In the 70+ years since its invention in 1947, the microwave oven has seen tremendous character growth. From a futuristic oddity that magically transformed food to every cook’s kitchen superhero, microwave ovens have made possible 2-minute popcorn, fast-paced restaurants, and dare I say it, edible sofa pizza. But the difference between the homely plastic click-and-cook appliance and the rugged commercial microwave oven is night and day. Capable of lightning-fast cooking, enduring lifespans, and high daily usage, the commercial oven is designed to be a beast (relatively). With your commercial kitchen’s daily operations too frequently balanced on this 2-minute marvel, the oven you choose is just as critical as its function. To help you make the best microwave oven choice for your kitchen, we discuss the types of microwaves, different factors to consider, and Chef Buyer’s most popular models in this article.
What is a Commercial Microwave Oven?
A commercial microwave oven is built differently from its domestic counterpart. Designed to meet the greater demands of professional kitchens, this oven not only quickly heats higher volumes of food but is also capable of enduring long-term, heavy-duty usage. Additionally, the customizability of how you heat your food goes beyond the regular microwave’s defrost and popcorn buttons. Indeed, the commercial microwave allows for more power settings, a fully programmable control panel, and more durable constructions. Commercial microwave ovens are usually made out of stainless steel, making maintenance a breeze and long-term durability a sure bet. Other few differences of note are the absence of turntables, greater power (900 to a whopping 2200 watts), and of course, expense. While some commercial kitchens may attempt to invest in a household microwave oven to avoid higher expenses, their low-quality requirements and heavy maintenance needs quickly offset the price difference.
The Types of Commercial Microwave Ovens
Light-Duty Commercial Microwaves
The weakest of all commercial microwaves in terms of power, most light-duty ovens provide a steady 1,000 watts of power for minimal usage. With fewer customizable features and reliability for up to 50 uses a day, light-duty commercial microwaves are perfect for cafés and break rooms, convenience stores, and small bakeries.
Medium-Duty Commercial Microwaves
Capable of up to 150 uses a day, the medium-duty commercial microwaves are a step up from the light-duty variants in terms of speed, power, durability, and usability. With anywhere between 1,200 and 2,000 watts of power, this microwave oven is ideal for busier cafés, coffee shops, and small to mid-sized restaurants.
Heavy-Duty Commercial Microwaves
Providing 2,000-3,000 watts of power, the heavy-duty commercial microwave is built for intensive use in all senses of the word. Capable of weathering over 150 uses a day, the heavy-duty microwave is built for durability, faster cooking, and more customizable power settings than the other two types of commercial microwaves in this list.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Commercial Microwave Oven
While power and daily usage are the more obvious aspects to consider when buying a commercial microwave oven, here are a few factors that require close inspection as well:
Size: Buying the right-sized commercial microwave oven is a tricky balance between space availability and dish sizes. Here are the standard sizes of dishes that each commercial microwave oven can accommodate:
- 0.3-0.8 Cubic Feet Microwaves: Microwaves of these dimensions can only fit small china dishes, ¼, and 1/6 size pans, small plates, and bowls.
- 0.8-1.0 Cubic Feet Microwaves: These commercial microwave ovens can easily fit food pans in ½ and 1/3 sizes, meaning they can also accommodate medium-sized microwavable containers and the average takeout container.
- 1.2-1.6 Cubic Feet Microwaves: These are the largest size of commercial microwave ovens available, and they are capable of fitting most plates, pans, containers, and trays.
Types of Food: The kind of food you’ll be reheating with your microwave should be the foremost factor to consider before making a purchase. The type of food will also influence cooking times, the size of your containers, and in some cases, even the daily usage. For example, if you own a café that only heats pastries and puffs, a light-duty microwave oven should do. However, for restaurants that use their microwave to reheat steak, a 1.2 cu ft heavy-duty microwave oven would be optimal.
Cooking Times: One of the biggest drawbacks of commercial microwave ovens is also their biggest advantage. Given their high power, it is far too easy to underestimate their cooking times. Conventionally, the higher the wattage of the microwave oven, the quicker it’ll cook or reheat your food. If your kitchen depends on delivering food quickly, then a high wattage or heavy-duty commercial microwave oven is the perfect solution to your fast-paced needs. Of course, make sure your staff keeps a close eye on the timer while they acclimate to the brand-new appliance’s pace.
