Our recommendations are made independently through Research & Testing. We may receive commissions from purchases made via our links.

InSinkerator Badger 5 1/2 HP Garbage Disposal In-depth Review

InSinkErator is easily the oldest brand on the market. It has years of experience in designing and building residential disposal systems and owns a few of the best models ever made. The Badger 5 is one of InSinkErator’s very first products.

By , , and ·Updated
Tested Using Methodology v1.0
InSinkErator Badger 5 1/2-Horsepower Garbage Disposal hanging under a standalone sink.

Overall Verdict

The InSinkErator Badger 5 1/2 Horsepower is a space-saving garbage disposal with a durable full-metal build. It has one of the most compact designs on the market, yet its grind chamber is the largest in the small disposal category.

The disposal works fairly well against simple foods and was once the go-to affordable option for most homes. Unfortunately, the Badger 5 now might be considered outdated; for similar prices, there are certainly more effective kitchen garbage grinders on the market.

Things We Like

  • High capacity
  • Compact design
  • Affordable
  • External unjam mechanics

Things We Don’t Like

  • Mediocre performance
  • Heavy build
  • Non-removable splash guard
  • Loud operation

Our first thought when we picked up the InSinkErator Badger 5 was that the disposal was weightier than it looked. It has a compact build and feels secure from top to bottom. It sports a sturdy construction and a basic grinding assembly in its chamber. Like the rest of the InSinkErator Badger series, the disposal doesn’t have a removable splash guard.

InSinkerator Badger 5 Garbage Disposal Review Video

Subscribe to Shouldit

1.6 Performance: Under Average

To put it simply, the InSinkErator Badger 5 disappointed us. The disposal struggled through our entire process; it flat out failed in our two toughest tests and barely pulled through in the least challenging one. Although the results in the easy test were technically passable, it was difficult for us to decide whether the disposal was capable enough.

3.2 Scrap Mix

InSinkerator Badger 5 1/2 HP Garbage Disposal Scrap Mix Test
13.31 ounces of fish pin bones in mess of assorted scraps from garbage disposal on digital scale on granite-looking top.
21.24 ounces of ground products from garbage disposal on digital scale on granite-looking table.
0.58-ounce piece of lemon peel from garbage disposal on digital scale on granite-looking table
Input Load
90.0 oz (2551 g)
4 min
Layer 1
13.3 oz (377 g)
Layer 2
21.2 oz (602 g)
0.6 oz (16 g)

The InSinkErator Badger 5 performed below average grinding 90 ounces of scraps from many different foods. It did manage to process most of the input, with only 0.58 ounces remaining, but the leftover—a piece of lemon peel—was not as cut up as it should be. The run technically finished around the 3-minute mark; we gave the disposal an extra minute to see if it could chop up that piece of lemon peel, but to no avail.

The output end was also insufficient. More than 38% of the total ground materials were caught; the fibers from the vegetables and fruits appeared mostly torn but not finely ground. Interestingly, the disposal did better at breaking up the tougher scraps in the mix, like the avocado pits or the cooked chicken bones.

Failed Raw Fish Scraps

InSinkerator Badger 5 1/2 HP Garbage Disposal Raw Fish Scraps Test
4.77 ounces of visible pin bones in a mass of raw meat and skin from fish scraps on digital scale on granite-looking top.
2.55 ounces of visible pin bones in a mass of raw meat and skin from fish scraps on digital scale on granite-looking top.
8.56 ounces of broken fish vertebrae and shredded fish skin on digital scale on granite-looking top.
Input Load
49.4 oz (1400 g)
3 min
Layer 1
4.8 oz (135 g)
Layer 2
2.5 oz (72 g)
8.6 oz (243 g)

The Badger 5 couldn’t pass the test due to a large number of leftovers. The disposal did break up most of the boney parts and strip all the meat from the bones. However, the broken-up vertebrae remaining in the chamber were largely intact along with most of the skinny part from the input load.

The output was no better. Although materials gathered in the two filtering layers appeared somewhat shredded, it was hardly enough. We could tell by the fact that the meat still had its color and that skin pieces were still distinguishable.

