Domestic VS Commercial Microwaves What’s the Difference

In the pursuit to find the perfect microwave for my home, I stumbled across commercial microwaves. As I’m looking at these microwaves I noticed there is a huge price difference which led me to research the difference between the two.

What’s the difference between domestic and commercial microwaves? There are a number of differences including wattage, price, appearance, warranty length, manufacturers, expected usage, and features. For example, residential microwaves have a wattage range of 550 and 1200. Commercial microwaves have a wattage of 550 to 3500.

Continue reading to see more differences between commercial and domestic microwaves, including: price, appearance, warranty information, and features.

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Microwave watts are used to determine the amount of energy that is converted into heat inside a microwave. As the wattage increases, so does the different foods that can be safely cooked. For example, lower wattages like 550 – 700 are good for cooking rice, and keeping coffee warm, but not good for cooking chicken or turkey. Click here to read more about microwave wattage.

As I mentioned earlier, domestic microwaves have a wattage rang or 550 – 1,500. In addition, the microwaves’ wattage usually corresponds with the oven capacity. The oven capacity is the size inside and is measured in cubic feet. In most cases, as the wattage increases, so does the oven capacity. 

Also, the price also has a strong relation to the watts of domestic microwaves. If all other things are equal, the price will increase as the wattage and oven capacity increase. 

Commercial microwaves wattages range from 1,000 to 3,500 watts. Also, there isn’t the same correlation between price, watts, and oven capacity like domestic microwaves. For the most part, all of the commercial microwaves are similar in size.


Another big difference between domestic and commercial microwaves is the price. When shopping for a domestic microwave, you can expect to pay between $50 – $500. The price of the microwave depends on the oven capacity, watts, and features.

The price is based on this order: watts, capacity, features. The price of the microwave will be high if two of the three variables is high. For example, if the microwave has a high wattage and a large oven capacity, then the price will be on the higher end.

The least expensive price I could find for a commercial microwave was just under $200. This microwave was rated for “light” usage and was missing a number features offered in the medium and heavy duty commercial microwaves. 

Medium duty microwaves began at $300 and topped out at just under $1,500. These microwaves have more features and a larger oven capacity. 

Microwaves rated “heavy duty” began at $1,000, and ended at over $4,000. These microwaves ranged in oven capacity size, features, and wattage. The microwaves with the lower wattage were at the lower price, while higher wattage could be found toward the top of the price scale.


Another difference between domestic and commercial microwaves is the overall appearance. For the most part, domestic microwaves are made with hard plastic, stainless steal, or another kind of metal. The finish of these microwaves also has an effect on the price of the microwave. In most cases, microwaves with stainless steel are more expensive than microwaves made with plastic.

Almost all of the commercial microwaves I researched were made with stainless steel. Stainless steel appears to the industry standard for commercial microwaves. 

Oven Capacity

Oven capacity is the amount of cooking space located inside of the microwave. This number is measured in cubic feet, and can range from 0.5 to 2.5 cubic feet. Domestic microwaves have a wider oven capacity than commercial microwaves. 

Commercial microwaves have an oven capacity range of 0.6 – 1.9 cubic feet, which is slightly smaller than domestic microwaves. In most cases, a smaller oven capacity results in a smaller microwave footprint. While I don’t have proof, it appears that commercial microwaves are built smaller because of limited kitchen space. 

Another surprise I found when researching commercial oven capacity is that these microwaves can be stacked on top of each other. Commercial kitchens may not have space horizontally but may have additional space vertically. 


It appears that domestic and commercial microwaves have two distinct uses. Commercial microwaves are best suited for limited and repeated disks that can occur hundred’s of times per day. While domestic microwaves are best if it is used less than 100 times per week.  

One of the reasons why I believe commercial microwaves are designed for hundreds of uses per day is the features included in the heavy duty microwaves, construction, and warranty. One of the features included in commercial microwaves is the ability to program up to 100 menu items. 


Another major difference between domestic and commercial microwaves is the manufacturer warranty. Most commercial microwaves have a much longer manufacturer warranty than domestic microwaves. 

