Meat Grinder Horse Power - How Much is Needed?

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by westcanuck, Apr 24, 2011.

  1. I have been researching on this forum for over a month now. It has been the best resource I have found online for sausage making and almost every question I could possibly have has been answered here.

    About me: I am an avid cook and would consider my grinding volume to be on the low-end as my husband and I are a two person household and we are not hunters (so we won’t be grinding a whole deer for example). I am guessing we would grind only 2 - 3 times a year, then freeze the sausages we make and meat we grind up. Pretty basic stuff.

    I was originally going to buy a $100 variety grinder but many of you changed my mind and I’ve decided to invest in something more substantial.

    What I haven’t figured out is how much horse power do I need for my grinder? I am deciding between these two:

    LEM .35 HP    36 lb    4 lb/min    #8  Neck    $289.99

    LEM .75 HP    47 lb    6 lb/min    #12 Neck   $399.99

    FYI, there is no .5 HP version. The jump goes from .35 HP to .75 HP (not sure why). From what I have read (including many LEM user reviews) the .35 HP should be more than adequate for my needs but the .75 HP is only $110 more with considerably more HP.

    The main differences is the .75 HP is 11 lb heavier, does a slightly higher volume per minute and has the larger #12 neck. I have no problem spending the extra $110 but wonder if this size is just overkill for me? This is something I am hoping will last me a long time and that I won’t need to upgrade in the future.

    BTW, I will be buying a separate sausage stuffer instead of using my grinder (which I originally had planned to do). This forum advice will save me many headache from what I have read. My choice is the: LEM 5 lb stainless steel vertical stuffer.

    Thanks for all the great resources on this forum. I would really appreciate any input as my husband is truly sick of my paralysis of analysis over this! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  2. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

  3. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    The LEM grinders are very good I have there 1.5 hp #32 and have had it for 10-15 years. Personally I would go with the .75 HP you will get a grinder that should last a lifetime and a bigger neck opening means you won't have to cut the meat up as much to feed it into the grinder.

    I would also consider the Cabela's Grinders they often put them on sale and I would rank them right with the LEM's as far as quality here's a link;Search-All+Products  
  4. fife

    fife Master of the Pit

    Good luck with the grinder
  5. Thanks everyone,

    Beer-B-Q, that Northern Tool grinder is the one I first was going to buy (before I found this forum) and I'm sure it would be fine but I really have my heart set on something more industrial and especially the stainless steel aspect. 

    Pineywoods - from what I've read, most people cut up their meat into strips before grinding so I wasn't thinking the difference in head diameter would come into play but if I can do larger strips, that would be less labour intensive which is a plus. What size strips do you recommend if I go with the larger grinder? I know I have to partially freeze the meat BTW.

    I was also wondering if having the extra HP would come into play in the long run with extended use (from a wear and tear point of view)? I'm not sure if that's correct or not based on my volume.

    The Cabela I know is also very good. For me, it was between these two. What swayed me was watching the LEM youtube videos explaining their new "big bite" technology and the fact that these grinders really grab the meat (with little to no need for a pusher) so I guess I will see. Customer service at LEM also seems positive from what I've read and I can order both the grinder and stuffer from the same company - shipping is always an issue for us Canadians. I order almost all my stuff from the states because even when the CDN $ is at par, we still pay way more for products here in Canada.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011
  6. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    I have that same grinder and love it. I have put nearly a ton and a half of meat through it (no exaggeration) in the last year and a half and it continues to perform like a champ. It doesn't say "LEM" on it but I never have been that interested in brand names that are rebadged units to begin with.
  7. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I use my grinder more than you, but, like you, I do small batches.  You really don't need an industrial grinder for that.  More stainless steel is certainly better, but do we really need it?  I have read so many positive comments on that Northern Tool grinder that I wish I had bought that one, but I was in a hurry and didn't do sufficient research.

    Good luck and good smoking!
  8. Okay everyone, now I am even MORE confused than before - HA!

    Interestingly, when I was looking at the Northern Tool model I noticed an identical one (Kitchener #12 Electric Meat Grinder — 1/2 HP) but the description specifies “stainless steel fine, medium and coarse cutting plates, stainless steel knife.” The Northern Tool model states carbon steel so if I were going to buy this type, I would probably go with the Kitchener. The Kitchener is also on sale right now for $99 which is $30 less for anyone interested.

    I am certainly not a “brand name” seeker and didn’t even know about LEM until I started researching. There were specifics things I was looking for in a grinder. I am a stainless steel kind of gal and I don’t want to deal with carbon steel parts. I also prefer to avoid aluminum (the housing that the meat goes through and the auger are aluminum in the Northern Tool grinder). In my kitchen, these are just my personal preferences. I know stainless steel costs more but that's what I'm looking for.