Failed Raw Chicken Scraps

InSinkerator Badger 5 1/2 HP Garbage Disposal Raw Chicken Scraps Test
1.07 ounces of crushed chicken bone, shredded tendon, and fatty tissue on digital scale on granite-looking top.
1.09 ounces of crushed chicken bone and cartilage, and shredded tendon and meat on digital scale on granite-looking top.
1.92 ounces of shredded fatty tissue and broken cartilage from chicken scraps on digital scale on granite-looking top.
Input Load
7.4 oz (210 g)
3 min
Layer 1
1.1 oz (30 g)
Layer 2
1.1 oz (31 g)
1.9 oz (54 g)

The Badger 5 was somewhat successful at crushing hard chicken bones, but it nevertheless failed the test. After 3 minutes, only slippery fatty tissues and pieces of cartilage were left. Still, the volume of leftovers was too much. The disposal assembly was so ineffective at grinding the cartilage parts that most of them couldn’t pass through the assembly. That was the main reason why the leftover mass exceeded our pass criteria.

7.5 Design: Strong but Outdated

The InSinkErator Badger 5 is renowned for its well-crafted full-metal build. This hefty casing, though heavy, is physically strong and long-lasting. The disposal enjoys a spacious holding chamber for its power rating yet still hangs neatly under the sink.

It’s still using its long-time setup: galvanized steel grinding components powered by an induction motor. That’s mainly how InSinkErator keeps the disposal affordable for tight budgets. However, there are more effective options on the market nowadays for more or less the same cost.

In the Box

Badger 5 with 3-Bolt Mount, box, register slip, user manual, stopper, elbow tube, rubber gasket, flange, bolts, and wrench.
  • InSinkErator Badger 5 Garbage Disposal
  • 3-Bolt Mount assembly 
  • Stopper
  • Discharge tube
  • Flange and bolts
  • Wrench
  • Documentation

The Badger 5 comes with the regular accessories for garbage disposals and an exclusive self-service wrench by InSinkErator. Included documentation consists of a product registration slip and a user manual; both are available in English, Spanish, and French. All text on the box is in English and Spanish.


Badger 5 with mount assembly and elbow tube. Showing 6.3-inch width, 11.5-inch height, 3.5-inch depth to dishwasher outlet, 6.7-inch depth to outlet, 4.8-inch distance to elbow tube.
4.8" (12.2 cm)
6.3" (16.0 cm)
11.5" (29.2 cm)
12.1 lbs (5.5 kg)

The Badger 5 is one of the smallest in-sink grinders on the market, but it’s also the heaviest. If the sink is not too flimsy, the disposal should work comfortably in most cabinet sizes.

Mount Assembly

InSinkerator Badger 5 1/2-HP Garbage Disposal Mount Assembly3-Bolt Mount assembly for garbage disposals with “insinkerator” engravings placed on white platform with stopper in position.
InSinkerator Badger 5 1/2-HP Garbage Disposal Mount Assembly3-Bolt Mount assembly for garbage disposals with “insinkerator” engravings placed on white platform with stopper in position.
Backup flange, mounting ring, snap ring, fiber gasket, cushion mount, sink flange, stopper, lower mounting ring.
  • Backup flange
  • Mounting ring
  • Snap ring
  • Fiber gasket
  • Cushion mount
  • Sink flange
  • Stopper
  • Lower mounting ring

InSinkErator Badger 5 is compatible with 3-Bolt Mounts. To our knowledge, the disposal’s early version was the one that pioneered the now industry-standard mounting system. Most of the pieces in the 3-Bolt are metal, so it’s very solid, but the assembly has a more complicated design than the EZ Mount system. For one thing, you will need at least a screwdriver to disassemble and reassemble the 3-Bolt, while the EZ requires only your hands.

Power Cord

Bottom view of InSinkErator Badger 5 1/2 HP garbage disposal without power cord.
NaN" (NaN cm)

The standard version of the InSinkErator Badger 5, which is the one we picked up, doesn’t come with a power cord. Here’s the Badger 5 with cord, if you’re interested.

Accessories: Discharge Set

Standard outlet/discharge set for garbage disposals on white top, showing elbow pipe, rubber gasket, flange, and bolts.
3.3" (8.3 cm)
5.3" (13.3 cm)

The discharge set includes an elbow outlet tube with a rubber gasket and a kit of flange and bolts. The tube is 1.5 inches in diameter, and you can tighten the bolts using a flat-head screwdriver or a 3/8-inch wrench.

