Good size microwave

If you’ve spent any time researching microwaves or you are looking for a Good size microwave, you’ll quickly notice there are a number of different sizes.In general, there are three sizes of microwave ovens: small, medium, and large. Small microwaves have an oven capacity of less than 1.0 cubic foot. A medium sized microwave has an oven capacity between 1.0 and 2.0 cubic feet, and large microwaves have cubic feet greater than 2.0 cubic feet.  

microwave size chart

Cubic feet determines the amount of food that can be cooked at one time. Cubic feet is calculated by multiplying the length, width, and height inside the microwave. The larger the cubic feet, the more (or bigger) items that can be cooked at one time. 

Cubic feet is also important because it has an impact on the watts of the microwave. A watt is the amount of energy that is converted into heat that is used to cook food in the microwave. In most cases, the larger the oven capacity, the higher the watts used in the microwave. 

In this post, I will discuss the three sizes of microwave ovens. In addition, I will discuss the oven capacity, included watts, price range, and included features of these microwaves. 

In addition, I will discuss commercial microwaves, and how they differ from domestic microwave sizes. 

Good size microwave

Small / Dorm Microwaves 

As the size implies, these microwaves have the smallest oven capacity of the three. In addition, they usually have the lowest watts, cheapest prices, and least included features. These microwaves are great for dorm rooms, apartments, or families with three or less people. 

Most often, these are Solo microwaves and are used to cook popcorn, minute rice, and Tea. These microwaves are also suitable to defrost ground beef, but would be too small to defrost a whole chicken or turkey.

This section will take a closer look at the oven capacity, watts, prices, and features of the smallest microwaves.

Oven Capacity

As I mentioned, small microwaves have an oven capacity of less than 1.0 cubic foot. The smallest microwave that I’ve seen had an oven capacity of 0.6 cubic feet. However, the most common size for a small microwave is 0.9 cubic feet. For context, 0.9 cubic feet equates to almost 6 one gallon milk containers. 

The microwaves with the lowest oven capacity usually also have the lowest watts. 

Watts

In microwaves, watts is the amount of energy used to cook the food inside. Microwave watts convert into heat when the energy comes in contact with the food. The lower the watts, the longer it will take for your food to cook to an acceptable eating temperature. 

Small microwaves have the lowest watt range of the three microwave sizes. The watt range for these microwaves is 600 – 1100 watts. While that is a very wide range, most small consumer microwaves will have a range of 700 – 900 watts.  

Usually, capacity and watts combine to determine the price of the microwave. 

Price

The price for small microwaves are going to be the cheapest of all three. You can find a small microwave for less than $50.00. While this may seem like a great deal, you should take into consideration the included features, watts, and oven capacity. 

Because marketers have a ton of tricks to make it difficult to determine the best microwave, I follow this simple formula to determine the price of all microwaves. This formula (price/ watts = price per watt) calculates the cost of each microwave watt. Simply put, the higher the number, the more expensive the microwave. 

microwave sizes guide

The price per watt should be used to help determine which microwave is the best for you, and not the only factor. Below are just a few examples of the price per watt at work.

  • Price: $79.99 / watts: 900 = $0.089 price per watt
  • Price: $66.11 / watts: 700 = $0.094 price per watt
  • Price: $139.99 / watts: 900 = $0.150 price per watt
  • Price: $93.76 / watts: 800 = $0.110 price per watt

As you can see the cheapest price may not be the best value. In addition, the most expensive microwave will not be the best value for this size microwave. 

Features

These microwaves will have standard features, like turntables, express cooking, defrost, and configurable power levels. While you may be able to find microwaves with more features in this size group, expect to pay a premium.

In addition, some of these microwaves include a stainless steel finish. A plastic finish is what you will most often find on these microwaves. 

Small Microwave Examples

Below are a few examples of small/ dorm sized microwaves

  • Toshiba EM925A5A-BS Microwave Oven
  • Westinghouse WM009 Counter Top Microwave Oven
  • GE JES1072SHSS Counter Top Microwave Oven
  • Daewoo KOR-7LREM Retro Counter Top Microwave

Medium Microwaves

Medium sized microwaves are considered a significant step up in oven capacity, wattage, price, and features. These microwaves are designed for bigger families of up to 5 people.

