Usually, 900 watts to 1,000 watts is a good starting point for your microwave purchase. The oven capacity is directly proportional to the microwave power level or wattage. Therefore, 900-watt microwaves typically have 0.9 cubic feet to 1.0 cubic feet of capacity, which is ideal for daily home life.
What is the highest wattage of a microwave? Keep on reading to find out. It varies on whether you’re using a commercial-grade microwave or a consumer-grade microwave, mind you.
The highest wattage of a microwave
The highest wattage or watts for a microwave is 2.4 kilowatts. That max wattage is common among heavy-duty commercial microwaves (the ones used in restaurants). They’re weighty microwaves that weigh about 70 pounds or more and cost upwards of about $2,000.
In stark contrast, you can get a 900 watt to 1.1-kilowatt microwave for about $100 more or less. Speaking of which, a consumer microwave tends to have a power level of 1.3 kilowatts. It’s capable of serving 6 or more people but since it is consumer-grade it can be used 50 times or more daily.
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With a 1.3 kilowatt microwave, you should be able to light-duty heating, reheating, and defrosting. Many of the microwaves around this power level are either convection microwaves, grill microwaves, or 4-in-1 microwaves with multiple cooking modes.
Why is Wattage Important?
Wattage is always an important consideration for a new microwave. The amount of watts of your microwave per minute directly impacts the quickness of your cooking time. The lower the wattage the longer it takes to cook your food, such that you’re better off using the conventional oven.
Preheating isn’t an issue with a microwave but wattage determines how fast it truly is at cooking. More watts also ensure more even cooking so that all parts of the food are cooked rather than it developing hot spots on one area and cold spots on the rest.
The wattage required for warming up coffee is much lower compared to the wattage required to grill a whole chicken. It takes longer to cook chicken at lower wattages, plus the end result is inferior to oven-cooked or oven-roasted chicken.
Read more: The ABCs of Microwave Sizes: Microwave Size Chart
What is wattage?
Electrical consumption or power is measured by watts. It’s the units of measurement for power. It’s mostly linked with light bulbs. Low-wattage bulbs save you energy and many LEDs (Light-Emitting Diodes) are efficient enough to produce brightness even at lower wattages.
Regardless, more watts do equal brighter bulbs, even when it comes to LEDs and their efficient use of watts. Watts also measures the amount of energy flowing in a given direction. In the context of microwaves, this means a 700-watt microwave uses electricity at that rate per minute.
The Rule of Thumb of Wattages
To not overload your car battery or RV battery, you shouldn’t get a microwave any more powerful than 700 watts or so, especially if you’re using other appliances in your kitchen (like a coffeemaker or toaster).
Here’s your rule of thumb for wattages. The higher your microwave’s watts the more electricity it uses up every minute but at the same time the faster your food will cook when microwaved. Most homes that wish to cook food decently fast go for 900-watt or 1-kilowatt models.
How is Microwave Wattage Correlated to Size?
Wattage is directly proportional to microwave size and capacity. The bigger the microwave the more power it requires to heat up food in a more spacious oven interior. To measure the device, grab some scratch paper, a calculator, a pencil, a ruler, and/or a measuring tape.
Measure the height of the microwave and write it down. Do the same with the width from one side to the next. Afterwards, measure the length from the front to the back. After you get all that, you’ll have a good idea of how big your microwave is and whether or not your wattage matches its size.
You can simply look up the specs of the device on the Internet to make things simpler.
The Size and Wattage Connection
The wattage determines how long it takes to heat up or cook food. The size determines higher wattages the bigger the microwave gets. Higher wattage also ensures that the food is cooked evenly and has fewer hot spots.
Size also determines the amount of food or food servings as well as plate sizes you can fit into the interior of the device. A standard microwave has a 1 cubic foot capacity. You can go up to 2 cubic feet or go under a cubic foot, like around 0.7 cubic feet for RV microwaves.
How Many People Are You Cooking For?
A wattage of 1.3 kilowatts for a consumer model means you’ve gotten a large, state-of-the-line microwave. Do you need such a microwave though? Your ideal wattage should match the amount of people you’re using the microwave for.
If you’re flying solo or you’re sharing an apartment with just one other person, a microwave that’s beyond 900 watts or even 700 watts might be a needless expense based on the needs of just 1-2 people.
Further reading: Is a 900-watt Microwave Powerful Enough?
Below shows a quick reference list for determining watts based on how many people will use the microwave:
- 1-4 People: Less than 800 watts.
- 2-6 People: 800 watts to 1,000 watts.
- 4 People and Beyond: 1,000 watts and beyond (1,300 watts for consumer microwaves and 2,400 watts for commercial microwaves).
Other guides out there will claim that less than 800 watts is for 1-2 people, 800-1,000 watts is for 3-4 people, and beyond 1,000 watts is for 5 or more people. It depends on the guide but regardless, you have an idea of which ones are for family-sized gatherings and which ones are strictly solo microwaves.
There are also articles that divide the number of people served based on capacity by cubic feet rather than by power by watts or kilowatts.
To Sum Everything Up
Recreational vehicles or camper microwaves typically have a power level of 700 watts. 900 watts to 1 kilowatt is a good average fast-cooking microwave. However, commercial microwaves can go as high as 2.4 kilowatts. Consumer microwaves can instead go as high as 1.3 kilowatts instead.
Bigger microwaves require higher power levels in order to fill up that extra space. That bigger space and higher power tandem also ensure faster cooking times as long as the food is able to comfortably fit the interior of your microwave.
- Amina Lake Abdelrahman, “Here’s Exactly What to Look for Before Buying a Microwave Oven, According to Kitchen Experts“, Good Housekeeping Institute, April 30, 2019
- “What is a Good Wattage for Microwaves?“, SmallAppliancePlanet.com, Retrieved June 16, 2021