Microwaves require a lot of power, especially the deluxe models with high-power, quick-heating specs in kilowatts. When using microwaves on solar power, like in the case of off-grid mobile homes or camps, you need to conserve energy more in light of the limited amount of energy that solar batteries can store depending on weather conditions and how long (and hot) the day will become. If it’s not a sunny day, you need to conserve that solar energy more.
You may also like: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Microwave Oven that Best Fits Your Needs
So what’s the best microwave ovens for solar power? It’s the one that’s the most energy-efficient, of course.
What to Look for in a Solar-Powered Microwave?
A solar-powered microwave is a low-powered microwave that conserves your solar battery if you’re using a solar panel to gather off-grid electricity. Maybe you live in a mobile home or camper. Perhaps you’re using solar panels in order to work outside of the city and the reach of power lines.
It’s not necessarily about microwaves that work with a solar panel or cells, but rather a microwave with enough wattage to be of practical use to a solar-powered home. Here’s what you need to know regarding a “solar-powered” microwave.
- Solar-Powered RVs and Microwaves: You need a specific microwave for your solar-powered recreational vehicle or RV probably. A conventional microwave oven can sap power from your RV from its solar panels to your gas ration. If you’re not from the boondocks and wish to use a trailer park or RV parking lot for your camping or living needs, you don’t need to get a special microwave for solar power. If you rely mostly on solar power rationing or usage in such a way that you’re off-grid and living off of the land, then there are things to consider when buying your microwave.
- Manufacturer-Provided Wattage: The amount of energy consumed by a given microwave is revealed through the manufacturer-provided wattage, just like any other consumer electronics device out there. When operating normally, a certain amount of wattage is provided. Sometimes, the microwave has settings that allow you to adjust the wattage to the lowest possible setting, making it ideal for use in a solar-powered mobile home or trailer. Other times, the microwave doesn’t have such settings and uses its highest wattage by default.
- Average Recommended Watts: The ideal watts range for a solar-powered microwave or a microwave inside a solar-powered camper is from 700 to 1,100. Your microwave is a sensitive electrical appliance, so a clean source of electricity or energy is required to allow it to operate safely and properly. You don’t want it to drain your solar battery in a few uses. You want to be efficient with your limited energy resources. Remember that the oven works on AC or alternating current. You might require a powerful inverter to convert the DC power produced by your solar panels to translate to AC required to run your microwave device.
- How Do You Calculate Energy Consumption? Energy/electricity used is watts times time. With that said, you need to know the watts of your microwave and how often you plan to use it in order to figure out the right size and power of microwave to get. In fairness, there are some myths you need to know in order to make a fair assumption on the unit you’re shopping for. To cook or heat the food inside this particular oven type, it will use the same amount of electricity or energy to get the food to the same temperature regardless of microwave wattage.
- It’s Not About Temperature: You’ll be using 231,000 Joules regardless if you’re multiplying 1,100 watts for 210 seconds or 700 watts for 330 seconds. Furthermore, microwaves are inefficient like cars. They don’t cook at the same energy as they draw. This means you can’t have an exact measurement. a 700-watt microwave might give you a reading of 1,050 watts, so even a 700-watt microwave can end up using up almost 1.1Kw instead. You should take this inefficiency into consideration when calculating the power requirements of the unit.
- The Efficiency of Higher-Priced Units: Energy-wise, higher-priced microwaves are more efficient. Are they worth buying for your RV though? This depends on your energy requirements. You need a wattmeter while the unit is operating to make absolutely sure how much energy it consumes at any given time. Usually, it’s much higher than its specs or rating in light of microwave technology inefficiency. Once you’re armed with knowledge regarding how much energy your prospective solar-powered microwaves consume, then you can get a shortlist of viable units to take with you on your camper or RV.
- Microwave Fitment and Inverter Concerns: Thankfully, the smaller the microwave the smaller its energy requirements are, so shopping for a space-saving microwave with the right wattage is essentially killing two birds with one stone. Become aware of the total wattage load of your microwave as well at any given time during operation. You should also check what’s on the electrical circuit in order to find out how much power the device consumes. Meanwhile, you should also be aware of the size of your RV or camper inverter. Is your inverter of the Modified or Pure sine wave variety?
