May 27

What is the Power Consumption of a Microwave Oven? | Is Your Appliance Economical?


Author: Colin Ma and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

Knowing the energy consumption of an appliance gives you a great insight into how much it would cost to operate. Here will specifically look at what is the power consumption of a microwave oven.

A home microwave oven typically consumer anywhere between 1100 Watts to 1850 Watts per hours. In other words microwave ovens have a 1.1 kWh – 1.85 kWh rating. An average microwave oven has about a 1.4 kWh rating.

Generally speaking, a microwave oven is pretty cheap to operate. Since it is only used for minutes at a time, it does not consume constant energy unlike lighting and air conditioning.

With that, let us delve a bit deeper into this topic. If you are unaware, the first thing you need to do is familiarize yourself with the different between power rating and power consumption of an appliance. Visit this post to see how new Genius Sensor Turbo Defrost feature proved great with reducing power consumption in new Panasonic inverter ovens.

Power Rating vs Power Consumption

Power rating and power consumption are two different yet related aspects of any electrical device.

Power rating defines the peak power that the appliance would draw from the wall socket in order to operate. Basically, if this rated power is not supplied, then the microwave oven may malfunction. Power rating is specified using the unit Watts (W) or Kilowatts (kW)

Power consumption is defined as the energy consumed by an appliance in an hour. You are billed based on the energy consumption and NOT on the rated power. Power consumption is defined using the unit Kilo-Watt-Hour (kWh).

Let Us Simplify This With an Example:

If a microwave oven has a rated power of 1400 Watts (1.4 kW), then its consumption would be about 1.4 kWh IF it were continuously on for an hour.

If the same microwave oven was only on for half an our, its consumption would be half as that or 0.7 kWh.

Furthermore, if the same microwave oven is only on for a minute its consumption would be 0.023 kWh (i.e 1.4 kWh / 60 minutes).

What is the Power Consumption of a Microwave Oven?

As mentioned earlier, the input power rating of a microwave oven ranges from 1100 – 1850 Watts (1.1 to 1.85 kW) for a home-based microwave (see also ‘Is A 900-watt Microwave Powerful Enough?‘).

It is important to note here that you have to take the INPUT POWER into consideration when calculating the consumption and NOT the OUTPUT POWER.

You may be familiar with the common output powers for microwave ovens that range from 700W to 1250W for typical home use. However, these do not reflect the power drawn from the wall instead they define the power that is converted to microwave radiation.

Also Read: Microwave Input vs Output Power

A typical microwave oven has an efficiency of 65%. Meaning 65% of the INPUT POWER is converted to the OUTPUT microwave radiation.

The following are the typical OUTPUT wattage ratings for home microwaves.

  • Low-Powered:  700W – 900W
  • Medium-Powered: 1000W – 1100W
  • High-Powered: 1200W and beyond

Taking a typical efficiency of 65% we get following Input Power for the corresponding Output Power as well as the corresponding consumption.

  • 1100 W Input – 700 W Output – 1.1 kWh Consumption
  • 1350 W Input – 900 W Output – 1.35 kWh Consumption
  • 1700 W Input – 1100 W Output – 1.7 kWh Consumption
  • 1850 W Input – 1200 W Output – 1.85 kWh Consumption

In other words a 700 Watt Microwave oven would consume 1.1 kWh of energy if it is operated continuously for an hour. On the other hand, a 1200 Watt microwave would consume 1.85 kWh of energy if it operated continuously for an hour.

How to Reduce Consumption?

There are plenty of ways you can reduce consumption on a microwave oven, let us review a few.

Power Level Selection

What is the Power Consumption of a Microwave Oven
You can select the right power level to reduce the consumption

The first and for most important is the Power Level selection.

Power Level selection is offered in almost all microwave ovens. It allows you to set the percentage of the total output power that the microwave should operate at.

Different food or tasks require different Power Level selection.

The thing to note here is that if you set a power level of 100%, the microwave would operate at peak consumption. However, the same microwave would half its consumption for the same cooking cycle IF its power level is set to 50%.

Most microwave ovens have a total of 10 power level settings ranging from 1-10 with each setting representing a 10% increment or decrement.

Take defrosting, for instance. This task can be done fairly well even at 400 W output power. So if you have 1000 W microwave oven, you can set it to Power Level 4. Here it would not only defrost your food, but also consume mere 40% of the max power consumption.

Similarly, when keeping food warm, you can set the microwave to just 10% consumption or Power Level 1.

Set Accurate Cooking Cycles

Each food has a typical time cycle settings. Operating beyond that would results in only dehydrating your food of water but also result in needless energy consumption.

