energy efficient microwaves

Today we will be talking about energy efficient microwaves, the best energy efficient microwave oven, best energy efficient countertop microwave and the best low power consumption microwave. let’s go!

Microwave ovens have rapidly become more of a need rather than a treat these days. Gone are the times when microwave ovens were simply used to warm up and cook meals. Microwaving today has become the typical approach of preparing meals. But, there are several vital aspects worthy of taking notes before you pick microwave oven of your choice.

How Much Electricity Does a Microwave Use While Cooking?

We’ll cut to the chase — unless your microwave is a massive model and you’re running it for several minutes at every mealtime, your energy cost amounts to a few cents per month, or a few dollars per year.

Exactly how much your microwave is costing you comes down to a few major factors:

  • What’s your microwave’s wattage? On the low end, tiny microwaves start at around 600 watts. Many full-size microwaves fall between 800 and 1,200 watts. Larger, commercial grade models may run 1,800 watts or higher. If you’re unsure of your microwave’s wattage, look for an attached label with that information, which may be inside the oven.
  • How often do you use your microwave? Microwaves use a small amount of standby power (which we’ll get to in a moment), but much of their energy goes into cooking. So the more often you cook, the higher your microwave bill.
  • What power settings do you use? If you’re always using your microwave at 100 percent power, it will consume close to its listed wattage whenever it’s in use. But most microwaves offer settings that allow you to use a fraction of the maximum power, as well as other low-power settings like “defrost” and “melt.” When you use these settings, your energy consumption is a little lower.

Imagine your microwave is rated for 1,000 watts, which is typical for a full-size countertop model, and your electricity rate is the national average of 12 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). At full power, that microwave will consume about .02 kWh per minute, which will cost you about one fifth of one penny. If you used that microwave one minute every day for a year, it would cost you about 73 cents in cooking power. If your average was five minutes per day, that’s just $3.65 per year — still pocket change.

How Much Energy Does a Microwave Use? | The Light Lab

How Much Electricity Does a Microwave Use on Standby?

Savvy energy consumers know that their microwaves are always drawing some amount of power. That digital clock isn’t powering itself!

The exact amount of standby power varies by model, but usually comes in around five watts, give or take a watt or two. If you’re really curious about the standby power consumption of your microwave, the best way to pin it down is to use an electricity monitor that you can plug your microwave directly into.

Keep in mind that this standby power is flowing whenever the microwave is plugged in, and for most of us, that’s 24 hours a day. At 12 cents per kWh, a microwave that uses five watts of standby power will cost you about 44 cents per month, or $5.26 per year. That’s right — the cost to power the digital clock is higher than the cost of cooking in our example, if only by about a buck and a half per year.

If that seems wasteful to you, there’s no harm in leaving your microwave unplugged when it’s not in use. If you use a power strip to connect your microwave and other kitchen countertop appliances, you can easily cut the power to multiple standby power users at once, like your coffee maker and toaster oven.

Another Energy-Saving Microwave Perk

Compared to a full-size oven and range, microwave cooking is significantly more energy efficient. But this way of cooking has another benefit, especially in the summer — microwaves won’t heat up your home.

Air conditioning accounts for a far bigger slice of the energy consumption pie than all cooking-related energy put together. And when your cooking method introduces unwanted heat into your home — such as when you fire up your oven — that big slice gets even bigger. So relying on your microwave more during warm weather is a smart way to save on both cooking and comfort.

Most homeowners will spend just a few dollars per year powering their microwave ovens. So when it comes to cooking with your microwave, you have more to gain by counting calories than by pinching pennies.

Microwaves and Convection Ovens Consume Less Energy

Microwaves use a lot fewer watts than a small toaster-style oven, and also use less energy than full-sized ovens. Using the microwave for heating and re-heating of daily food is a way to save energy and money.

Some meals, especially during holidays and entertaining, however, will require real baking, so the combination of microwave in concert with convection for bigger meals, for baking, cooking ‘slow food,’ and broiling helps cover all needs. Since it is a ‘tiny’ kitchen and the microwave/convection oven must visually match with the cooktop, 24″ is the maximum width for the duo. That narrows the options.