Accessories: Wrenchette

Wrenchette/Jam-buster wrench for garbage disposals by InSinkErator, displayed on granite-looking top.
NaN" (NaN cm)
5.0" (12.7 cm)

Every InSinkErator garbage disposal comes with a jam buster wrench, also called a wrenchette, for installation as well as unjamming purposes.

6.5 Grind Chamber

InSinkerator Badger 5 1/2-HP Garbage Disposal Grind ChamberTop view of grinding components in InSinkErator Badger 5 looking at layout of flywheel and impellers.
InSinkerator Badger 5 1/2-HP Garbage Disposal Grind ChamberTop view of grinding components in InSinkErator Badger 5 looking at layout of flywheel and impellers.
Precutter/grater ring in InSinkErator Badger 5 showing layout of cutters and grinding teeth.
Grinding components in InSinkErator Badger 5 showing design of flywheel and impeller(s).
32.0 fl oz (946.4 ml)
4.5" (11.4 cm)
5.3" (13.3 cm)
Assembly Material
Galvanized steel

Small garbage disposals don’t often exceed 30 fluid ounces of holding capacity, so what the Badger 5 offers is comparatively generous. However, its chamber is very limited vertically. This is partly because the disposal doesn’t have a removable sink baffle. Inside, the chamber carries a basic grinding assembly made up of galvanized steel components. Galvanized steel doesn’t stay sharp as long as stainless steel.

7.0 Motor

1725 RPM
Real Speed
1480 RPM
120 V

Like all InSinkErator food disposers, the Badger 5 1/2 Horsepower operates on an induction motor. The motor’s speed is advertised—or calculated—to reach 1725 revolutions per minute (RPM). When we examined the flywheel with a laser tachometer, it only rotated around 1480 RPM.

Induction motors are typically slower and run hotter than the newer permanent magnet motors—like that of the GE Disposall Green 1/2 HP. That is to say, induction disposals are more prone to jam and overheat, especially when the scraps are plenty and tough.

8.5 Build Quality

InSinkErator Badger 5 1/2 HP Garbage Disposal, with 3-Bolt Mount assembly on top and outlet/discharge set in place.
Noise Reduction
Vibration Reduction

The Badger 5 is renowned for its durability; you can somewhat tell that it’s built to last years of service just from how it feels in your hands. The upper and lower body are not only secured with screws but also sealed with glue. The disposal doesn’t have anything that reduces noise or limits vibration, which is typical for all InSinkErator standard models.

The steel casing has a good-looking paint job that doesn’t scratch easily. The fact that the unit in our lab still looks almost unscathed (after we’ve cleaned it) is pretty impressive.

7.6 Usability: Not as Good as We Thought

Our experience with the Insinkerator Badger 5 has not been the smoothest. The disposal’s results in performance testing were surprisingly disappointing and it also jammed during one of our procedures. But to be fair, our tests were designed partly to push limits. If you don’t cook much and most of your kitchen scraps are from vegetables and fruits, the disposal is decent.

8.0 Ease of Use

The Badger 5 doesn’t offer much of anything besides its field-tested durability, comfortable capacity, and solid build. Its limited verticality and lack of a removable splash guard also affect the overall experience. The disposal used to be the #1 budget garbage disposal. But frankly, there are now more attractive options available.

8.0 Installation

The disposer has a compact design so it fits quite easily in tight spaces. It’s the weight and the complex design of the 3-Bolt assembly that make installing the Badger 5 a trying task if you’re not familiar with it. The unit in this review is the standard version which has no power cord. It’s best for hardwiring, but if you’re up for it, you can try wiring a cord to the Badger yourself or look for the corded version.

7.0 Smooth Operation

During our trailing phase when some of the tests were more forgiving, the Badger 5 fared quite well. However, as we adjusted the final procedures for a balanced toughness across the product lineup (up to 20 machines), the disposer’s performance plummeted. On another note, the disposal is very noisy, which is expected from its specs. So try to avoid grinding crunchy scraps like bones if you don’t tolerate loud noise.

5.0 Unjam Mechanics

Bottom view of Badger 5 1/2-hp garbage disposal showing jam buster wrench in manual unjam slot.
Auto Unjam

The Badger 5, akin to the other Insinkerator disposers, features an external unjam mechanism. You can use the included jambuster wrench, or any similar hex wrench, to turn the flywheel (in the chamber) from under the disposal.