Microwave Ovens Guide

Commercial grade microwave ovens are a staple in more than just restaurant kitchens. They can be found in just about every convenience store and employee break room in the country. Commercial microwaves are built for durability, typically incorporating more stainless steel in their construction than their household counterparts. And since they are used for more than just food warming, commercial microwaves have higher wattage than standard microwave ovens. When buying a commercial grade microwave, the things to consider include wattage, physical size and features and controls. Let’s look at those three areas.


Wattage refers to the relative power of the microwave. The higher the wattage, the faster the cooking time and the greater the number of cooking cycles that can be completed in any given period. In terms of wattage, commercial microwaves are generally classified as light duty, medium duty and heavy duty.

Light Duty Commercial Microwaves

  • 750 – 1000 watts
  • For usage up to 50 times per day
  • Best for convenience stores, bakeries, coffee shops, small company break rooms
  • Food warming of beverages, pastries, desserts, frozen meals, burritos
  • Typically small units that fit in small spaces

Medium Duty Commercial Microwaves

  • 1000 – 1700 watts
  • For usage up to 150 times per day
  • Best for medium volume kitchens, convenience stores, large company break rooms
  • Food warming of sandwiches, soups, appetizers, frozen meals, sauces

Heavy Duty Commercial Microwaves

  • 1700 – 3500+ watts
  • For usage over 200 times per day
  • Best for high volume kitchens, cafeterias, stadiums, using the microwave as a component of cooking, rather than just heating.
  • Intended for large food portions, defrosting, steaming and full entrée cooking

Microwave Oven Sizes

Since lower wattage commercial microwaves are primarily used for reheating of pre-prepared foods and beverages, they also tend to be smaller than higher wattage microwave ovens used for defrosting, steaming, and full-entrée cooking. Below are the approximate sizes of each. Since these sizes can vary somewhat by manufacturer, be sure to consult the specification information below each product descriptions on the Foodservice Superstore website.

Typical Size of Light Duty Commercial Microwave

  • Interior - 0.6 cubic foot
  • Exterior – 13” x 12” x 7”

Typical Size of Medium Duty Commercial Microwave

  • Interior - 0.9 cubic foot
  • Exterior – 13” x 13” x 8”

Typical Size of Heavy Duty Commercial Microwave

  • Interior - 1.6 cubic foot
  • Exterior – 21” x 13” x 9”

Microwave Oven Features and Controls

Microwave features and controls range from simple to complex based upon the operator needs and intended use. Light duty self-serve units used primarily for warming prepared food in convenience stores, employee break rooms and small retail businesses typically have simple controls and limited features where the focus is on ease of use. Rotating dials or simple push-button pads for setting the cooking time and a limited number of power levels are most common.

Medium and heavy duty microwave ovens used in larger foodservice enterprises and commercial kitchens have more sophisticated features that give the operator greater control over the cooking process and free up free up their time to other tasks. These ovens typically feature more complex push-button keypads that control cook time, additional power levels, and multi-stage cooking cycles. Many can be programmed to automate these processes to create dozens or hundreds of one button customized cooking cycles for preparing ingredients and entrees.

Some higher end models incorporate multiple magnetrons that generate microwave radiation from different directions, ensuring more consistent cooking and eliminating hot spots in the food. On the very high end, microwave technology is combined with circulating convection heat to take advantage of the benefits of each cooking method. Microwave convection ovens provide the operator with even more control over the taste, texture and visual aesthetic of the final product.

Popular Brands of Commercial Microwave Ovens

Top brand names of commercial microwaves include Amana, Panasonic, TurboChef and Menumaster. Available in many sizes and capacities, units from these brands range from 1000 watts to over 3200 watts. All of the selections in these brands come with stainless steel finishes, to ensure a clean appearance that is both durable and complementary to your restaurant kitchen décor.


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