When you look at the specifications of a typical microwave oven, you will realize that it has two different wattage ratings i.e input wattage and output wattage. So which microwave wattage input or output matters when choosing.
In short, both wattage ratings matter. The input wattage of the microwave oven pertains to the electrical circuit design and circuit requirements for the microwave oven, whereas the output wattage of the microwave pertains to how powerful it is for cooking and heating.
As a customer, you need to be well versed in both of these ratings when looking for a microwave. There are many important aspects that you can tell about the microwave just by looking at its two wattage ratings.
In this article we will discuss in detail both of these ratings and explain why they are important.
Microwave Wattage Input or Output
As mentioned earlier, both input and output wattage ratings are equally important. However, they both relate to different characteristics.
Let us break both of them down here.
What is Microwave Input Wattage?
Microwave input wattage is the the power that the appliance draws from the wall socket.
Input power is basically the power required by the microwave top operate. Therefore, whether you are connecting it to your home grid, UPS or a generator, you have to make sure the microwave is being fed the stipulated amount of input wattage. Otherwise the microwave may malfunction.
The other important consideration is that it pertains to the amount of current the microwave will draw from the wall. This dictates your cabling and your electrical protection as discussed below.
Why Input Wattage Matters?
There are three very important reasons why input wattage matters and they all pertain to the electrical design.
The first important consideration is the circuit design.
The circuit, the cabling, the breaker, or the fuse installed are all based on the input wattage rating of a device.
When you see a microwave oven that has an input wattage of 1500 watts but an output wattage of a 1000 watts, you will take the input wattage when considering the size of the breaker, the size of the fuse and the gauge (diameter) of the cables.
Looking a the simple formula, where the voltage is either 120 or 220 volts depending on where you live (US uses 120 Volts standard), we can calculate the Amps.
A 1500W Input Power pertains to 12.5 Amperes and a 1200W Output pertain to 8.5 Amperes (at 120 Volts). However, when designing the circuit, you will have to base it on 12.5 Amperes (Input Current) and NOT on the 8.5 Amps (Output Current)
All breakers have a certain Amperage rating beyond which the circuit will trip. According to US standard, breakers should be used at a maximum of 80% of their rating IF the devices are connected to a receptacle/socket. However, the usage should not exceed 50% of the breaker rating IF the device is fastened or affixed like an over -the-range microwave.
In short, a countertop microwave oven that has an input power rating of 1500W, with corresponding input amperage rating of 12.5 Amps and connected to a receptacle, should be connected to a breaker that is 16 Amps or higher in rating (80% of 16 Amps is roughly 12.5 Amps).
Another important consideration is cabling. Since the input power relates to the input current rating, it helps in choosing the right wire gauge as discussed below:
Although large appliance are not recommended to be used on extension cables, if you absolutely have to, the input wattage rating and the corresponding input current rating matters a lot.
We have already established that input wattage directly relates to the input current above.
When choosing an extension cable, you have to make certain that the wire gauge, or diameter, of the extension cable is large enough to support the rated input current.
For instance, a microwave oven with an input wattage of 1500W operating at 120 Volts has an amperage of 12.5 Amps. Hence to SAFELY operate this oven over an extension cable, you will need to have at least a 16 Gauge Wire.
When it comes to billing, the consumption is based on the input wattage rating and not on the output wattage rating.
In other words, a microwave that has an input wattage rating of 1500 W and output Wattage of 1000W, would be billed based on the 1500 W rating.
What is Microwave Output Wattage?
The output wattage is the power of the Microwave Energy that the oven supplies to the food.
Why are Input and Output Wattage Different?
Basically when it comes to energy conversion, no device is 100% efficient.
There are loses.
Take the engine of a car, as an instance, it does not convert 100% of the fuel energy into workable energy. Instead, most of it is lost as heat.
Similarly, when input power is delivered to the Magnetron Assembly (The component that produces the Microwaves), a lot of the energy is lost before being converted to the Microwaves.
A typical microwave oven has an efficiency of about 65%. Meaning only 65% of the input power is transformed into microwave power for heating the food.
Also Read: Best Simple and Basic Microwave Ovens
Why Output Wattage Matters?
The output wattage matters to you as a typical buyer. It tells you a lot about the quality of the microwave.
The higher the power of a microwave, the more heavy-duty it is considered.
As mentioned earlier, the output power pertains to the strength of the Microwaves generated.
A high output power means that your food will be heated quickly and consistently.
If you notice that sometimes the food in your microwave oven is not heated properly, especially the portion found at the bottom of the bowl, then the power of the microwave can be blamed.
Higher powered microwave penetrates the food better and also allows you to speed up the heating process.
The following are the typical output wattage rating for home microwaves.
- Low-Powered: 700W – 900W
- Medium-Powered: 1000W – 1100W
- High-Powered: 1200W and beyond
Also Read: Best 1000 Watt Microwave Ovens
The higher the output power of a microwave, the higher is the cost GENERALLY.
This is typically because high powered microwaves are generally more durable and larger than low powered models.
Typical Input Wattage and the Corresponding Output Wattage
The following should give you a rough idea about the typical input power as well as its corresponding output power in microwaves.
Taking a typical efficiency of 65% we get:
- 1100 W Input – 700 W Output
- 1350 W Input – 900 W Output
- 1700 W Input – 1100 W Output
It should be noted that the figures above are just a rough estimation. We have taken a 65% efficiency. However, in reality, the efficiency can differ greatly from model to model.
Here we learned comprehensively about the microwave power rating. We particular talked about which microwave wattage input or output matters and for what.
Simply put, both of these rating are very important in their own regards. One sheds light on the circuit design, energy consumption and the other tells you about how well and quickly it will heat up the food.
Here we took rough estimates of power rating to just give you an idea. The actual ratings can be found on the appliance itself or inside the appliance manual. If you cannot find the wattage ratings, it is advisable to talk to the customer service of the manufacturer.