What do microwave ovens have in common with computers? To some extent, they’re computers themselves--embedded computers to be specific. That’s why you’re able to press buttons or touch a digital screen and feed in commands or instructions to the microwave oven.
You can, for instance, set the exact time (in minutes) to heat your leftover noodles from last night’s dinner or the number of hours to defrost your turkey before roasting it.
Microwave ovens have been around since the early 1940s, with the prototypes being as huge as a 750-pound refrigerator. Of course, subsequent variants have since gone through several tweaking phases to portable size ovens for ease of moving around the kitchen. Or outdoors, for example, in a recreational vehicle when you’re out with family on a camping expedition.
As it stands right now, there’re two types of microwave ovens in the market: ordinary microwaves that use magnetic coils or transformers to heat the oven and inverter microwave ovens that have built-in inverters to regulate the power supply to the oven.
What about convection microwave ovens? By definition, a convection microwave is one that uses a high-velocity fan to ensure the hot air fully spreads throughout the entire cooking cavity of the microwave to maximize the heat dispersion.
Convection microwaves were initially high-end kitchen appliances out of reach of the ordinary consumer. But popularity and few entry barriers have seen more microwave oven manufacturers venture into this technology resulting in lower price points.
You can now get a convection microwave at close to the price of a conventional one. Knowledge tip: The convection heat transfer is more of an oven feature than a standalone microwave category.
Usually, convection-enabled microwaves will be the inverter or conventional microwave ovens fitted with a high-velocity fan. They also tend to be larger all-in-one units that accommodate the properties of a microwave as well as a convection oven.
Fitting casserole pan dishes and even king-size (12 inches) pizzas isn’t much of a problem in most standard parameter convection microwaves. Still, you might want to double-check the space available on your kitchen countertop before buying a 6-slice, 1-foot interior capacity convection microwave oven.
What is Inverter Technology?
Inverter technology stems from power inverters that change the direct current (DC) of a power source to alternate current (AC). The technology may be relatively recent in microwave ovens, but for quite some time, it has featured in several legacy brand refrigerators and air conditioners.
In an air conditioner, for instance, an inverter serves the purpose of controlling the frequency of the electric current that powers the motor that runs the air compressor.
It enables the air conditioner to regulate its cooling and heating capacity as per the desired room temperature. Non-inverter air conditioners can only work at maximum performance, switch off upon attaining the set temperature and then turn on again when there’s a temperature drop.
The resulting start-stop cycle consumes more energy. The same goes for compressors in inverter refrigerators. And inverters pretty much have a similar operational impact in microwave frequencies, which sums up to one word--efficiency.
Here Is Why Inverter Microwave Ovens Outdo Their Conventional Counterparts
Unlike conventional microwave ovens, inverter ovens use an electromagnetic AC after passing the DC through the conversion process of a rotary apparatus inverter or static electronic circuitry inverter (depending on the oven’s inverter make).
The inverter itself produces no power, but it enables better oversight of input and output voltage, and consequently, the microwave frequency levels. Typically, a microwave oven utilizes an average of 1100 watts (W) of electricity to produce roughly 700 W of microwave power. But the watts can be altered in inverter microwaves to provide graduated power in line with the type of food on the oven plate.
Both inverter and conventional microwaves have electromagnetic fields that create electrons and channel them to an electron tube that connects to a magnetron.
A Magnetron is the microwave compartment responsible for generating and amplifying the microwave frequencies that interact with molecules (tiny particles in food) to warm it up or cook it all together.
Inverters automatically adjust the output voltage, which means the microwaves can be varied to considerably high or reasonably low capacity.
Conventional microwave ovens use a transformer/electromagnetic coil to conduct electricity hence lack the voltage step up and step down characteristics of inverter-based microwaves. As a result, the magnetron is always at its full power any time the oven is up and running.
On the contrary, inverters work as a power adapter to regulate the power supply going into your oven and maintain it at an optimum level. Non-inverter microwaves turn the maximum power on and off repeatedly while the power level in inverter microwaves stays precise and continuously adjusted.
It ensures an even supply of electricity as per the microwave's current consumption. You can never have an inflated electric bill from overconsumption by your inverter microwave.
Inverter technology enables accurate power control, meaning you can cook, heat, or defrost certain types of foods at precise output power wattage.
It’s a feature that can see you heat your bowl full of soup without any splattering at all, roast steak, fix some shrimp, or prepare smaller food portions at optimized cooking power in relatively short cooking time.
You already know that the inverter feeds power to the magnetron to create radio waves in the oven’s cooking chamber. But what path do these microwaves follow from the source to the intended destination (the food), especially where a convection fan is absent?
The microwaves travel through the cooking compartment in a channel called the waveguide. Inverter microwaves generally have a larger oven capacity compared to ordinary microwaves, so the radio waves have more than enough room to bounce of the metallic walls of the oven’s interior before landing on the food to vibrate its molecules and heat it.
The dynamic power control plays a crucial role in evening out the waveguide to ensure whichever type of food you place on the turntable gets enough microwaves for uniform heating or defrosting all through.
Look at these instances of unevenly cooked food items. If you want to avoid this unfortunate eventuality, go for inverter microwave ovens, preferably one with a convection fan, although you’ll do just fine with a plain inverter microwave option.