Experts often emphasize the wattage of a microwave while ignoring the voltage. This leaves many laypeople in the dark because they don’t know what voltage to use for their microwave. How much voltage does a microwave use?
Microwaves have a transformer with low voltage and high voltage windings that provide 3.1 – 3.2 volts and 1800 – 2800 volts, respectively. Microwave oven transformer takes the household voltage (120V or 240V) and elevates it to 3,000V, which the magnetron uses to produce the waves that cook your food.
The power an oven uses during this process varies. It can utilize as little as 5 amps or as much as 20A, depending on the rating of the appliance.
As far as their relationship to the voltage is concerned, keep the following in mind:
1). When people mention the voltage in relation to microwaves, their primary interest is the voltage that drives these appliances, not the volts the magnetron uses to warm food. They want to know whether a microwave uses 120V or 240V.
Believe it or not, this debate isn’t that important because you don’t have a choice in the matter. You’re not necessarily in a position to select a voltage to use for your microwave oven. Consider these variables:
First of all, you don’t have to select the voltage because the manufacturer will tell you the correct voltage to use. If they say 240V, use 240V. If they recommend 120V, act accordingly. Microwaves have manuals that reveal the specs of the appliance. That includes the wattage and voltage. You can also find this information on a plate or label on the oven.
The market has plenty of microwaves for each voltage option. Kitchen Gearoid has published a list of 120V and 220V microwaves. From that list, you can see that microwaves for each wattage exist in both 120V and 220V categories.
In other words, if you have a 120V electrical system at home and you want a 1100W microwave oven, you can find 120V 1100W ovens on the market. If you have a 220V system, you can also buy a 220V 1100W oven from your retailer. The voltage won’t restrict your selection, at least not in the way you think.
Your country will dictate the voltage. For instance, the United States uses 120V. On the other hand, many European nations use 220 – 240V. Complications only arise when people order microwaves from abroad because they may purchase devices whose voltage differs from the standard in their country.
Otherwise, the microwave ovens you encounter on the market will feature the voltage your country uses.
So if you live in the US, most microwaves will use 120V. Although, that won’t stop you from running a 220V appliance if the need arises. Power reaches a US home on two 120V legs. A contractor can combine those legs to give the homeowner access to 240 volts.
In other words, people in the US can use 120V or 240V microwaves. The voltage won’t limit their selection.
2). When people discuss a microwave oven’s power, the voltage is rarely a concern. While the voltage matters, it isn’t as crucial to this discussion as the wattage. People look at the watts to determine whether or not an appliance will suit their needs.
That being said, many smaller, weaker ovens use 120V while stronger, larger ranges run on 220V. In that regard, you could argue that the wattage and voltage go hand in hand. An example of a small 120V microwave is any 600 to 800W device in your local store. Ovens in this range will cook instant meals.
Restaurant microwaves that cook raw meat use 1200 watts or more. However, you can run a 1200W oven on 120V, depending on the model. As you can see, this issue is more complex than it seems.
You can’t select a microwave oven based solely on the voltage and wattage. You must consider other factors, such as the oven size and the food you want to cook. Larger ovens use more power. Additionally, certain foods require a higher amperage or watt rating.
3). Interestingly enough, microwaves are less expensive to operate than you think. Yes, they are heavy-duty devices with significant energy requirements. However, people don’t use them all the time.
Even if your microwave has a rating of 1,500 watts, you will only run it for a few minutes each day, which is unlikely to impact your utility bill. According to Kowalske Kitchen and Bath, a microwave uses 215kWh or less yearly.
In other words, don’t assume that a microwave oven with lower wattage and voltage will cost you less to operate than an oven with a higher voltage and wattage. The frequency of use is the deciding factor.
How Do You Know What Voltage Your Microwave Is?
Check the label on the microwave oven. It will show the voltage and wattage. Some devices reveal the amperage as well, but that is rare. You can change the watts to amps by dividing the wattage by the voltage.
The amps matter because they will show you whether or not the microwave oven can run on your circuit. Don’t forget that the circuit size is expressed in amps. You can’t compare a microwave’s wattage to the circuit’s amperage.
If your microwave oven lacks a label or plate, check the documentation or the manufacturer’s website.
What type of plug does your microwave oven use? If the plug fits a 240V outlet, you have a 240V device. This simplifies matters because the plug won’t enter a 120V outlet. The reverse is also true. A microwave oven with a 120V plug will probably run on a 120V system.
But again, you need the manual, the manufacturer’s website, or the label on the oven to confirm your suspicions.
220V Microwave VS 110V Microwave – Pros and Cons Of High Volt VS Low Volt Microwaves
In many ways, 220V and 110V microwave ovens are the same. However, voltage is comparable to pressure in plumbing. It affects the power of the device.
According to the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, a higher voltage allows the electric current to do more work.
Therefore, a 220V microwave oven will deliver more power than its 110V counterpart. At the very least, it will perform its work in a shorter period while using less electricity. Does this make 220V ovens superior?
Not necessarily. Ultimately, if you live in a country with a 120V standard, you will most likely find 120V microwaves in your local store. More importantly, you will find plenty of 120V microwaves with the power to cook food as quickly and efficiently as you want.
In fact, people that gravitate towards 120V devices often argue that the 120V standard is safer because it is less likely to kill you. They apply that argument to the 220V VS 110V microwave oven debate.
But for the most part, you don’t have to choose between these two standards. Use the voltage your country favors. And if you want to use a 220V microwave oven in a country that prefers 110V power systems, make sure your contractor provides the appropriate outlets.
A 220 – 240V microwave will run on a 120V system. However, it will give you a fraction of the power you need. Don’t be surprised if it takes longer than expected to cook a meal. You may get as little as one-fourth of the heat a 240V oven usually generates.
Why Voltage Matters For Microwaves?
The microwave oven’s voltage shows you the outlet to use. Most American homes use 120V outlets that only rely on one of the two 120V legs that bring electricity from the grid. But a contractor can install a 220 – 240V outlet for 220 – 240V appliances.
If you know the oven’s voltage, you will use the correct outlet. You don’t want to pair a 120V microwave with a 240V system. A modern appliance has overvoltage protection mechanisms that trip the circuit breaker in such situations.
But even with those protections, the 240 volts can still destroy the 120V oven. A 240V appliance can work with a 120V outlet, but not the reverse. If the label says ‘120V,’ use a 120V outlet. This is why the outlets and plugs have different configurations. The goal is to prevent mixups.
Some consumers use the same type of outlet for 120V and 240V circuits. But that practice is illegal in many regions because a mixup between 120V devices and 240V circuits could lead to a disaster.
Some microwaves can handle 120V and 240V. They have mechanisms that switch between the two depending on the circuit’s voltage.