In fact, though nearly everybody cooks, “energy-efficient oven” isn’t a real market segment. Though ovens are the mainstay (and main energy-users) in the kitchen alongside the fridge and in most cases, the dishwasher, EnergyStar doesn’t treat them as a category or give recommendations.

Thus the choices for efficient cooking in tiny homes aren’t exactly bountiful. Amazingly, Graham’s choice of a 24″ combo convection and microwave is seen by the industry as more or less an add-on to another full-sized oven most people put below this unit.

Where are the rocket stoves for the small home? Or biomass cookstoves for the mainstream, efficient kitchen?

Below are the 24″ options — most ovens will be wider when a “trim kit” is added, but for Graham’s criteria, no trim will be used, and the microwave/convection unit itself must stay under 25″ wide, while also be able to bake a birthday cake and fit a regular-sized roasting pan.

energy efficient microwaves

1. Miele H 4042 BM

Miele Micro Convection Oven photo

The Miele H 4024 BM Micro/Convection oven. Photo credit: Miele.The Miele H 4042 BM 23″ and 7/16″ microwave/convection oven is sleek in stainless-steel, and has absolutely no problems melding visually with the most likely choices for induction cooktops.Pros: Sports a 1,000-watt microwave, true ‘European’ convection, and good looks. Will accommodate a 13″ by 9″ by 2″ cake pan and regular-sized roasting pans. Because of the top handle, has the most oven-like feel of all the options.Cons: Cadillac pricing.Price: Around $2,045.

2. Bosch HMB 8050

Bosch Micro Convection Oven photo

The Bosch HMB 8050. Photo credit: Bosch.This Bosch HMB 8050 combination microwave and convection oven at 23 7/8″ also comes in black, but in either stainless-steel or black it doesn’t have quite the pizazz of the Miele. Visually, it seems more like a microwave than an oven.Pros: Comparable strength (1000-watt microwave) for less than half the price of the Miele. Bosch promises fully popped bag popcorn by entering bag size. Takes a 13″ cake pan or roasting pan.Cons: With the ‘trim kit’ shown here, the oven will be either 27″ or 30″ wide.Price: $700.

3. Viking DMOC/VMOC 205

Viking Micro Convection Hood photo

The Viking DMOC/VMOC 205 Micro Convection Hood. Photo credit: Viking.The Viking Convection Microwave Oven says that cooking times may be faster in its DMOC/VMOC small ovens using ConvecBake and ConvecBroil features than it would be with the company’s regular ovens.Pros: There are a rainbow of candy colors to choose from with the VMOC 205. Also, the design says a bit more ‘oven’ than ‘microwave.’Cons: Viking recently discontinued this model, though plenty of stock remains available from a variety of vendors.Price: About $1,100.

4. Sharp R-930CS

SharpR-930CS.jpg

The Sharp R-930CS. Photo credit: Sharp.The Sharp R-930CS is the least expensive option. Generally sold as a countertop unit, the R-930CS can also be built in.Pros: Affordable. According to Sharp it “browns, bakes, broils and crisps,” provides perfect popcorn, and accommodates a 13″ birthday cake pan and regular roasting pan. The microwave is 900 watts. Extra racks allow two-level baking.Cons: While it can be a built-in, its style says ‘microwave’ only.Price: Around $500.

5. Dacor DCM24

Dacor DCM24 Microwave Convection oven photo

The Dacor DCM24. Photo credit: Dacor.Dacor’s DCM24 is in the middle of the pack. It has a 900-watt microwave, and also a rack insert to allow two separate food items to be baked at once.Pros: It’s middle-of-the-road pricing.Cons: It has that same ‘microwave’ feeling as the Sharp.Price: Approximately $730.

6. Wolf MWC24

Wolf MWC24 photo.jpg

The Wolf MWC24. Photo credit: Wolf.The Wolf MWC24 is an all black, 24″ convection oven and 900-watt microwave.Pros: Might be nice to purchase the induction cooktop and the microwave/convection oven from the same vendor.Cons: These last three choices are all so similar visually it is hard to tell them apart. Could they even be from the same original equipment manufacturer?Price: Approximately $730.

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:

Whirlpool_Microwave.png
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

ge-pb911sjss-oven-product-photos-2.jpg
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

Sharp_builtin_microwave.jpg
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.

ge-smart-microwave-7
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

june-oven-product-photos-2.jpg
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.

Leave a Comment