Koolatron 50-Gallon Tumbling Composter

Compare to Amazon at $229

Every time I see this name I expect it to be Megatron’s cooler cousin

I’ve looked at this kind of item on Woot several times before and still don’t understand the burning need for it. So will someone with experience please answer a few questions for me…

Is a 50 gallon capacity composter large enough and how long will it reasonably take to produce 50 gal?

While frame material is called heavy duty steel, how long will it take before it rusts away in a soggy environment?

Is it worth the expense and the extra effort? After all, you can buy a large sack of this stuff for less than ten bucks at a local garden store.

Is there any reason why these things are so expensive? Isn’t it essentially just a plastic barrel on a metal stand? I’ve been interested in one but can’t really justify the cost.

Because someone will pay it?

I don’t think many who compost necessarily do it to save money- certainly not when you’re buying a composter. Once you get a batch of compost working, going to the garden center and buying bags requires more effort than turning the bin occasionally.

To me, it’s kind of like roasting your own coffee beans- it takes many batches to break even on the initial expense of the machine, but you get better coffee as a result (*Woot, if you’re listening, that’s the Behmor 1600 Drum Roaster- hint, hint *).

You can build a compost bin for cheap and save money on bags and on buying a composter, if you don’t mind the extra labor of turning the pile routinely. I built a cage, but found myself lacking in the labor requirement, so I bought one of the bins Woot offered previously. It’s working quite nicely.

Adding compost to your garden will not only help retain water, it also provides the soil with microorganisms that will improve plant growth. Composting is just another piece of the reuse/reduce/recycle process. Granted, you can buy cheap compost, but doing it yourself is a win-win deal, minimizing landfill waste, providing an excellent source of organic matter, better quality compost, and- for some of us who live in country locations outside city limits, reducing the load we have to haul off to the local trash/recycle center.

Great insight. Having bought a previous tumbler from WOOT, here a quick summary of my experiences to better visualize that part where the rubber hits the road. Of course, I might be doing it all wrong:

a) Compost does not magically appear, it takes a long time to ‘cook’
b) You will get maggots so get used to the sight of them.
c) You will get a millions flies
d) You will need to monitor the compost to ensure the proper mixing and moisture level so you will have to look at those flies and maggots.
e) It is really nice to throw food away knowing it will be recycled but every time you do it, you will be greeted by the flies and maggots.

If you can get pass the you know what, then you will be rewarded with thick rich compost…one day.

I tried searching but can’t find anymore info on this composter. Perhaps someone with some better google skills can do so? :slight_smile:

I’d like to see if anyone has experience with it. We just got chickens and a composter will be needed in the very near future!

I owned a cheap version of a tumble composter and it was terrible, this one looks much more well made. Hoping it will last me a while.


Yes. The others are right. Lots of flies and maggots and it takes a while to make a batch, depending on weather and composition. For me at least the big reason for a composter was to keep biodegradable material out of the land fill. That stuff essentially mummifies there because the landfill operators go to great lengths to keep water and moisture out (it leads to leaching and pollution of ground water). So the stuff never really breaks down.

Yes you will have to turn it and manage it a bit, but you are doing your part for the planet. With that said, going out and buying a composter makes a lot less sense than repurposing a used barrel and some scrap materials from around the house. They are not hard to build (go on instructables.com to see lots of examples) and will likely last longer than the one for sale here (YES, the metal will rust!).

I built something similar to this myself a couple months ago and haven’t had many problems with flies yet. There were a lot for the first two weeks, but I just started burying my food scraps under either old dead leaves I had bagged or old straw leftover from the winter. It’s supposed to be about 3:1 of dead stuff like that to food anyways, so I just cover the food every time and that’s helped keep bugs down to practically zero.

I currently use a layering style composter from the same manufacturer and it works great. I would imagine this being a tumbling variety you would not need to use the additives and worms I use with my stand alone layering style. Also the wheels are a double bonus so you could move the smell far away.

You should not get maggots if the mix of greens and browns is right. If it stinks you have too much greens and it will attract flies. Add browns and mix to cure this problem. Also insufficient turning can cause smell so turn your pile often. Keep the pile turned and moist and you should have no stench or flies.

These composters are great when you don’t have much area to work with and they make turning very easy. You really need more than one though as you need to stop adding to the pile at some point so it can finish cooking.

I have not use this type but have read reviews, and from the looks of it I can believe, that the frame will not hold up to the weight of a full bin.

One last thing on composting. Don’t use meat, fat, or manure from meat eating animals. It can be composted but is tricky.

Maggots generally appear if you include meat scraps on your compost. I never have maggots in my compost – I do sometimes see a fair number of fruit flies; they’re attracted to the vegetable scraps as they decompose. But they’re not too bad and the compost is not right next to the house so they really don’t bother me.

If you’re composting for a vegetable garden never include meat scraps or pet poop. (Need I add not to compost people poop, too?) And make sure you add both brown and green feedstock, as has already been mentioned.

I have 2 composters, one tumbler and one stationary. The stationary one takes a lot longer because it needs to be turned, something I just don’t have the time for. I love the tumbler. Load it up, spin it a few times a week, and add water when necessary. The stationary composter is loaded with worms, and adding the beneficial worm compost. I generally start my batch in the spring and use it the following spring or summer, depending on when I have the time to spread it around.

If your compost smells, you’re doing something wrong. You need to maintain the balance between the greens and the browns.

Never add dairy, meats, or oils. That attracts pests & vermin. Don’t add seeds; they’ll sprout. Try not to add weeds; their seeds will live & undoubtedly grow in your garden.

I only add vegetable & fruit scraps, grass, leaves, garden vegetation & shredded newspaper. Never had maggots or flies, just gnats, but they’re just doing their voodoo.

It doesn’t produce a lot of compost, and yes, it’s quicker & easier to go out and just buy a few bags, I’m guilty of that as well.

But, why not make some of your own? The necessary ingredients are part of your everyday life.

It actually looks happy in that third picture, surrounded by all the greenery.

You can still get maggots even without the addition of meat scraps. Assuming you aren’t using meat scraps, they often come if your compost is particularly wet, which I have found can happen by the addition of a lot of coffee grounds and other “wet” fruit and veggie scraps. These maggots are not technically bad as they will help break down the compost. If you want to avoid or get rid of the maggots, you best bet is to add more dry, brown material.

I might also recommend having a second composter. I use one that turns to begin the process, and this compost often gets a bit wet. Once that fills up, I transfer it to just a simple compost bin where I include additional dry, brown material as needed.

Being green costs money and the people being green will pay it.
MFR’s know this all too well.

I have a stationary composter my town delivered for free, and now that it is more than half full, it’s increasingly difficult to turn. A tumbling composter would be fantastic, and I’m seriously considering this one.

I just started composting two months ago, but have seen no maggots or flies. I did see a roach and some crickets when I added water and attempted to turn.

Five bucks DIY.