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Should You Use a Microwave in an RV or Trailer?

Should You Use a Microwave in an RV or Trailer?

Microwaves are one of the conveniences of home that many folks can’t live without. However, those transitioning from a typical sticks-and-bricks home to an RV or trailer may be surprised to discover microwaves are among the more power-intensive appliances in your kitchen.

If you don’t prepare your rig, there’s the potential for severe problems while running them. So let’s look at what you need to know about RV microwaves and how they work with your rig’s power system. Let’s get started! 

Is It Safe to Use a Microwave in an RV or Trailer?

In almost all cases, the answer is yes. Most RVs and trailers can run modestly-sized microwaves safely without damaging the electrical system or the microwave.

Even in the worst-case scenario, you’ll likely only trip a breaker from overloading your system, which you can quickly resolve. Still, it’s crucial to ensure you equip your rig for running a microwave and select a proper model. 

What Type of Microwaves Are Best for an RV or Trailer?

In some cases, RVs or trailers will have microwaves pre-installed in the kitchen. In these cases, they’re often unique models that can fit in the often-tight quarters of an RV. However, besides generally being lower power than some at-home microwaves, there are no fundamental differences in how they work or draw power.

Therefore, those simply looking for a countertop RV microwave will be fine selecting any model within their rig’s power limits. 

Inside of an RV microwave
Prepare your RV to be able to electrically power an RV microwave before you hit the road.

How Many Watts of Power Does a Microwave Use? 

Generally, most RV microwaves will use less power than the countertop or built-in models you’ll find at home. The average wattage ranges between 600 and 800, though some larger rigs can include 1,000-watt models. However, when considering the power you’ll need to run a microwave, you’ll also need to consider other aspects of your RV or trailer. 

Will a Microwave Run Off RV Batteries?

Like many standard appliances and household electronics, you can run a microwave off RV batteries. However, you can only do this with the assistance of an inverter. Inverters take the DC power in your RV’s battery bank and transform it into AC power, the typical electricity from a home wall outlet.

Still, even with an inverter, you’ll need to ensure it’s large enough to handle the power your microwave needs. 

What Size Inverter Do I Need to Run a Microwave While Boondocking?

This will vary slightly depending on your personal electrical needs. Most inverters are rated for 1,000-5,000 watts, and with a microwave taking up 600 or more, most RVers opt for a 2,000-watt model or larger to allow ample space for other devices. Prices will increase with the inverter’s capacity, so it’s crucial to ensure you’re not overbuying and wasting money. 

How Much Solar Power Do I Need to Run a Microwave in an RV?

It may sound futuristic, but it’s possible to run your microwave solely on the sun’s power. Most RV and other portable solar arrays are limited to only a few hundred watts, but this can still provide significant energy when you use them correctly.

Like any other energy source, battery banks store the solar power first and then transform it into AC power to run your microwave. Your solar capacity may be less important than your battery bank storage and inverter capacity, which are critical to running a microwave in an RV. 

What Size Generator Do I Need to Run a Microwave?

Most generators for RVs will range from 2,000-4,000 watts. This should allow ample capacity for even the most powerful portable microwaves, along with several other devices. Therefore, RVers with minimal power needs can opt for any RV generator to run their microwave, while heavy users can purchase ones that reach 10,000 watts or more. 

Pro Tip: Upgrade your RV kitchen by installing these Best 12-Volt Appliances for Your RV.

Interior of an RV kitchen
Make cooking on the go easy by installing an RV microwave.

Best Microwaves for an RV or Trailer

Now that you know the specs your electrical system will need to run a microwave, it’s time to make your pick. These models are among the best options for RVers and trailer owners. 

Tough Grade RV Microwave | .9 Cubic Ft Black Microwave with Trim Kit

Those looking for an affordable, powerful, built-in microwave specifically for RVs will find what they’re looking for in this Tough Grade microwave. It has 0.9 cubic feet of capacity and provides 900 watts of heating power. Tough Grade’s RV microwave fits many styles of rigs and comes with a trim kit for stylish installation. Reviewers praised its compatibility and ease of installation in different RVs. 

Sharp R1874T 850W Over-the-Range Convection Microwave, 1.1 Cubic Feet, Stainless Steel

This sleek, stylish Sharp microwave is a perfect option for those who want to preserve their rig’s chic appearance with their new appliance. At 1.1 cubic feet, it’s larger than many other options, providing additional space for heating food. Plus, the 850 watts of power makes it strong enough to do the job without overly taxing your electrical system. Buyers frequently comment on the long life and durability of this and other Sharp products. 

Farberware Classic FMO07AHTBKJ 0.7 Cu. Ft. 700-Watt Microwave Oven with LED Lighting, Brushed Stainless Steel

Some RVers don’t have a kitchen with space for a mounted microwave. These folks should check out this ultra-affordable, compact, but still powerful Farberware. At over 17 inches wide, 13 inches deep, and 10 inches tall, it’s easy to fit on tiny RV countertops and stow in your rig’s limited storage space. In addition, those without much capacity in their electrical system will appreciate the relatively low 700-watt power draw that still allows the convenience of microwave cooking. With a retail price under $100, it’s hard to beat the value.

Pro Tip: Want to upgrade your RV kitchen? Get inspired by the Best RV Kitchen Remodels on Instagram.

Is a Microwave in an RV or Trailer Worth It?

For some, a microwave may not be a necessity. In other cases, upgrading your rig’s electrical system and purchasing a microwave may cost more and be more involved, especially for older RVs or trailers. For these RVers, it may not be worth it. 

But many find the convenience of a microwave a massive help for cooking while on the go, especially in the small kitchens of RVs and trailers. They can dramatically speed up food prep and provide options that would otherwise be impossible to enjoy in your rig. Most RVers also won’t need to make significant or expensive upgrades. Newer models may include a microwave. While microwaves aren’t the be-all, end-all of cooking, they’re a valuable tool. They can make putting a meal on the table much more effortless. 

Would you install a microwave in your RV? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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