What is a Good Wattage for Microwaves?

My pursuit for the perfect microwave began with we wondering if it is safe to buy a used microwave. After I realized that it is safe to buy a used microwave, I began wondering what the difference is between cheap and expensive microwaves. I learned that there are many factors including wattage and size, now I am wondering about the wattage, and what is considered a good wattage for a microwave. 

In general, a microwave with a wattage of 900 and up is a good microwave. Microwave wattage ranges from 650 – 2400. The wattage impacts how long it takes for your food to heat properly, and if your food is cooked thoroughly. 

Even though 900 watts and up is considered a good microwave, continue reading to see some of the other factors that help determine a good microwave. 

Why is 900 and up considered good?

I think 900 and up is considered good because of the price of the microwave, size of the oven capacity, and the length of time to cook foods.


One of the determining factors of the price of microwaves is the number of watts. In many cases, as the watts increase, so does the price. But if you take a closer look, you will see that there is a better value starting with microwaves that have at least 900 watts. Let’s look at a few examples.

For this example, I am going to compare four different Westinghouse microwaves with different watts. Then I will provide a price per watt for each microwave,

  • 600 watts: $61.74 – $0.103 per watt
  • 900 watts: $84.63 – $0.094 per watt
  • 1000 watts: $89.90 – $0.09 per watt
  • 1100 watts: $104.61 – $0.095 per watt

As you can see the price of the microwaves increase, but the price per watt is the best between 900 and 1000 watts. Once the watts approach 1,100, the microwave loses its value. 

Oven capacity

Another factor that helps to determine why 900 watts is a good starting point for a microwave is the oven capacity. Oven capacity, measured in cubic feet, is the amount of food that can be cooked in your microwave. In general, oven capacity ranges from under 1 cubic foot to just over 2 cubic feet. And, the larger the oven capacity, the more watts you will need to cook food evenly and effectively. 

How to determine the best wattage for you

You should ask the following questions to help determine which wattage is right for you.

  • How many people am I cooking for?
  • What types of food will I be cooking in the microwave?
  • Where will this microwave be placed?
  • How often will I use this microwave? 
  • How much can I afford to spend on a microwave? 

Let’s take a look at this questions more indepth

How many people am I cooking for?

This question will have a direct impact on the size watt you need. The more people you need to cook for in one sitting, the large the watt, and oven capacity you will need. Below is a quick reference guide for determining the watts you need based on family size.

  • Less than 800 watts: 4 or less people
  • 800 – 1000 watts: 2 – 6 people
  • 1000 watts and up: 4 or more people

Of course, these are unofficial guidelines based on my research of microwaves. In addition, if you are a family of 2 and purchase a 1,200-watt microwave, nothing bad is going to happen. These are just helpful suggestions.

What types of food will I be cooking in the microwave?

Another important question and one that will help you narrow the wattage that you need. If you are reheating food or drinks, most likely you do not need a microwave with a high amount of wattage. However, if you plan on cooking food or baking cakes, you will definitely need a microwave with higher wattage. 

Where will the microwave be placed?

This question does not have a direct correlation to wattage, but location affects size which affects watts. If you are planning on placing the microwave in a small space or in a dorm room, you will need a smaller microwave, which will result in a lower wattage. 

However, if you are installing or replacing an over the range microwave, usually those spaces are wider and result in a higher wattage. 

How often will I use this microwave?

This is another indirect wattage question. If you are planning on using a microwave multiple times throughout the day, you may be best served to look for a microwave with a higher wattage. As I’ve mentioned above, lower wattage microwaves will take longer to cook food. Also, the food may be cooked unevenly. 

Finally, who wants to hang out by a microwave checking and rechecking to make sure the food has been cooked through?

How much can I afford to spend on a microwave?

Once again this is an indirect wattage question. In general, the higher the watts, the more the microwave will cost. While you can find a microwave for less than $100, these microwaves tend to have wattages of less than 800.  

If you spend an additional $50, you should be able to find a microwave in the 900 – 1100 watt sweet spot. 

What are watts?

Alright, it’s time to get technical! Watts are simply units of power. Watts, most commonly associated with light bulbs, is a way to measure the amount of power (or energy) that flows in a given direction. A microwave that is 700 watts will use electricity at a rate of 700 watts per minute. 

In general, the higher the watts, the more electricity it will consume per minute.

And that’s it for the technical talk!

When is wattage important?

Wattage is important for a few reasons. First, wattage has a direct impact on the length of time it takes for food to be cooked. The wattage needed to warm coffee is much lower than the wattage needed to cook chicken in a grill microwave. 

While you could cook chicken at a lower wattage, it would take much longer, and it would result in poor taste and consistency. 


What are your thoughts regarding a good microwave wattage? What is your microwave wattage? Does your microwave cook food quickly and evenly?

Comment below!

Additional questions

What is the highest wattage for a microwave?

The highest wattage I’ve ever seen is 2,400 watts. This microwave was rated as commercial grade (restaurants), weighs 70 pounds, and costs over $2,000. Usually, consumer or residential microwaves max out at 1,300 watts.

What is the standard size microwave?

Size can mean one of two things: it can mean the oven capacity, or it can mean the dimensions. The average oven capacity of a microwave is about 1.5 cubic feet. The smallest consumer microwave is 0.6 cubic feet, while the largest is around 2.2 cubic feet.

How do I know the wattage of my microwave?

The wattage of your microwave is listed at least two places. The first place is on the front of the microwave. You should see a number, at least 500, with a “w” after. If the wattage is not on the front on the microwave, look inside the microwave itself. Inside the microwave, where you cook your food, there will be a label. The label contains the product/ model number, manufacturer, and possibly the number of watts. 

If you are only about to find the model/ product number, take that number and search “manufacturer name” + product number. 

How do you tell what size your microwave is?

As I’ve mentioned the inside of your microwave is based on cubic feet. To calculate the cubic feet of your microwave, simply multiply length x width x height. 

To measure, grab a ruler, or measuring tape, pencil, calculator, and scratch paper. First, measure from the front of  the microwave to the ridge of the front. Write that number down. Next measure from one side to the other. Once again, write that number down.

Finally, measure from the inside top of the microwave to the inside bottom. Again write that number down. Now that you have three numbers multiply in the calculator. You should receive a number between 700 – 2,500. 

The final step is to take that number and divide it by 1000. You should receive a number between .7 – 2.5. This number is your cubic feet.

Can I change my microwaves wattage?

In most cases, yes, you can change your microwaves’ wattage. To change the wattage, simply find the power level button and adjust. Each microwave is a little bit different. If you are unsure of how to change the power level, consult your user manual, or the internet. 

When you adjust the power, it is a percent of the maximum power. For example, if you have a 1500 watt microwave with 10 power levels, each level will be 1/10 of the full power. See a break down below.

  • Level 1: 10% – 150 watts
  • Level 2: 20% – 300 watts
  • Level 3: 30% – 450 watts
  • Level 4: 40% – 600 watts
  • Level 5: 50% – 750 watts
  • Level 6: 60% – 900 watts
  • Level 7: 70% – 1050 watts
  • Level 8: 80% – 1200 watts
  • Level 9: 90% – 1350 watts
  • Level 10: 100% – 1500 watts

What are the best microwaves?

The best microwave is going to vary from person to person, but in general, the best microwave for you is one that has all of the features you need, at a price you can afford. One way to help determine the best microwave is to divide wattage by the price. This will put all of the microwaves on a level playing field. From there, look at all of the features, and what will fit for your needs.