Cost of magnetron

Magnetrons are horribly complicated. No, really—they’re horribly complicated! To understand how they work, I find it helps to compare them to two other things that work in similar ways: an old-style TV set and a flute. So let’s get to it while reviewing the cost of magnetron also. Today, we review the best over the range convection microwave 2020, best venting over the range microwave 2019 and best over the range microwave convection oven combo 2020 picks.

A magnetron has quite a lot in common with a cathode-ray (electron) tube, the sealed glass bulb that makes the picture in an old-style television set. The tube is the heart of a TV: it makes the picture you can see by firing beams of electrons at a screen covered in chemicals called phosphors so they glow and give off dots of light. You can read all about that in our main article on television, but here (briefly) is what’s happening. Inside the TV, there’s a negatively charged electrical terminal called a cathode that’s heated to a high temperature so electrons “boil” off it. They accelerate down the glass tube, attracted by a positively charged terminal or anode and reach such high speeds that they race past and crash into the phosphor screen at the tube’s end. But a magnetron doesn’t have the same purpose in life as a TV. Instead of making a picture, it’s designed to generate microwaves—and it does that a little bit like a flute. A flute is an open pipe filled with air. Blow across the top in just the right way and you make it vibrate at a specific musical pitch (called its resonant frequency), generating a sound you can hear that corresponds directly to the length of the pipe.

A magnetron’s job is to generate fairly short radio waves. If you could see them, you could easily measure them with a school ruler. They’re usually no shorter than about 1mm (0.04 in; the shortest division on a metric ruler) and no longer than about 30cm (12in; the length of a typical school ruler). The magnetron does its stuff by resonating like a flute when you pump electrical energy into it. But, unlike a flute, it produces electromagnetic waves instead of sound waves so you can’t hear the resonant energy its making. (You can’t see that energy either, because your eyes aren’t sensitive to short-wavelength, microwave radiation)

With more than 90% of American households relying on their microwaves to heat food on a daily basis, it’s no wonder a broken appliance can send panic through a family. When a microwave fails, it is important to get it fixed–fast. While it may be tempting to head to the store and buy a new one, the fact is, a new appliance can be expensive; making repairing the one you have more budget-friendly.

A lot of things can go wrong with a microwave oven, leaving it unable to cook food properly. From a blown fuse or defective door switch, to a burned-out magnetron or faulty transmitter, the cost of repairs usually averages between $100 and $200 and includes such things as repairing a touchpad, door, fuse, and some fan repairs. Of course, bigger problems can result in bigger repair bills.

Cost of magnetron

Repairing a broken microwave can cost anywhere from $10 to replace a blown fuse, to $150 for a qualified repairman to put in a new magnetron or transformer. Considering the array of prices associated with fixing a microwave oven, it is important for appliance owners to understand the different factors which may affect the overall repair cost.

  • Brands. Generally speaking, the higher end the appliance, the more expensive it is going to be at repair time. For instance, Viking and Thermador carry average repair bills of $200-$600 due to the higher prices of their parts, while more medium-range appliances made by GE, LG, Hotpoint, and Frigidaire cost about $150 for the average repair.
  • Type of repair. Depending on the problem, your repair professional may need to take the appliance apart (and put it back together), which adds costs to overall bill. Plus, you must factor in the cost of any parts needed. A simple repair, like replacing a fuse, may only take a few minutes and cost as little as $10-$15 (plus any service call fee required), while a faulty touchpad is going to run between $20 and $50 for parts and installation. Something more serious and time consuming, like replacing a magnetron, carries a heftier repair bill of around $150 for most standard models.
  • The professional rates. Professional microwave repair techs’ fees do vary from region to region, but overall most homeowners can count on paying an average of $70 per hour for the service. Repair professionals with more experience and training may charge a little more, while professionals in more rural areas may cost a bit less.
  • How far you live from the nearest professional. If you live in an area far from town, or live in a busy metropolitan area with heavy traffic, plan on paying a premium for repair service. Most professionals factor average travel within their standard fees, but when they must travel more than 10-15 miles (or 15-30 minutes) you can count on them adding an extra travel fee for their service. This can be anywhere from a flat $25-$50 to an actual mileage fee (with the average about 58 cents per mile).
  • How accessible the appliance is. Another factor which may affect the price of repair is how hard it is for your repair professional to access it. Built-in 1 wall units that must be removed from the wall and reinserted onto brackets 2, or those tucked away under cabinets, or in other harder-to-reach areas may cost a little more to repair simply because it takes more time to uninstall and reinstall them.
  • How easy it is to find parts. Parts accessibility can also affect repair costs. If your repairman must take time to research and track down older model parts for your repair, you can bet he is going to charge you for his time and effort.