Usability: If there’s one thing that a large, frequently-used appliance in your kitchen should provide, it’s simplicity. If your settings are minimal and easy to add before reheating, then your microwave’s settings need not be very granular. However, kitchens with varied dishes that require different settings should choose a highly programmable microwave oven. The appliance’s endurance is equally important. Whether the appliance is used 50, 150, or even more times a day should determine whether you choose a light-duty or heavy-duty oven. Other usability factors to consider include maintenance (stainless-steel is the easiest to clean), and the interface’s intuitiveness.
Other Important Features:
- Warranty: A longer warranty not only means you’ll pay less for long-term repairs or damage, but also that the company genuinely trusts the quality of its product.
- Programmability: A programmable interface allows you to fit various settings into a single button for several types of foods. Some models also include USB ports to store and easily transfer these settings to other microwave ovens.
- Digital/Analog Features: Since digital controls make selecting different settings easy and precise, they are perfect for fast-paced restaurants.
The Top 5 Commercial Microwave Ovens for Restaurants
Some popular microwave oven brands include:
• ACP, and
In this list, we rank and discuss the five most popular commercial microwave ovens available at Chef Buyer.
Waring WMO120 Microwave Oven
This 1.2 cubic feet powerhouse provides 1800 watts for speedy and effective reheating and cooking applications. With 5 power levels, 3-stage cooking, 100 menus, and an interior oven light, this ADA-compliant appliance is the perfect heavy-duty commercial microwave oven for your busy restaurant’s daily needs. Accessibility is a notable Waring priority, with touch control keypads available in Braille. Apart from 60-minute cooking times, and programmable/manual operations, this stainless-steel countertop microwave also includes replaceable air filters that ensure maintenance is quick and painless.
ACP RCS10DSE Amana Commercial Microwave Oven
Known for its great customer service, ACP’s RCS10DSE is a 1.2 cu ft commercial microwave oven for medium-duty daily usage. Though on the larger side of commercial microwave ovens, it provides 1000 watts of power for up to 150 uses per day. As a stackable, the device is perfect for compact kitchens with larger containers. The appliance comes with 4 power levels, a user-friendly analog dial, and a non-removable air filter. With a stainless-steel exterior and 3-year warranty, ACP’s Amana RCS10DSE is available on ChefBuyer.
Midea 1234G1A Commercial Microwave Oven
The 1234G1A is a slightly larger, digital version of the RCS10DSE. Just as stackable and capable of 5 power levels, the 1200-watt appliance provides 1.2 cu ft of storage capacity for mid-size and larger plates and containers. It includes a 60-minute cooking time, 100 auto programs for easy heating customization, touch control pads, and an electronic timer. ADA compliance and braille touchpads make this one of the most user-friendly and programmable commercial microwave ovens on this list. The 1234G1A Midea is available on ChefBuyer.
The Panasonic NE-1054F is a compact and durable stainless-steel microwave for medium-duty use. Providing 1000 watts of power in its 0.8 cubic feet capacity, the NE-1054F is excellent for mid-sized restaurants or cafés that have limited programmability concerns. Equipped with self-diagnostics, a 99-minute timer, excellent accessibility options, and tone control. The appliance comes with a 1-year labor and parts warranty.
Panasonic NE-17521 Commercial Microwave Oven
The power of the NE-17521 belies its size. The 0.6 cu ft provides a whopping 1700 watts of power, seating it quite easily in the heavy-duty range while providing compactness and stackability for space-shackled kitchens with smaller containers. The appliance provides 90 programmable memory pads, 15 power levels, an LCD digital display, and reliable self-diagnostics. 13” tall and 16.5” wide, this microwave oven is also stackable and comes with a 1-year parts and labor warranty and a 3-year magnetron warranty.
Chef Buyer is committed to making your commercial microwave oven buying experience seamless and educated. Apart from our buying guides and informative blogs, browse through our catalog to make a quality purchase that perfectly fits your commercial kitchen’s daily needs.