Starting college is one of the most exciting experiences. For most of us, this is the moment I get to experience freedom away from our parents’ house. However, this is also the moment when I have to start budgeting and planning for meals. Since eating out and getting Starbucks coffee is expensive, you might want to find out what is the best mini microwave for a dorm you could keep in your room.
In fact, a small microwave could solve most of your meal-prepping problems. Not only can you use it for cooking simple dishes or reheating food, but you can also make hot drinks.
Luckily, the market spoils you with options when it comes to choosing small microwaves. Before investing, though, you should find out whether you can keep a portable microwave in the dorm and what size is best to buy.
Can you have a microwave in your dorm?
It depends. Some colleges allow students to keep small kitchen appliances in their rooms, including microwaves, toasters, coffee makers, etc. Others don’t. The easiest way to tell is to check your college’s guidelines or to ask your tutor. For instance, the University of California, Santa Barbara, doesn’t allow students to keep microwaves in their rooms.
Salem State University allows students to bring their own microwaves and refrigerators. However, the microwave must not exceed a maximum power of 700 watts.
Likewise, the University of North Texas allows students to keep microwaves in the dorm. This educational institution doesn’t limit the dorm microwave power specifically, but it states that any appliance you bring should not require more than 1,000 watts of cooking power.
Considering that microwave ovens consume more watts than they output, this turns out to be microwave with up to 600-700 watts of power output.
What is the best size microwave for a dorm room?
If your university or college allows a small microwave for a dorm room, you might wonder what the best size for it is. Once again, it depends.
Generally, the size and capacity of a microwave increase with its wattage. This makes sense, as the more watts the unit outputs, the more food it can heat at once.
Read Next: Mini Microwave for Car (Expert reviews for you)
Educational institutions don’t limit the actual size of compact microwaves, but most have rules regarding maximum power. Thus, the best dorm-size microwave is the largest you can find within the power limit imposed by your college.
What should you consider when choosing a mini microwave for your dorm?
Buying a compact microwave for a dorm room doesn’t seem hard, but there are a few things to consider before spending your money:
I already established that most colleges allow small microwaves, but you should still check the number of power levels your unit has. Being able to set a lower or higher power increases versatility, as the appliance will be able to defrost, heat, keep warm, and cook your food.
Microwave ovens use either conventional or inverter technology. Most small microwaves on the market are conventional, but a small number features inverter technology.
If possible, I recommend an inverter microwave. This technology adjusts the power level to the application, improving results and reducing cooking time and power usage. Conventional microwaves don’t have the ability to modulate the power level. They always output maximum wattage and turn the magnetron on and off to maintain a lower heat level.
While these microwaves produce similar results to inverter ones, they use more surge power that could overload a dorm circuit. Conventional microwaves are also more likely to produce hot spots or cook food unevenly.
Unless your campus or student hall allows you to install a shelf under which you can suspend an over-the-counter microwave, or unless you have a cabinet that can accommodate a built-in unit, make sure to buy a countertop microwave oven.
Not many people think about the noise level when buying a microwave for the dorm. However, when you get home late and you don’t want to disturb your roommate, being able to turn off the final beeping and, eventually, the keypad sound comes as a great advantage.
Almost all microwave ovens have several cooking functions. The minimum you need is defrosted, max power, and reheat. Other pre-programmed cooking options, such as popcorn, potatoes, or vegetables, can increase versatility.
More often than not, you’re going to program the microwave oven for a specific function. However, when all you want is to heat a mug of water to make tea or a hot chocolate, the quick-start button comes in handy.
The same goes when you’re super-hungry, and all you want is a fast reheat of your leftover meal.
Last but not least, consider the amount of maintenance your microwave oven needs. Vintage models are nice, but their finishes are often easy to stain or smudge. A smudge-proof stainless steel finish is desirable. Also, check the interior and make sure it’s easy to wipe clean.
Both the turntable and the carousel must be removable so that you can remove any crumbs or clean stubborn stains.
Best Small Microwave for Dorm
1. Commercial Chef CHM660B Countertop Microwave Oven
One of the best small microwaves for dorms, the Commercial Chef CHM660B is an excellent choice for students. Its greatest advantage is the cheap price tag; this microwave oven is perfect for people on a budget.
It also has a very compact footprint fitting space of 17.75 x 12.5 inches. The capacity of 0.6 cubic feet is ideal for one or two people, and the microwave is very easy to use.
Why I love it
This microwave doesn’t have any fancy functions, and it features dial controls, but the operation is as intuitive as it gets.
The enamel-coated interior is easy to wipe clean after each use. Its removable glass turntable can also go into the dishwasher.
