Best Composters – Buyers Guide and Reviews
Finding the best composter on the market is no easy challenge. There are so many different types of composter available – everything from tumblers, to worm farms and straightforward bins for your backyard.
Composting is great for the environment and anything we can do to stop waste going to landfill sites is excellent. So finding the right composter is really important to make it easy and fuss-free to recycle your garden and kitchen waste.
We’ve put together some composter reviews looking at different types and designs so you are fully informed when you make the choice. But first, let’s take a look at the different kinds of composters available.
- Hand Rolled Tumbler
- Ball Shaped Tumblers
- Hot Composting
- Top Rated Epica Stainless Steel Compost Bin 1.3 Gallon
- Exaco Aerobin 400 Insulated Composter and Self Aeration System
- Envirocycle Composting Tumbler Bin
- Geobin Compost Bin
- HOT FROG Dual Body Tumbling Composter
There are several different types of home composters and all have their pros and cons. First, you can just get a simple compost bin for the backyard. These are often made of strong plastic or sometimes stainless steel but they are often just in the shape of a large bin or barrel.
Some are completely standard and are just a hardwearing container without a lid but others come with an airtight sealing lid to keep out pests and encourage rotting, another feature of the outside composter is several access points such as a door opening at the side or near the bottom so you can easily harvest your compost. This is in addition to a lid on the top of the bin where you can dump in your next load of vegetable scraps and waste.
Check out how they work.
If you’re struggling with the idea of traipsing down the garden every time you make a dinner or if you just don’t have a backyard big enough to put compost bin in, then a kitchen compost bin could make things a lot easier for you. These composters are often compact in size and can be actually quite nice to look at.
They are either stainless steel or high durability plastic which can be easily rinsed clean. They range from very basic models which are made from one piece of metal and have filters in the base of the lid made from charcoal to trap odours or a high spec model which has moving parts.
Some kitchen composters have built in mixing devices or tumblers so the compost materials are kept moving and break down more easily.
Another composter type is a tumbler where the compost bin itself is barrel shaped and it can be rolled or cranked with a handle to mix the materials inside. The benefit of this is you won’t need a shovel to mix your compost by hand as simply rolling the bin will mix your compost.
These composters usually have ventilation holes along the side so your compost is fully aerated and there are also blades or ridges inside the tumbler itself to help break the materials into smaller pieces so it turns into compost quicker. Some tumblers even come with separate chambers so you can split the waste between “nearly ready to use” and “freshly added”.
Hand Rolled Tumbler
A type of compost tumbler can also be rolled by hand. These are barrel shaped and rather than being mounted on a spindle and moved via a handle, the composter is low to the ground and is rolled by grabbing the sides, or using moulded handles, to mix and move the compost inside. These composters sometimes come with a tray or reservoir in the bottom to catch compost tea but due to their low ground clearance they can be difficult to use if you have back problems so think about putting these on a table or wall if you think you may struggle to harvest compost from it.
Ball Shaped Tumblers
Some rolling bins are shaped like a ball and can literally be rolled out of sight! This is handy if you don’t want your compost bin to become a permanent feature in your garden or if you need to move it to cut the lawn or weed flowerbeds. The downside to this design however is that if the compost bin gets too full, it can become difficult to move. Also, you may find it leaves unsightly patches of dead grass if it is left in one place for too long so don’t forget to roll it away!
Vermicomposting uses worms to break down your food and garden waste. You start with around 1,000 worms and as they chew through your materials it leaves behind loam which is a type of soft, fine soil rich in nutrients. Worms love to use gritty textures like sand or finely crushed eggshells to help digest food scraps and dead leaves so if you are planning to use these little creatures to help produce compost you need to make sure you add some grainy textures to your compost bin.
This is another great way to create useable soil from your leftovers. These compost bins have thick, insulated walls and an airtight lid which helps to retain heat from the sun and heat generated from the compost itself breaking down. These are great if you want to create a warm atmosphere but you can also use heat to quicken your compost production just by putting your compost bin somewhere it will get sun directly onto it.
