February 26

How Many Watts in a Microwave? – Detailed Look


Author: Colin Ma
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Not many household appliances are as synonymous with food as the microwave oven is. It has taken only a few decades for a technology that was once militarized during the Second World War to evolve into something we use in our kitchens.

The microwave has, for a long time, served the purpose of reheating, thawing and cooking and for the most part, has done it well.

Microwave ovens have made life easier all for the cost of some power.

Therefore, a consumer, especially the one particular about billing, would definitely inquire, “How Many Watts in a Microwave?”.

The simplest answer to this question is that it varies between 600 Watts and 1200 for most household microwave ovens depending on their size and features.

Let us have a detailed look:

How Many Watts in a Microwave?

As mentioned earlier, most household microwave ovens will typically have a power range between 600 Watts and 1200 Watts.

Knowing the wattage of the microwave is essential as it is directly related to how hot it can cook. It is also important to have this information to understand the energy charges you will incur.

Small Microwaves

How Many Watts in a Microwave
A typical Small microwave with 0.7 Cubic foot capacity. Source: COMFEE EM720CPL-PM

The average power here is 600 watts. Small sized microwave generally have a 0.5-1.0 cubic feet of volume.

For low-power microwaves, cooking takes much longer and you may end up with unevenly cooked dishes.

These devices produce relatively low microwave energy hence the cooking will need to take much longer. Many small microwaves have some of the lowest power outputs. This makes them unsuitable for preparing large meals.

At the lower end of the power range, microwaves tend to also be cheaper and for this case, they are generally preferred by those who are looking for a device that simply reheat and thaw, but not necessarily cook meals.

Also Read: What Size Microwave Do I Need?

Full-Sized Microwaves

Toshiba EC042A5C-BS
Convection Microwave Ovens combine both the microwave oven as well as a convection oven features. Source: Toshiba

These devices have a power rating that falls somewhere between 800 and 1200 watts.

The volume of these ovens ranges from 1.0 all the way to 2.0 Cubic Feet. Generally, the bigger the volume, the higher would be the power rating.

They are much quicker and efficient than the small ones and when used correctly, can produce decent food in good amounts of time (see if the 900-watt output is good enough).

The choices here vary. You can find a multitude of feature being offered here. You can even find special microwaves such as those with inverted technology as well as those that combine a convection oven.

Commercial Microwaves

Midea 1834G1A
A 0.6 Cubic Feet Commercial Microwave Oven with 1800 Watts of power. Source: Midea 1834G1A

As you get closer to the higher extreme of the power range, you get to some of the more premium microwave ovens.

These devices produce high powered microwave radiation that can cook meals evenly and much faster than typical household microwave ovens. This makes them more efficient but also much more expensive to procure and to operate.

The best commercial microwave can run at about 1800 Watts and above, making them ideal for producing large meals in little time.

The commercial ovens aren’t necessarily large, but they have a lot of power and the insulation to produce very high levels of energy to prepare your food quickly.

Determining your Microwave Wattage

If your manufacturer doesn’t explicitly state the wattage of your device, a simple test can be conducted in a few steps to get an approximate value.

In a microwave-safe cup, pour some water at room temperature and set the microwave at 100% power.

Place the cup with the water in the microwave and bring it to a boil and check the time it takes.

If it takes:

  1. 3 – 4 minutes it produces 400-650 Watts
  2. 2 – 3 minutes it produces 650 850 watts
  3. Less than 2 minutes it produces 850 – 1000 Watts.

Note On the Electrical Terms

Let us review what these electrical terms such power and current entail in the context of a microwave oven.

Power Usage

Modern microwaves are much more sophisticated than they were a couple of decades ago. Now, these devices employ a myriad of features to ensure that you get a great meal out of your device whenever you go into preparation.

However, cooking these meals relies on power; electrical power. It is great to know how much power your unit consumes to get a clearer understanding of your energy uses.

These values are often advertised by the unit’s manufacturer and can be viewed as an indicator of the device’s value in some instances.

Wattage equals power and the more the power, the faster you will cook your food, and the better the result will be.

