If you are looking for a backyard composter that is under $100 then you will almost certainly find the FCMP IM4000 Dual Chamber Tumbling Composter in your search. I bought one to see how good this popular composter really is.
If you just bought the FCMP IM4000 and need build instructions, skip to the bottom!
FCMP IM4000 Basic Information
The FCMP IM4000 is a plastic, spinning composter meant to be kept outdoors. It has two chamber — one for adding to and one for waiting (composting) for the 6 or so weeks it takes your compost to transform from your kitchen and yard waste to a wonderful humus.
It’s meant to be turned every 2 to 3 days, and the wonderful part is that you just walk up to it and spin it. No need for shoveling or getting dirty the way you must with a compost pile or a stationery compost bin.
The IM4000’s bin is made entirely of BPA-free, outdoor-friendly black plastic. It has a sturdy metal base and is held together with stainless steel bolts and an nylon-insert locking washers so once you build it, it stays built.
The bin’s capacity is 37 gallons (5 cubic feet), or 16.5 gallons per chamber. This means it’s on the small size, but it’s fine for suburban households who have under half and acre of land and are focus more on composting kitchen waste than their lawn trimmings and fallen leaves, which would overwhelm a composter this size.
My initial batches of compost have worked out fairly well. Tumbling or backyard style composters can’t match the performance of the large compost bins that you’d find in a farm or working garden but they do the job.
Given time and the right ingredient mix — that is, the right combination of “greens” and “browns” added to the composter — the IM4000 will make compost and it’ll be a high quality addition to your garden.
Given the small size of this unit I will say that I had more trouble then I expected getting my initial composts going because I couldn’t quite nail my green/brown mix. I cheated and bought a 5-pound bag of compost starter in order to kickstart the process, but things started working soon thereafter.
The small size makes creating proper compost a challenge, but it is possible.
FCMP IM4000 Downsides
This composter, while very affordable, is not without its downsides.
The primary downside is its size. 16.5 gallons might seem like a lot when it comes to household waste, but compost needs heat to work well and heat requires decomposition at scale. Two 16 gallon containers can certainly make compost, but it’s not an ideal way to do it, which is why you see compost times of up to 6 weeks for a small batch — just two 5 gallon (or so) buckets of humus!
The build quality is OK, nothing special. I’m curious how this will get through the tough winters where I live. I’ll need to cover it to retain some heat and protect it from ice.
A major downside is the look of this IM4000 — it’s just not a good looking device. Composter are rarely beautiful products that look like they were designed by Apple, but this one is rather utilitarian (practically unsightly) even for a composter. No expenses were put into cleaning up this design or adding to the aesthetic appeal.
Lastly, this composter is totally uninsulated. The sides of the barrel are plastic that is a bit under 1/4″ thick. A high end composter like the Jora JK270 Composter or the Joraform Composter 126 use insulation to contain heat. Other more expensive composters, like the Mantis composter, use their sheer size to retain heat. The IM4000 benefits from neither of these.
Ultimately this is a good enough composter, but it’ll require patience and more work on your part than you might expect. You’ll want something bigger and probably around the $150 mark to get the job done well.
Building The Composter
Here is my how to video for building this composter step-by-by step! It’ll take you about 45 minutes and requires a screwdriver and pliers (or a 1/2 inch wrench) but nothing else.
Is the IM4000 composter bear-proof?
No, this composter isn’t hardened against anything as strong and persistent as a bear. It almost isn’t sealed or insulated so it does nothing to contain orders. You can deter pests and animals but not adding anything fatty or meat-based to the composter and maintain a proper green/brown ratio.
Does the IM4000 have a handle for turning?
No, the IM4000 does not have a handle or any turning mechanism. This composter has ridges on the outside that you can grab with your fingertips to spin it, but they are rather small so you need to spin the composter more slowly than you might expect.
Are the metal legs stainless steel?
No, the metal legs on the IM4000 are galvanized steel, not stainless steel. They are still weather-resistant.
Where is the FCMP composter made?
This composter was manufactured in London, Ontario, in Canada.
Is this composter acceptable for vermicomposting?
No, the tumbling action is not worm-friendly and this is not the right type for vermicomposting.