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Domestic vs Commercial Microwaves

10:56 am

Commercial microwaves look pretty similar to the domestic versions, but inside, they are very different beasts. Here's why...

Commercial Microwaves from Nisbets.co.uk

Commercial Microwaves from Nisbets.co.ukMeet the Magnetron...

Every microwave has one of these, which, without getting too far into the science, works by generating electromagnetic radiation within the oven. Water molecules in food are agitated and very quickly generate heat, cooking the food faster (and far more efficiently) than traditional or convection ovens.

Home vs Commercial Microwaves

There's five main differences between domestic and commercial microwaves...

  1. Power
  2. Turntables
  3. Longevity
  4. Warranty
  5. Functionality

Power & Turntables

Most home or light duty microwaves use a single magnetron, which usually pumps out between 700 to 1,000 Watts of power. To make sure the dish is cooked evenly, they also usually feature a glass turntable which rotates the food.

It's unusual for commercial microwaves to have a turntable. The problem with turntables is that if you use a plate or container that isn't circular, you reduce the overall capacity of the microwave. Instead, these microwaves distribute the cooking power throughout the cavity with internal fans. This way, there's plenty of space for Pyrex glass dishes, as well as rectangular porcelain or polycarbonate gastronorms.

Similarly, it's unusual for a commercial microwave to only have a single magnetron. Most feature two magnetrons (including Samsung Microwaves and Buffalo Microwaves) which channel nearly 2,000 Watts of cooking power into the oven. At the extreme end of the scale, Menumaster produce some incredibly powerful heavy duty microwaves with four magnetrons, which cook at almost 4,000 Watts.

In a business environment, power really does matter. Reducing waiting times and speeding up production is good for customers and your bottom line.

The table below demonstrates cooking times for a single potato, depending on size. If that baked potato takes just over four minutes in a 1000W domestic microwave, a high power Menumaster could do the same spud in just over a minute.

Oven Wattage / Potato Cooking Time
1000W 1100W 1400W 1800W 2100W 2400W 3500W
:25 :22 :18 :12 :10 :09 :06
1:14 1:06 :57 :39 :32 :28 :20
1:39 1:29 1:10 :52 :42 :38 :26
4:03 3:34 2:50 2:10 1:49 1:34 1:04

Longevity & Warranty

Domestic microwaves can be pretty cheap nowadays, costing anything from £40 for the basic models all the way up to over £300 for the premium versions. However, one thing they all have in common, regardless of price, is the fact they don't have a commercial warranty. That's because they are only designed for occasional use - not the day-to-day punishment that professional machinery gets.

With no commercial warranty, the manufacturer has no obligation to repair the fault and it's money down the drain (not to mention the cost of the replacement!).

Tip: Commercial warranties on microwaves range from 1-3 years. Samsung Microwaves include on-site parts & labour. Check the product information page for more info.
Over time, domestic microwaves lose power - causing food to be under-cooked if the cooking time is not extended to compensate. Whilst this might be okay for the home, professional kitchens rely on consistency and issues such as this could increase costs as the machine is running longer and food may be sent back if under-cooked.

It's definitely worthwhile to get the right machine for the job first time.


 Commercial Microwaves from Nisbets.co.uk
The final main difference between home and commercial microwaves is the overall functionality of the machines. Again, it depends on how much you're planning to spend, as some top-end domestic versions have a wide range of functions to help you cook food just how you like. Likewise, there are very basic manual commercial microwaves with simple dial controls.

It's worth remembering that commercial microwaves are designed for commercial use. So, whilst a top-end home microwave might have a snazzy tablet-style control panel, how useful is that when orders are stacking up and you've got wet hands? Commercial microwaves are often programmable and have large buttons which allow fast access to menu items for rapid cooking or defrosting. Large, drop down doors, larger cavities and stainless steel construction mean access and cleaning is easier - vital during a busy service.

In Summary

There are many reasons to choose a commercial microwave over a domestic one. For more information, check out our handy Microwave Buying Guide

For more reading about catering appliances, why not read the following blogs:

Microwave Hacks
Classeq's New Warewashers
Lincat Launch The New EB3FX Water Boiler


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