Worm Inn Mega vs VermBin24

In the comments section of my last Worm Inn Mega update, someone asked about the difference between a Mega and a VermBin. I thought it would make for a fun blog post, so here I am!
🙂

It’s no secret that I love both of these types of bins. And…yes, of course I am super-biased (lol). After all, I do sell both of them (well, the plans in the case of the VermBins) – but it’s very important for everyone to realize that I only sell/promote them because I LOVE them and stand behind them 100%! You’ll notice that I don’t sell any other bins on the site (nuff said).

Anyway, in this case, I think the bias kinda cancels itself out – lol – so we are good to go!


***The Similarities***


Both of these are “single-compartment flow-through” bins. In other words, there is one main vermicomposting zone – wastes get added up top, and vermicompost get’s removed from the bottom (NOTE: you can certainly have horizontal flow-through bins as well – but generally they will require one or more additional compartments).

In theory, the worms should follow the food materials and concentrate themselves up near the top of the system, leaving castings-rich vermicompost down below. In actuality there are always going to be at least some stragglers hanging out in the material that gets harvested. But, all in all, when these systems are maintained properly you should see a pretty good separation of worm from vermicompost.

Both of these bins offer excellent air flow, and as such they can produce really high quality vermicompost – usually faster than in something like a plastic, enclosed bin. They also both help to promote very healthy living conditions for the worms.


***The Differences***


1) DIY vs Manufactured – VermBins need to be built – whether by you or someone else – so that naturally adds a bit more challenge/hassle. But also adds a bit more flexibility. While you are encouraged to stick to the plans – especially if you are a DIY novice – there are plenty of ways you can “tweak” the design (or completely modify it, if you are good with tools) to suit your needs.

Worm Inns are basically ready to go. The only thing you need to “build” is the stand. If building the PVC pipe stand (all Worm Inns come with corner pieces and zip ties for this – you just need to buy the pipe) – other than cutting the pipes, there’s really nothing to it. It’s just like putting together “Tinker Toys”. Building a wooden or metal stand will obviously be more involved, but still easier than building a VermBin.

2) Weight – The Worm Inn itself is incredibly lightweight – made from durable cordura fabric. VermBins, being made of wood (with various metal components) have the potential to weigh a LOT more. In some ways the VB24 will have the edge, however, since it is a very solid, rigid design – you can hit it pretty hard and you don’t have to worry about anything crashing down. As I touched on in my recent Worm Inn Mega video, as solid as the PVC stand is (zero issues handling the weight of the system), there is some potential for trouble if you happen to bump into it really hard. It’s also important to point out that one of the optional add-ons for the VermBins is a set of wheels – so that gives the VermBins an edge for moving the system.

3) Critters – The Worm Inns definitely win in this category hands-down! Fantastic aeration (and potentially light, if sitting in well-lit location) up above keeps organisms down in the composting zone. The zippered mesh lid is pure genius – helping to keep flying critters OUT (or those that have hatched IN). VermBins tend to be better than enclosed plastic bins in terms of encouraging the development of beneficial critters – but they don’t do much to keep the ones that fly in or out!

4) Size/Volume – I did a rough calculation of the volume of a Worm Inn Mega based on its measurements and came up with approx. 4 cu ft. I’ve previously calculated the internal volume of the VB24 as ~5.6 cu ft, so it’s definitely a decent amount bigger. But it also takes up more room. It is 24″x 24″ x 42″ (without wheels) – whereas the Mega stand is 20″ x 20″ x 36″. I should also mention that the extra volume (and solid wall construction etc) means the VB24 is a lot more likely to overheat. I can’t think of a single time I’ve had a Worm Inn overheat – not saying it’s not possible (especially in the case of the Mega, and also in cases where the system is sitting in a warm location), but definitely a different kettle of fish than the VermBins (as you might imagine, the VB48 and VB96 are even more likely to heat up).

5) Pricing – The suggested retail price of the Mega is about $135 or so*. The cost of brand new supplies for the VB24 might be in the range of $100-$150, depending on where you live and how good you are at finding deals. Of course, you can build it for a lot less than that if you improvise a bit and/or use reclaimed materials.