- When is Will You Be Using the Microwave? Will you be using your microwave mostly to reheat food and quickly heat up a cup of water in order to make instant coffee? Then it’s better to save money and energy by using an electric kettle or even a gas stove for your heating needs when push comes to shove. If you wish to use the microwave to cook food, defrost cold meats straight from the freezer, and so forth, you should take all these into consideration when buying the right wattage of the microwave as well.
- What Other Appliances are Running Simultaneously? If you have other electronics such as a plugged-in laptop, cellphones you’re recharging, or an electric coffeemaker, that could add watts to your consumption together with the microwave unit. You should therefore know what the watts of your other appliances are if they’ll be running at the same time as your oven. A coffeemaker can use up to 900 watts or more, so avoid using your microwave while the coffeemaker is turned on to prevent your consumption to go up from 1.6Kw to 2Kw. You’ll need approximately a 3Kw inverter if you plan to use your coffeemaker and microwave at the same time.
- Inverter and Circuit Requirements: You’ll need a 20-amp circuit (check your circuit breaker size and research about it for more details) if paired up with a 3Kw inverter. So your 3,000 watts or bigger inverter is best paired up with a 20-amp separate electrical circuit to allow your microwave and coffeemaker to work together. Otherwise, you’ll have to make do with using one device while turning the other off for the time being, especially if they are on both the same circuit. A 1.5Kw inverter is enough for those who use their coffeemakers and microwaves one after the other instead of at the same time.
- Wattage and Rechargeable Batteries: The power consumption or wattage of your microwave during normal operation will help you work out the amount of needed solar power for the device to work. You want to ration your power in accordance with the solar energy available to you. Furthermore, you can do away with a modest solar array if you add batteries to the mix. This way, you can store energy from your solar panels while the sun is shining and your microwave isn’t on. Learn about the size of your battery bank for your solar farm and compare it to your microwave’s power consumption.
- Battery Bank Requirements: Solar batteries are a must in case you have to use your microwave at night or after daytime when the sun (your source of energy) has already set. While the inverter is responsible for drawing power, the batteries provide the energy. The solar cells and panels, meanwhile, are the ones gathering sunlight and turning it into power that your batteries can make use of. You can hook up your watt mater to your “solar (electrical) system” in order to find out things like how a high load deflates the reading, charging inflates the reading, and idle mode when things are turned off you get the true reading.
Microwave Ovens for Solar Power Review
Here are the options for the best microwave ovens for solar power available on Amazon.com.
Commercial Chef Counter Top Rotary Microwave Oven
The Commercial Chef 600-watt Rotary Microwave Oven CHM660W might seem mediocre as a unit compared to its countertop brethren, but it works excellently in the context of a device that runs off of an off-grid generator or a solar battery. You want to conserve as much energy or gas as possible when you’re on the move and out of the support of power lines or the local electricity provider. This niche has allowed Commercial Chef CHM660W to thrive.
It also doesn’t help that this 4.5 out of 5 stars (2,490 ratings) electronic appliance offers a compact 0.6 cubic feet body and a 600-watt energy consumption that can go up to 950 watts (which is expected since microwaves are inefficient by nature and 950 watts is still well below the 1.1Kw threshold). Every watt counts when you’re using electronics off-grid. If not the solar battery your car battery and gas will be consumed by your oven usage.
- Not fancy.
- Good size (compact).
- Good price (inexpensive).
- Easy to use and easy to replace.
- It doesn’t dry out or overcook food at all.
- It works fine for reheating and defrosting.
- 600-watt microwave that’s perfect for a solar-powered RV kitchen.
- It is 950 watts instead of 600 according to the watt meter.
- Some units lasted only a year while others lasted only months.
Nostalgia BSET300RETRORED 3-in-1 Family Size Breakfast Station:
Although it’s slightly lower rated than Commercial Chef offering by having a rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars (2,335 ratings), it’s still quite the device. Aside from being a low-powered microwave oven, it doubles as other common breakfast-making devices. Therefore, it works well as a solar-powered electronic appliance because you can get other uses for it. For under $100, you can get a red Nostalgia Breakfast Station. For about $80, you can instead get the Aqua-colored version.
The Breakfast Station has many things going for it, like including a coffeemaker and toaster in one item. For a device that has a coffeemaker, griddle, oven tray, toaster, and so forth, it’s a nicely compact device measuring 19.2 inches by 11.7 inches by 11.5 inches. Isn’t that wild? It has a brushed finish and weighs only 13.1 pounds. Its coffeemaker can make 4 cups of coffee, the toaster can toast a couple of bread slices. Most importantly, it’s a microwave oven with a tray and griddle that doubles as a toaster and coffeemaker.