Common Problems

Considering that there are so many things that can leave your microwave out of service, you may be wondering what some of the most common problems and fixes are and what they are going to cost. Here is a rundown of what to expect:

ProblemPiece that needs replacementAverage cost
SparksRack supportWave guide coverBurned diode$5-$20$10-$15$75-$100
Loud banging or humming noisesRoller guideDrive couplerDiodeMagnetronCooling fan$20-$30$20-$50$75-$100$100-$150$150-$200
Motor runs and then stopsTouch padDoor switchTransformerFan motor$20-$50$50$100-$150$150-$200
Button failureTouch padControl panelControl board$20-$50$60-$100$200
Interior plate stops spinningRotating motor$20-$60
Failure to heatMagnetron$100-$150
Running while door is openInterlocking switchFan$100$200

Labor

There are some simple repairs that a handy homeowner can do on their own, but in most cases a professional repair expert is needed to insure that your microwave is both fixed properly and safe to use. Professionals have the knowledge and experience to work with all types of microwave brands and models. Plus, they have quick access to needed parts (which gets your appliance up and running faster), and they are knowledgeable when working with electricity, making the repair itself safer.

Paying for labor usually runs about $70-$100 an hour in most areas, for a qualified repair professional. The good news is that most repairs take an hour or less, with even more complicated ones only taking about 2 hours. Be prepared to pay a $50-$100 service call fee just to have the repair expert come to your home to assess the problem. This fee, however, is usually credited back to the homeowner if they do indeed proceed with the repair.

Maintenance

It’s always cheaper to keep your microwave in good working order rather than being forced to pay for costly repairs. Here are some tips for properly maintaining your microwave oven and avoiding problems in the future:

  • Keep it clean (both inside and out): Failing to clean up those spills can cause corrosion on the inside and outside of your appliance. Plus, every time you run the microwave it will continue to heat the spills, making it much less efficient and forcing it to work harder than it should.
  • Never run it empty: when you run a microwave with nothing in it, the water molecules in the food are absent, which redirects those microwaves back into the magnetron. Over time, this will damage it.
  • Never use metal in your microwave: the micro waves emitted during usage will bounce off the metal and burn the interior components of the appliance.
  • Use proper containers: not all containers (especially plastic) are safe to use in a microwave. Some will even melt, which can damage the interior of the appliance. Be sure to use only microwave-safe containers when heating food and avoid all metals and plates with gold or silver accents.
  • Cover food when heating: avoid splashes, which can clog parts and cause corrosion, by covering all foods when heating.
  • Don’t over-pack the appliance: read your instruction manual and follow all weight limitations to ensure that the food cooks evenly and that you aren’t overworking the appliance’s motorized parts.
  • Check the door: Be sure the door closes properly every time it is in use. That will keep those micro waves inside where they belong and keep the motor from running too hard.
  • Guard against power surges: sudden electrical surges can short out many of a microwave oven’s components. Avoid this problem by using a power surge protector. You can usually pick up a good quality one at your local home improvement store for under $40.

Repair vs. Replace a Microwave

Microwaves are one of the cheapest kitchen appliances to replace, sometimes making it more economical to do so rather than fixing them. Still, many homeowners may prefer to fix what’s wrong instead of having to go shopping for a newer model.