You may also see these microwaves in office break rooms and common areas as college/ universities. These microwaves are ideal because they have a large oven capacity and can cook a wide range of food fast and even.

In this section, I will discuss the oven capacity, watts, price, and features of medium sized microwaves. 

Oven Capacity

Oven capacity for medium-sized microwaves is much larger than small/ dorm microwaves. The oven capacity for these microwaves ranges from 1.0 cubic feet to 2.0 cubic feet. 2.0 cubic feet equates to about 14 liquid gallons These microwaves are large enough to defrost whole chickens and very small turkeys. 

In my research, I found 1.6 cubic feet the most common oven capacity for medium-sized microwaves. The second most common oven capacity for medium-sized microwaves was 1.2 cubic feet. The two least frequent sizes I saw was 1.8 and 1.9 cubic feet. 

In most cases, as the oven capacity increases, so does the number of watts.

Watts

In addition, to oven capacity increasing, so does the watt range for medium-sized microwaves. Medium-sized microwave watts ranged from 800 to 1,300 watts. As I’ve mentioned, watts have a direct impact on evenness and the amount of time food cooks. The most common watts for medium-sized microwaves was 1,000 and 1,100. 

For example, if a frozen dinner calls for cooking the meal for 5 minutes at 700 watts, that same frozen dinner can be cooked at 1,200 watts in less than 3 minutes. 

Finally, as the watts and oven increase, so does the price. Continue reading to see how the price is impacted by more wattage.

Price

Prices for medium-sized microwaves can range from $70 to over $300 per microwave. These prices vary based on placement (countertop vs over the range), features, and finish. 

In this section, I was going to calculate the price per watt (price/ watt) for a number of medium-sized microwaves. Then I will analyze the PPW to determine the best value. 

  • Price: $133.34 / watt: 1,200 = $0.111 price per watt
  • Price: $89.97 / watt: 1,000 = $0.090 price per watt
  • Price: $98.12 / watt: 1,000 = $0.098 price per watt
  • Price: $262.13 / watt: 1,000 = $0.26 price per watt
  • Price: $71.99 / watt: 1,000 = $0.071 price per watt

As you can see by the price per watts listed, the best value will be when the price is less than $100 and the watts are 1,000 or greater. 

Features

These microwaves include a number of features that were not included in the smaller-sized microwaves. These features include: 

  • Push button door opener
  • Auto weight
  • Grill function
  • Easy clean interior
  • Sensor cooking
  • Convection
  • Inverter technology

Similar to small-sized microwaves, additional features equal additional cost. Consider which features are important to you when selecting your microwave. 

Medium Microwave Examples

Below are a few examples of small/ dorm sized microwaves.

  • Toshiba EM131A5C-BS Microwave Oven
  • Panasonic NN-SU696S Microwave Oven
  • Westinghouse WCM11100W Counter Top Microwave Oven
  • Farberware FMWO11AHTBKB Microwave Oven

Large Microwaves 

These microwaves have the largest oven capacity, watts, price, and features. These microwaves are great for families of 5 or more and can cook a variety of food. 

When looking at these microwaves, remember that a large interior means a large footprint on your countertop or island. Also, consider the foods you cook the most, and the additional cost of owning a larger microwave

Oven Capacity

The oven capacity for these microwaves is at least 2.0 cubic feet. The most common oven capacity for these microwaves was 2.2 cubic feet. 2.2 cubic feet is about 16 liquid gallons. 

The oven capacity of these microwaves are large enough to cook a whole chicken, a duck, or a small to medium sized turkey. 

Of course large oven capacities will lead to a large number of watts being used for the microwaves. 

Watts

For microwaves with oven capacities of 2.2 cubic feet and more the watts created ranges from 1,200 to 1,400 watts. During my research, I found that 1,250 watts is the most common in commercial microwaves.

As I’ve mentioned, watts are important because they have an impact on how quickly food is cooked. The higher the watts, the faster the food will cook. For example, if a recipe recommends cooking your frozen dinner for 5 minutes, the frozen dinner will cook in 4 minutes in a 1,250 watt microwave. Roughly speaking, the 250 watt difference is worth about 4 seconds.

While this difference may not seem like a lot, but if you were planning to cook something for 20 minutes, you would notice a huge difference. 

