Ready meals and reheated coffees – there are lots of essential uses of microwaves. Whether your microwave is broken and you need a new one or you’re buying a microwave for your new home, finding the right one is important as you’ll probably have it for many years. In this guide, we’ll offer some helpful advice on buying a microwave.
- Consider what wattage you want
Microwaves usually have between 600 and 1200 wattage. Cheaper, low-wattage microwaves (600-800w) are fine for cooking ready meals and reheating drinks. If you plan on using your microwave for cooking raw food, boiling water, or making popcorn, you may want to get a mid-wattage microwave (800-1000w).
The only reason to buy a high-wattage microwave (1000-1200w) is if you need to cook raw meat in it – and bear in mind these microwaves might be too strong for heating up ready meals or hot drinks.
- Check the microwave’s heating category
In addition to wattage, microwaves have a heating category, rated on a scale of A to E. E is the most powerful whereas A is the least powerful. The heating category essentially tells you how quickly or slowly the microwave can heat your food. Once again, less powerful microwaves will be fine for heating small amounts of food and ready meals, but if you need a microwave for heating larger meals or cooking raw food, you should look for one with a better heating category.
- Figure out your budget
Cheap microwaves may not last as long as mid-range or high-end microwaves. If you choose a budget microwave, you could find yourself needing to fix broken microwave handle or even buy a new one within a few years. If you’re buying a microwave for a student dorm or a short-term rental, cheap is fine. If you want a long-lasting microwave, however, it’s worth checking out the next price range.
- Know if you need a child lock
If you have young children and your microwave is somewhere in reach, you may want to buy a microwave with a child lock function. You can switch on the child lock on your microwave while it is off or while it is cooking food and prevent anyone from interfering with the cooking process or starting the microwave until you unlock it again.
- Decide what size microwave you need
Microwaves come in lots of shapes and sizes. The three standard sizes for microwaves are: compact (less than 1 cubic foot, best for students and small kitchens), mid-size (1-1.5 cubic feet, best for households of 2-4 people), and full-size (1.6-2 cubic feet, best for households of more than 5 people).
- Figure out what features you want
Do you want a microwave with digital or manual controls? Do you want auto-cooking programs on your microwave like a ‘popcorn’ or ‘jacket potato’ mode? Microwaves come with lots of useful (and not-so-useful) features. Having an idea of what you want and need your microwave to do will help you make a better decision when buying one.