So what factors should you consider when trying to decide whether to repair or replace your broken model? Most experts agree that age is a major consideration. Microwaves are only made to last 8-10 years these days, so if your model is more than six years old, it is probably time for a new one.

The brand and model are also important, since higher-end models can cost $1,000 or more to replace versus a few hundred to repair. Of course lower-end models costing around $300 brand new are likely a better deal than shelling out $150 for the average repair.

No matter how much you may love your current model, there are times when replacing it is an absolute must. If your appliance sparks, smokes, or smells like something in it is burning, it is no longer safe to use and should be replaced. Doors that do not close properly can cost more than $150 to repair, which is usually not cost-effective. Likewise, when your food isn’t cooking all the way through, the fix may cost more than a new appliance.

Additional Considerations and Costs

Every household project requires some thought and knowledge. Microwave repair is no different. Here are a few things to think about and be prepared to pay for when calling in a repair expert:

  • DIY repair. If you are handy, you may be able to handle something small like replacing the roller guide inside the microwave. But most repairs do require specialty knowledge and experience, so it is probably best to call in a qualified professional to handle the job safely and efficiently.
  • Setting expectations with your repair professional. It is vital that you talk with your repairman before setting an appointment. Make sure he or she knows the brand, make, and model number of the appliance to ensure it is one he is familiar with. Next, ask about fees, including service and travel fees before hiring. It is always best that both parties are clear regarding expectations before starting a job.
  • Check the warranty before deciding to perform repairs. Not every problem is covered under a manufacturer’s warranty, but many are. Be sure to check your warranty first to see what is covered and what is not.
  • Home warranties. In most cases your home warranty will cover microwave repair as long as you have a microwave appliance coverage. Also, be aware that many home warranties charge a service fee ranging from $50-$100 just to send out a repairman. After that fee, though, most repairs are covered and free replacement is offered (with a comparable make and model) if your appliance is deemed unfixable.

How to buy a microwave

This buying guide is what you need if you’re looking for a new microwave.

Your Pizza Rolls deserve a good microwave. This countertop wonder, whose origins date back to the 1940s, is probably one of the most frequently used appliances in your kitchen thanks to its ability to reheat food fast (and cook a mug cake or two). There are a variety of options when it’s time to select a microwave, so we’ve broken down the options you have when you’re ready for a new microwave.

Location

The first decision you need to make about a new microwave is where in your kitchen you want to put it. The location affects the price, features, size and installation of the appliance. You have three main options:

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Countertop

This is the most common type of microwave. They generally cost less and are significantly easier to install than other models. Just find a spot on the counter for it to sit, plug it into an outlet and you can use it right away.

The biggest issue with the countertop microwave is how much space it needs. If you have limited room on your countertop, you may either want to look at the smaller countertop models available, look into placing your microwave on a small cart, or consider another style of microwave.

Price: $40 to $700

External dimensions: From roughly 10 by 18 by 14 inches for compact models to roughly 14 by 24 by 20 inches for larger models

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

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Some of GE’s stoves and over-the-range microwaves are connected via Bluetooth.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Over-the-range

You install this style of microwave above your range, which will save you some counter space. These models have vent systems that take the place of the oven hood and lights to illuminate your cooktop.

Price: $190 to $1,300

External dimensions: Usually wider than countertop models, about 16 by 30 by 15 inches

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

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Sharp

Built-in

Built-in models that you place among custom cabinets or paired with built-in, full-sized wall ovens are the most high-end (aka expensive) types of microwaves. Some microwaves in this category are even designed specifically as drawers with a compartment you pull out for your food.

Price: $500 to $5,000 and up

External dimensions: This varies widely depending on type, and drawers tend to have more depth than countertop or over-the-range models, hitting about 15 by 30 by 26 inches

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

Size

It’s important to find the right-sized microwave that will meet your food needs and fit in the space you have for it. First, you want to measure the counter or other space where you plan to put your microwave. Then, measure the height, width and depth of any model you’re considering to find out if it will fit on your counter top, over your range or in a custom spot. The external dimensions can vary a lot, from 10 by 18 by 14 inches on the smaller side to 14 by 24 by 20 inches on the larger side.

