Since it was introduced in the 1960s, the microwave has been one of the most essential kitchen appliances in many households. From reheating leftovers and cooking a variety of foods to defrosting frozen meats, a microwave oven makes preparing meals more convenient. In addition, its compact size makes it a popular appliance for many RVs, mobile, off-the-grid, and tiny houses.
However, many homeowners are unsure how much energy their microwave consumes or how much it costs to run. In fact, one of the common questions we receive from individuals planning to install a whole-house solar system is related to using their microwave ovens. In this article, we will answer the question, “How many watts does a microwave use?” Answering this question will help you determine the electricity your household consumes.
Terms to Remember
To help you better understand the energy consumption of a microwave and how much it costs you to use it, a couple of terms to remember are Volts, Amps, Watts, and kWh. These four are all units of measurement used in electricity. Each unit represents a different aspect of electrical energy and has a specific meaning.
Volts (V) - short for voltage, volts measure electrical pressure differences. To explain simply, a voltage is the speed of electricity that passes a circuit
Amps (A) - refers to the measure of electrical *current or the flow of electric charge in a circuit *Current is the rate at which electrons flow through a circuit
Watts (W) - a measure of the rate at which energy is transferred in a circuit (the higher the wattage, the more power the electrical system is consuming or producing)
Kilowatt-hours (kWh) - the amount of energy used by an electric device that consumes a kilowatt of power for an hour (kWh is a standard unit of measurement used to calculate the energy consumption of a residence or commercial establishment)
How many watts does a microwave use?
Microwave ovens come in various sizes and power ratings. Small and compact microwaves, often used in mobile homes, use around 600 to 800 watts. Standard-size microwaves that are common in conventional houses use about 800 to 1000 watts. Commercial models, on the other hand, use over 1000 watts. In short, the higher the wattage a microwave has, the faster it will heat or cook food.
How do I compute the energy consumption of my microwave?
To determine how much energy a microwave (or any of your electric devices) uses and how much it costs you, you first need to identify the appliance’s wattage.
Determining a Microwave’s Wattage
Some manufacturers input the appliance's wattage on a sticker placed on the door or at the back of the microwave. So all you have to do is to locate this sticker, and you’ll know the wattage of your appliance. You can also check the user manual for the input wattage figure.
If you can’t locate it, a hack you can do is the tried and tested “time-to-boil test”.
All you need is 8 ounces of ice-cold water in a measuring cup. Place it inside a microwave and zap it for 4 minutes on the highest setting. Watch closely and see when the water starts to boil.
Microwave Wattage |
Time the Water Boils |
500 watts |
3:30 minutes |
600 watts |
2:55 minutes |
750 watts |
2:20 minutes |
1000 watts |
1:45 minutes |
1250 watts |
1:25 minutes |
1500 watts |
1:10 minutes |
When you have identified the wattage of your microwave, use that number to determine its energy consumption (measured in kWh).
To compute the kWh, multiply the watts used by working hours, which in our example is 15 minutes.
For example, if your microwave uses 1000W in an hour, then:
1 hour = 1kW of energy used
15 minutes = .25 or ¼ of an hour
1kW x .25= .10kWh
Calculating the Cost to Run a Microwave
It is essential to note that the cost of using a microwave will depend on the electricity rate of your location and utility provider. To check the rate in your area, refer to this table from EnergySage.
To compute how much it costs you to run your microwave, you simply have to multiply the microwave’s energy consumption (kWh) by your electricity rate.
Using the example above, and if your electricity rate is at $0.28 per kilowatt-hour, then the cost of running your microwave for 15 minutes is:
.10kWh x $0.28 per kWh = $0.028
If you use your microwave daily, then each year, you spend $10.22 on energy costs.
You have to remember that you’re not only paying when you are actually running your microwave. If you keep it plugged in, it (like all electronic devices) continues to draw around 1 to 5 watts.
While it may seem insignificant, if you add how much it costs you to pay for electronics on standby mode, you’ll realize that you pay a significant amount for “energy vampires”. And with the increasing cost of electricity in recent years, it would be wise to be mindful of how we use energy in our households.
Running a Microwave on Solar Power
Speaking of being a smart homeowner, a great way to offset the cost of running your day-to-day appliances, like your microwave or television, is by using solar power.
According to a 2022 article from Forbes, an average American household spends around $125 per month on their energy bill. If you have a solar system that can power your whole house, you can save up to a whopping $1,500 yearly.
On top of that savings, the government offers generous tax incentives to lower the cost of installing solar-powered systems in homes in the country.
Note, however, that to effectively use solar energy to supply electricity for your microwave and other household electronics, you need to have a system capable of powering your commonly used items.
Nature's Generator Powerhouse (7200W 4800Wh) collection is ideal for off-grid houses and whole-house backup power. The best thing about this solar generator is that they are customizable. You can add Power Pod, wind turbines, and solar panels to expand your system. By harnessing renewable energy, you can use your microwave, refrigerator, and other electronic decisions in a more economical and environment-friendly way.
If you’re interested to know more about Nature’s Generators or need help determining which solar system fits your needs, please contact our support team; they will be more than happy to assist.
* We want to give credit where credit is due. Professional writer, Ishna Sablaya, contributed research and content to this blog titled: How Many Watts Does a Microwave Use Thank you, Ishna, for your contributions!