What Size Microwave do I Need?

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What Size Microwave do I Need

An important factor to consider while purchasing a microwave is its size (after its quality). If you get the wrong size microwave for your kitchen, storing it and fulfilling your cooking needs can be difficult. Since most kitchens have limited space for appliances, purchasing an appropriately-sized microwave is in your best interest.

Read on to know how big or small microwave will suit your kitchen the best.

What Size Microwave do I Need?

If you live alone, a 0.5-1 cubic feet microwave is ideal for you because this microwave size is for compact kitchens and small meals. But if you live with family, you need a microwave with a cooking capacity of 1-1.5 cubic feet. Since a microwave’s internal dimensions determine how much food you can cook, pick these dimensions according to your cooking needs. The most common microwave oven size for home kitchens is 1-1.5 cubic feet; you’ll also be good with it.

Although the exact microwave size you pick for your kitchen depends on your cooking preferences, a 1-1.5 cubic feet microwave will hardly go wrong. One thing you must consider while purchasing a microwave for your home is its footprint.

Some microwaves look small but have wide cooking compartments, while others have a wide footprint, but their interior dimensions are narrow. 

Measure the counter space you can manage for a new microwave and pick an appliance accordingly. If you’re to purchase a microwave for multiple people’s food needs, you might have to empty a kitchen cabinet or drawer to house it; select one that doesn’t cram your kitchen. 

Another factor to consider while selecting a microwave is the voltage it operates on. If you get a small microwave operating on a high voltage, it’s not a smart thing to do. Similarly, large microwave ovens operating on lower voltages aren’t the most efficient ones; understanding the numbers is inevitable here.

What are standard microwave sizes? 

Microwave ovens are categorized according to their cooking chamber sizes. When you hear “this is a 2 cubic feet microwave”, know that this is how big its cooking chamber is.

Some microwaves have unique shapes and add-ons on their exterior surfaces, making their footprint bigger. But this size doesn’t count when we talk about a microwave’s cooking capacity; the important number is its inner chamber’s size. 

Here are the standard microwave sizes you’ll come across when you decide to purchase one:

  1. 0.5-1 Cubic Feet Microwaves

This is the smallest microwave category for home kitchens. A 0.5-1 cubic feet microwave will perfectly fit in your compact kitchen and support your cooking, reheating, and defrosting needs. Although this small-sized microwave’s reliability depends on its energy consumption, you can easily trust it for your individual cooking tasks. 

Students living in dorms and couples prefer these small microwaves because of their easy handling and quick cooking. A 0.5-1 cubic feet microwave will consume 700-900 watts of electricity, something dorm students will like. Since most dorms allow the students to bring compact and safer appliances, a 700-900 watts microwave will stand a good chance.

If a microwave has a sleek exterior look with 0.5-1 cubic feet cooking capacity, it won’t require any adjustment hassle. You can leave this small microwave on a countertop, in a cabinet, or specify a standalone tabletop for it. However, be noted that this microwave size doesn’t suit families.

  • 1-1.5 Cubic Feet Microwaves

The most common microwave size you’ll come across is 1-1.5 cubic feet, which is perfect for small families. You can cook 3-4 persons’ food in this microwave, and it won’t cram your kitchen either, something smart cooks will surely prefer. If you need a reliable microwave for different meal types and sizes, 1-1.5 cubic feet is the number you should look for. 

A medium-sized microwave can easily adjust on your kitchen counter and cater to your cooking needs. When you decide to get a 1-1.5 cubic feet microwave, look for a sleek design to keep your kitchen well-organized. A hefty microwave will only increase your workload and disturb your kitchen’s settings, something you’d like to avoid. 

  • 1.6-2 Cubic Feet Microwaves 

Now we’re talking big numbers. If you frequently use a microwave to defrost, reheat, and cook food, you cannot do with a small appliance. But at the same time, a bulky microwave will only make things difficult for you. So, what to do? It’s simple; you select a petite-looking 1.6-2 cubic feet microwave. 

This microwave size suits large families where feasts and shared meals are a norm. You can easily cook for 5-7 people in a large-sized microwave without consuming extra energy. These microwaves operate on 1200 watts, which is justifiable given their performance. If you seek efficiency and convenience, this is the microwave size you’ll truly admire. 

  • 2 Cubic Feet and Larger Microwaves

Although home cooks rarely need a microwave larger than 2 cubic feet, you still have an option if you feel like availing it. A 2-2.5 cubic feet microwave will be heavy, bulky, and extra spacious. You can prepare feast dinners in such a microwave or reheat a large food batch in one go.

However, one thing you must remember while selecting this microwave size is the storage hassle it might put you through. You’ll have to make some space on the kitchen counter or allot a whole cabinet for an oven this big, which is not always feasible.

Therefore, only go for such a hefty microwave if you can easily accommodate it in your kitchen. 

How do I measure my current microwave dimensions?

Your microwave’s user manual will have its dimensions for your ease, but measuring these dimensions is also quite easy if you don’t have the manual. The only thing you need to grab is a measuring tape to get started.