Things to Consider
When you’re looking for a compost bin for the backyard then think about where it will be located. Compost breaks down quicker when it is warm so make sure it is in an area that will get some degree of sunlight. If you need to use a wheelbarrow to spread around the harvested compost, make sure you put it on some ground with space around it.
Resistant to Extreme Temperatures
Make sure if you are getting an outdoor compost bin made from plastic that it is UV and frost resistant. Bear in mind your composter will be outside in all weathers all year round and it needs to be able to withstand changes in temperatures and the seasons. There are specialist plastics that are designed for outdoor use so make sure you know what your bin is made from.
If Using Wood, Protect It
You can use timber to create a compost bin but bear in mind that wood is essentially a compostable material so it will need to be treated or lined with a non-compostable material to make sure it stands the test of time. Having said that, a wooden framed compost pile lined with a plastic sheet is an inexpensive way to create your own compost heap. Just bear in mind that this design will not be moveable so if you decide to redesign your garden in the future it could be a big job to take down your compost heap and move it.
With an indoor composter, think of a design that is compact so it can be hidden in a cupboard or doesn’t take up much space on a worktop. If it will be visible in your home, design is important so it fits in with your interior decor.
Keeping pests like rats, foxes or even bears away from your compost is also a consideration. With pests like mice or rats, they can even make nests in your compost heap if it isn’t secure. If you live in an area where pests will be a problem, choose a compost bin that is sealed and ideally is located off the ground.
Dos and Don’ts
Also, brush up on a list of things you can and cannot compost. There are hundreds of items that can be put in the bin, but one wrong material such as metal or inorganic waste can seriously distraught the whole process.
If you go for a basic model, one of the best features to look out for is a charcoal filter. The natural absorbent properties of charcoal means any bad smells will be drawn out of the bin and into the filter. Although these need to be changed every six months, it is worth having them especially if you choose a home composter that is in your kitchen or basement. A sealable, airtight lid will also help prevent bad smells.
Some Make Compost Tea
Another great feature on a composter is the ability to collect compost tea. This liquid is what is collected when the compostables break down. Some models of composter allow this to be collected in a tray underneath or it can be drained off through a tap. This is a really effective, natural fertilizer when diluted with water.
If you want a kitchen composter, just think about where it will go. If you have room inside a cupboard then it won’t matter too much what it looks like but if it will be “on show” on a kitchen countertop then it is worth paying a bit extra for something that has been designed well and fits in with your kitchen decor. Automatic mixing is also a great feature of a kitchen composter as it eliminates the need for you to have to keep opening up the bin and mixing it with a fork. And the fewer times you open it the better as the smell will be kept inside.
Better Mixing and Aeration
Compost tumblers with ridges or bars inside work to break up the materials a lot quicker and easier. The tumblers with this added feature also aerate your compost which again makes it decompose more evenly.
Worm composters are usually easier to use when they have stackable trays. These trays mean your compost drops down through mesh layers so you get fine, ready to use compost at the bottom and you add your fresh food and garden waste in the top. This way, you also prevent loss of worms from digging out the compost as you can simply remove the bottom tray and harvest the compost while leaving the worms in the top trays.
And it isn’t all about just waiting for the compost to mature. Think about how you will harvest the soil once your vegetable scraps and other compostables have broken down. If your compost bin is too tall, or there is only a lid at the top, you might find it hard to dig out the good stuff. Look for features like a side opening door or more than one access point. Some compost bins have a sliding door that opens near to the bottom of the pile so not only will you get easy access to the compost near the bottom (which will be the most rotted) you can also just bring a wheelbarrow right up to the bin itself and easily shovel in your new compost.
- Warranty: Not available
- Charcoal liner to absorb odors included
- Rust free design
- Carrying handle to make it easy to take outside
The Epica stainless steel compost bin is really designed for indoor use. The airtight lid has a charcoal seal inside to control odors which means this bin can sit on your kitchen worktop or in a cupboard without causing unpleasant smells. It has a sleek design and the stainless steel construction means it is easy to clean. It is made from one piece of metal to prevent leaks and the metal won’t leach harmful chemicals into your waste. It can fit several days worth of kitchen waste inside and the compact size means it can fit under a sink or in a cupboard out of sight. The carry handles make it easy to move and empty in your outside bin.
