 Composter
This composter can handle a larger quantity of food waste than both of the above, but it is still relatively small and compact. It can compost food waste and turn it into a useable soil amendment in just 24 hours.
It does so using Acidulo (registered trademark) microbes to break down the food waste. Just open the lid, add food waste, close the lid and these microbes will begin to do their job.
As it breaks down, the food waste will reduce in volume in this unit by 80-90%, so you will likely only have to remove your compost once a week or so.
The machine heats the unit up to a minimum of 70°C (160°F) for 60 minutes to kill 97.3-99.9% of harmful pathogens and bacteria, so even meat and dairy, etc. can be composted safely. Small fish and chicken bones can also be added, though not larger bones.
The microbes are recommended to be replenished on an annual basis. No carbon source (woodchips etc.) is required. You just add the food waste and go. Since there is no grinding stage on this machine, it can be quieter than other models too.
The compost created by the machine is highly nitrogen-rich and concentrated and may burn plants if spread excessively around plants in your garden.
However, it can be mixed 1:10 with soil, or cured for 4 weeks and then used directly in your garden.
Size and Capacity
Both of the above are great for small households. But if you need something a bit bigger to handle your food waste then this is a great option to consider.
It is still relatively small scale but is perfect for a larger residential household, or even a small business. Super quick and easy to use, it is small and yet large enough to meet the needs of most households.
Compost food waste and turn it into a useable soil amendment in just 24 hours.
- Size: 30” x 18” x 18”
- Weight: 60 lbs
- Capacity: 8lbs
- Colors: Black/silver
- Processing Time: 24 hrs
How Do Electric Composters Work?
Electric composters work in different ways. Some utilize heat and dehydrate the materials before grinding them finely to reduce their volume significantly.
Others utilize specific micro-organisms and provide the conditions required for them to break down the materials far more quickly than they would break down in a typical composting system, along with heat for hygiene.
Most simply refine the methods of heat, aeration, and movement commonly used in a hot composting system to speed up the process.
Electric Composter Benefits
The benefits of electric composters are clear.
- Break down compostable materials much more quickly than other systems.
- Take up less space than many other composting systems.
- Allow materials to be broken down inside your home, without odor or pest problems – so work well for those who have no outside space at all.
- Can be extremely easy and hassle-free to use.
Electric Composter Disadvantages
However, like all gadgets, these composters do also have disadvantages.
- Cost money. Some can be expensive. And there are ways to create compost for free…
Use electricity. If you are on a renewable energy supply, this is not necessarily a bad thing from a sustainability standpoint. But this too brings financial costs.
- Make noise – even the best products do make some noise so this is something to consider.
- Don’t all technically compost the material. Some just break it down so it is less to deal with, and so it can be used elsewhere as a fertilizer where it will fully decompose.
Are Electric Composters and Food Recyclers the Same?
Electric composters are sometimes called food recyclers. Both of these terms are basically used interchangeably to refer to the same thing.
Do Countertop Composters Smell?
Good countertop composters should not smell, since they have filters and seals to stop them from releasing an odor. However, cheaper models may not be quite as effective at stopping smells as the better models.
And even the best countertop composter can smell if you do not maintain it properly, or change the filters when required to do so.
Are Electric Composters Loud?
As the machines run, electric composters do make a noise. Often, on the best models, this is not too disruptive. It may just sound like a dishwasher while it is running.
However, even the best models do make a noise, and this is something to bear in mind if you like a quiet environment. The noise from some models can be distracting.
Are Electric Composters Worth It?
Personally, I do not feel that electric composters are really the best solution for most people. Even those with a small apartment can still consider other options, without having to resort to such gadgets.
The financial expense is one thing to consider. Another is the cost to the planet.
If you are not running your electric composter on renewable power, then you might actually be doing more harm than good – burning fossil fuels in your pursuit to go greener could never be the right way.
Tackling food waste is, of course, a laudable aim. But electric composters are not the only thing to try.
Using leftovers and doing all we can to reduce food waste should be the first step. And an electric composter would only be worth it for those who really struggle to compost or manage food waste in other ways.
So if you are considering an electric composter, be sure to think about the upfront and ongoing costs of running such a machine. And make sure that you understand their limitations.
Be sure, also, to ask yourself whether they are other, cheaper, and more eco-friendly ways to deal with your food waste – especially if you do not have a renewable electricity supply for your home.