RV Microwave VS Home Microwave

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. Click here to read more

Table of Contents

When it comes to heating up leftovers, making a cake and a mug, or just reheating your coffee after you let it sit for too long, nothing beats a microwave. For RV owners, microwaves are especially efficient for heating up a meal without needing to operate your stove. Your RV is made that much more comfortable by expanding the range of food options that you can bring on the road with you.

Like RV refrigerators, though, RV microwaves are not exactly the same as the type of microwaves you’d find in your house. When it comes to RV microwaves versus home microwaves, there are a few differences you should note.

The primary, and most obvious difference between an RV microwave and a home microwave is the size. RV microwaves will usually be much smaller to compensate for the smaller space. They will also operate at a lower power level; this allows them to consume less electricity. 

RV Microwaves VS Home Microwaves

How It Heats

Home Microwave 

The type of microwave you will find in your home uses radiation as a method for heating food. This type of microwave uses a magnetron to transform electricity into radio waves. The waves pass to the food compartment from the magnetron and generate heat.

Your microwaves turntable spins the food allowing the waves to transfer energy as they travel through the food. The molecules within the food vibrate very fast, creating heat.

RV Microwave

The type of microwave you will typically find preloaded into an RV is more often than not going to be a convection microwave. Instead of electromagnetic waves, intermediate substances, such as heat transfer between water and air, are used to warm the food.

A convection microwaves heat transfer occurs within the fluid in the food due to the difference in density. Convection microwaves will also include a fan, which circulates the hot air inside the microwave. This hot air circulation also aids in warming food.

Electromagnetic waves travel at the speed of light. Because of this, radiation has a faster heat transfer than convection. Convection microwaves, however, can cook food more evenly. If you have ever noticed that your home microwave tends to make things rather soggy, that is something you will not have to deal with in your RV microwave. 

Of course, everyone is aware that you should not use metal in a traditional microwave. The reason for this is that the waves inside the microwave will bounce off of the metal, and ricochet in such a way that it can cause a fire.

That danger is avoided in a convection microwave. Because there are no waves, there is nothing to bounce around off of a metal spoon that you accidentally left in with your leftover soup.

Wattage Power 

With home microwaves, a smaller model usually spells a lower wattage power. Standard models will typically operate between 700 and 1200 watts. Mid-sized models, meanwhile, will pack in 1,000 to 1100 Watts.

The same principle goes for RV microwaves. A larger model will give you higher wattage. However, that maximum wattage is much lower than that of a home microwave’s capabilities. Manufacturers of RV microwaves have designed their units to work in a limited power capacity – this is to prevent the breaker from tripping. Unless you are shopping for a particularly beefy RV microwave, the maximum power caps out at 1000 watts.

This lower power level is necessary in order to keep the breaker from tripping.

Size And Capacity 

You can take a look at an RV microwave next to a home microwave and be able to tell right away that the RV microwave is smaller. Naturally, with that smaller footprint, and RV microwave will have a much lower capacity.

Home microwaves come in a litany of different sizes. Countertop microwaves usually have a capacity between 0.5 and 2.2 cubic feet. Over the range microwaves can be as large as 30 in wide and 16 in deep.

RV microwaves are meant to be compact, as is the trend with most RV appliances. You are, after all, trying to fit all of the comforts of your home into the small space of a house on wheels. While there are larger models available, the typical capacity of an RV microwave is between 0.5 and 1.5 cubic feet. The average is 1.0 cubic feet.

Class A and other luxury RVs may have larger, stronger microwaves on board. The larger models will, of course, have a greater capacity.


While cost will largely depend on if you picked this up at a yard sale or bought it new from the store, a small home microwave will cost, on average, about $100. Mid-sized models are $100 to $200. Very large microwaves, or technically advanced smart microwaves, can fetch $500 and above.

RV microwaves will actually run you on the more expensive side, despite their smaller size. This is because installation is usually required, as well as an RV microwave mounting kit. There are other automated functions in an RV microwave that will spike the cost considerably.  The average cost will be between $250 and $500.


Because they are built to be on the road, RV microwaves will be tough enough to withstand the vibrations of a long drive. The best models will integrate a sort of vibration resistant technology, meaning even the biggest bumps in the road will be nothing for your RV microwave.

Some will also have an air duct for better ventilation or a trim kit that will bolt to the outside of the unit.

Want to heat up dinner and dessert at the same time? With an RV microwave you may be able to do that. Some RV microwaves include racks, allowing you to make up for the smaller capacity with the ability to heat up more at once.

Can You Use A Regular Microwave In An RV?

Technically, yes you can use a regular microwave in an rv. Commercially available microwaves will work, but it is best to select one with a lower wattage. 

The reason you will want one with a lower wattage is the same reason that RV microwaves are typically equipped with that. They are easier to run on a generator and will not trip your breakers. As a rule of thumb, look for a microwave model that is about 700 watts.

Installation is also going to be an issue. Make sure that you are using a microwave that is small enough to fit into whatever pre-selected cavity your RV kitchen has. You might also need to find a way to bolt or secure it down, so that it is not flying asunder as you hit a sharp turn. 

You may also need to have an inverter if you plan to use a conventional microwave in your rv. That is because an RV specific microwave will be able to run on DC power, which is what your RV may put out as a default. Home microwaves, conversely, or designed to run on AC power. If you have an inverter, it should already be converting your DC to the needed AC. 


There are quite a few notable differences between an RV microwave and a home microwave. For one, the two will heat things very differently. Additionally you will notice that one is smaller and a little less powerful. However they will cost in roughly the same range.

Scroll to Top