This microwave oven has two dials you can use to set the power level and cooking time. The mid-power function is generally ideal for defrosting and reheating. Use the lowest power to melt or soften butter and the highest one for cooking.
This microwave oven is relatively loud, a thing that could be a disadvantage when you want to keep the appliance in a dorm room.
Needs lots of clearance
All countertop microwaves need clearance. However, this model requires at least three inches of clearance on all sides and 8 inches of clearance on top. Failing to ensure proper airflow will significantly reduce the appliance’s lifespan.
2. Panasonic NN-SB438S Compact Microwave Oven
Another excellent choice for students is this Panasonic microwave. The Panasonic NN series comprises a range of small microwaves which are perfect for dorm rooms.
Ideal for two people, the unit has a capacity of 0.9 cubic feet and reaches 900 watts of power. It complies with most student hall requirements and has plenty of cooking functions.
Why I love it
This microwave oven has the most pre-programmed cooking settings you can find in a compact appliance. The seven options include pizza, fresh and frozen vegetables, frozen entrees, beverages, and dinner plates.
No matter how unhealthy they are, I love snacks. And I all know that students love popcorn. What you may not know is that the Panasonic NN has a dedicated popcorn function with three power levels for three bag sizes.
Keep Warm button
Another highlight is the keep-warm function. This is a rather unique option, considering that most microwaves allow you to reheat but not keep food warm.
Express cooking buttons
While this microwave oven has plenty of pre-programmed functions, they don’t have dedicated buttons. You’ll have to scroll through the menu every time you want to reach a certain function.
The light is there, but it’s very dim. You’ll have to open the door to see the progress.
3. Galanz GLCMKA07RDR-07 Microwave Oven
The Galanz GLCMKA07RDR-07 attracts with its retro look, but the microwave oven incorporates all the technologies you’d expect from a modern unit.
Its control panel is a mix of old and new. The dials look vintage, but the controls are actually digital. With a capacity of 0.7 cubic feet and 700 watts of power, rest assured you’ll be able to use this oven in your dorm room.
Why I love it
I all know dorms are small, so what if you have enough room for a microwave only if you give up the table clock? You can use this oven’s digital clock. Thanks to the large display, you’re going to see it well from a distance.
The vintage design makes this microwave oven perfect for keeping in your room. It pairs well with all interior styles and comes in several color options.
One of the greatest advantages is this oven’s cooking speed and performance. Despite its lower wattage, it can cook food fast and evenly.
The unit has very sensitive buttons that are easy to push and activate with minimal touch. This makes the oven prone to accidents unless you want to activate and deactivate the child lock constantly.
Factory quality control
Overall, this microwave oven is good. However, user reports complaints about quality issues and cosmetic problems with their products. The unit I tested worked perfectly, so the brand might have solved the issue in the meantime.
4. Kenmore 70929 Small Countertop Microwave
Last, on our list, the Kenmore 70929 has a design inspired by a Toshiba microwave oven, which means it’s uncomplicated and easy to use.
The 0.9 cubic feet capacity and 900 watts of power make it perfect for two people. Furthermore, the unit has six cooking programs and ten power levels.
Why I love it
Compared to a 700-watt microwave oven, the Kenmore will cook food faster and better. The ten power levels also make it easy to set the right temperature.
The one-touch cooking buttons allow you to set a preset cooking time instantly, from one to six minutes.
Like all microwave ovens on this list, the Kenmore comes with a removable glass turntable that has a diameter of 11.22 inches. Large enough to hold two smaller plates.
This unit has LED lighting that is not as bright as expected. Seeing the food through the glass is difficult.
Like the interior light, the display is dim and not very visible in low-light conditions. This could make a difference when you don’t want to disturb your roommate, so leave the lights off in your dorm room. Spotting the kitchen timer from a distance could be tricky.
Best small microwave for dorm Comparisons
|Commercial Chef CHM660B||Panasonic NN-SB438S||Galanz GLCMKA07RDR-07||Kenmore 70929|
|Capacity||0.6 cu. ft.||0.9 cu. ft.||0.7 cu. ft.||0.9 cu. ft.|
|Max power||600 watts||900 watts||700 watts||900 watts|
|Controls||Dial||Keypad||Keypad + Dial||Keypad|
How to maintain a microwave in a dorm room?
Maintaining a microwave in the dorm isn’t hard. All you have to do is clean the turntable after each use and wipe the interior with a damp cloth to remove any grease residues and cooking steam.
You should also wipe off the dust regularly and make sure you respect the clearances indicated by the manufacturer.
Living in a dorm is fun and games, especially when you have the best microwave. I hope this guide can help you find the right unit for you.