Can a Car Battery Run a Microwave
What to know

Can a Car Battery Run a Microwave?

If you love traveling (and your state isn’t on lockdown or anything), and you want to enjoy your lunch as warm and nice as possible without having to buy takeout every time then a portable microwave should be the perfect addition to your truck, car, RV, van, and so forth.

It’s something you can use if you’re tired of cold-packed lunches and leftovers. With that said, how powerful a microwave should you have? Can a car battery run a microwave? Yes, but keep on reading to find out which specific microwave type you can use with your car battery.

Can a Car Battery Run a Microwave? 

Yes. The issue is that there aren’t a lot of portable microwave options and the ones available are quite weak power-wise. It also takes forever to cook anything there. Reheating takes about 3 minutes, so a stovetop seems like a better investment.

Check out the small microwaves here: The Best Small Microwaves (600 or 700-watt)

It’s challenging to get a viable microwave solution for traveling. A big enough RV can house a big-box microwave, but even then you’ll have to turn off other appliances to work it due to limited battery power.

Again, your main options are getting a microwave small enough to work on your cigarette lighter port (12 volts) or acquire an inverter that converts up to 1,500 watts of electricity that a 1-kilowatt microwave can work with.

How Long Can You Run a Microwave on a Car Battery?

How long you can run a microwave on a car battery depends on the microwave and what type of vehicle you’re running. An inverter can run more powerful microwaves or even a home A/C. Direct battery power allows you to use a 12V microwave or a 12V food warmer instead.

The running time of a microwave is usually 3-4 hours on 80 amp hours. Use the microwave only a few minutes at a time to deplete your batteries much slower, the same way you’d economically use up the battery on a laptop.

Ditto if you’re using a solar battery instead of a car battery. 3-4 hours cut up between multiple usages until the next recharge.

Can You Run a Microwave off of a Cigarette Lighter Port?

Cigarette lighter ports are typically 20A, which is 240 watts at 12V (DC). There’s a need for an 800-watt minimum for most decent microwaves, with 700 watts and below bordering on too slow or too uneven heating for most. However, you could blow the cigarette lighter fuse at 800 watts.

This is exactly the reason why most people run microwaves with an external inverter instead of this inverter that’s wired straight to the battery. It’s too weak and it could be overloaded. 12V mini microwaves that work with it are also quite weak at its 240-watt limit.

Should You Use a 12V Battery or a Car Inverter Run a Microwave?

You can use things like the Mighty Max 250ah 12V SLA battery or a solar power battery to run your microwave instead of the cigarette lighter port. Compared to other batteries, it doesn’t require much maintenance.

Cigarette port microwaves cap off at 240 watts, in contrast. They serve as just food warmers with their low wattage. 700 watts to 800 watts give you more decent power, heating, quickness, and even simple cooking options.

Can a Car or Truck Inverter Run a Microwave?

Get an inverter big enough to run the microwave, handle its startup surge, and continuous wattage as it cooks food. If the pure or modified sine wave inverter offers the ability to handle both, you’re all set. Otherwise, get a better deal.

Honestly, everyone lacks portable microwave options. You have to choose between a 12V food warmer, 12V microwave, and anything you can run by car battery via an inverter. You should review the best ones out there so that you have multiple choices to choose from.

You can get more info about Car or Truck Inverters in this post – Your Guide for the Best Truck Inverter for Microwave

What Do You Look for in Battery-Powered Microwaves?

What do you look for in a portable microwave that’s battery-powered? Should you get a portable oven instead? When driving an RV or camping in the great outdoors, it makes perfect sense to get a portable microwave in order to do things than just warm up leftovers.

Your best bet is a compact unit that won’t overload your battery or test the limits of your inverter. If you mostly spend your time inside the RV, truck, or car and require a food warmer instead of a cooker, a 12V portable microwave is a viable solution even with its low wattage.

In order to ensure your battery-powered microwave of choice can get the job done, you need to first define the job. Should it cook? Should it warm up? Should it reheat? Should it be faster at cooking? How much wattage it needs depends on how fast you want something warmed up.

What Power Supply Considerations Should You Watch Out for in Battery-Powered Microwaves?

A 12V microwave offers low-wattage specs—enough to work on your cigarette lighter socket. The ideal devices for direct sockets include food warmers, portable ovens, and 12V microwaves.

Some devices run at 110V (AC). This means you’ll need an inverter in order to be able to use the device inside your car. If your food requires a temperature of around 280°F in order to be cooked, it’ll take a while inside a 12V portable oven to get to that hotness.

For standard medium-duty to heavy-duty microwaves or even commercial-grade microwaves, you absolutely need a steady converter to work with them. An inverter allows for more wattage from your car battery or other power sources like solar panels, disposable batteries, or rechargeable batteries.

Don’t Forget to Keep This in Mind

Before picking which portable microwave to bring with your RV and the like, make up your mind whether you’ll need to simply reheat precooked food or cook whole new meals inside your vehicle. You won’t end up with anything too fancy with a 12V or mini microwave.

You can’t bake, grill, or brown your food with such a small unit. With that said, how small is small enough? Balance outperformance with portability to get the best of both worlds. Or invest in a powerful inverter to get at least power up an 800-watt to 1-kilowatt microwave on hand.


  1. Portable Microwave – Best 12V Portable Microwave Ovens And Stoves For Cars Or Trucks”, The Smallest Microwave, Retrieved August 19, 2021

Through the years, the microwave oven has become a standard appliance for all homes. It is safe to say that there is no home without a microwave oven. If you are looking for a microwave oven that best fits your needs, You find the right website.

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