The magic box in the kitchen is a lifesaver. It rescues our cold leftovers, cooks as fast as a lightning bolt, and tells us when the food is ready. The microwave is nothing short of a miracle. I call it my kitchen bestie.
Friends are important and you have to choose them wisely because a bad decision could lead to regret.
I was microwave hunting recently. I wanted to buy the highest wattage microwave, but I didn’t know what it was and how it would suit my unique cooking needs and habits.
So, I went to the internet for help, but most of the articles left me even more confused. So, here I am, making sure you don’t go through what I went through.
In this article, I will answer all your questions about microwaves, wattages, and everything in between.
Let’s dive in!
WHAT IS THE HIGHEST WATTAGE MICROWAVE?
The highest wattage microwave you will find is 2.4 kilowatts or 2,400 watts. I’m sure it must be nice to have, but it costs an arm and a leg. By that, I mean $2,000 and above. It is as heavy as a chest freezer and mostly suitable for commercial use.
If you’re considering buying a microwave for residential use, then you have to make either of two choices; the popular or the powerful. The popular models are cheaper and smaller. The wattage is between 500-800 watts. Since they are so widely used, they seem to get the job done.
On the other hand, you have the 900-1500 watts models. These are larger and cost a lot more than their popular counterparts. But they are more efficient and cook faster.
The question is, what wattage is high enough or right for you?
If you always want to have the best, you might be thinking about buying the highest wattage microwave, but that’s a mistake. You have to consider your unique needs and habits, how many times a day you use the microwave, how many people you cook for, and so on.
For instance, if you want to buy a light-duty microwave with reheating and defrosting capacity for home use. You’ll have to also consider the size of your household and their attitude to microwaves.
A 1,300 watts microwave can serve at least 6 people and be used 50 times a day, with multiple cooking modes for extra convenience. That’s wild. If you’re single and living alone, do you think this choice is right for you? You’re right. It’s not.
I’ll explain why soon.
WHY IS WATTAGE IMPORTANT?
The wattage of your microwave is important to consider because it directly impacts how quickly and how evenly your microwave cooks.
Let’s say you buy a relatively low-wattage microwave to cook a whole chicken in 2 minutes. Truth be told, it’d feel like a year has passed before your chicken is ready to eat.
If you buy a microwave with a wattage that’s too low, it means your food will cook slower and you have more risk of uneven cooking.
Now, you don’t want your food developing hot spots as it may be dangerous. You want to buy a microwave with the right wattage to heat your food in the right amount of time and evenly.
And if you already have a microwave, a good understanding of its wattage might be the missing key to properly heated food. If you’re buying a new microwave, getting the wattage right is 50% of the job.
You need to consider everything. Sometimes, where you live could be a deciding factor. For example, living in a dorm room would mean restricting your microwave to what’s allowed by the rules.
Do you see? Your microwave wattage is important to everything.
What Wattage Level is best?
For every relationship to work, expectations must be communicated. The relationship between you and your microwave is no exception. You need to know what level and speed of performance you would like in a microwave.
Just as having more watts will give you more power, it could dig a hole in your pocket. This is a slippery slope as it might leave you asking what’s the cheapest and most convenient option.
It is not a 300-500 wattage microwave. That’s a very low power breed and you won’t be needing it if your house is not powered by a generator or if you don’t want to spend days heating one meal. They are incredibly slow to cook.
A 1000-watt microwave would give you that balance between quality and price. It is a powerful and efficient option, with a reasonable price tag attached to it. However, you could also consider buying a 1,200-watt microwave, if money isn’t an issue for you. It is simply the best option for residential use.
If you run a restaurant or want to use the microwave for commercial purposes, then a 1,850-watt microwave and upwards would be suitable for you.
Where Size meets Wattage
You must understand that the higher the wattage, the higher the size of the microwave. If you’re going for a standard size, then a 1000-watt microwave is your best bet. It usually has a 1 cubic foot capacity.
The size of a microwave directly affects the amount of food that can be microwaved at a time. A smaller microwave will not contain a big bowl of food or more than one plate per time. So, if you have a large family, buying a lower wattage microwave because it’s cheaper would be shortchanging yourself.
How Many People Are You Cooking For?
You have to consider how many people you are cooking for, to correctly discern what wattage you should be buying.
Let me just go straight to the point. The price of the microwave is not the only thing that goes up if the wattage goes up. Your electricity bill too.
So, it makes no sense to be living alone or sharing an apartment with one other person and buying anything beyond an 800-watts microwave.
Here’s a guideline to help you decide how many watts you will need depending on how many people will use it:
- 1-2 People: below 800 watts.
- 3-5 People: 800 – 1,000 watts.
- 6 and above: 1,000 watts and above
Please note that you should restrict your wattage to 1,300 watts if the microwave is for residential use. However, for commercial microwaves, it’s a whole new different ballgame as you can have up to 2,400 watts (which is the highest microwave wattage you can get).
WHAT IS THE BEST WATTAGE FOR A MICROWAVE?
Correction. You should be asking, “What is the best wattage for MY microwave needs?” Like I said before, your needs are unique and personal, so you must always keep them at the back of your mind when searching for your kitchen bestie, aka microwave.
Now, let’s do a deep dive.
600-800 watts are inexpensive and are good for heating small foods and drinks. The cooking instructions of most instant or microwavable foods tend to favor 800-watt microwaves, but anything lower will cook or heat your food for much longer.
800-1000 watts are the standard, more traditional type. They cook raw food thoroughly, heat pre-cooked food fast and popcorn is made in an instant. These are powerful, which could be a blessing and a curse as they could burn your food. If you are looking to buy within this range, look for the ones that have a variety of settings, so you can control the power level.
1000-1200 watts are more like ovens than microwaves. If you’re running a restaurant, this is the range to set your oars on. If you’re good at it, you could cook everything here, including raw meat. If you’re just looking for something to warm up your drinks or precooked food, it’s a little too much, don’t you think?
HOW TO IDENTIFY THE WATTAGE OF YOUR MICROWAVE?
Now, you know what wattage to buy. But you only know it in your head. You can’t tell when you see it. Your knowledge needs to be more practical. I’ll help you.
To know the wattage of a microwave, check around the inside of the door or on the face of the microwave. The manufacturers usually indicate it there. If not, you will find it listed among the list of features of the microwave.
If you already bought the microwave and can’t find it in any of the places listed above, take a microwave-safe cup and fill it up with cold water. Microwave it at a high-power level. If it comes to a boil in 1 minute and 30 seconds, it is 1,200 watts. If it doesn’t, you can use this formula to estimate your wattage.
You need to remember that your wattage level is directly proportional to how fast and evenly your food cooks. When shopping for a microwave, don’t think ‘best overall’. Think ‘best for me’. Put your unique needs above every other thing, so you can end up with the right kitchen bestie for you.
I told you I was microwave hunting recently. Can you guess what wattage microwave I ended up buying? It was a lightweight 900-watt microwave with different level settings for home use. It made the most sense because I live alone. Although I use the microwave fanatically, I could never use it more than 10 times a day.