Today, I spent a little time looking for a great value microwave. These microwaves are the best microwaves under $100.
How I created the list
In order to make this list, the microwaves had to perform well in at least three factors. These factors are:
- Oven capacity
As I mentioned in this blog post, watts are the most important feature of a microwave. Watts determine two things: how fast food cooks, and types of food that can be cooked. Watts are important to cooking because the more watts in the microwave, the faster the food will cook. As I mentioned in another post, the difference between 800 and 1200 watts can be minutes depending on what you are cooking.
Similar to how fast food can cook, watts are important for making sure food is cooked evenly, and to a safe eating temperature. By using
In general, you should buy microwaves with the highest watts possible, and all of the microwaves on this list meet this criteria.
Oven capacity follows watts (a distant second) as an important feature for microwaves under $100. Oven capacity determines the amount of food that can be cooked in your microwave at one time. Oven capacity is
- Oven capacity = length * width * height
Usually, but not always, there is an association between oven capacity and watts. The higher the watts, usually means the higher the oven capacity.
Like Watts, the higher the oven capacity the better. Because there are microwaves under $100, I don’t expect to find any microwaves with an oven capacity higher than 1.0 cubic foot.
Because these are value microwaves, I expect all of them to have very few features. The most common features for this price tier are:
- Express cooking – numbers 1 – 6 on the keypad are associated with that minute. For example, pressing “1” auto starts the microwave for 1 minute
- Defrost – defrost frozen foods. Some microwaves will have weighted defrost, others will have manual.
- Quick set buttons – These buttons are associated with most commonly cooked food (popcorn, beverage, frozen dinner, etc)
- Child locks – this prevents a child from opening a microwave and spilling the contents on themselves or the floor.
- Power levels – Used to change the amount for watts used when cooking. For example, if you have a 100-watt microwave power 5 would be 50% power.
The microwaves on this list have at least three of these features. Like watts and oven capacity, the more features the better.
All of these microwaves will be less than $100, but I will be looking for the best value of these microwaves. The best value is a microwave that has a high wattage, high oven capacity, and a number of features for the cheapest price possible.
Also, to help determine price, I use a “price per watt” formula. As the name implies it simply calculates the price that you’d be paying for the watts that are included with this microwave. Below is the formula.
price/ watt = price per watt
Unlike watts, oven capacity, and features, the lower the price per watt, the better. If you are comparing two microwaves and they have the exact same features, watts, and oven capacity, use the price per watt to determine the best one for you.
In general, there are three types of microwave finishes: plastic, aluminum, and stainless steel. Of the three plastic is the cheapest, and stainless steel is the most expensive. The finish is the least important factor of the 5 listed.
Some microwaves have retro finishes that can have a negative impact on the price of the microwaves.
Also, for the purposes of this post, I will use non-sale prices. This will eliminate a number of options to choose from. Also, note that all of the microwaves on this list are solo microwaves. Solo microwaves have the most basic features most consumers are familiar with. In addition to solo microwaves, there are grill and convection microwaves. Click here to learn more about the different microwave types.
Each microwave will include a brief description with product features, why you should consider buying this microwave, and why you should consider passing on this microwave.
Lets get started!
Hamilton Beach B01L4RNIG0
The Hamilton Beach B01L4RNIGO microwave is a 700-watt, 0.7 cubic foot solo microwave that comes in both black and white (the black is slightly more expensive). This microwave includes 6 quick set buttons, 10 power levels, and a 6 button express menu. In addition, this microwave has a digital clock and time, as well as defrost.
Why buy: This microwave would be a great addition to a small family, or college dorm because of its low profile. In addition, the price per watt is a very low $0.060.
Why pass: The 700 watts is going to be one of the lowest watts on this list. Also, the oven capacity limits what you can cook in this microwave.
Westinghouse WCM11100B Microwave Oven
The Westinghouse WCM11100B microwave is a 1000-watt, 1.1 cubic foot countertop microwave that features both auto and cook by weight defrost, child safety lock, and 10 power levels. In addition, this microwave includes 6 quick cook food items and a 12.4 inch turntable for even cooking
Why buy: The 1000 watts and 1.1 cubic foot oven capacity is a nice feature to have in a microwave. Also, I like when microwaves have child safety features because I have three small kids. Also, the price per watt isn’t terrible at $0.099.
Why pass: The price is right at the top of out budget. Also, this microwave is missing the express cooking feature included in a number of microwaves at this price
Oster OGH6901 Compact Microwave Oven
The Oster OGH6901 Microwave Oven is a 0.9 cubic foot, 900 watt microwave with a stainless steel finish. In addition, This microwave includes defrost by weight, child safety locks, and a digital timer and clock. This microwave also have cook cooking for favorite foods like popcorn and beverages.
