Most people use a microwave daily, but hardly anyone can answer how many watts does a microwave use? In this article, we’ll do more than answer this not-so-simple question. We’ll give you all the background information you need for an in-depth understanding.
Once you’ve read through, you’ll be intimately familiar with how microwaves work. The energy consumption of running a microwave, and above all, how many watts your microwave uses.
Table of Contents
How many watts does a microwave use?
The amount of watts a microwave uses heavily depends on the type of microwave and the settings used in particular operative use. An average home microwave oven typically uses between 800 and 1000 watts. Most microwave ovens are operated at their highest setting.
Depending on the setting and type of microwave, the wattage can be lower than 100 watts or above 1000 watts.
How do microwaves work?
The trusty microwave is perhaps the handiest household appliance in any household kitchen. These compact devices can heat food without using fire, convection, or conventional heat. Rather, it does it by shooting electromagnetic waves to vibrate the water molecules in the food.
It uses an electron tube known as a magnetron to produce microwave radiation. Electrons are reflected from the microwave oven’s metal interior and into the food’s water particles, causing them to vibrate and heat up.
What are watts?
A watt is a single unit of measurement used to inform us how much electricity usage a device such as a microwave oven operates on. Essentially, the more watts a household appliance uses. Therefore, the more it ultimately costs you to run in terms of energy consumption and monetary payment.
Watts can be calculated by multiplying an appliance’s voltage (electrical pressure) by its amperage (rate of electrical flow).
How do you find the wattage power of your microwave?
Fortunately, we do not need to apply mathematics to work out the wattage output power of our household devices. This is because kitchen appliances such as microwave ovens, toasters, and blenders are all required to display their wattage somewhere on the machine.
If you struggle to find the wattage displayed on your microwave, it can easily be found in the user manual. Here you can find it along with its voltage and amperage information.
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Types of microwaves
Different microwaves have varying electricity consumption, cooking power, and input and output wattage. These microwaves may or may not come with adjustable power settings and cooking modes. Smaller microwaves use less wattage power for cooking food, while large models have a much higher power consumption.
On average, a compact microwave oven will feature an input wattage between 600 and 800 watts. This makes it one notch below the average home microwave oven. These compact microwaves are often found in hotel or motel rooms and can also be found on campsites for their lightweight build and flexible transportation potential.
The home microwave is likely the microwave oven you have in your home kitchen, coming in at about 800 to 1000 watts of energy usage. As these are the most commonly used microwaves in the world. They typically represent the average microwave regarding statistics and hence the average energy consumption of all microwaves.
These countertop microwaves are found in just about any household kitchen. They may even be found in workplace break rooms for the convenience of employees.
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Last but not least is the industrial-strength microwave oven which goes beyond the average wattage for a power level of over 1000 watts. These sophisticated microwaves do more than cook food quickly. They also deliver thorough heating of food inside and outside, so no cold spots remain.
As such, these max-power commercial microwave ovens are often found in restaurant kitchens. In some cases, even an elite-level home kitchen.
Types of settings
There are various types of wattage settings on a standard microwave, typically ranging from very low to high or very high. When used appropriately, these settings can perform just about any heating task. This includes warming up some milk to defrosting a frozen steak.
Some microwaves display preset settings such as “defrost” or “potato,” which gives the user a better indication. However, for other microwaves, a solid understanding of wattage is essential.
At its lowest settings, the microwave watts can go down to 100 watts and even lower, allowing for the gentle heating of food. The very low setting is ideal for the slow defrosting of large frozen meats such as minced beef, whole chicken, or turkey.
Remember, defrosting is different to heating. So, by the end of the microwave defrost cycle, your item may still be cold but no longer be frozen.
One of the other uses of this ultra-low wattage setting is softening hard ice creams that are hard to scoop up. Of course, you don’t want to keep ice cream in the microwave for 10 minutes.
Depending on the hardness of the ice cream, a mere 30 seconds on the very low setting may work. It can help soften the texture enough to pierce it with a spoon.
The low setting is usually above 100 watts of power but no more than 400 watts. This makes it possible to defrost frozen foods and enable slow cooking. In addition, this setting is great for cooking just below boiling point. This makes it ideal for simmering rice and pasta as you approach the 400-watt mark.
For example, you can prepare a rice or pasta base with this setting. Then, slow-cook a stew to go with it for an energy-efficient meal.
Savory foods aside, the low setting is great for cooking or softening various desserts. The lower microwave wattage ensures sugar mixtures are not overcooked or burned. Like the very low setting, you could also use the low setting for softening hard ice creams, butter, or chocolate.
