All microwave ovens have a power measured in watts. It tells you how much energy the magnetron (the engine of the microwave) can produce per second and ultimately how fast your food will heat up.
Over the years, microwaves have been getting more and more powerful, and the current crop containing power outputs that would blow your socks off! So…
What is the highest microwave wattage?
The highest wattages come from expensive microwave ovens that are only sold for commercial use. These microwaves are designed for kitchens that produce food in huge quantities, so they are large in capacity and quick in cooking times and can reach wattages of up to 3500W.
A microwave at this power level would cook five times faster than a small 700W countertop microwave you might find in someone’s kitchen! You can check some out here.
The highest microwave wattage available for home use right now is 1250W. This is still very powerful and gives fast cooking times compared to a typical older microwave of 700W or 800W.
Are you looking to buy a microwave oven with the highest microwave wattage? I recommend this model from Panasonic that comes in at a stonking 1250W, as powerful as anything else on the market for home use.
What is a 3000W microwave like?
I have actually had the privilege of using a high powered microwave during my time in a catering kitchen. The facilities were used to prepare lunch on a daily basis for 250-300 people so the kitchen was well equipped.
Actually, I’ve been kicking myself since I had the idea for this article as I can’t remember the actual wattage. In fact, I’m not sure if I ever learned it. There was no need to. All I knew was it was fast.
The microwave oven itself was massive, maybe the size of 6-8 standard microwaves put together. It had loads of features that we never used. We usually just put things in and used the automatic sensor to warm them up.
It was pretty funny how fast it was. You’d reheat a plate of something that might take three minutes in a normal microwave and it was ready before you knew it, in a matter of seconds.
Why don’t home microwaves go higher than 1250W?
The technology exists for three to four thousand watt microwaves, so why haven’t these uber-powerful microwaves made it onto the home market? After all, faster is better, right?
Well, historically, a 900W was a powerful microwave with 600W and 700W being your typical middle-of-the-road wattages. To put it another way, the UK government introduced guidelines for the power output of microwaves to help consumers.
Any microwave was given a rating A, B, C, D or E based on its wattage.
The most powerful rating was E which corresponded to a 900W microwave or above. C was more like 700W and it’s hard to find any info at all on ratings A and B as they were abandoned, presumably for being too low in power!
The point is that these modern, high power microwaves that touch the upper range of 1200-1250W are using the latest technology while still being affordable for the average user. The fact they have got so popular means people must enjoy the fast cooking times.
Will we see high power microwaves available for public use in the coming years? I suspect we will.
Are there any disadvantages to a high wattage microwave?
A common misconception is that high power microwaves don’t cook as well. The idea going something like the high heat can lead to burnt edges, cool spots and generally inconsistently heated food. Let’s dive into why this is wrong…
Microwaves (short length radio waves) are created by the magnetron and then bounce around the microwave oven until they are absorbed into the food. The amount of power, and consequently the amount of energy being absorbed, doesn’t affect the process.
There is one exception, which is when you have a thick or dense food. Microwaves can only penetrate 1-2cm into the food, so high power burns the edge and doesn’t heat up the center.
This is why it’s best to spread out your food (if possible) or use a lower power setting like you would if you’re microwaving a big hunk of beef.
Some foods do respond better to lower heat cooking, however this is not a problem with high wattage microwaves. Why? Because all microwaves come with lower power settings. You’ll no doubt have noticed a “defrost” button (around 30-40% power). Well, modern microwaves, and especially the upmarket high wattage ones, have up to ten different power levels that give you complete control for lower power modes or simply following instructions.
Let’s say the cooking instructions on a meal are for 3 minutes at 900W but your ultra-powerful microwave puts out 1200W at full power. Simply take the time in seconds (3 mins = 180 secs) and do the following calculation.
What’s the best high wattage microwave for home use?
The best high wattage microwave on the market at the moment is, for me, the Panasonic countertop range. These babies clock in at 1250W on the high end with a maximum capacity of 2.2 cubic ft and a 16.5″ turntable – although there are a variety of size options available.
On top of that, you get some awesome features. Panasonic’s patented Inverter Technology is a revolution in defrosting and other lower power modes, and if you’ve never used sensor technology to automatically and perfectly heat foods without even putting in a time then you haven’t lived (so to speak…)
The company itself is renowned for electric appliances and has a stellar record in the microwave field with wall-to-wall excellent review ratings on Amazon across its microwave range and correspondingly few reports of faulty parts of breakdowns.
All this makes up a few of the reasons why Panasonic came out number one in my breakdown of the best microwave brands here.