Why buy: This microwave has a high cubic foot and watt for the price. Also, the stainless steel look gives this microwave a premium look for not a premium price.
Why pass: This microwave has a high price per click of $0.10. In addition, this microwave doesn’t have express cooking. Finally, the stainless steel makes this microwave more expensive than necessary.
Magic Chef MCM990W Microwave Oven
The Magic Chef MCM990W Microwave includes 900 watts for cooking and an oven capacity of 0.9 cubic feet. In addition, this microwave includes a digital timer, sensor cooking, and a removable glass turntable. Finally, this microwave includes 10 power levels, child safety locks, and defrost.
Why buy: This microwave has almost all of the features possible for this price range. I like the high watts and oven capacity.
Why pass: This microwave has a relatively high price per watt ($0.10). In addition, there is a significant price difference depending on your preferred website. Finally, some websites have a very positive customer review, while websites have an average to below-average review.
Insignia NS-MW09SS8 Microwave Oven
The Insignia NS-MW09SS8 microwave oven is a Best Branded microwave. This microwave has 0.9 cubic feet oven capacity and has 900-watts of cooking power. In addition, this microwave includes express and quick set cooking, timed defrost, and child safety locks. Finally, this microwave has a stainless steel finish and an LED display.
Why buy: This microwave includes all of the features you are looking for in this level microwave. In addition, it has a stainless steel finish and a bright LED display.
Why pass: This microwave has a high price per watt ($0.10) for this level of microwave. In addition, this microwave is only sold by Best Buy, which reduces your buying options a bit. Finally, the stainless steel finish increases the price a bit.
Westinghouse WCM990B Microwave Oven
The Westinghouse WCM990B Microwave features a black cabinet, 900 watts of cooking power, and a 0.9 cubic foot cooking capacity. This microwave includes 6 quick start buttons (including a reheat button), a digital clock and timer, and 10 cooking levels. In addition, this microwave has 2 different defrost settings (weight, speed) and a cook by weight feature.
Why buy: This microwave has all of the important features
Why pass: This microwave has a very high price per watt ($0.11) In addition, this microwave does not have an express cooking option. For the price, this microwave should include a stainless steel finish.
RCA RMW1138 Microwave Oven
The RCA RMW1138 Microwave Oven has a large 1.1 cubic foot oven capacity and 1000 watts for cooking. In addition, this microwave includes 10 power levels, a child safety lock, and a speed defrost option. Finally, this microwave features a stainless steel finish and a soft-touch electronic control panel
Why buy: I like the large oven capacity and included watts of this microwave. In addition, this microwave has both express cooking and quick start buttons. In addition, this microwave has a stainless steel finish for a premium look.
Why pass: I am not a high fan of the pull handle. The pulling and pushing of the microwave door can reduce the lifespan of the microwave. In addition, the price per watt is a little of the high side ($0.111). Finally, the stainless steel finish pushes the price of this
Hamilton Beach B06VSNMDSV Microwave Oven
The Hamilton Beach B06VSBNDSV Red Microwave Oven includes a 0.9 cubic foot oven capacity and 900 watts of cooking power. In addition, this microwave includes a child safety lock, 6 quick start cooking buttons and express cooking. Finally, this microwave includes a kitchen timer and 2 defrost options.
Why buy: This microwave has a good price per watt ($0.075). In addition, this microwave has a vibrant red that will fit in a colorful or themes kitchen. Finally, this microwave has a simple design for all types of users.
Why pass: You may want to pass of this microwave if you want an understated kitchen appliance. This microwave is bright red
GE JES1145SHSS Microwave Oven
The GE JES1145SHSS Stainless Steel Microwave Oven includes a cooking power of 950 watts and a 1.1 oven capacity. This microwave includes a cooking light, removable turntable, and multiple defrost options. Finally, this microwave has 10 power levels and an option to turn the turntable on and off.
Why buy: This microwave has a high wattage and oven capacity for the price. In addition, I like the ability to turn the turntable on and off. Finally, I like the ability to add 30 seconds to the cook time.
why pass: The price of this microwave depends on which site you decide to purchase from. There is as much as a $30 difference between sites. In addition, the price per watt is high when compared to other microwaves of this list.
Sharp ZSMC0912BS Microwave Oven
The Sharp ZSMC0912BS Stainless Steel Microwave Oven includes 900 watts of cooking power and a 0.9 oven capacity. In addition, this microwave includes an 11-inch glass turntable and a +30 second button. Finally, this microwave includes express and quick cooking buttons.