Finally, because of the large oven capacity, and high number of watts, these microwaves also have a larger price tag than the previous two sizes. 

Price

As I mentioned these microwaves are the most expensive of the three sizes of microwaves, but do they provide the best value? In this section, I will do my price per watt comparison to determine the values.

  • Price: 147.77 / watt: 1,200 = $0.123 price per watt
  • Price: $159.49 / watt: 1,250 = $.0128 price per watt
  • Price: $249.99 / watt: 1,250 = $0.20 price per watt

As you can see from above, the price per watt for the largest microwaves will vary between $0.12 and $0.20 price per watt. 

Finally, these microwaves have a number of features that smaller microwaves are unable to offer.  

Features

A number of the features included with medium-sized microwaves are also included in the large microwaves. These features include:

  • Inverter technology
  • Automatic adjusting of power level
  • Automatic adjusting of cook times
  • Cooking presets for a large variety of foods

One thing to note: There are much fewer microwave brands as the size increases. For example, I found less than 10 large microwave brands, versus the 10+ brands for the small/ dorm microwave.

Large Microwave Examples

Below are a few examples of small/ dorm sized microwaves. 

  • Panasonic NN-SN9665 Microwave Oven
  • Sharp ZR651ZS Microwave Oven
  • LG LCRT2010ST Counter Top Microwave Oven
  • Kenmore Elite 79393 Counter Top Microwave Oven

Commercial Microwaves

Commercial microwaves fall outside of the previously created sizes because oven capacity, watts, price, and features have little correlation with one another. For example, you can find commercial microwaves with an oven capacity of less than 1 cubic foot that is more expensive than a microwave with a much larger oven capacity. 

Another way that commercial microwaves are different than domestic is commercial microwaves have a “stackable” rating. This rating determines if you are able to place 1 or more microwaves on top each other. 

Finally, almost all commercial microwaves are constructed with stainless steel.

Oven Capacity

Commercial microwave oven capacity ranges from less than 1 cubic foot to 1.5 cubic feet. When I began my research, I assumed that all commercial microwaves would be larger than domestic microwaves. On second thought it makes sense because commercial kitchens have extremely limited space and lots of moving parts. 

Watts

Commercial microwaves have a much greater watt range than domestic microwaves. Commercial microwaves range from 1,000 to 3,000 watts. The difference between a 700-watt microwave and a 3,000-watt microwave is minutes. 

Price 

The price is the biggest difference between domestic and commercial microwaves. While you may be able to find a commercial microwave for less than $300, many of them are more than $700! In fact, it is very possible that a number of the microwaves you see will be over $1,500 per microwave.

Features

Commercial microwaves include a number of features that are not needed for families. These features include:

  • USB ports
  • Three stage cooking
  • 20 or more preset cooking programs
  • Automatic defrost
  • Automatic door closing
  • Convection
  • Push button controls
  • Bun warming

One feature you will not see on many commercial microwaves are turntables. Turntables are found in domestic microwaves and help to provide even cooking.

Commercial Microwave Examples

  • Solwave Stainless Steel Microwave Oven
  • Amann RCS10TS Commercial Microwave Oven
  • Waring WMO90 Commercial Microwave Oven
  • Panasonic NE-2180 Commercial Microwave Oven

Conclusion

So, which size microwave is the best? 

If all other things are equal (features, finish, location, etc) then middle-sized microwaves provide the best price per microwave. These microwaves are largest enough to cook almost anything, and they will cook the food in a fast manner. In addition, medium-sized microwaves have the newest features like grill functions and convection cooking without the higher price tag. 

What size microwave do you own? Does the microwave meet the needs for you and your family? Did I miss anything?

Leave a comment below!

Additional Questions

How many inches does a microwave have to be above a stove?

Countertop microwaves must have a minimum clearance of 2 inches in the back, 3 inches on the top, and 3 inches on the right and left side. Over the range microwaves must have a minimum clearance of 66 inches from the floor to the top of the microwave. In addition, over the range microwaves must be a minimum of 13 inches from the stove cooktop. 

Finally, microwaves that are mounted under a cabinet and not over the range must have a minimum clearance of 2 inches on each side. 

Check with your manufacturer to make sure your microwave is within the product specifications. 

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