When it comes to microwave power, how much do you really need? Microwaves can improve your life by quickly or reheating foods, but you should know a thing or two about microwave watts before you purchase one. When people shop for a microwave, they often look for a convenient size for their countertop but overlook the microwave power rating. If you are in the market for a new microwave, keep reading to learn the importance of choosing the correct microwave wattage for the size and complexity of the meals you will be preparing. We’ve even included some top microwave picks at each level we think will be perfect for your kitchen.
The least expensive microwaves typically operate at or less than 700 Watts. These microwaves are fine for reheating drinks, heating up small plates of food, and cooking most instant meals. If you are accustomed to a higher-powered model, a 700 Watt microwave may take a little longer to heat than you are used to, but you can adjust cooking times accordingly. Most models include a button that allows you to instantly add a minute or 30 seconds to the time, so you can easily keep heating your food.
If you're looking for a 700-Watt microwave, you can't go wrong with this 18-in. countertop model from GE. It has 0.7 cu. ft. capacity, a turntable, and a kitchen timer and clock. Convenient cooking controls located on the electronic touchpad make it easier to cook and reheat your food. For example, you can use the Add 30 button to add 30 seconds to the time without stopping the microwave, or you can use the defrost mode to automatically set the power level to an appropriate level for defrosting. There are 10 power levels total. If you have small children, you may find the child safety lock useful to prevent accidental usage of the microwave. This stainless steel microwave from GE will look nice in any kitchen.
At this microwave wattage range, you can expect efficient heating for most foods. Most recipes that call for microwave usage use a microwave that is 700-1,000 Watts, which is the average microwave wattage across most products. At these microwave power levels, you can pop a bag of microwave popcorn, cook instant meals, reheat a casserole, cook raw meat thoroughly, defrost foods, and more in a reasonably short amount of time. This is probably the best wattage for a microwave to satisfy most residential cooking needs.
The best 1,000-Watt countertop microwave comes from Cafe's Customizable Professional Collection Series. This 22-in. model with 1.5 cu. ft. capacity is designed for the countertop, but it has built-in capabilities if you decide you want to free up some space on your countertop. This microwave has a convection cooking setting and a special rack that allows air to circulate around foods for even heat distribution. Other settings you can use include Auto Bake, Auto Roast, and Auto Defrost. These Express Cook options take the guesswork out of cooking because they are preprogrammed with appropriate power levels and times. This Cafe microwave also has Sensor Cook controls which automatically adjust time and power levels as you cook. There are 10 power levels to choose from.
This ADA-compliant microwave has Wi-Fi capabilities, allowing you to connect the appliance to Amazon Alexa for easy, voice-activated operation. You can also connect it to your smartphone to use Scan-to-Cook Technology, which will scan your frozen food barcode and tell the microwave the optimal settings for cooking it.
We also appreciate the recessed turntable, the child safety lock, and the option to use this microwave as a warming oven for keeping your food warm as you wait for the start of a meal.
If you prefer a 1,000-Watt microwave drawer, check out this 30-in. model from SHARP. It has 1.2 cu. ft. capacity, 11 power levels, and a hidden control panel at the top of the microwave that opens at a 45° angle for easy viewing. The capacity is large enough to fit a 9x13-in. dish or a 20-oz. coffee. The Easy Touch Automatic Drawer system eases open with a gentle pull or the touch of a button. The smooth gliding action prevents liquids from sloshing over as you open or close the drawer.
Sensor Cooking automatically adjusts time and power levels for easier cooking, and the Minute Plus button makes it simple to add another minute to the time. The Keep Warm setting allows you to keep dishes at optimal serving temperatures for up to 30 minutes. This ADA-compliant microwave drawer is easy to clean and allows you to stir food without taking it out of the drawer. When it's time to take food out of the microwave, all you have to do is lift it up out of the drawer.
Microwaves 1,000 Watts and greater are powerful and often used commercially, such as in restaurants. These high-powered microwaves cut down on the amount of time needed to heat up meals, and they can easily cook or heat up large plates of dense food in record time. This much microwave power may be an excellent choice if you use your microwave oven for big meals, but it is probably not the best choice for a typical homeowner who uses the microwave for occasional small meals and basic reheating.
This countertop microwave from Forte's 250 Series uses 1,200 Watts to cook and reheat food. It is a 24-in. microwave with a spacious 2.2 cu. ft. capacity and a turntable. Use the electronic touch controls to choose from a number of useful settings, including sensor cooking, 9 pre-set menus, a 30 second button, and the kitchen timer. This microwave has 10 power levels to choose from, and you can defrost food by weight or time. Turn on the Child Safety Lock to prevent small children from accidentally using the microwave. The interior of this UL-certified stainless steel microwave is illuminated with LED lighting.
For more power in a microwave drawer, check out this 24-in. 1,500-Watt microwave drawer from Bertazzoni's Professional Series. Any appliance from Bertazzoni features fine Italian design and advanced technology. This microwave drawer integrates seamlessly with your kitchen design through flush installation and a push-to-open handleless design. Touch controls and an LCD display allow you to choose from a number of helpful options, including sensor cooking settings for automatic cooking, defrosting, and reheating. There is a melt feature, a keep warm feature, and an auto-defrost mode. A child safety lock will lock the controls to keep children from accessing them. This luxury stainless steel microwave drawer has 11 power levels.
Can you pop popcorn in a 700 Watt microwave?
Yes, you can pop popcorn in 700 Watt microwave. It may take a little longer than the bag suggests. Start by following directions on the bag, and then if the popcorn is still popping rapidly at the end of the time, increase the time by one minute. Stop the microwave when there are 2-3 seconds between pops.
How many Watts does a microwave use?
Microwave wattages range from just under 700W all the way to 1,750W on the highest wattage microwave models.
How do I know the power of my microwave?
To find out the power rating of your microwave, look at the serial plate on the inside of your microwave door. It should tell you how many Watts the microwave operates at. If you still can't find the power rating, you can estimate it by boiling water in your microwave. Measure one cup of water in a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Add ice cubes and stir until the water is cold. Discard ice cubes and return the water level to one cup. Set microwave on high for 4 minutes. Watch the water. If it boils in less than 2 minutes, it has a microwave wattage of 1,000 Watts or more. Boiling at 2.5 minutes means you have a microwave wattage of 800-1,000 Watts. Boiling at 3 minutes means your microwave has about 700 Watts. If it takes 3-4 minutes for the water to boil, your microwave oven has a low wattage, probably around 500 Watts.