Then there’s also the internal capacity, which can range from less than 1 cubic foot to 2 cubic feet or more. There doesn’t seem to be any set rule for how internal capacity correlates to size (like 1 cubic foot = small, 1.5 cubic feet = medium, etc.), but here’s an attempt to break it down:

Compact: Under 1 cubic foot

Midsize: 1 to 1.5 cubic feet

Full-size: 1.6 to 2 cubic feet

Extra-large: More than 2 cubic feet

Most microwaves are somewhere around 1.4 to 1.8 cubic feet. Still not sure which size you need? If you’re out shopping, bring in a plate or bowl from home that you plan to use often to make sure that it fits inside the microwave.

Still in doubt? Measure everything, take notes and check with your appliance retailer for help deciding what would work best. For over-the-range and other built-in models, you most likely won’t be the one installing your new microwave, so you can always avail yourself of their expertise.

Wattage

Microwave wattage equals power. In general, the higher the wattage, the faster and more evenly your food will cook. Most microwaves sit somewhere between 600 to 1,200 watts. Larger, more expensive microwaves tend to have a higher wattage, so this is a price and size consideration that can strongly influence microwave cooking performance.

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This GE microwave has scan-to-cook tech via a related app.Chris Monroe/CNET

Features

Many microwaves share common functions. Here are some microwave cooking essentials: cook time, defrost, power level and timer. Each one requires your direct input, but they are usually very easy to set. Most microwaves have touch panel controls and a rotating carousel to spin your food for more even cooking.

Default settings

Many microwaves come with preset cooking modes so you only have to press one button to automatically cook a dish. For example, many microwaves have a “popcorn” button that will cook your bag based on factory settings. This can be handy for common dishes you heat in the microwave, but you’ll have to figure out if the microwave’s default cook times work for your own food. Other common presets include: baked potato, pizza, beverage, frozen dinner and reheat.

Broil

Manufacturers are increasingly including features in microwaves that mimic what we see in full-size ovens, such as a broiler. This is a good addition for finishing off a dish or cooking something for which you’d prefer more direct heat.

Convection

A convection fan that’s built into the back of a microwave oven circulates the heat around the food to cook things more quickly and evenly. (Many new full-size ovens come with at least one convection fan.) However, microwaves with convection fans are generally more expensive than those without.

Inverter technology

Inverter heating is another option available on some high-end models. If you want to heat something at a 50 percent power level, most microwaves actually switch between 100 percent power and 0 percent power to average in at 50 percent power. This doesn’t yield great results if you want to heat something on a lower heat and achieve an even result. So, some models now use inverter technology, which maintains a consistent 50 percent power. That way, you can poach salmon, make a fluffy omelet, etc.

Other advanced features

In addition to new heating technologies, higher-end models usually have more presets than just the basic pizza, popcorn and baked potato standard. Some use moisture sensors to detect food doneness. And we’ve started to see models include LED lighting on the interior.

“Smart” technology, i.e. options that connect microwaves to the internet and other products, aren’t as widespread in microwaves as we’ve seen in other kitchen appliances. However, we’ve seen GE Appliances include Bluetooth technology in some of its over-the-range microwaves. This connection, which GE calls “Chef Connect,” pairs the microwave with compatible GE ranges so the light and fan beneath the microwave automatically turns on when you turn on a burner.

More options

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Will the June Intelligent Oven become the next microwave?Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Other small appliances have started to make a case for forgoing the microwave, such as steam ovens that use water to cook for more moist heating or the basic toaster oven that mimics a full-size stove. These options promise to cook more effectively than a microwave, but it might take longer to reheat your food.

Smart countertop ovens have also started to become an option. The June Intelligent Oven uses facial recognition technology to identify food and cook it automatically, and the Tovala Smart Oven will scan packaged meals for automatic cooking, including frozen meals from Trader Joe’s. These options are promising, but the technology is too new to determine whether or not these will become kitchen staples.

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