Microwaves use between 5 and 10 amps (on average). The amount of amps a microwave uses depends on the model of the microwave, a microwave’s wattage, and if anything else is plugged into the same outlet as a microwave. For these reasons, it’s important to understand how many amps a microwave uses.
Knowing how many amps a microwave uses can help you determine how fast food will be cooked and how much the appliance will cost to operate. In fact, some microwaves have variable wattage settings, which makes it harder to pinpoint how many amps it uses. We’re going to take you through everything you need to know about microwave amps and how to know how many amps your microwave uses.
What is an Amp?
An amp (amperage) is a unit of measurement that measures how many electrons are located in an electrical circuit. Amps are used to determine how powerful a circuit is, and in most cases, higher amperage means more power. Amperage is used to measure electrical circuits across the world, so it’s not a unit of measurement that’s specific to the United States or other countries.
Still, there are other factors to consider when it comes to determining the power of something like a microwave. While amps provide a baseline measurement of a circuit’s power, amps work hand-in-hand with voltage.
Voltage is a unit of measurement that measures the pressure of an electrical circuit. When you multiply the amps and voltage of a circuit, you end up with wattage. Wattage is the all-encompassing measurement of electricity for most electrical appliances like microwaves.
Calculating Microwave Amps
There are a few ways to calculate the amperage of a microwave. The simplest way is to refer to your owner’s manual, which has most of the unit’s electrical requirements and outputs. Another method for calculating the amperage of a microwave is to divide the wattage by the voltage.
First and foremost, you should look for your microwave’s product information. If you have the owner’s manual, there’s a good chance you won’t have to calculate the amperage because it will tell you. With this in mind, there are ways to find product information if you don’t have the owner’s manual.
The best way is to look for the brand that manufactured the microwave. The brand name is typically found on the face of the microwave.
You can also look for the model number, which is typically located on the back of the microwave. With this information, you can go online to find a digital version of the owner’s manual.
Divide Wattage by Voltage
If the owner’s manual doesn’t have the amperage of the microwave or if you can’t find that information online, you can use a simple formula to find the amps a microwave has. To find the amps of a microwave, you can divide the wattage by the voltage.
This will give you the amperage of the microwave. Most outlets in the United States are between 110 and 120 volts, so you can take that number and divide it by the wattage of a microwave. For example, a 1,200-watt microwave with 120 volts has 10 amps.
Most microwaves have wattage settings displayed on the face or rear of the microwave.
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High Wattage Microwaves Vs Low Wattage Microwaves
Microwaves come with many wattage options. Microwaves with high wattages are more powerful but cost more to operate. While your meal might be more evenly cooked and finished faster, your electrical bill will suffer. Therefore, it’s important to examine the advantages and disadvantages of high-watt microwaves and low-watt microwaves.
High Wattage Microwaves
We’ll start with high-wattage microwaves. High wattage microwaves (1,200+ watts) cook food rapidly and provide a more even cook. These microwaves are typically larger (on average) and come with advanced settings or cooking options. This makes high-watt microwaves useful for people who want their food cooked quickly and evenly.
That said, there are a few drawbacks to using a high-watt microwave.
The biggest issue is that high-watt microwaves are more expensive to operate. Unfortunately, more wattage means more money added to your electrical bill. Another problem is that you need the right power outlet to run a high-watt microwave. Having too few amps will lead to several problems and can cause electrical hazards. It also limits your ability to use things like extension cords.
Low Wattage Microwaves
Microwaves with low wattage (600 watts) are great for people who don’t need a massive/expensive microwave.
A low-watt microwave is cheap to operate and can be used with most outlets. Plus, the low wattage makes these microwaves more compatible with extension cords and you can plug multiple appliances into the same outlet.
While low-wattage microwaves have their benefits, there are also several drawbacks. The biggest problem is that they take longer to heat items. Another problem is that the food is typically not cooked evenly. Therefore, these microwaves are designed for people who prefer savings over food quality.
It’s also important to note that there are microwaves with variable wattage. These are typically high-watt microwaves with settings that range from 1,000 watts to 1,200 watts.
Making Sure You Have the Right Microwave for the Job
When you’re looking for a microwave there is more to consider than the amperage. While amps are important, you also need to consider the size, other electrical requirements, and how you’ll get power to the microwave. We’re going to take you through some other factors to consider.
First and foremost, we’ll start with the size of the microwave. There are several microwave sizes to choose from and some can be placed in unique locations (like above an oven or near a cabinet).
For this reason, you should measure the space you want to place a microwave in. You should also consider how big of a microwave you need for the meals you plan on cooking.
Typically, microwaves are measured by how many cubic feet of space they have inside. We have some examples below.
- Compact: less than 1 cubic foot
- Mid-size: about between 1 and 1.3 cubic feet
- Family size: between 1.4 and 1.6 cubic feet
- Full-size: About 2 cubic feet
We recommend installing microwaves in locations that won’t take up unnecessary space, which is why wall-mounted microwaves are great choices.
Next, you want to consider the electrical requirements of a microwave. This includes the voltage and amperage. The good news is that most kitchens have outlets that support 15-20 amps. This means that most kitchens can handle most microwaves, even higher wattage products.
That said, we recommend giving a microwave its own outlet. Plugging other appliances into the same outlet can draw too much amperage and create electrical problems.
Using Extension Cords
An extension cord makes a microwave more versatile. Therefore, many people want to use a microwave with an extension cord.
While you can plug a microwave into an extension cord, we recommend against doing so.
This is because some wires are not thick enough to handle high-watt microwaves. If you’re going to use an extension cord, we recommend using a 14-gauge wire. Using a 14-gauge wire ensures you don’t have any issues with amperage.
Microwave Operating Cost
Operating a microwave costs money and most people spend about $10 per year on microwave usage. When you use a microwave it will increase your electrical bill but the amount your bill increases depends on how often you use the microwave. We’ll provide you with a method to calculate how much your microwave costs each year.
Calculating the Cost of Your Microwave
While the average microwave costs about $10 per year to run, we’re going to provide you with a formula to determine the power usage of your specific microwave. Follow the steps below.
- Estimate how long the microwave is used for each day. For example, we’ll use 15 minutes.
- Multiply the wattage by the hours a microwave is used per day): 1,000 watts x .25 hours (15 minutes) is 250 watts
- Convert the wattage you get into kilowatts, which is a smaller unit of measurement for wattage. You divide the wattage by 1,000 for the result. 250 watts divided by 1,000 is .25 kilowatts.
- Take the kilowatts and multiply that number by the cost of electricity per day. The result for 15 minutes is about $.02 per day.
- Multiply that number by the number of days in the year, which is 365.
With your microwave, you can plug your numbers into these equations to come up with the result.
Knowing how many amps your microwave has is important for several reasons. It can help you determine how much it costs to operate a microwave and gives you an idea of how much power it can handle. If you have a low-amp microwave you can use it in a high-amp power outlet.
On the other hand, a high-amp microwave in a low-amp power outlet can lead to electrical problems, damaged equipment, and even fires. Therefore, we recommend knowing the amps of your microwave before using one.
Download this cheat sheet to hack your monthly electric bill.
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