Microwave Wattage Guide: How Many Watts You Need


Confused about choosing the right microwave wattage for your needs?

You’re not alone! Choosing the right microwave wattage can be a bit challenging.

Luckily, you’ve come to the right place for answers.

Generally, the microwave wattage ranges between 600 and 1,200 watts. Small microwaves are within a 600-800 watt range and can take longer to heat food. While 900 or 1000 watts are already powerful, other home models go all the way to over 1200 watts – especially in bulkier options like drawer microwaves.

However, fewer microwave watts isn’t a bad thing. It can simply mean more cooking time.

Keep reading to make the right choice!

Why trust us? This article was written by Craig Anderson and James Blackford.

Craig has helped thousands of other homeowners repair their appliances since 2016. James is one of our resident appliance experts with over 16 years of experience. He currently works as a Master Technician for SquareTrade, and runs his own appliance repair business.

In case you prefer to listen, here’s a clip from our podcast where we discuss the impact of different Watts when choosing a Microwave.

How Many Watts Does a Microwave Use?

Microwaves are available in various wattages (600-1200 watts). The higher the wattage, the faster the food heats up.

Ensuring your microwave can handle anything you’re likely to cook is essential. Your goal is to get a microwave that is powerful enough to cook your food efficiently without wasting energy.

I’ve created the following guide to help you determine the wattage your microwave requires.

600–800 Watts

The average wattage of the least expensive microwaves typically ranges between 600 and 800 watts.

So, when people are on a budget, my usual advice is to opt for a microwave with wattage ranging from 600-800.

These microwaves can cook instant meals and heat small foods, which is ideal if you have a small family or live alone.

Most microwavable foods give cooking instructions for 800-watt microwaves, so any lower than that, and you’ll spend longer cooking your food.

800–1000 Watts

In my opinion, the 800-1000 microwave wattage represents the higher end of traditional microwave models, as they usually have faster cooking times.

Microwaves with wattage ranging from 800 to 1000 typically require 30 to 40 seconds less cooking time than lower-wattage models.

The difference in cooking times is unlikely to impact the cooking results or your energy bill significantly, so please don’t get carried away by a higher wattage number.

1000–1200 Watts

Once microwaves break 1000 watts, they’re closer to ovens than traditional microwaves.

Restaurant microwaves tend to be 1000 watts or above. You can even safely cook raw meats in these microwaves with the right preparation technique.

However, in my opinion, it’s a bit overpowered for microwave dinners or reheating a drink. So, if you are not a cooking enthusiast or a professional chef, I don’t recommend investing in a microwave of 1000 to 1200 watts.

What Is the Best Wattage for a Microwave?

If you’re looking for a home microwave that’s effective but not overpowered, my advice is to look for one between 800 and 1000 watts.

Microwaves with wattage ranging from 800 to 1000 watts are capable of quickly cooking food without leaving any cold spots. On the flip side, they won’t draw an excessive amount of power, so you don’t risk burning your food.

You can find countertop microwaves, over-the-range models, and microwave drawers in the 800-1000 watt range.

The microwave wattage is typically visible either inside the door or near the controls. You can also find this information in the manufacturer’s manual.

Can’t find your manual? Check out our detailed guide on how to find any product’s manual online:

Do Microwave Watts Matter?

Yes, watts matter when you’re buying a microwave.

The microwave wattage affects how quickly and thoroughly it can cook your food. A higher wattage – the number of watts per hour it uses – the better it will work.

Depending on the microwave, you’ll see a variety of different wattages. As mentioned before, most microwaves sit between 600 and 1200 watts.

In my experience, bigger microwaves tend to have a higher wattage, and they’re usually more expensive. Meanwhile, budget models are typically smaller and have lower wattage.

If you’re still struggling trying to find the perfect microwave, check out our comprehensive microwave buyer’s guide!

Wattage can also impact the running costs of your microwave.

Higher-wattage microwaves tend to consume more energy compared to lower-wattage models. However, it’s worth noting that the cost of running a microwave is typically low, so there’s no need to worry.

Wondering how much it costs to run your microwave? Click here to use our free calculator!


Hopefully, you now know what microwave wattage best fits your needs.

Remember, most microwaves typically range between 600 and 1200 watts. The higher the microwave wattage, the faster the cooking time.

If you’re in the market for a new microwave, check out our related articles. We specifically review units to make sure they’re worth purchasing.

Thank you so much for reading, have a great day!

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more