- Easy to clean.
- Auto shut-off 30-minute timer.
- Stay-cool handle on non-stick griddle lid.
- Multi-function toaster and microwave oven.
- It’s compact at 19.2 inches by 11.7 inches by 11.5 inches.
- Coffeemaker makes up to 4 cups of coffee at a given time.
- 3-in-1 device (toaster, coffeemaker, and microwave oven).
- Too small.
- Unimpressed customers called it an expensive easy bake oven.
Sharp 700W Countertop Microwave Oven:
For about $80 or so ($80 in white and $90 in black), you can get the Sharp 700W Countertop Microwave Oven. It’s cheaper than the Nostalgia Breakfast Station, but that might be because it’s a compact microwave instead of a microwave combined with several other appliances in one unit. The Countertop Microwave Oven from Sharp has a compact size of 12.8 inches by 17.3 inches by 10.2 inches overall and 12 inches by 8.2 inches by 12.1 inches from the inside cavity.
It’s also a Sharp product, so you’re assured of quality due to Sharp being such a prominent electronics manufacturer. They do more than just make television sets. The low-powered, low-watt microwave is made of steel material that you can put on your RV countertop. It also only weighs 21.4 pounds and has a capacity of about a pound or 0.7 pounds. It’s rated as 4.5 out of 5 stars (375 ratings), giving it roughly the same rating as Commercial Chef although it’s not as popular online with only 300+ reviews.
- Weighs 21.4 pounds.
- Instant start 30+ seconds key.
- Color variants are more affordable than Nostalgia.
- Capable of doing auto defrost, time defrost, and cooking.
- Express cook mode to allow 6-minute controlled cooking.
- 10-inch turntable carousel to ensure reheating and cooking is even.
- Convenient for reheating food, heating drinks, and making popcorn.
- You can’t fit 11-inch dinner plates on it.
- Smaller than the Nostalgia Breakfast Station.
Farberware Classic FMO07AHTBKJ 700-Watt Microwave Oven:
This 700W small stainless steel microwave is ideal for solar-powered RVs exactly because it’s rated at 700-watts (or more in light of microwave inefficiency) and its smallness. The 0.7 cubic feet version is available at $72 to $80. This is the one being reviewed here so thusly, it’s the most affordable microwave on this list. The 0.9 cubic feet version is not available currently. The 1.1 cubic feet version is available at $110.
It’s rated as 4.5 out of 5 stars (969 ratings). This means it shares ratings with the Sharp and Commercial Chef offerings, but Commercial Chef has more reviewers while Sharp has fewer reviewers for it. We chose this device for this list exactly because of its low-power wattage and energy consumption. It also comes with an LED display and clock that keeps track of how long you’re cooking or heating your meal like any other standard microwave oven out there.
- 700 watts of output.
- Brushed stainless-steel front and handle.
- Speed cooking mode for 6 minutes like with Sharp.
- Clear view care of the LED lighting and transparent window.
- Child safety lock to keep children from playing with the device.
- Multi-stage cooking is possible with its 10 power levels or tiers on the control panel.
- Lacks instruction manuals.
- The controls could be simpler like the other microwaves on this list.
The Final Verdict
The whole point of a solar-powered microwave is that it’s a low-power microwave that can save you electricity when you use it. Thankfully, most microwaves use so little power that the blinking lights on the digital display consume more electricity than the act of microwaving itself. However, there are some high-powered microwaves out there that could sap the energy of your solar batteries gathered by your solar panels rather quickly.
You should get a microwave oven that has just the right amount of kilowatts to be energy-efficient when used by a solar-powered camp or mobile home, among other things. At any rate, the Commercial Chef one is the best-rated microwave and the Sharp one is the most cost-effective if the least popular of the bunch. The Nostalgia one gives you loads of extras. The Faberware one has the most variants and its cheapest variant is the most affordable microwave on this list.
- “Microwave Lower Energy Quest“, Solar-Electric.com, June 20, 2011
- “Microwave, Solar and The RV“, RVHobo.net, December 5, 2015
- “How much kW of solar panel do I need to run a big microwave oven?“, Quora.com, September 19, 2019