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 when shopping around since they affect how much food you can cook at one time, and how long it will take. Here’s an explanation of what to look out for.
The amount of cooking space inside your microwave is really important. A large capacity can let you fit in a large dish, or cook more than one meal at a time.They commonly range from 17 to 40 litres, with a wide choice of models available at all ends of the spectrum. Built-in combi designs can be as large as 65 litres, providing valuable extra oven space when your main oven is full.
Families should look for at least a 27 litre 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 think you need the extra space.
The wattage will let you know a microwave’s power. They tend to start at 600 watts, with the most powerful designs doubling this at 1200 watts. The higher the wattage, the more quickly your food will cook. The numbers listed by retailers are the maximum power outputs.
Most microwaves can alternate between full power and off for gentler cooking, while some have inverter technology for a lower wattage when required. Remember the cooking times listed on food packaging are a guide only – different microwaves will take different lengths of time. Cook for the lowest duration and check the temperature. Stirring half-way through can help prevent cold spots.
To save consumers being confused by wattages, the Government introduced heating categories. Each model is given a rating between A, the least powerful, and E, the most powerful. The system only takes wattage into consideration.
A rated models are very uncommon – Category B means it has around 650 watts of power, while a Category D has 750 watts and E has 850 watts. Modern microwaves are more powerful 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.