- Easy to clean and attractive to look at
- Stainless steel won’t leech chemicals into your compost
- Small size
- Charcoal filter will need replacing every few months
- Warranty: Not available
- 185 gallon size (25 cubic feet)
- Strong weather-resistant plastic construction
- Two doors for access
The Exaco Aerobin 400 is one of the best composters out there. It’s a fully insulated bin that provides the ability to properly mix all the composting bits you toss in and it even collects all the compost liquid (or compost tea) underneath with the nifty double bottom.
It’s constructed of a heavy, durable plastic and fully insulated with a polystyrene material that makes sure the compost remains hot and properly decomposes all the material inside. It has double doors to make it easier for access during cleaning and is pretty compact and streamline. The instructions are straightforward, making this super easy to assemble, too. And lastly, due to its sturdy construction and heavy weight, the Aerobin stands up to bad weather and windy conditions. Read More.
- Awesome self aeration lung
- Double walled and fully insulated
- Easy to assemble
- A little too tall, so hard to reach to the bottom
- Exterior material can warp in hot weather
- Warranty: 5 year limited
- Made of food safe, BPA and rust free, UV and antioxidant protected materials
- Produces solid and liquid compost
- Deep grooves on the drum allow you to roll it
The Envirocycle is billed as “the most beautiful composter in the world” by the manufacturers. It is made from a food safe, BPA and rust free plastic which means no harmful chemicals will get into the waste materials. It is made in the USA and has a five year limited warranty to protect against things going wrong or breaking.
The composter comes ready assembled and it has a base which can collect compost tea which is used as liquid fertilizer. A snap latch means you can easily open the door to harvest your compost and this model has slotted air vents which make sure the compost is aerated. It will produce your first batch of compost in around four to eight weeks and the manufacturers recommend turning your drum once every three days.
- Produces compost in around four to eight weeks
- Vents in the drum aerate the compostables
- Very expensive compared to other composters
- Difficult to roll if it is full with heavy items
- Warranty: Not available
- Made from 50% recycled plastic
- Easy to assemble, just unroll in your backyard
- Huge 216 gallon capacity
The Geobin has a huge capacity and is one of the simplest composters on the market. It stands around 36 inches tall and can be rolled to create a one or three and a half foot diameter. It is easy to assemble and is made from 50% recycled plastic.
It has a open top and the plastic used is durable so it can be left outside in all weathers. The bin itself is easy to move if you need to, just unsnap the closure keys and unwrap your compost pile then move it to another spot in your backyard or your new home.
- Simple to use and cheap to buy
- Can use multiple bins tied together to make sure you get mature compost
- Can tip over in high winds if it is not secured or full of heavy materials
- Will not retain or absorb heat
- Warranty: Not available
- Two composting chambers
- Comes part assembled for easy of use
- Features aeration holes to help your compostables break down quicker
This tumbling composter takes the strain out of mixing your compost pile. Just close the door and crank the handle to turn it once every two to three days to make sure the compost breaks down quickly and easily. With hot, sunny conditions and a proper balance of ingredients the manufacturers say you can harvest compost in as little as two weeks.
This composter is perfect for beginners as it is simple and easy to use. Large openings and removable doors mean you can get to your compost easily and the separate chambers mean once side can finish composting while you add more to the other side. The holes along the body mean the composter is aerated and there are fins inside the chamber which help to break up the compost.
- Durable construction means it can be left outside all year round
- Easy to use and ergonomically designed
- Will take up quite a bit of space in the garden
- More expensive than a simple composter
So in the quest to find the best composter, the clear winner has to be the Hot Frog Dual Body Tumbling Composter. It combines both the ability to trap heat as well as aeration due to the tumbling and ventilation holes. As explained above, both of these features help to break down compost quicker and easier.
This composter is also ideal for gardens where pests could be a problem as it is raised off the ground and sealed. It has a durable, powder coated steel frame and UV resistant plastic barrel so it is ok to be left outside all year round. So if you’re looking for the best composter on the market, hopefully this article has helped you make your choice!