For dessert, you could use this setting for baking cakes or egg tarts. The low wattage will ensure delicate textures such as chocolate cream or eggs are not overcooked or having their flavor compromised.
Anywhere around 400 to 600 watts can typically be considered a medium microwave setting, now surpassing the realm of defrosting and ice cream softening. You can thoroughly cook meat dishes such as casseroles and roast beef at this power output. Although, you may need to use a medium setting in conjunction with a high setting for some dishes.
Essentially, the 400 to 600 wattage range is intended for gentle cooking, baking, or simmering, able to tackle foods that are dense in nature.
A good way to think of the medium setting is like an “express oven.” With this wattage, any cooking task that would otherwise take several hours in the oven can be done in less than an hour.
This makes the medium setting great for braising beef stews. The microwave’s wattage is low enough to prevent burns to the liquids but high enough to deliver a shorter cooking time. You can also use this setting for cooking eggs in a container in under a minute, ready for consumption upon completion.
As we approach the microwave’s max wattage setting, we reach this area between medium and high known as medium-high (who would’ve guessed?). This setting covers the 600 to 800 watts range. It is great for reheating leftovers that have gone cold inside or for foods that have failed to heat thoroughly on the higher wattage setting.
The medium-high setting is great for reducing cooking times while providing enough of a “slow cook” to heat the inside effectively.
As you may expect, many household microwave ovens will have this set as the default. It provides a good balance between cooking power and reduced cooking times. Many ready-made microwavable foods also use this setting for cooking a quick meal packaged and ready to go from the supermarket.
For desserts, the medium-high setting is sufficient for baking sponge cake without overcooking it and removing too much moisture.
The high setting covers the 800 to 1000 watts range and is the ultimate in speed cooking high liquid-containing foods such as soups and stews. As discussed, microwaves send electrons to the water particles inside foods, which heats up the food through vibrational movements.
Thus, stirring your soup or stew thoroughly before, during, and after microwaving is important to ensure no part is overcooked or burned.
Essentially, the high setting can be used to heat food of all sorts, from pastas to meats, poultry, and vegetables. It’s also a common wattage used for cooking potatoes and pumpkins, as these ingredients require long durations in the oven. So the higher wattage of a microwave can accelerate this process.
The high setting can also be found as a default on most microwaves. This is because households use these appliances primarily to cook leftover foods.
What is the cost to run your microwave?
The cost to run a microwave oven differs based on the setting used and the type of microwave oven you own e.g., compact, standard, or commercial. This value can be calculated by converting your microwave’s wattage to kilowatt hours, meaning a 1000-watt microwave will use 1 kilowatt per hour.
This means if you were to cook something for 1 minute, you could calculate your kilowatts per hour (kWh). That is, 1/60th of an hour, by the following equation 1/60 hrs x 1kW = 0.0166kWh.
The next step is determining how much your electricity provider charges per kilowatt hour. This can usually be found on the company website or on your electricity bills. If, for example, your supplier charges $0.10 per kWh, then you can calculate the cost to run your 1000-watt microwave oven with the following formula: $0.10 x 0.0166kWh = $0.00166.
This means a 1-minute cycle of microwave use will cost you $0.00166 for a 1000-watt microwave oven. This value can change slightly based on your electricity provider’s charges.
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How many watts does a microwave use FAQ
How many watts does a normal microwave use?
A standard microwave oven will often use between 800-1000 watts on its default setting, though many microwave ovens nowadays allow you to change the wattage setting. Even when not in use, the power is consumed by the microwave simply by being in standby mode.
Do microwaves pull a lot of power?
Depending on the type of microwave (e.g., compact, standard, industrial) and the setting (e.g., low, medium, high), the amount of microwave energy used can differ significantly. Industrial microwaves or those on a high setting can use up to 1000 watts and beyond. Compact or low-setting microwaves can use as little as 100 watts or below.
How much power does a 600 watt microwave use?
Despite its wattage of 600, the microwave will only use around 70% of the electricity as input power, with 30% of the energy being lost in the process. This means a microwave with 600 watts of input power will use more than 800 watts of output power.
Will a 1500-watt inverter run a 700-watt microwave?
Yes, a 1500-watt inverter can run a 700-watt microwave oven and even run a microwave as high as 1000 watts. This is because the inverter only needs to compensate for about 30% extra wattage produced as output power after the initial 700 watts of input wattage is applied.