10 Best Compost Tumblers Reviews: Which is the Best Compost Tumbler for You?
Are you tired of feeling like you are the model for American Gothic? It’s time to throw out the pitchfork, move into the 21st century, and make the composting process hassle-free. We’ve found the best compost tumbler of 2023, so you can be cooking up black gold for your garden in no time flat.
We’ve even unearthed a sleek unit that lets you harvest the nutrient-rich compost tea to feed your plants.
10 Best Compost Tumbler Reviews
When it comes to a compost tumbler, you want something easy to use, durable, and that doesn’t stink. Both literally and figuratively – you want to know your money is spent on a product that works.
Whether you want to compost on your apartment patio or you have more yard waste (like grass clippings) than you know what to do with, we have a model for you. Check out this nifty chart outlining the top ten best tumbling composters.
Still undecided? Let’s dig deeper into our best compost tumblers reviews.
When looking at compost tumblers reviews, you will see the FCMP IM4000 Composter at the top of the list. And we agree.
The IM4000, or Yimby as it is known, is our top pick for the best compost tumbler. When you take it out of the box, you’ll be surprised with its durable materials. Even the center rod is coated, preventing coffee grounds and other compost materials from gumming it up.
While the manufacturer says it will take 30 minutes to assemble, you should expect it to take at least a couple of hours – even if you are mechanically inclined.
But once assembly is over, it’s worth the extra effort because what you’ll get is a compost tumbler built like a tank. If you plan to have several compost piles, you can use its dual chambers for continuous composting.
When the second chamber is full, the first compost compartment is ready to use. Getting the “cooked compost” is hassle-free too. Just rotate it so that the door faces down and open it up. As a precautionary measure, it would be best if you had something underneath ready to collect your black gold as it comes tumbling out.
Sometimes when gardening, it feels like we spend hundreds of dollars on growing a 25 cent tomato. But buying a compost tumbler doesn’t have to break the bank. And that’s true of our budget choice, the F2C Compost Tumbler.
You even don’t have to wait long because this affordable compost tumbler will give you black gold in just 4-8 weeks.
While this model may not have the build quality you’ll find in our best Yimby compost tumbler pick, it still features everything you need to make compost piles. It has deep fins to help break up your yard and kitchen waste. And ventilation holes to help control the temperature. Plus, it has dual chambers to produce more compost piles.
Unfortunately, the compost tea leaks out from ventilation holes, so you probably don’t want this on your deck or patio without something underneath. And if too much water gets in from the rain, you may want to tarp it.
You should also know some people have complained that over time the unit starts to get saggy.
The Envirocycle Composter claims to be the “Most Beautiful Composter” in the world, but you get more than just good looks for your money.
The first thing you notice when the Enviorcycle arrives is that it comes assembled – no head-scratching or hunting out the right tool. All you need to do is decide where to put it.
And that’s no problem at all. The low-profile, ground spinning design makes it easy to find a space for this attractive composter. It is perfect for urban composting in small spaces.
Once you have it in the perfect position, you can now start adding your own compost. But do note that it has only one chamber.
You don’t even need to worry about making a mess because its bottom drainage holes perfectly line with the base’s collection holes. This nifty feature also allows you to harvest compost tea effortlessly. After 4-8 weeks, you’ll have ready-to-use, high-quality compost!
If you are looking for a small composter, check out the Miracle-Gro Tumbling Composter. It may be too tiny for a family of 6, but it’s the perfect size for a small apartment or a couple looking to compost mostly food scraps.
It may not have two chambers to make two separate batches, but it’s still a great composter nonetheless. You’ll find its large mixing bars and adjustable air vents advantageous because these features will break down your compost quicker.
If you like the design but are looking for a different size, Miracle-Gro offers this unit at an 18.5-gallon capacity. They even offer larger models with two chambers.
Another dual-chamber spinning compost tumbler you should consider is the EJWOX Garden Compost Tumbler. What sets this unit apart from other tumblers is the aeration. Its aeration holes are strategically placed along the central bar, bringing air to speed up your composting while eliminating smells.
