Standard Microwave Wattage (Don’t Go Below 800)

There are many microwaves out there with different wattages, but there is a standard range that most microwaves stay within.

The standard microwave is usually anywhere from 600 to 1,200 watts, but the average wattage is around 1,000. This standard wattage is enough power to heat things up quickly without the machine getting too powerful or too expensive.

When picking a microwave, it is important to think about how much wattage will work best for your situation. Read the details below to help you decide what wattage you’ll want for your microwave. Once you know the wattage you’re going for, it’ll make microwave shopping WAY easier.

Standard/Average Microwave Wattage

average microwave wattage

Most people prefer less time wasted staring at their food turning like a disco ball and more time eating their freshly-microwaved breakfast while watching the early morning cartoons. If you’re one of those people, you should not be searching for a microwave with a wattage under 800

Here is a table that illustrates the differences in cooking time between several different microwave wattages:

WattageTime it Takes to Heat Up a Cup of Water (Minutes)
600 Watts
700 Watts3
800 Watts2 1/2
1,000 Watts2
1,200 Watts1 1/2

It’s time to say goodbye to the microwaves you have on your wishlist that have 600 or 700 watts. Those will be an annoyance to you and your family, especially when things get in a rush.

Instead, it’s better to go with a microwave that has around 1,000-watts. These machines tend to cook efficiently and evenly.

Efficiency is important because who wants to wait forever for a slow microwave? If microwaves were all slow super slow, then we’d probably just use an oven.

And even cooking is important because you’ll obviously want to avoid any frozen or cold spots when biting into your food. No one wants to find a block of ice when trying to eat microwaved food. This can be especially bad if you’re trying to cook raw foods.

What’s a Good Wattage for a Microwave?

Though it really depends on your needs as a microwave owner, no one wants to wait on something to cook for 6 minutes when it could be done in half the time with a higher wattage microwave.

With that said, most people opt for a microwave with around 1,000 watts. With that much power, you won’t have to wait too long to heat things up. In fact, you can heat up a cup of water in just two minutes!

Of course, you can get a higher wattage microwave, but for most people a microwave above 1,000 watts is probably not necessary for the extra price that they go for.

You could also consider a microwave with 800 to 900 watts, but below that isn’t good considering how long it takes to cook food or thaw things out. 

No one wants to be eating undercooked microwave food which might be the case with a lower wattage microwave. It’s also not worth getting a lower wattage microwave based on price, because there are many microwaves under $100 that have 1,000-watts like this one on Best Buy.

A Quick Example: Hot Pockets

Let’s use the example of Hot Pockets (a popular microwavable food) as an example to further illustrate the differences in microwave wattages.

With a lower wattage microwave, you may find that the inside of your hot pocket is still frozen while the outside burns your mouth. In other words, lower wattages like 600-700 watts, can cause food to cook unevenly or incompletely.

In addition, most frozen foods (like Hot Pockets) have directions for cooking it in the microwave, but it doesn’t provide multiple cook times for multiple different wattages. This is important to keep in mind, and a point that a lot of people probably miss.

In the case of Hot Pockets, in the directions on the box, they provide the recommended cook time for an 1,100-watt microwave and then another cook time for a “Lower Wattage/Compact Microwave”. 

So if you have a 900-watt microwave, for example, then you’ll have a bit of guesswork to do in order to make sure your Hot Pocket cooks completely (but doesn’t get overcooked).

This is because the directions are rated for microwave wattages that don’t perfectly align with the wattage of your microwave.

If you’re curious exactly how this looks as an example of how cook times vary between different microwaves, you can click HERE, to see the instructions for Hot Pockets where you will see both cook times.

While many can learn to adjust cook times for their food if they have a smaller than recommended microwave, you can save yourself some time and guesswork by simply getting a microwave that is between 1,000 and 1,200 watts. 

Is 900 or 800 Watts Enough for a Microwave?

Though a 1,000-watt microwave is commonly recommended, 800 or 900 watts isn’t necessarily a bad choice. In fact, a 100-watt difference is not going to change much in terms of the length of time needed to heat things up.

As you can see in the table near the beginning of this article, a 600-watt microwave isn’t a good choice if time is precious to you. On the other hand, an 800-watt, 900-watt, and 1,000-watt microwave are all within a cook-time range of 30 seconds.

As a result, it wouldn’t be much of a difference if you bought an 800-watt microwave instead of a 1,000-watt microwave (although there would still be a difference).

With all of those things said, 800 or 900 watts is plenty for most people in a microwave. It gets the job done without any frills. There is still a compelling case to be made for 1,000+ watts, but most people would still be satisfied with an 800-watt microwave.

Do Watts Really Matter in a Microwave?

The real question here is do the watts matter to YOU. The wattage of a microwave clearly has a mechanical/functional difference, but in your day-to-day use of a microwave will you care about the difference?

As a result, the answer to this question really depends on your habits and preferences. Some people may be okay with waiting four minutes to boil water while other folks may not be willing to wait for more than two minutes.

A good way to easily understand wattage is to call it power rather than wattage. Everyone knows how power works. The more power there is, the stronger it is. It works the same way with microwaves.

It will take much longer for a 600-watt microwave to heat up food than it would for a 1,200-watt microwave.

In most cases, people would say that wattage definitely matters in a microwave. There will be some who don’t mind waiting longer for their food to heat up. Although, it is important to note that a smaller wattage microwave might also cause you to eat undercooked microwave food. 

You may not cook it for long enough because you may think that it must be done after six minutes. The truth is that a 600-watt microwave may not be enough watts to cook the food fully through. So you may have to cut the food up into smaller pieces, or just wait longer while it cooks.

Also, for anyone with busy lives as a parent and/or someone with a job, you don’t have time to wait around for your ramen to heat up. Time is precious for many, so a 600-watt microwave can be more trouble than it’s worth.

Don’t Buy a Microwave Below 800 Watts

So, to wrap things up, just remember that it is important to get a microwave with a wattage of at least 800 to get the best experience.

In addition, most people will recommend a microwave of at least 1,000 watts. These microwaves tend to cook food evenly and quickly.

A wattage in a microwave is important to avoid long wait times and undercooked or frozen spots in the food. You’ll have to make the ultimate decision yourself, but I hope that this has given you a helpful framework to narrow down your options and make your microwave wattage choice.

Matt & Heather

Welcome to our blog! We have a home, but not much time. So our goal is to make big improvements with limited time and money. If you're in the same boat, check out more of our stuff, and join the conversation!

Recent Posts