*One VERY important thing to keep in mind about the pricing of both Worm Inn models (and something I always forget to mention) is the fact that they are manufactured in the USA. Jerry Gach has a team of very hard-working, awesome folks who really benefit from his employment. He could VERY easily outsource the work overseas and pay a fraction of what he pays per unit, but he has chosen to go this route instead. I have nothing against products made outside of North American, don’t get me wrong – but I still think this is commendable. If you have ever felt that these bins are “expensive”, perhaps this will provide some perspective.


6) Harvesting – I think both bins have harvesting pros/cons/hassles, so it is tough to pick a clear winner here. I love the fact that the Worm Inn (Mega or otherwise) has a tightly enclosed bottom. One of the challenges with the VermBins is that once your false bottom rots away, it is not uncommon to end up with a fair amount of vermicompost (maybe even worms) falling down. This is why I came up with a “skirt” and catch-bin system for my VB48, which has been working very well I might add. On the other hand, the fact that the bottom of the VermBins can be accessed quickly and easily almost makes the Worm Inn harvesting look like a bit of a “hassle” in comparison. So it’s all about deciding what works best for you! All in all, both types of systems will allow you to harvest some really nice material from the bottom (and no, the rest of the material won’t just come crashing down when you do so! lol) – and do so relatively easily once it is ready.

7) Worm Production – This one is tough to assess – and I have been extremely impressed with both types of system for supporting high densities of composting worms. I am still in the “early” testing stages with the Worm Inn Mega (as I type this) – but I have a sneaking suspicion (based on the gobs upon gobs of worms I am already finding in there) that it may reign supreme in terms of density of worms per unit volume. We’ll have to wait and see!

UPDATE: After working with a Mega for an extended period, I’d say that it has the potential for greater worm densities (per unit volume)! Pretty amazing how many worms you can end up with in this system!


OK – so that’s MY take on it! What do all of you Worm Inn and VermBin users have to say about it (especially those of you who have tried out BOTH)?


Speaking of trying both (wink, wink)…

Check out the VermBin Flow-Through Series & Worm Inn Mega today!
😎

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Comments

    • Melody
    • January 31, 2014

    Would either of these work outside? I’m in a climate where the plastic stacking type bins do fine outdoors year round. But the trays can be a pain.

    • Bentley
    • February 1, 2014

    Hi Melody,
    Both of these would be fine outdoors in any location where a plastic bin is ok outdoors. I would keep the Worm Inn out of direct sunlight as much as possible, however, since it will degrade the fabric (and mesh). Also important to keep in mind that precipitation will have an impact on the Inn (as will very dry conditions).

    • Emily
    • February 5, 2014

    Thanks, Bentley.

    • Nicole Olding
    • February 5, 2014

    i have used the worm inn and a home bin (but not the vb24) and have found that the inn does produce some great compost fast.

    i am new to the whole thing so I dont have much technical advise or feedback, but I know that I have gotten more compost faster with the inn than in the bin.

    • Bentley
    • February 5, 2014

    No thank YOU for the inspiration, Emily!
    😎
    —–
    NICOLE – thanks for the feedback!

    • Amy
    • February 5, 2014

    Hi! I’m returning to worm composting after a long hiatus. I’m strongly considering buying the Worm Inn, but I’ve noticed what looks like mold infesting the outside of Inns in various videos. Fairly certain that my husband would not tolerate this. In the past, I’ve used plastic worm tower contraptions which certainly had their own issues (slower process, dampness, drowning worms, fruit flies), but the outsides were easy to keep tidy looking in a small house. Do you have advice on this? Any way to keep mold from covering the Inn? Thanks!

    • Bentley
    • February 5, 2014

    Hi Amy – interesting question! Please let me know what videos you are referring to, specifically. Were they part of the “Worm Inn Overfeeding Challenge”, by chance? I don’t recall there being mold on that Inn – but if there was ever a situation where it might happen that would be it! lol
    If there is an excessive amount of food in the system and (likely as a result) it remains really, really wet, I could see this potentially happening. When the Worm Inn is used properly (I had disclaimers associated with the overfeeding challenge – that definitely was NOT proper use! lol) you really shouldn’t see mold growth on the outside. I certainly haven’t seen anything close to “mold covering the Inn” – that’s for sure! If you did happen to get a little patch appearing, simply wiping it down with a rag and some vinegar/water solution should get rid of it very easily.

