Consumer ovens work around a nominal 2.45 gigahertz (GHz) — a wavelength of 12.2 centimetres (4.80 in) in the 2.4 GHz to 2.5 GHz ISM band— while large industrial/commercial ovens often use 915 megahertz (MHz) — 32.8 centimetres (12.9 in). Water, fat, and other substances in the food absorb energy from the microwaves in a process called dielectric heating. Many molecules (such as those of water) are electric dipoles, meaning that they have a partial positive charge at one end and a partial negative charge at the other, and therefore rotate as they try to align themselves with the alternating electric field of the microwaves. Rotating molecules hit other molecules and put them into motion, thus dispersing energy. This energy, dispersed as molecular rotations, vibrations and/or translations in solids and liquids raises the temperature of the food, in a process similar to heat transfer by contact with a hotter body. It is a common misconception that microwave ovens heat food by operating at a special resonance of water molecules in the food. As noted microwave ovens can operate at many frequencies.
A microwave oven heats food by passing microwave radiation through it. Microwaves are a form of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation with a frequency in the so-called Microwave Region (300 MHz to 300 GHz). Microwave ovens use frequencies in one of the ISM (industrial, scientific, medical) bands, which are otherwise used for communication amongst devices that don't need a license to operate, so they do not interfere with other vital radio services.
The radiation produced by a microwave oven is non-ionizing. It therefore does not have the cancer risks associated with ionizing radiation such as X-rays and high-energy particles. Long-term rodent studies to assess cancer risk have so far failed to identify any carcinogenicity from 2.45 GHz microwave radiation even with chronic exposure levels (i.e. large fraction of life span) far larger than humans are likely to encounter from any leaking ovens. However, with the oven door open, the radiation may cause damage by heating. Every microwave oven sold has a protective interlock so that it cannot be run when the door is open or improperly latched.
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If your primary concern is cooking speed, you need a microwave with higher wattage. The unit has to be large enough for your family's needs but not too large to fit in your kitchen. It is desirable to have quick keys, multi-stage cooking, and true variable power. Easy cleaning is a must because, at some point, you will need to wipe up after a cooking job.
Toshiba makes microwaves in other sizes too: 1.2, 1.5, and 1.6 cubic foot, all of which have slightly different internal parts and control panels. However, after testing the 0.9 and 1.2 cubic foot models for this guide, we think the former is the best for most people because it’s simpler to use and takes up less space. You can’t fit a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish in the cavity of the 0.9-cubic-foot unit, but its 10.5-inch turntable is still wide enough to fit an 11-inch dinner plate or a 9-inch square casserole dish. At 900 watts, the 0.9-cubic-foot Toshiba also packs a lot of power for its size. It measures 19.1 by 16.1 by 11.5 inches, so it’s a nice midsize option that falls in between the two other microwaves we recommend. And while we realize the control panel looks straight out of the ’90s, the microwave is available in a stainless steel or black stainless steel exterior, so it will fit the aesthetic of most kitchens.
If your microwave is broken, do not attempt to repair it yourself. Microwaves are dangerous to tamper with and should be serviced by professionals because the magnetron can retain a hazardous charge even when it isn’t plugged in. Most microwave manufacturers discourage people from even changing the light bulbs. But realistically, it’s probably cheaper and less of a hassle to buy a new microwave than to have it repaired.
Reviewers of this multipurpose microwave celebrate its great value. “This is the best microwave I’ve ever owned under $200. It works great and it arrived in less than 24 hours. Color me impressed,” writes one. In addition to microwaving food, it includes a convection function for baking or roasting and a broil setting with a removable grill rack. “This oven seems to do everything that I wanted it to do. It … makes fast work of anything I put in it,” says one. “The browner element on the top is just icing on the cake.” Another happy customer writes: “This was my only way to cook for six weeks during flood repair of my kitchen. We were able to have normal meals without going out every time.”
A microwave oven (commonly referred to as a microwave) is an electric oven that heats and cooks food by exposing it to electromagnetic radiation in the microwave frequency range. This induces polar molecules in the food to rotate and produce thermal energy in a process known as dielectric heating. Microwave ovens heat foods quickly and efficiently because excitation is fairly uniform in the outer 25–38 mm (1–1.5 inches) of a homogeneous, high water content food item.