Is an 800-Watt Microwave Powerful Enough for Your Cooking Needs?

This post contains affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, we may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more.

One of the hardest tasks when buying a microwave oven is figuring out how powerful the oven should be. The power rating of a microwave translates into faster and better cooking, higher temperatures, and more cooking options. But with ratings varying from 600 to about 1,250 watts, you may wonder if 800 watts is enough.

An 800-watt microwave is powerful enough for most uses. However, your foods will generally need a longer time to cook compared to a more powerful unit. Microwaves with a lower wattage output are a budget-friendly choice for defrosting, reheating, and basic cooking needs. A more powerful one is ideal for those who want to cook better meals faster.

Do Watts Matter in Microwaves?

The most important thing to check when buying a microwave oven is the cooking power, expressed in watts. So, yes, watts matter in microwaves.

Output wattage generally determines the unit’s efficiency. More powerful microwaves can cook faster, better, and a wider range of foods.

To put things into perspective, you would need about 15 to 16 minutes to cook a jacket potato in a 1000-watt microwave.

Cooking the same jack potato into an 800-watt microwave is possible, but it would take around 20-22 minutes. This is still much faster than a traditional convection oven, but a microwave more powerful than 1,000 watts would be able to cook the potato in about 10 minutes.

With this in mind, you might wonder how to convert 800-watt to Celsius convert – or Fahrenheit, for that matter.

The truth is that you can’t convert watts (a measurement unit for power) into Celsius or Fahrenheit degrees. The only way to determine the temperature is to convert the power into Celsius heat units per minute.

I’m not going to get into complicated math; suffice it to say that 800 watts are the equivalent of about 450°F (232°C).

Is an 800-Watt microwave powerful enough or not?

Microwaves in the 800- to 1,250-watt microwaves are generally considered high-power. According to this classification, an 800-watt microwave is powerful enough.

However, cheaper microwaves in this power range may have a lower efficiency, and they could only fit in the mid-power range.

Microwave ovens under 800 watts are low-power microwaves generally suitable for reheating leftovers and defrosting foods. You might even manage to pop some popcorn in them and cook some microwaved-ready meals. Most microwave meals typically require at least 800-1,000 watts of power.

Is an 800-watt microwave good?

Whether or not an 800-watt microwave is good depends on your needs. Every family and person might have a different definition of good.

Performance-wise, 800-watt microwaves are entry-level in the high-power microwave world. You can cook most foods in it, but don’t expect it to be fast.

Depending on the technology, the microwave might use inverter technology for better cooking results or a standard magnetron. The former is better, providing better results and minimizing the risk of hot spots in your meal.

Things to consider when using an 800-watt microwave

It is hard to say whether an 800-watt microwave is good for you. However, if you decide it’s powerful enough, you can’t just grab the first one on the shelf. There are a few things to consider before investing your hard-earned money.

What Types of Food Will You Be Cooking

The type of food you’ll be cooking is the first thing to consider. If you only need a microwave to reheat leftovers or defrost foods, an entry-level model won’t cost you more than $150 to $200, and will serve its purpose just fine.

If you don’t mind the longer cooking time but want to use the microwave to prepare more elaborate meals, you should go for a higher-end unit. Prices vary greatly in this category since you can choose from standard microwaves, convection microwave ovens, grill microwaves, and so on.

Microwave type aside, you should also consider the number of pre-programmed cooking settings and the sensor cooking technology.

Sensor cooking is useful if you want to leave the guesswork out of the game. These microwave ovens sense the amount of vapor coming from your food and adjust the cooking time and power automatically mid-cycle for perfectly cooked food time and time again.

Where Will The Microwave Be Placed?

Once you have decided what type of microwave oven you want, consider placement options. You can generally pick from:

Countertop Microwave Ovens

The most common and popular option. They are ideal for almost everyone, including people living in rented homes. All you need is sufficient counter space or enough space in a cabinet to store the oven when not in use.

Depending on the unit’s actual size, a countertop microwave oven is also a good choice for a boat, off-grid cabin, or RV.

Over-the-range microwave ovens

In smaller kitchens, an over-the-range microwave enables you to ditch the range hood and install a microwave oven. These models are more expensive since they include some form of filtration – either a ducted range hood or carbon filters that absorb cooking odors.

Built-in microwave ovens

Are a solution if you want to save counter space and don’t want to give up the standard range hood. You can choose from a variety of models, including microwave drawers. Prices vary from design to design and brand to brand.

How much does it cost to run an 800 watt microwave?

A typical 800-watt microwave consumes around 1.122192 kilowatts per hour (kWh). Considering the average cost of a kWh of $0.15, an hour of use would cost you around $0.17.

However, microwaves also consume energy in standby mode. Generally, a microwave will consume around four kilowatts per month while in standby, which turns out to be around 48 kilowatts per year.

To estimate the costs, you should work out how many hours a month you use the microwave – most households have an average monthly usage of 30 hours or less.

Multiply the number of hours by the hour consumption and then by 12 (number of months in a year), then add 48. You can then multiply the result by $0.17.

To give you a practical example, if you use the microwave 25 hours per month, that works out to be:

25 (hours of use per month) x 1.122192 (average wattage consumption) = 28.0548 kWh/month

28.0548 (monthly wattage consumption) x 12 (months in a year) = 336.6576 kWh/year

336.6576 + 48 (kWh used in standby mode) = 384.6576 kWh (yearly total)

384.6575 x $0.17 = $65.39 per year

What is the best wattage for a microwave?

As explained above, there is no such thing as the best wattage for a microwave. The higher the wattage, the more cooking power your unit has. However, a higher wattage usually means a higher upfront cost and also higher running costs.

More often than not, an 800-watt microwave can do everything a 1,000-watt microwave can do. Some units even have convection heating and can replace the traditional baking oven.

Avoid Buying a Microwave Below 800 Watts

With the above in mind, the best wattage for a microwave is anything 800 watts and up. You’ll notice most experts telling you that you should avoid buying a microwave that has fewer than 800 watts. However, things are often more complicated.

Sure, a low-wattage microwave comes with limitations. Yet, there are instances when a 600- or 700-watt microwave is all you can get.

For instance, you may want to use a microwave in the dorm, but most dorms limit a microwave wattage to 700. In a boat or RV, you might also prefer a lower-watt microwave, such as a 600 or 700-watt unit.

The same is true for off-the-grid cabins and all other instances when you might have to connect the unit to a power generator.

How hot is 800 watts?

As mentioned above, 800 running watts get about as hot as a 450°F oven. That’s hot enough to cook most foods, but it might not be hot enough for broiling and grilling.

How many amps does an 800-watt microwave use?

Most 800-watt microwaves draw 6.5 amps at 230 volts, and they need their own 15-amp dedicated circuit. You can run more appliances on the same circuit but should unplug or stop them when the microwave is in use.

Alternatively, you can run more appliances on a 20-amp circuit, paying attention not to overload it.


An 800-watt microwave is typically powerful enough for most cooking needs. From all power options, this brings excellent value for money and is usually the best microwave for most households and people.

While you should avoid getting a microwave weaker than 800 watts, a lower wattage might be needed in some circumstances.



Justin Schwartz is an experienced editor and food blogger based in New York. He focuses on healthy eating and living. When he’s not acquiring and publishing cookbooks, you can find Justin sampling food in New York’s restaurants or trying new recipes in his kitchen.

Leave a Comment