Most domestic microwaves have a 1-year limited liability warranty. Also, there are some unique guidelines a customer must follow to file a warranty claim. If a customer decides to file a warranty claim, they may have to return to the store they purchased it from first, before making the claim.

Customers that purchase domestic microwaves also have the option to purchase an additional warranty through the reseller (Best Buy, Amazon, Lowes).

Commercial microwaves have a manufacturer warranty of 3-years. In addition, if something goes wrong with the microwave, the manufacturer may send a repairman to diagnose and fix the problem. 

Product Life

Another difference between domestic and commercial microwaves is the expected life cycle of these microwaves. As I noted here, the expected life of a domestic microwave is 9.5 years

Commercial microwaves are expected to last at least 10 years. While this can vary based on usage, 10-years is considered to be the industry standard. 


Another difference between domestic and commercial microwaves are the product manufacturers. While GE, LG, Westinghouse, and Toshiba are consumer brand staples, commercial microwave manufacturers may include names that you’ve next hear of. 

Here is a short list of commercial manufacturer brands: 

  • Amana
  • Turbo air
  • Summit
  • Solwave
  • Sharp
  • Panasonic
  • Alto
  • ACP
  • Winco
  • Vollrath


The biggest difference between commercial and domestic microwaves are the included features. Below are just a few of the available features included in commercial microwaves. 

  • USB ports for upgrading the microwave
  • Recessed ceramic shelf
  • Programmable menu items
  • Transparent door
  • Voltage sensor
  • Programmable Timer
  • Side hinged door
  • Stackable
  • NSF Certified

Where Are They Sold?

Most domestic microwaves can be purchased at any retail store. These products can be found in the home appliance section with the blenders, and rice cookers. In addition, domestic microwaves can be purchased online from stores like Amazon.

Commercial microwaves aren’t as available as their domestic counterpart. Domestic microwaves can be purchased at stores that cater to businesses like Sam’s Club. In addition, you can also find online retailers that specialize in selling commercial/ restaurant products. Surprisingly, Amazon does not have a huge commercial microwave footprint. 

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When to Use a Commercial Microwave?

You should consider using a commercial microwave if you plan of completing a list of tasks over 100 times per day. You should also consider investing in a commercial microwave if you are unhappy with the 1-year limited liability warranty, or need a special feature only available in commercial microwaves. Finally, you should consider buying a commercial microwave if you own, or plan on owning a resturant

Commercial Microwave Examples

Below are a few examples of popular commercial microwaves

  • Amana HDC12A2 Heavy Duty Commercial Microwave
  • Amana AOC24 Heavy Duty Commercial Microwave
  • Winco EMW-1000SD Commercial Microwave
  • Panasonic NE-1054F Commercial Microwave
  • Vollrath 40830 Commercial Microwave
  • Turbo Air TMW-1100NE Commercial Microwave


As I’ve noted in this post, there are a number of differences between domestic and commercial microwaves. Those differences include watts, appearance/ construction, price, and product life. Also, I was a bit surprised to learn that there isn’t a large correlation between the oven capacity  and the price of commercial microwaves. 

Also, I discussed how commercial microwaves are expected to last a little longer than domestic microwaves. In addition, I found a few commercial brands that don’t have domestic microwaves. 

Do you own a commercial microwave? Have you ever used a commercial microwave? In your opinion, what is the biggest difference between commercial and domestic microwaves?

Leave a comment below!

Additional Questions

What is a commercial microwave?

A commercial microwave is a microwave that is suited for use in a bar, cafe, or restaurant. These microwaves are different than domestic microwaves because they are all stainless steel, rated for commercial use, and designed for heavy use.

Domestic microwaves are designed to be used a few times per day, however, commercial microwaves are designed to be used hundreds of times per day. 

Why don’t commercial microwaves have turntables?

Commercial microwaves have a fan (called a mixer) located at the top of the microwave to replace the missing turntable. The turntable helps to evenly distribute the energy created by the watts. 

Also, many commercial microwaves have multiple levels to cook different foods, and turntables table up valuable space.

What Makes a Microwave Commercial Grade

A few features that make microwave commercial grade include:

  • NSF certified
  • ETL rated
  • Voltage
  • NEMA 6-20P plug