Current Rating of a Microwave

Current is also a highly important consideration, especially when installing the microwave.

Current, denoted in amperes, related to the size of the electrical cable you should use.

Without getting too deep into the details, a typical microwave will require 5 Amps of current to function properly. 

Therefore, when plugging the microwave, especially on a power extension cord, make sure that the electrical cable also has a rating of more than 5 amperes (5 A).

Depending on what is stated in the manual, you may have to provide more current to your device to get it to work at 100 percent of its capacity.

The higher the power rating, the more current rating it would have. Therefore, make sure you have noted the current rating along with the power rating when you get your microwave.

Power Management in a Microwave

When microwave ovens are cooking your food, they do not always utilize 100% of the maximum power.

For example, when using the defrosting function, your microwave may alternate between on and off so that it does not overcook the exterior while the interior remains raw.

Most microwave manage this by using a transformer which makes the microwave alternate between switching its magnetron (device that produces the microwave energy) on and off for certain duration throughout the cooking period.

A newer implementation around solving this problem is using an inverter. This component varies the amount of power supplied to the magnetron so that if you want 50% power, the magnetron will receive just enough energy to produce the required 50% of its total maximum wattage.

In the end, you end up saving up on energy bills.

Also Read: What is Microwave Oven Inverter Technology?

What is the 'WATT'?

A consensus had to be made to aggregate the units of various quantities to avoid ambiguity among the scientific community and scholars alike.

For this, the International System of Units (or SI) standards were created for expressing these units. The Watt is the SI standard for measuring power.

This unit describes the rate at which energy is dissipated. In the case of a microwave oven, this unit can be used to determine the rate at which the electromagnetic energy produced by the device’s magnetron is radiated.

This is quite different from the other unit known as Watt-hours. Unlike the watt which is a measure for power used, the watt-hour is a measure of power over a given unit of time.


A microwave oven is an essential device that comes in handy in the kitchen. They come in varying shapes, sizes and power outputs.

Here we specifically answer a common question: “How many watts in a microwave”?

The simple answer is between 600-1200W, the more comprehensive answer is that it depends upon the size and its uses. Commercial microwave, for example, have a power rating well beyond 1800W.

High power microwaves have less cooking times and are also ideal for larger meals but also for microwaving snacks like Hot Pockets. Low power microwaves are great for small meals and for simple reheating jobs. They take longer to cook but are significantly cheaper.

The number of watts in a microwave tells us a lot about the device and this value can help influence a purchase decision.


1. How do I find out how many watts my microwave is?

The wattage of the oven can be found on the inside of the door, on the serial number plate on the back of the oven, or in the owner's handbook or on the manufacturer's website. To determine the wattage, use a Time-to-Boil Test: In a 2-cup glass measure, measure 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) water.

2. Can you run a microwave from a generator?

Yes you can, but it will take a lot of time and energy. The idea is to use the generator to power the microwave oven in order to cook food. You would need to start by powering up your generator with gasoline or diesel fuel before using it as an electrical outlet for the microwave. Once you have done that, plug in your microwave and turn on the stove top burners. Now you are ready to go!

3. Is microwave wattage the input or output?

Microwave wattage is the input. The microwave oven converts electrical energy into microwaves, which are a form of electromagnetic radiation that excites atoms and molecules in food.

4. What is best wattage for microwave?

There is no definitive answer to this question as it depends on the size and wattage of the individual microwave, as well as what you are cooking. However, as a general rule, most microwaves have a range of 600-1,200 watts, so it is best to choose one that is within your range. Additionally, if you are cooking something small like a single serving of popcorn, then 600 watts should be sufficient.

5. Does wattage matter for microwaves?

Yes, it does matter. Microwave wattage is synonymous with power. By and large, the higher the wattage, the more quickly and evenly your food will cook. Unfortunately, microwaves are larger and more expensive than a higher wattage; thus, this is a price and size concern that can significantly impact microwave cooking performance.

About the author

Colin Ma

An avid home chef, Colin is equally passionate about delicious meals as well as the latest cooking appliances. He's also a keen writer about cooking-related topics.


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