While overall the build quality is good, the moisture can leak out the ventilation holes and doors. It can be a bit messy when you are spinning it. So, you will want to place this over dirt or put a tray underneath to catch the “juices.”
Constructed with high-quality post-production plastic and a strong galvanized steel frame, the VIVOSUN Tumbling Composter is strong enough to hold enough compost for a small family.
While assembly can be challenging, most users agree that once you get past that, the tumbler works well. The unit is easy to spin, and your garden waste and food waste go through the composting process quickly.
Be prepared that it can be a bit difficult loading and unloading your compost, though. The doors are awkward and small.
The HOTFROG FCMP Outdoor Composter is slightly different from some of the other dual chamber compost tumblers we’ve reviewed. Rather than a panel in the center dividing one large chamber into two, the HOTFROG composting tumbler has two distinct, separate chambers which come fully assembled.
Of course, you still need to assemble the galvanized steel base and complete the unit. But compared to the 60+ screws of some of the other compost tumblers, building this unit is a breeze.
Unlike other composters we’ve reviewed, the RSI MCT-MC Maze Compost Tumbler is handle-operated, making it easier to spin the Maze even when you maximize its large capacity.
And the Maze is all about being easy to use. This 65-gallon large composter has big openings with removable doors to add and empty your compostable materials. You can even use it for worm composting! As a bonus, it comes with a wheeled cart that fits right below the tumbler to collect any compost tea that may leak out. Later, you can use the cart to harvest that black gold when it is ready.
As a bonus, it comes with a wheeled cart that fits right below the tumbler to collect any compost tea that may leak out. Later, you can use the cart to harvest that black gold when it is ready.
If you like the low-profile, single chamber design of the Envirocycle but not the price tag, the FCMP Outdoor composter is a more affordable ground rolling tumbler.
Not only is it available in 37 gallons, but you can get it even smaller. But despite the small size, this unit is easy to load and empty. It has a large door that effortlessly lets you put slimy food waste into your composter.
The only real downside is that it isn’t designed to catch the compost tea, so it can be messy if it leaks, which can happen if rain enters through the ventilation holes.
If you have lots of yard waste, check out the Lifetime Rotating Composter. It holds a whopping 80 gallons, making it the largest compost tumbler on our list!
With that compost, one would be super cautious of maximizing its large capacity. But, you can keep your worries at bay because this composter has dual HDPE panels designed for strength and a galvanized steel frame for support.
The dual-panel design also helps retain heat. The heat combined with the aerated inner bar will help quickly break down all those yard clippings and other compostable material you are adding.
Things to Consider When Buying a Compost Tumbler
Now that you’ve read the best compost tumbler reviews let’s explain what all those composter features mean.
Just like when you are deciding on the best kitchen compost bin, you want to make sure you get the best compost tumbler – the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money and have a stinky mess on your hands.
Types of Compost Tumbler
We’ve known for a while now that turning compost helps break down your materials faster (1). The old-fashioned way involved grabbing a pitchfork or a shovel to turn. Now we have a barrel system that requires a simple push. However, while all composting tumblers turn, they don’t all turn the same way. So let’s look more closely at the different turning mechanisms.
a. Ground rolling
Ground rolling compost tumblers roll precisely like their name says – on the ground rather than elevated onto a stand. Instead, they sit on a small base on the ground that ensures the tumbling composter doesn’t tumble right out of your garden.
Like the Envirocycle Compost Tumbler, these ground rolling units are small, making them the perfect choice if you are wondering how to compost in an apartment. Their low profile ensures there’s no risk of them falling in a wind storm strewing unprocessed compost everywhere.
While compost tumblers are designed to be fairly pest resistant, they can attract animals like rats since they are on the ground.
The most common type of compost tumbler is spinning. Even a DIY compost tumbler has a spinning mechanism. So, what is it?
It has a barrel that is placed horizontally along a tube that serves as an axel. The barrel is then elevated off the ground on a stand (like a tubular steel frame) to rotate around the axel freely.
Check the build quality on the sides of the barrel where the axel passes through. It needs to be strong enough to support the weight of your compost as it decomposes.
To tumble and spin your compost, you push the barrel. Some spinning composters like the Yimby tumbler composter have added design features, making them a step up from a homemade compost bin tumbler.
