Rated 1 out of 5 by paul72345 Great idea Horrible product
I have had 3 of these composters due to warranty replacements.
They work wonderfully for 3-6 months and then fall apart when the center seperates and it falls out of the cradle.
I have tried 2 all-thread rods through the side and a bolt in the back to hold the center drum in and they still fail.
Customer service has been great but what a headache... save your money
December 5, 2012
Rated 3 out of 5 by lovesalaska Great Customer Service
I purchased this composter in December 2010 and began using it in May 2011.
While turning the composter 2 weeks ago, the drum almost fell out on the end where you unscrew the cap to get the finished product.
I hadn't notice it, but the end supports had warped over the past year.
I called Gaiam and they sent me a new one.
I live in upstate NY where our temps can drop to -45 in the winter. I think the extreme temps of our weather contributed to this event.
Gaiam replaced the composter, no questions asked! I am going to move the composter where it will only be exposed to the sun the last 2-3 hours of the day. Maybe we'll pull it into the garage in the winter as well.
I do like this composter and the convenience of being able to add to it year round. I hope moving will keep it from warping again.
Great customer service Gaiam, thanks so much!
June 7, 2012
Rated 4 out of 5 by SomeDirtWorshipper Great composter IF you know how to use it!
The first summer I had this composter (I got in in August) it produced not a lick of compost and I had followed the included instructions precisely. (And even called SunMar customer support, though they seemed to not understand what the problem was and recommended water and turning it more, which didn't solve the problem.)
The problem is that the English instructions are very misleading and do not describe how the composter actually works, or how best to care for it in order to maxamize compost production.
On a blog I learned a bit more about how the composter is supposed to work.
From the promo material online and in the directions I thought that when items were deposited into the inner drum they should be compost (at least that's what the pictures and graphics seemed to depict). So when I would peek in the inner drum and see dried up leaves and other items that were very much NOT composted, I'd toss them back in the drum and the cycle repeated itself. For MONTHS. From August until it froze solid in January I had not produced a single tablespoon of finished compost, though it was obvious that things were breaking down in the outer drum.
The problem was that the items that ended up in the inner drum were not compost at all, but only partially rotted, but still identifiable, bits of things from the outer drum.
I was very disappointed, but it had been so long at that point there was no way to return the product.
The Right Way to Use this Composter:
Over the winter I did some digging and found that the German instructions are a lot different than the English ones, and figured out how this composter is actually designed to work.
1) Fill the outer drum with the right mix of green and brown matter and water. The instructions also say to add Peat Moss as a brown matter as this helps keep the finished compost light and fluffy. Water should be 60% or so of the weight of the compost in the outer drum. When you add new material, add it only at the mouth, do not try to spread it out towards the back of the drum, as this is where the port hole to the inner drum is, and you want only older, more composted materials to be sifting inwards.
2) Rotate the drum 3-5 rotations, 2 times a week or so. As you rotate the composter, some matter goes into the inner drum. This matter is often the most broken down of the items in the outer drum, but is NOT fully composted. At this point I would often scoop out the uncomposted dried-out matter and toss it back in the outer drum.
Rather than just watering the outer drum as the instructions say, you must add water to the inner drum as well to keep the materials inside moist as they continue their final breakdown, sequestered from the new matter being added to the outer drum. I have a little garden rake that I'll use to mix up the inner drum materials after I water them with the hose.
The outer drum and composting matter inside it actually doubles as insulation for the inner drum, keeping it warmer than the inner drum and speeding up the composting process.
3) When adding water it is important to add it evenly. I add new material, water the top layer, close the lid and rotate it twice, open the lid, water it some more and rotate it twice more. The I open the inner drum port, mist water in there, and mix up the contents a little with a hand rake.
4) Leave the lid open. This is actually in the instructions, but I missed it the first time. Leaving the lid open is a bit counter-intuitive as this mode is marketed as pest-proof, so I thought by that I was obviously supposed to close the lid. Leaving the lid open on the top lets bugs come in and do their work.
By adjusting how I was using the composter I went from no compost in three months to having rich dark compost in a month (granted there was broken down matter in the outer drum, it just had to finish its cycle in the inner drum).
The only thing bad about this product was that the instructions and promotional readings don't give a clear idea of how the composter works or how to use it properly.
Other than that it was easy to assemble, has held up great, and the handle makes it easy for me to turn, even though I am a very small woman.
May 6, 2010
Rated 3 out of 5 by Reach Still searching
I wanted a barrel type composter that would be easy to use.
This unit is not for tall people with issues of bending over.
The handle for turning the unit has clearance problems when turning with the center access door.
Material seems to concentrate near the access door which allows spillage because of sliding door
November 15, 2009