Electric Composters: What They Are, How They Work + FAQs

Lomi on a kitchen counter filled with kitchen scraps

Businesses and organizations are designing innovative technologies more and more to help tackle the world's waste problem. A more recent innovation is the electric composter. For Pela, the Lomi kitchen composter is just one innovation to prevent waste from ending up in landfills.

While you've probably heard of electric composters before, you may have no idea what they actually do or how they work. By the end of this article, you should have a good understanding of how an electric composter like Lomi functions, and why they're so great for dealing with food waste. Here's everything we're going to be covering, but feel free to skip ahead to what you find most interesting:

Starting with the basics, we'll explain what an electric composter is and what it accomplishes.


What is an electric composter?

Lomi on a kitchen counter


An electric composter is an easy-to-use appliance that can turn your kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich dirt. Most electric composters can produce that dirt in less than 24 hours. You can then use the finished product from you indoor electric composter directly in your garden, or compost it further. 

Unlike with traditional composting, a 24-hour composter such as Lomi is able to accelerate the composting process with the help of some electricity. While this isn't as eco-friendly as backyard composting, it is still much better for the environment than sending your food waste to a landfill. An electric composter's compact size and ease of use make it accessible to those who can't compost traditionally, making it possible for everyone to reduce their environmental impact.



How does an electric composter work?

An infographic showing the three stages an electric composter goes through

Electric composters quickly turn your kitchen scraps into nutrient-rich dirt by creating ideal conditions for organic matter to break down and for helpful microorganisms to thrive. They're able to stimulate and accelerate aerobic decomposition through three distinct cycles: drying, mixing, and cooling.

There are, of course, some variations in how different electric composters and food cyclers work. There is also a big difference in the quality of the end product they produce. Lomi produces a high-quality nutrient-rich dirt that can be used for your plants, however the quality of soil amendment produced by Food cyclers is questionable. For this article, we’re focusing specifically on how Lomi functions. Let's take an in-depth look at the three cycles of Lomi's operation:


1. Drying

An infographic showing the drying cycle

An electric composter's first step focuses on heating and drying its contents. Raising the heat allows important microbes such as the mesophiles and thermophiles to proliferate, letting them get a head start on the decomposition process. Secondly, because organic waste is mostly made up of water, the added heat can quickly reduce food waste volume. The combination of microbial growth and food waste volume reduction creates a highly efficient environment for composting.

This cycle also provides a couple of other benefits. The first is that it can kill some food pathogens that a traditional compost pile might not be able to. While traditional compost piles do heat up, you can't guarantee that they can get as hot as an electric countertop composter. Similarly, electric composters can get hot enough to kill weed seeds, which you would normally need to worry about in a backyard compost pile.


2. Mixing

An infographic showing the effects of the mixing cycle

During the mixing cycle, electric composters mimic the hot turning method used with traditional composting. The primary purpose of this cycle is to aerate organic matter. The helpful microorganisms that decompose organic matter require oxygen to survive. The “turning” process that electric composters go through provides those microbes with plenty of oxygen. Lomi specifically is equipped with sensors to ensure the contents have ideal levels of moisture, heat, and oxygen throughout the entire process.

During this phase, the kitchen composter will also grind the food scraps into smaller pieces. This increases the surface area for microbes to access. By having access to more of the organic matter at once, they’re able to decompose that waste much quicker.


3. Cooling 

An infographic showing the effects of the cooling cycle

The final phase cools down the contents for safe handling. The cooling cycle also acts as a maturing phase for the finished product. It continues to dehumidify and provide aeration, allowing the decomposition process to finish. After this stage, the dirt will be ready to be transplanted into garden or houseplant soil.


 


 

Top 6 benefits of using an electric composter

A person with dirt in their hand and Lomi in the background

Using an electric composter can be beneficial for both you and the environment. These are the top reasons having your own electric kitchen composter is a great idea:

  1. They make composting effortless: Traditional composting methods take effort, especially if you want to make sure the process completes in less than a year. With an electric composter like Lomi, you only need to put in your food and then push a button.
  2. Electric composters are extremely quick: While traditional composting can take anywhere from a month to over a year to finish, electric composters can produce nutrient-rich dirt in less than a day. Pela's Lomi kitchen composter even has an Eco-Express mode that can finish in as little as three hours.
  3. You don't ever have to worry about bad smells: Many electric composters, such as Lomi, come with activated carbon filters that absorb odors and prevent any bad smells from entering your home.
  4. Your electric kitchen composter can fit on your counter: Traditional composting methods can take up a lot of space, and a traditional backyard compost pile requires a backyard to work with. Alternatively, an electric compost bin will easily fit on any kitchen counter.
  5. A kitchen composter can break down waste you wouldn't compost traditionally: There's a variety of food waste, such as animal products, that you wouldn't be able to compost traditionally because they would attract pests. That's not something you need to worry about with an electric compost bin. Lomi is unique in its ability to compost Lomi approved bioplastics, which is impossible with a traditional compost pile or with other electric composters and cyclers.
  6. They reduce methane emissions: Food waste in a landfill emits methane as it breaks down. It can even do so in a regular compost pile. An electric kitchen composter eliminates that release of methane with its aeration process.

Electric composting vs traditional composting

Top down view of Lomi fill with kitchen scraps

Electric composting and traditional composting are actually quite similar since electric composters simulate the same process as traditional compost, just at a much quicker rate. The main differences between the two are how quickly the process finishes, the amount of energy required, and the finished product.

Because electric composters require energy to work, they are inherently less eco-friendly than a backyard compost pile. However, because electric composters reduce food waste volume and eliminate methane emissions, they're still the superior option to just tossing out your food scraps. Some countertop electric composters are also designed with energy efficiency in mind, like Pela’s Lomi. 

