CAPACITY AND POWER
A microwave’s cooking abilities depend hugely on its capacity and power. They’re two of the main factors you should consider as they affect how much food you can cook at once, and how long it will take. Here’s an explanation of what you should consider.
The amount of cooking space inside your microwave is really important. A large capacity model has room for bigger dishes, and you’ll be able to cook more than one meal at a time. They commonly range from 17 to 46 litres, with a wide choice of models available at both ends of the range. Built-in combi designs can be as large as 67 litres, providing valuable extra cooking space when your main oven is full.
Families should look for at least 27 litres of capacity, with a large turntable if you’re not choosing a flatbed design. High capacity models are usually more expensive, so choose a smaller one if you don’t need the extra space.
The wattage gives you information about the microwave’s power. Models tend to start at 700 watts, with the most powerful designs going up to 1000 watts. The higher the wattage, the more quickly your food will cook. The number listed by the retailer is the highest power the microwave can achieve.
Most microwaves can alternate between high and low power for gentler cooking, but some have inverter technology which uses a lower wattage. Remember the cooking times listed on food packaging are a guide only – different microwaves will take different lengths of time. You should cook for the lowest duration and check the temperature. Stirring half-way through can also help prevent any cold spots.
Families should look for at least 27 litres of capacity, with a large turntable if you’re not choosing a flatbed design.
To make the different wattages clearer, the Government introduced heating categories. Each model is given a rating between A, the least powerful, and E, the most powerful. This system only considers wattage.
As A rated models are so low in power, they are very uncommon. Category B has around 650 watts of power, while Category D has 750 watts, and E has 850 watts. However, modern microwaves are morepowerful than ever before and commonly exceed these figures.
High capacity models are usually more expensive, so choose a smaller one if you don’t think you need the extra space.