Compost Tumbler vs. Compost Bin


Composting has become popular among gardeners and homeowners, bringing along different models of composters. The two common ones are the compost tumbler and compost bin.

Both of these models have proven to be effective at producing compost, but they have significant differences worth learning about. In this article, you will find how each of these models works, including the pros and cons of each and which one you should consider.

Key Takeaways

  • Compost bins and tumblers are both effective at composting, and your choice depends on the needs at hand.
  • The main difference is the time it takes to produce compost; compost tumblers produce quicker than compost bins.

Compost Bin

Compost bins are also known as compost digesters and come in a unique design that contributes to their functionality. They feature closed sides and tops with an open bottom that connects to the soil.

With the right measure of air and moisture, aerobic organisms have a favorable environment to turn organic matter into compost [1]. And, with the intricate design, rodents cannot access the compost, making them hygienic.

Compost bins are available in pre-assembled designs on the market; therefore suitable for beginners in composting. If you have the budget, you can buy one and start composting immediately. But, if you are on a tight budget, you can DIY one at home.

How to Use a Compost Bin

Compost bins are pretty easy to use, and you do not need to monitor the progress regularly. Once you set up one, you just need to put the waste there and stir it at least once a month [2].

After composting has occurred, you can use a shovel to dig out the material and get to the bottom of the pile. You can also lift the bin off the pile then use a shovel to separate the finished product from the fresher waste.

Read our article on how to make a compost bin for more details.

Pros of Using a Compost Bin

Compost bins are easy to assemble or build therefore ideal for beginners in composting. The waste comes into contact with the ground, which comes with the benefit of keeping the waste on bare earth. This design attracts microbial and fungal life in the soil to the waste.

Another pro of using a compost bin is that they are low maintenance as you do not need to turn the waste all the time. You might need to stir the waste after a few weeks to ensure all the waste decomposes, but that’s just about it.

As a beginner, compost bins are affordable, and even if you do not have a budget for that, you can make one at home. You just need wood planks or wire and mesh to create a compost bin.

Compost bins work perfectly for people with limited space. The bottomless design allows moisture to sip through to the soil balancing the moisture levels in fresh waste and compost.

Cons of Using a Compost Bin

Using one to produce fresh matter to compost takes a while. This is because the entire process is entirely natural, with the microorganisms taking time to digest the fresh matter and turn it into compost.

Another downside is that taking out the compost is challenging owing to the design of compost bins. After composting, you need to use a shovel to reach processed matter and separate it from fresh matter.

Lastly, you need to stir the compost occasionally to facilitate even composting. And since the process is slow, you would need to stir the materials, which gets challenging as the pile grows bigger.

Compost Tumbler

A compost tumbler is an advancement of the compost bin as far as operation and design go. Compost tumblers are designed to allow easy turning of the materials to accelerate the decomposition process.

With the design tumblers come in, you need to follow a set of instructions for them to function as they should. Additionally, you will need to balance the nitrogen and oxygen levels and manage the temperature and moisture levels.

This makes compost tumblers a little challenging for beginners in composting. However, they work seamlessly once you figure out how to operate one and manage the conditions.

That said, the amount of time required to produce compost depends on several factors such as the quality of material, what it contains, moisture levels, temperature, and the number of times the pile is turned [3].

How to Use a Compost Tumbler

With a tumbler, you only need to put in the waste and turn it once a day or every other day. This will ensure composting happens evenly while ensuring consistent moisture levels and temperature for desirable results [4].

Pros of Using a Compost Tumbler

Turning a compost tumbler is easy, thanks to the design. A compost tumbler also protects the materials from animals and rodents, allowing you to compost as much food waste as possible.

A compost tumbler takes less time to compost; therefore ideal for a consistent supply of compost. The design allows lots of air inside, and the drainage holes work well to drain excess moisture.

Cons of Using a Compost Tumbler

Small tumblers are not as efficient as large ones; therefore, you may need to spend more for an effective, high-capacity design. You will need to remove previously composted waste; otherwise, it would be too heavy to turn.

Another con is that you cannot add new material mid-compost, which can be a bummer if you produce lots of waste. Unlike compost bins, controlling moisture in tumblers can be challenging since they are not open at the bottom.

Related post: Best compost thermometer

Compost Bins vs. Compost Tumbler: Which One Should You Choose

Both composting models work well, but you may be drawn to one more, depending on your needs. The results are typically the same, but there are a few differences you should keep in mind.

  • Compost tumblers take a short time to compost compared to bins.
  • Compost bins are cheaper than compost tumblers.
  • Compost bins drain moisture more effectively than tumblers.
  • Compost tumblers are more durable than compost bins.
  • Compost bins have a higher capacity than tumblers.

The Bottom Line

Compost tumbler or compost bin – either one is a great choice. Whatever you choose, make sure you follow the correct use procedure to ensure a fruitful composting process.


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