Does a Microwave Need a Dedicated 20amp Outlet?

microwave plugged into outlet

Microwaves come in different designs, from flexible countertop models to more permanent over-the-range styles. The decision on which outlet to use for the microwave primarily depends on the type of microwave at hand.

In this post, we will be looking at the ideal outlet for a 1,000 watts top-range microwave, responding to concerns over the possibility of sharing a 15 amps output for the 1,000 watts microwave.

To respond to this concern, we must understand a few things. First, we should know the recommendations from the manufacturer. Second, we should also look at the electrical codes that govern home appliances such as microwaves.

What Does the Code Say?

Electrical codes do not specifically use the word microwave when defining what can be used on a dedicated circuit. However, a microwave is one of the devices that are required to have a dedicated outlet, especially the type of microwave that mounts in one place.

The code requires that any mount-in-place unit with a cord and plug that stays there requires a dedicated outlet. This is especially true if the manual states that it requires a dedicated circuit.

For the 1,000 watts microwave in question, the manual specifically states that you will require a 20 amps dedicated output. In other words, you will have to use a dedicated output for your microwave, even if it will not be ruing at all times.

microwave over stove

Microwave Power Needs and Efficiency

Most microwaves are about 60% to 80% power efficient. Therefore, a 1,000W microwave might need as much as 1,700 W of power. In this case, you may end up needing a dedicated 17 amps circuit.

While most residential outlets are 15amps or 20amps, you will need a circuit that can provide much more power than the expected power needs of your microwave.

Other Factors to Consider

Besides the wattage of the microwave and its power efficiency, there are many factors to consider. One of the factors you want to consider is the microwave's height. If the microwave is on the ground level where it is likely to be moved constantly, you can use placement to split a circuit that has sufficient power.

Will the Microwave Work If You Don't Use a Dedicated Circuit?

One of the main reasons why people bypass codes is that the appliances in question may still work even if the guidelines are not followed. What then is the case with the 1000-watt microwave? Well, whether the microwave wil work or not depends on the other components used on your circuit.

First, make sure you have a 20 amps circuit. If the circuit is used for basic lighting as in the case of our DIYer, you want to ensure that all the lights are off at any time you are using the microwave.

As stated above, this type of microwave will need at least 8amps of power. In this case, even having only one light on increases the chances that the available energy may not be sufficient.

GFCI outlet with test and reset buttons

Use a GFCI Outlet for the Microwave

If you are not sure about the amperage of your microwave, you may want to use a GFCI to try it. Such outlets will warn you if the power consumption of your device is above the capacity of the circuit.

Without a doubt, if you use the microwave on a circuit that does not supply sufficient power, the circuit breaker will trip. You do not want such a situation every time you are using your microwave.

Bottom Line

A dedicated 20 amps circuit is a necessity in situations where you have to use a 1000 W microwave. There are many ways you may want to go about this issue, however, the best way out is to dedicate a full circuit to your microwave. This way you reduce the chance of the system tripping.