    • David Bennett
    • February 5, 2014

    I’ve made a couple of flow through bins, one small plastic and one wooden vb24. Both have good results although the vb24 didn’t last long enough to really tell – the flying critters got too much. Flow through is definitely the way to go. I’m intrigued by the harvesting method used for the Inn ’cause it sounds like a real hassle.

    I think if I were to build another vb-style I’d make the main chamber v-shadowed to avoid the skirt which in my case alleviated the mess around the bin but not entirely and also made harvesting harder.

    • Amy
    • February 5, 2014

    Thanks for your reply! The videos I saw weren’t yours, but from others who have used the Worm Inn and had an obvious mold problem. Good to know that’s an avoidable problem. Consider one unit sold!

    • Lynn
    • February 5, 2014

    Hi, Bentley. I’ve pretty much decided I need to replace the WF I have with a Worm Inn,and am working on logistics in a small kitchen. Outdoors is not doable over the winter, as recent temps prove. I have a couple of questions, though, that I can’t find answers to.

    #1 – The brochure at theworminn.com says to keep a pan or bucket under the bag for leachate. I know how much exactly is going to depend on how much and what one feeds, but since I’ve never had a ton of liquid in the WF, I have to wonder, is it going to smell if I’m not able to keep up with the liquid? I’ve read and reread your posts, and don’t see anything about catching leachate. ?
    #2 – It also mentions a wheeled version that is a size that would work better for me. Do you know anything about that? If not, could I trim the 18″ pieces by 2-3″ to make the Inn fit the corner it needs to go in? Would that cause me to have to adjust the vertical pipes to be higher to compensate?

    • John W.
    • February 5, 2014

    I use a Worm Inn and have NEVER had mold. I can’t imagine how much liquid you would have to add to have that problem, but I would dare say they are doing something wrong.

    @Lynn: I don’t always have a bucket under my Worm Inn (probably have not had one under it for more than a month and have had zero liquid come out). Once you get the Inn broken in and have been using it for a few months you won’t necessarily have dripping out of the bottom, and if you do it can be very minimal, unless you are dumping whole watermelons in there.

    • Steve
    • February 6, 2014

    An obvious point to emphasize in the differences is the set-up-time comparison in putting up the two systems. The Worm Inn wins by a landslide over the VB24. Time is a valuable commodity.

    • Peter
    • February 6, 2014

    Ah yes, the moldy worm inn. I do remember an owner getting ton of mold who posted on another website, but that’s because…..

    They thougth it was a problem that compost at the edges of the inn was dry (it does get drier, but I find it still all gets eaten/processed further down anyway), so what they did was wrap it in a plastic bag. As you would think, besides the issue of making a breathable system non breathable, it allowed moisture to build up on the outside of the fabric and the mold growth started.

    I’ve also never had real leachate problems (never more than a few drops and that’s pumpkin season) and never outside mold. Once it’s been up for a while and you’ve got some compost sitting in the bottom, it can handle a fair amount of water veggies (melon, broccoli etc.). When it’s new with just cardboard and paper, then you might want to be a bit careful. Adding a LOT in the bottom as a plug at the start helps, and it’s amazing how much cardboard the inn can hold when you want to fill it a bit before starting lol. You might pull a fair amount of that as unprocessed cardboard in your first harvest or two, but just toss it back in the top :).

    • Lynn
    • February 7, 2014

    Thanks, both! I’ll be starting it with what’s left of the WF once I harvest for the spring planting,and all the worms will move too, of course. I have no clue how to estimate, but I have three trays going, and two are full of worms, and the third getting there.

    They actually wrapped worms in plastic??????