  1. Place the measuring tape across the top of your microwave, and run it from left to right. 
  2. This will give you the microwave’s length. Do the same with the microwave’s sides and bottom. 
  3. Once you have all three readings, note them down.
  4. The next step is to measure the microwave’s interior dimensions. 
  5. For that, you have to multiply the readings you just noted.  
  6. Once multiplied, divide the final number by 1.728 to convert it into cubic feet (this number will be your microwave’s cooking capacity).

These easy steps will tell your microwave’s external dimensions and cooking capacity. 

What is the most common size microwave? 

The most common microwave size is 1-1.5 cubic feet for domestic kitchens. This medium size will suffice your individual and family cooking requirements without much effort. If housing a large appliance in your kitchen is difficult, but you still want a big enough microwave, this is the most suitable size. Since a 1-1.5 cubic feet microwave is good for cooking large food batches, it can reduce your workload to some extent. 

Mid-tier microwaves are the best kind. You can use them for individual use and prepare family meals with the same convenience. These microwaves don’t consume a lot of space in your kitchen and always support your cooking requirements.

What is a good size microwave for a family? 

A 1.5-2 cubic feet microwave is suitable for 4-6 people families. These large microwaves help you cook multiple food servings in one go and keep your workload minimal. If you can empty a kitchen cabinet for the microwave, you can easily manage this size and ease your cooking tasks. But if your family comprises 7 and more people, a microwave of 2-2.5 cubic feet will also suit you.

Preparing family meals is a big and hectic task. You need appliances that support your cooking preferences and don’t exert you. And when that’s the goal, a 1.5-2 cubic feet oven is the way out. A microwave this spacious won’t make you cook in batches because you can whip up several food servings at once.

Also, if you’re looking for a family-size microwave, you’ll most likely have enough space to accommodate it. You can get a large microwave installed into a kitchen cabinet, over your stovetop, or beside the oven cooking range to keep it handy. 

But if you often host dinners and cook big food batches, look beyond a 2 cubic feet microwave. Sure, this microwave will take up a lot of space in your kitchen, making cooking easier and less messy for you. A 2-2.5 cubic feet microwave is best for busy kitchens and foodie families where cooking is often a tough task. Whether you have to defrost some snacks for the family or prepare something from scratch, your microwave should be capable of doing it.

However, you must understand before buying a large microwave is the voltage it will require. Since large microwaves can consume up to 2000 watts of electricity, they can go heavy on your pocket; get a microwave after evaluating all these factors.

Always plug your big microwave in the wall socket and never strain your home’s electricity supply by using multiple appliances at once. 

What size microwave do I need for the dorm room?  

A 0.5-1 cubic feet microwave is the best choice for dorm rooms. Since you don’t have much space in dorm rooms and you cook for yourself only, a compact microwave is a perfect choice. A good-quality small microwave doesn’t require much upkeep and will suffice your cooking tasks. You don’t need a hefty microwave in the dorm where you’ll hardly cook full-course meals, and if you do, the servings will be small. Find a microwave with a medium-level cooking chamber and a sleek outlook for your dorm room.

Dorm students seek practicality and convenience; a 0.5-1 cubic feet microwave provides both. A small microwave won’t consume extra energy or pose safety risks to your dorm room, something you should always consider.

Some dorms don’t allow students to bring heavy appliances because they can strain the electricity supply and risk the dorm’s safety. Therefore, a small yet compatible microwave should be your ultimate choice while shifting to a dorm. 

Summing Up 

Finding the perfect cooking appliances is your first step toward smart cooking. When you understand your cooking needs and find a microwave suitable for them, you’ll enjoy cooking more than ever. Many new cooks have trouble finding the best microwave oven that suits their kitchen space and cooking preferences because of the available variety.

Therefore, to ease your quest, we decided to explain the standard microwave sizes for different family and individual settings. Whether you live alone or cook for the family, follow the guidelines we have shared above and select a microwave accordingly. The takeaway is to purchase an appliance that easily fits your kitchen, budget, and meal preferences.

Shortlist a few microwaves, compare them to your kitchen preferences, and decide wisely. Happy cooking! 


What size microwave do I need for popcorns? If popcorns are the only snacks you make in the microwave, you are good with a 0.5 cubic feet microwave. But if you cook other things as well, a 0.5-1 cubic feet microwave is suitable for you. 

What size microwave do I need to fit a dinner plate? You can fit a 10-inch dinner plate in a 0.5 cubic feet microwave to reheat or defrost the food. But if your plates are bigger or you alternate them with other cookware, a 1 cubic feet microwave will do. 

Is a 20 Liter microwave big enough? A 20-liter microwave roughly translates to 0.7 cubic feet of cooking capacity, enough for 2-4 people. So, if you have a 20-liter microwave, you’re good. 

Is 0.7 cubic feet microwave too small? A 0.7 cubic feet microwave will suffice 2-4 people’s food needs, which doesn’t make it too small for your kitchen. This is a mid-tier size for microwaves and ovens.

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