    LEM grinders are manufactured by Leonardi which is one of the oldest grinder manufacturers in Italy. Their quality from what I understand is exceptional.

    Maybe some more LEM owners will chime in here!

    Thanks everyone for the advice.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2011
  9. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Another thing to remember is that the larger the grinder the more expensive the grinder plates and knives are. 

    You will definitely want to add more plates than come with the grinder as you start doing different sausages...
  10. killnsmoke

    killnsmoke Smoke Blower

    i have a 1hp cabelas grinder and LOVE IT!!  just made 15lbs of sausage over the weekend and it went through it like it was nothing, took no time at all.  the best thing is all the parts are dishwasher safe so i just rinse them off and put them through the dishwasher!!
  11. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have the 1 hp Cabelas grinder also.  After 30 years in a meatroom, I am used to a good grinder.  This fit the bill for me and it will outlast myself and my sons and I expect it to be handed down to my grandson someday.  I will probably upgrade to the 1¾ hp someday when I can't find use for my money, lol!  But for now, it does a great job.  I also have the Northern Tool 15 lb. ss stuffer too, which is a pleasure to use; it is more convenient than the 5 lb. as I will do batches not just for me but also for my two sons' families too, like bratwurst for this summer's cookouts.. gotta start hunting down best prices on butts!  
  12. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    I know that many of ya'll use the Northern Tool Grinder and that it works well but I like my LEM and have ground over 1000 lbs in a day on more than one occasion. I bought my grinder when we were doing a lot of hog hunting and come Sunday afternoon when we needed to grind a bunch of meat in a hurry it sure was nice to have a heavy duty grinder to do it.
  13. Yesterday I spoke with a lady at LEM about my horse power dilemma. Thankfully she wasn’t pushing me one way or the other and seemed objective. She did make one comment that what I THINK my volume is going to be might change in the future once I learn the process. Good point.

    I know many of you here have caught the “sausage/grinding bug” and I can see that happening to me. Also, I hadn't considered that I will likely share my equipment with family and friends which will add to my volume.

    As the expression goes ... “go big or go home” so I’ve decided to go with the 3/4 HP. What a relief having figured that part out!
    Pope6927, you have me re-thinking my stuffer size though. Yesterday I spent a couple of hours reading forum opinions about the 5 lb version and many people commented that they wish they had gone bigger.

    I went back on the LEM website and farther down the stuffer page I found a 10 lb stuffer that I hadn’t noticed before (it is new). My feeling is that the15 lb would be overkill for me and this one is somewhere in the middle PLUS it’s a two speed design - a slow speed for stuffing and a fast speed for raising the piston quickly (for easier refilling). I think this will be the perfect size for me ... more volume than the 5 lb with quick re-loading when I need it.

    I’m so glad I posted my question here and thought it through - it has helped me so much. Thanks again everyone for your input!
  14. pineywoods

    pineywoods Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    Westcanuck I would suggest the 15 lb stuffer from Northern Tool you'll save quite a bit of money over the LEM one. There are lots of us using the Northern Tool one and nobody that I'm aware of has had a problem with theirs.

    Congrats on the Grinder selection I think you'll be happy with it
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2011
  15. chefrob

    chefrob Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    just got the .35 lem grinder but i haven't had time to use it. it looks well made and like you the "big bite" auger looks interesting. one of the things i like is bass pro carries the plates, knives and other lem products and they are right up the road so it works for me. i went with the 5# lem stuffer cuz like you i am not feed ing a big family and i like the 5# recipe amounts to mess with.
  16. boykjo

    boykjo Sausage maker Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Ive seen pinywoods grinder and you could fit a side of beef in it....its massive....[​IMG]

    I have the 1hp cabelas grinder and its all stainless and am very pleased with it. You can also add all the fancy toys that connect to the motor........

    Good luck and dont forget to post some qveiw..........
  17. Well Pineywoods, considering I upgraded on the grinder, I want to get a metal gear stuffer so my grinder and stuffer match in quality. Hey I'm a girl so go figure why. [​IMG]  I'm swaying towards the two gear 10 lb one though. 

    You really grind 1000 lbs a day? Wow - that would be worth seeing.
  18. piker

    piker Fire Starter

    I have the Grinder and 5lb. stuffer from northern tools. I do about 250lbs. a year and have no problem. With the stuffer the plastic gears went after a few years so replaced them. The quality of the replacement gears was not good so I got metal gears from LEM and with a bit of adjustments it now works great. The grinder does about 175 lbs. per hour if the meat is cut right and partially frozen. It also helps to sharpen the blade and reface the plate every so often. I live close to the U.S. border so I get everything shipped to holding company and then pick it up myself and only pay a $5.00 handling fee and then g.s.t.. It saves a load on shipping charges. Piker

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