    • Bentley
    • February 7, 2014

    AMY – Ahhhh…the plot thickens! Thanks for clarifying (I guess that explains why I don’t recall having a Worm Inn covered in mold – haha)
    —–
    LYNN – re: liquid, I’m with John and Peter. While I DO keep a bucket underneath just in case, I do everything I can to avoid leachate. The only real times I have seen it is A) early on, before the system has enough material to soak it all up, and B) when I have added way too much water-rich food waste (eg the overfeeding challenge).
    I am not really familiar with the wheeled version of the stand – might be something you can ask Jerry about (via Worm Inn website).
    ——
    JOHN – thanks for chiming in!
    ——
    STEVE – Good point for sure! The VB building time + set up + just generally going easy with it so as to avoid risking overheating etc definitely requires more time and patience. With the Worm Inn you can be up and running in a matter of minutes.
    ——
    PETER – thanks for the info. That is shocking – I certainly hope they weren’t placing blame on the Worm Inn for the mold growth. Sheesh!
    I totally agree with your other thoughts about the Worm Inn as well. Not everything that comes out of it will necessarily be “perfect vermicompost” – but even if it’s not (eg remaining false bottom – dried out stuff around outside), but can be an awesome “living material” to recycle through the system again.
    😎

    • Bentley
    • February 7, 2014

    DAVID – apologies for the delay getting your comment approved (forgot I had not done so yet)!

    Not sure why you would be intrigued by something that sounds like a hassle (LOL), but regardless, I definitely don’t think harvesting from the Inn is a hassle at all. Only time it was a real pain was when I was using a stand that was too low to the ground (my very first Worm Inn, if I remember correctly) – made it very difficult to get underneath with catch tray and hand rake.

    Cool idea about the harvesting chamber modifications on the VermBins!

    • Mark from Kansas
    • February 7, 2014

    I am in the process of harvesting right now. I felt that my Inn was pack too tight (yes,I am a bin fluffer). Digging out of the bottom, I went a little too far and the middle fell down. I have sorted a 6 gallon tub so far. The bin is healthy as far as I am concerned; nice smell, lots of adults, babies, and a fair amount of cocoons. I never encountered any mold on the outside and I dump about 2 quarts of water on the top once a week. I get a fair amount some leachate so, I dilute that and dump it in the yard. I keep my Inn in a small closet in our back room, the mesh lid has kept the gnats too a minimum.
    I am very pleased with my Inn, it was worth the money and no spousal complaints.

    • Bentley
    • February 9, 2014

    WHOAH! Mark! I thought we had lost you to the horrible world of the “non-vermicomposting”! LoL
    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your update!
    😎

    • Lynn
    • February 9, 2014

    ~let out deep breath~~ I just ordered my Worm Inn! Thank you all for answering my questions!

    • Mark from Kansas
    • February 9, 2014

    Thanks B-Dazzle!
    I’m still in it. On an interesting note, we got a new puppy last year. He seems to get into everything! He hates squirrels, cats, skunks, and can hear the coyotes that are about a mile from our house (the drought brought them closer to town). Our dog eats oak chairs and has ripped out my favorite rose bush. What is interesting is when I did my harvest, he didn’t get into it, he only looked around. The closet that my bin is in doesn’t have a door and he has left it alone. It makes me wonder if the dog can smell my bin at all. There is all kind of smelly treats for a mutt like him but, he leaves it alone. I wish he would leave the cat litter box alone.
    Mark

    • Kim from Milwaukee
    • May 6, 2014

    LMAO @ bin fluffer….Mark, you’re too funny!

    Doggies like skooby snacks…high protein in dem kitty turds! Guess, that’s one way of cutting down on dogfood costs AND double processing of those kitty ‘treats’!

    • Suzanne
    • September 12, 2015

    I live in Arizona what are my chances with growing worms here with the Mega
    First time grower

    • Bentley
    • September 12, 2015

    Suzanne,
    If you keep the Mega indoors (highly recommended), you should have a great chance of success. You’ll just need to keep an eye on moisture levels (to make sure it’s not drying out too much).
    Trying to keep a Mega operational outside in Arizona may be an exercise in futility, unfortunately. Assuming you live in a region that is hot and dry for a good chunk of the year.

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