The finished product from both processes is also slightly different because of how quickly electric composters work. Both regular compost and the dirt you get from kitchen composters make great fertilizer for your plants (see note below). 

The dirt from a kitchen composter can also be placed in a traditional compost bin for further composting. This can be beneficial if you want a traditional compost pile, but don't want that food waste emitting methane gas.

Overall, there isn't necessarily a better way to compost, just different ways that are superior for different reasons in specific situations. Here are some pros and cons that can help you decide which is the better option for you:

Pros

Cons

Electric Composting

  • Provides a daily supply of nutrient-rich dirt
  • Can compost during every season
  • Ideal for small spaces
  • Doesn’t produce any unpleasant odors
  • Not as eco-friendly as traditional composting methods
  • Can't compost the same volume of waste as traditional composting

Traditional Composting

  • The most eco-friendly way to reduce food waste
  • Can create a large quantity of finished compost
  • A slow process - can take up to a year or more
  • Requires more work and maintenance than electric composters
  • Requires space many people don't have
  • Can smell bad and attract unwanted pests

NOTE: Remember that not all electric composters and food cyclers are created equal. Lomi uses an extensive Grow mode to produce high-quality nutrient rich dirt that is great for your plants and garden where as other electric composters use high temperatures and shorter cycles so the end product is much inferior. The end product of most food cyclers is nothing more than dehydrated and ground food waste and cannot be considered compost.


 


 

The best electric composter in the market: Lomi

Lomi on display with dirt from Lomi and a small plant

Price: $499 | Shop from Pela

When it comes to electric composters, the Lomi kitchen composter is as good as it gets. Lomi has a sleek, minimalistic design and compact size, making it a great fit for homes of all sizes and styles. Because of how easy it is to use and its constant supply of nutrient-rich dirt, Lomi is also a fantastic tool for teaching kids sustainable habits.

You can check out our article on whether or not you should buy Lomi to see if it’s right for you. For now, here are 3 big reasons Lomi is the number one electric composter available:

  1. Pela's mission to protect the environment: Making a positive impact on the earth is what Pela is all about, and why they developed Lomi in the first place. With the help of Lomi and their other innovative products, Pela is preventing hundreds of thousands of pounds of waste from going to landfills. Their ultimate goal is to remove one billion pounds of plastic from the waste stream by 2028. Opting for Lomi only helps this goal.
  2. Lomi's sustainable production and delivery: Lomi wouldn't be a very helpful waste reduction technology if its production wasteful. Pela has ensured that Lomi's production and distribution is as eco-friendly as possible. Where it does cause carbon emissions, Pela buys verified carbon credits to offset those emissions and reduce their carbon footprint.
  3. Lomi's ability to break down bioplastics: Lomi is the only electric composter that is unique in its ability to decompose Lomi approved bioplastics along with organic waste. If you find your household is often throwing away bioplastics, Lomi is the perfect electric compost bin for you.

Lomi by Pela

Lomi

★★★★★

Lomi allows you to turn food waste into plant-ready nutrients in under 24 hours. Boost your plants while reducing your waste.


Top 5 FAQs about electric composters

If you still have some questions about electric kitchen composters, here are our answers to your most common questions:


1. What can you put in an electric kitchen composter?

Any food waste that you would put in a normal compost pile can go into an electric composter. Depending on the electric composter, you may be able to put in food you wouldn't normally put in a compost pile. For example, some electric composters won't have any issues composting animal products.

Lomi in particular is also able to compost Lomi approved bioplastics, which is a unique trait among electric compost bins. You can find more details about what can go into Lomi on our website. For other electric composters, make sure to check their specific manuals for what they can compost.


2. How do you use an electric food composter?

An infographic showing steps to use Lomi

How easy it is to use an electric food composter is one of the best parts about having one. All you need to do is fill it up with your food scraps throughout the day. Once it's full, put the lid on it, plug it in, and then push a button. You'll then just need to wait for it to finish running.

With Lomi, you'll also have the option of three different modes to run. The first is the Eco-Express mode, which is the quickest and uses the least amount of energy. The second is the Lomi Approved mode, which is the option you'd want to choose if you're composting bioplastics. The final option is the Grow mode, which takes the longest but produces the best nutrient-rich dirt for your plants.


3. How long do electric composters take to make compost?

How long it takes an electric composter to make compost will fully depend on the kitchen composter, but most electric composters will finish within 24 hours. Depending on the mode you choose, Lomi specifically can produce dirt anywhere between three and 20 hours. The times for each mode are as follows:

  • Eco-Express: 3 - 5 hours
  • Lomi Approved: 5 - 8 hours
  • Grow: 16 - 20 hours

4. What can you do with the dirt from your electric composter?

A young girl adding lomi compost to plants


What you do with the dirt from your electric composter is up to you, but we would highly suggest using it to nourish your plants. You can mix it with some soil and add it to your gardens to provide plants with extra nutrients. If you don't have plants but know someone who does, share your dirt with them!

If you also have a backyard compost pile, you can add the dirt from your electric compost bin there. This can help quicken the regular composting process, and initially composting with an electric compost bin prevents the food from releasing GHGs.


5. How are electric composters helping the environment?

Electric composters are helping the environment in a few different ways. First, they're making home composting more accessible to more people. Second, they prevent food waste from reaching landfills. Finally, they prevent the breakdown of food waste from releasing methane into the atmosphere.


Now that you understand how electric composters work, it’ll be easy for you to start minimizing your food waste and promoting plant growth. You can easily order your Lomi online and start composting as soon as possible! In the meantime, you can browse our blog to learn more about composting, gardening, and reducing kitchen waste.


Written by: Sereana Simpson