When reheating food, a microwave oven generally tends to reach a max of 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius which is the boiling point of water. We go to a greater extent to explain this in our ‘How hot can a microwave oven get?‘ article.

When food reaches this temperature, the goal of the microwave is achieved. To save energy, you should therefore, not operate any longer.

Take water for instance. In a 1200 Watt microwave oven, it takes about 45 seconds for a glass of water to reach the boiling point. Operating the microwave oven beyond this would be futile since that would only convert the water into steam.

The same glass of water would take about 2 minutes in a 700 Watt microwave oven.

Hence, it is important that you know the power of your microwave as well as the PRECISE cooking time for various type of foods in your microwave.

Stir the Food / Use Small Portion

If you have a habit of loading up your microwave with food for reheating or defrosting, the you are doing it completely wrong.

Densely packed food or large portions of food are hard for microwaves to heat up. This is especially true if you have low powered model

Hence, instead of increasing the time cycle for reheating the large meal, it is rather advisable to stir it from time to time.

Better yet, you can use smaller portion. The more spread out the food, the better and quicker the microwave oven will reheat.

Unplug the Microwave

All microwave ovens consume energy in standby mode.

This tip is for the most energy savvy consumers.

As you may know, almost all microwave ovens have standby mode when plugged. The standby mode consumes very little electricity.

If you want to reduce even that, you can unplug the microwave oven after use.

This would not result in drastic energy bill savings, but it can give you a little piece of mind.

Microwave Energy Billing Example

As mentioned earlier, you are billed based on the energy consumption of a device. The energy consumption takes both the rated power as well as the cooking time into consideration

Let us take an 1100 watt microwave oven that has an Input Wattage of 1700 Watts. Let us also note that the average electricity rate in United States is 13.19 cents per kWh.

Also recall from earlier that all microwave ovens have Power Level settings whereby you can select the percentage of the total output power for your cooking.

At 100% Power Level

The mentioned microwave would have an energy consumption of 1.7 kWh IF it operated continuously for an hour at full 100% Power Level. In other words it would cost you about 22.42 cents to operate it continuously for an hour (1.7 kWh x 13.19 Cents) at the full 100% Power Level setting.

Alternatively, if you used the same oven for 1 minute at 100% power level, then you would be billed about about 0.37 cents (1.7 kWh / 60 minutes X 13.19 Cents).

At 50% Power Level

If you selected 50% power level, the consumption would be reduced by half in theory. In turn, this would cost you half as much for the same time span.

Hence at 50% power level a microwave oven with 1700 W input power would consume 0.85 kWh (1.7 kWh x 0.5) if operated continuously for an hour.

In other words, instead of being charged 22.42 cents, you would be charged 11.21 cents per hour if you reduce the power level to 50%. This translates to 0.186 cents per minute.

Final Words

So what is the power consumption of a microwave oven? At an average, the power consumption of a microwave oven is about 1.4 kWh.

It is important to note that you take the input power and not the output power of a microwave when calculating the energy consumption.

In this article we talked extensively about microwave energy consumption, how much it costs to operate, and how you can reduce it.


1. How much electricity does a microwave use per month?

An average microwave consumes approximately 1200 watts per hour to operate. As a result, it consumes 300 Wh, or 0.3 kWh, for 15 minutes of operation and costs approximately $13.46 to run on a daily basis for a year.

Keep in mind that this standby power is available whenever the microwave is plugged in, which is 24 hours a day for the majority of us. A microwave that consumes five watts of standby power will cost approximately 44 cents per month, or $5.26 per year, at a cost of 12 cents per kWh.

2. What uses more power microwave or oven?

While a microwave may not save much energy or money when compared to a stove burner for boiling water, it can be far more energy-efficient while cooking food than a standard full-size oven. Additionally, choose the appropriate size pan for the job at hand, as smaller pans are less expensive and require less energy to heat.

3. Does unplugging microwave save electricity?

Yes, Unplugging your coffeemaker or microwave, for example, is unlikely to make a noticeable difference, yet a computer, modem, monitor, television, phone charger, or cable box all consume a large amount of electricity even when not in use.

4. How can I calculate my oven power consumption?

Ovens range in power consumption from 1000 to 5000 watts, with a typical modern oven operating at roughly 2400 watts on medium to high heat. Calculate the energy usage of an oven running at 2400 Watts for 1 hour per day at the cost of $0.10 per kWh.

5. Does an electric oven use a lot of electricity?

The majority of electric ovens consume between 2,000 and 5,000 watts, with the average electric stove consuming approximately 3,000 watts. Thus, how much energy is consumed per hour by an electric stove? Assuming a 12 cent per kilowatt-hour (kWh) power tariff, a 3000-watt oven will cost around 36 cents per hour at high heat.

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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