Handle-operated compost tumblers have an external handle that you crank, rather like a ratchet, to spin your compost barrel. The RSI MCT-MC Maze Compost Tumbler is an example of a handle-operated compost tumbler. The handle makes it easier to rotate the barrel, especially as it fills and the weight increases.
Check out this video of using the Maze compost tumbler to turn shredded paper into compost:
The risk with handle-operated compost tumblers is that the handle or the gears will break over time.
When it comes to materials, you will find that most compost tumblers come in plastic, metal, or a combination of the two. While Mantis compost tumblers come in metal, all the compost tumblers on our list have black plastic barrels to absorb heat.
While metal is sturdy, it can rust and corrode when it comes in contact with water and oxygen (2). Plastic, on the other hand, never rusts.
However, plastic is not without concerns (3).
“Different types of plastics, when broken down, release different types of byproducts, some of which are toxic.”
If you are concerned about plastics leaching into compost, you don’t need to spend an arm and a leg. Our budget model, the F2C Compost Tumbler, is one of many compost tumblers made from BPA-Free plastic.
Capacity & Chambers
An obvious factor to consider is the capacity you will need for the amount of organic waste you intend to convert to compost.
For example, if you have lots of yard waste on top of your kitchen scraps, you will need a larger compost tumbler. If that’s your situation, the 80-gallon capacity of the Lifetime compost tumbler is the right choice for you.
But to truly determine the capacity of a compost tumbler, you need to look deeper than just how many gallons it holds. You also need to know if it is a single or dual-chamber system.
A dual-chamber compost tumbler allows you to have one side “cooking” while you continue to add compost to the other side.
With a full single chamber compost tumbler, you need to wait until the compost has “cooked” and is completely broken down before you can empty it and begin to add new compost. This is when you start asking yourself, “How long does it take to make compost?”
The advantage of the dual-chamber system, like our best composter, the FCMP IM4000 Yimby Composter, is that you can separate batches and continuously make compost.
If you prefer a single chamber design like that of the Envirocycle composter, there’s no other option but to get a second composter.
To get proper compost, we want it to be hot and wet, but not too much. This is where ventilation holes come into play because good aeration can help you maintain the ideal conditions for your compost. (4)
“Aeration is necessary in high temperature aerobic composting for rapid odor-free decomposition. Aeration is also useful in reducing high initial moisture content in composting materials.”
If your composting tumbler doesn’t have sufficient holes or has too many ventilation holes, you may find it is difficult to regulate the conditions inside your tumbler.
No, if used properly, a compost tumbler does not smell. If your compost pile smells or appears slimy, it is a sign of imbalance. The unpleasant odor can result from adding large quantities of greens or browns, poor ventilation, excess moisture, and inconsistent turning. Correcting your imbalance should get rid of any unpleasant odors from your tumbler composter.
The best place to put a compost tumbler is outside, in direct sun. The sun will help your compost reach the temperatures necessary to break down the compostable material like grass clippings and kitchen scraps. It should be somewhere accessible and convenient as well because you’d most likely stop using it if it is too far away.
You should turn your compost tumbler several times a day, especially during the first few days. The more frequently you turn your compost, the faster your compost will break down. Once your compost has been cooking for a while, you can turn the tumbler at least once a day. In some cases, you can spin the compost tumbler every other day.
- The Rapid Composting Method. Retrieved from: http://sonomamg.ucanr.edu/files/29958.pdf
- What is Rust? Retrieved from: https://www.reliance-foundry.com/blog/what-is-rust
- The Unseen Side of Plastic: Microplastics in Compost and Aquatic Systems. Retrieved from: https://www.goldbio.com/blog/post?slug=The-Unseen-Side-of-Plastic%3AMicroplastics-in-Compost-and-+Aquatic-Systems
- Compost Fundamentals. Retrieved from: http://whatcom.wsu.edu/ag/compost/fundamentals/needs_aeration.htm
Rachael and her husband arrived on Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua in 2011. There they founded El Jardin de la Vida, a tropical micro food forest, focusing on Sustainable Living Education. She teaches others to build with natural materials, live off-grid, and appreciate slow food.