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RV Microwave Vs Home Microwave: What Makes Them Different?

Writen by Dane Heldt

Fact checked by Robert Clark

rv microwave vs home microwave

Having a good microwave oven is quite helpful if you’re on the road because it cooks fast and is easy to clean. Who doesn’t like to make macaroni and cheese in a few minutes, right? RV microwave vs home microwave — what are the differences between these two?

RV microwaves work similarly to home microwaves. However, most RV microwaves use less power and tend to be smaller to save space. They’re also more likely to be vibration-resistant to withstand the bumpy roads ahead. Let’s explore the differences below.

RV Microwave vs Home Microwave Comparison: Method of Heat Transfer


Home Microwave

A home microwave uses radiation for heating food. This type of microwave contains a magnetron, which transforms electricity into radio waves. These waves then make a passage to the food compartment from the magnetron to generate heat.

While the food rotates slowly on a turntable, the waves transfer energy as they travel through the food. This process causes the food molecules to vibrate fast, hence creating heat.

As you know, microwaves penetrate into sugars, fats, and water; that’s why food in the microwave heats up first then the container. Metal is the only material that can’t be used in the microwave because it reflects microwaves, so food won’t heat up properly.

RV Microwave

On the other hand, a standard RV microwave is more likely to use convection to heat food quickly. Instead of electromagnetic waves, convection uses intermediate substances — for instance, heat transfer between water and air.

While the heat transfer happens in all objects in radiation, convection’s heat transfer occurs within the fluid due to the difference in density. The fan helps in circulating the hot air inside the microwave.

Since electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light, radiation has a faster heat transfer than convection. However, convection can cook food more evenly. The convection cooking makes that brown, crispy exterior on foods, like baked products and roast chicken.

The best part is that you can use metal in a convection microwave without any fears of sparks. Also, many convection units come with special programs to eliminate the guesswork in cooking. Simply touch a button to cook your food the way that you want it to be.

Wattage Power

For a home microwave, a smaller model means a lower wattage in power. Standard models operate between 700 to 1,200 watts, while most mid-size models deliver power between 1,000 to 1,100 watts.

The RV microwave’s wattage also depends on its size — a larger model means a higher wattage. Typically, the RV ones are designed to work in a limited power capacity to prevent the breaker from tripping. Commonly, the maximum power of RV microwaves is about 1,000 watts.

Size and Capacity

Standard home microwaves come in different types with varying sizes. The countertop microwaves have a capacity between 0.5-2.2 cubic feet. They’re usually 24 inches wide, 10-18 inches high, and 18-22 inches deep.

Built-in microwaves have the same capacity and dimensions as the countertop models.

Over-the-range microwaves are the largest among the three. They can go as wide as 30 inches wide, 16 inches deep, and 18 inches high. These dimensions translate to a capacity of 2.2 cubic feet.

On the other hand, RV microwaves are typically compact to fit the RV’s limited kitchen capacity, although larger models can be available. Their capacity can go between 0.5 to 1.5 cubic feet, but most models only deliver up to 1.0 cubic feet.

Installation and Cost

A small home microwave can cost up to $100, while the mid-size models can cost between $100-$200. Large microwaves are obviously the most expensive at $500 at most, especially if they offer many features, such as temperature sensors and auto shut-offs.

Expect to pay an additional cost of $25 for installation if you opt for an over-the-range model. Hiring a professional installer also means an additional cost of $100-$250.

RV microwaves can be slightly more expensive than home microwaves due to more automated functions and installation needs. Usually, these microwaves can cost between $100-$500, or even more. To secure the placement of your appliance in the kitchen, you might need to spend on an Rv microwave mounting kit.

Extra Features

RV microwaves are often made to resist vibrations, while home microwaves aren’t. The best models integrate a sort of vibration-resistant technology to make them more resilient against the bumpy roads while traveling.

Some of the most RV microwaves also include a trim kit that bolts outside to replace the unit easily. They also come with an air duct for better ventilation.

Choosing the Best Microwave for Your RV


There are certain features that can make the microwave more efficient in your RV. Here are some things that you might want to consider:

  • Size: This factor is the most significant when choosing an RV microwave because you want to save space as much as possible. Consider your RV space and determine how much space you’re willing to give to your new microwave.
  • Energy Efficiency: Most RVs can only deliver a limited 30 or 50 amps power, so you want a microwave that won’t trip the breaker. Ideally, the microwave should consume no more than 1200 watts of power. It should be powerful yet energy-efficient.
  • Power Levels: To give more heat control, look for a unit with ten power levels or even more. Power levels are helpful in keeping your food from overcooking.
  • Automated Functions: For great ease of use, look for a unit with multiple automated functions. These functions activate with a simple press of a button. Some useful automated functions include frozen food, water reheating, and popcorn.

Our Top Recommendations

GreyStone RV Microwave

This 900-watt microwave looks very sleek with its stainless steel color. This model offers six automated cooking options and ten power levels for versatility. I like the touch control panel because it comes with a control lock to prevent kids from using this appliance while the adults are away.

Advent MW912BWDK Built-In Microwave Oven

The MW912BWDK features a 0.9 cubic feet capacity and a powerful 900 watts power. There are about ten power levels, which is enough to prevent food from overcooking. With the digital display, you can adjust the cooking time quickly.

Dometic OTR Microwave Convection Oven

This Dometic RV microwave is an over-the-range model with a 1.7 cubic feet capacity. I like the size of this one because it’s compact yet delivers a powerful performance. This convection oven looks elegant with its black stainless steel chrome color and is easy to use with the multiple automatic cooking options.


The RV microwave vs home microwave shows little difference as both provide the same purpose of heating food quickly. Home microwaves might heat faster than RV ones, but the latter can cook food more evenly.

RV microwaves are more compact to fit limited RV kitchen spaces and consume less power, but they’re slightly more expensive with their more automated functions and installation costs.

If you’ve tried any of these two microwaves, let us know in the comments below. Don’t forget to share this article with your friends if you like it.

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