Why buy: I like the 0.9 cubic foot oven capacity and the 900 watts of cooking power. The price per watt isn’t too bad ($0.89). In addition, the turntable is one of the largest on this list. Finally, I like the express cooking options.
Why pass: I don’t like the pull handle to open the microwave. In addition, I think the stainless steel adds to the cost of this microwave.
Daewoo KOR-7LREM Microwave Oven
The Doaewoo KOR-7LREM Microwave Oven is a vintage looking, 700 watt, 0.7 cubic foot microwave. This microwave has 5 power levels and two-way defrost. Finally, this microwave includes an on/ off button and a dial to increase/ decrease the cooking time.
Why pass: The price per watt for this microwave is very high considering its limited usage. This microwave only has 1 quick setting (popcorn), and a dial to add and subtract time. Also, as I’ve mentioned, now a big fan of microwaves with handles.
Emerson Radio ER105005 Microwave Oven
The Emerson Radio ER105005 Microwave Oven includes 900 watts of cooking power and an oven capacity of 0.9 cubic feet. In addition, this stainless steel microwave includes a child safety lock, 10 power levels, and 6 quick start buttons. Finally, this microwave includes both
Why by: The price per watt is pretty good ($0.09) considering this microwave has a stainless steel finish. In addition, I like the express and quick start cooking features. Finally, I like the ability to add 30 seconds during cooking
Why pass: Check the price of this microwave of multiple websites. The price varies depending on the website you choose. In addition, this microwave has a handle attached to the microwaves’ glass.
Hamilton Beach EM031MZC-X1 Microwave Oven
The Hamilton Beach EM031MZC-X1 has an oven capacity of 1.1 cubic feet and a 1000 watt cooking capacity. This microwave features a stainless steel finish, 10 power levels, and a child safety lock. Finally, this microwave includes 6 quick
Why buy: This microwave has a very good price per watt for all of the included features. In addition, I like the express cooking, and the ability to add 30 seconds to the cook time.
Why pass: This is another microwave where you should check multiple websites for the price. I’ve seen a $20 price difference between two websites for this microwave.
Emerson MWG9115SB Microwave Oven
The Emerson MWG9115SB Microwave oven is the only microwave on this list that is a grill microwave. This is the only microwave on this list that is slightly above the $100 limit.
This microwave includes 1100 watts of cooking power and a 1.2 cubic foot oven capacity. In addition, this microwave has 11 power levels and 1 grill level. In addition, this microwave includes 9 quick start and 6 express buttons.
Why buy: Even though this microwave is slightly above our budget, it has a good price per watt. In addition, this microwave has a number of features that makes this microwave a good value. Finally, this microwave has a huge cooking and oven capacity.
Why pass: This microwave is outside of our price range. In addition, this microwave has a handle that can cause problems down the road.
Toshiba EM925A5A-BS Microwave Oven
The Toshiba EM925A5A-BS Microwave is a stainless steel microwave that includes 900 watts of cooking power and 0.9 cubic feet of cooking capacity. In addition, this microwave has an 11-inch removable glass turntable, power saving mode, and a sound on/ off option. Finally, this microwave includes 10 power levels and 6 quick start buttons
Why buy: I like that the sound can be turned on and off. Also, I like that this microwave has an eco mode and the express cooking.
Why pass: This microwave has a high oven capacity ($0.10), and the door handle is on the glass door.
Nostalgia RMO7AQ Microwave Oven
The Nostalgia RMO7AQ Microwave Oven is the second microwave of this list that has a retro feel. This microwave includes 700 watts of cooking power and a 0.7 cubic feet of oven capacity. Finally, this microwave is finished with an Aqua blue color.
Why buy: This microwave looks very cool and have a very small footprint. This microwave has adjustable knobs for instant start, auto cooking, and defrost.
Why pass: This microwave has the highest price per watt of this list ($0.14). The microwave has very limited features, and buttons for adjusting the power, express cooking and defrost. This microwave may have a slight learning curve.
Is your microwave on this list? Did I miss a high quality microwaves that is less than $100? What is the most you’ve ever spent on a microwave?
What wattage microwave is the best?
The higher the wattage the better. You should buy the highest wattage microwave you can afford. The highest wattage microwave I’ve seen is 3,500 watts. This microwave was a commercial microwave. The highest domestic microwave I’ve seen is 2,700 watts.
Are older microwaves safe?
Yes, older microwaves are as safe as new microwaves. The only concern you should have with old microwaves is making sure all wires are intact. If you are buying an old microwave, inspect the wires for fraying.
Do microwaves lose their power?
Yes, microwaves can lose power over time. There are a number of factors that can cause microwaves to lose power including: normal wear and tear, dirt, and dust.