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Can a power inverter run a microwave? Travel like you’re at home

A microwave is a great appliance to add to your list items to take with you on the road. However there are things to think about to make sure your power inverter can run the microwave.

Running a microwave “off the grid” as a trucker changes everything when it comes to cooking on the road.

Giving you the power to heat something up in a hurry, to warm up those leftovers, order freshen up that cup of coffee, the right microwave is a game changer.

The wrong microwave, on the other hand, is going to draw way too much power from your rig – or not be able to draw enough juice to work correctly – and end up being more headache and hassle than anything else.

But that’s what we’re here to help you with today.

This quick guide breaks down (pretty much) everything you need to know about power inverters (see our article on the best power inverters for semi truck) running microwaves in your truck. 

By the time you’re done with the inside information below you’ll feel like you can set up a gourmet kitchen in the cab and get some ideas to meal prep with your mini fridge.

(Okay, maybe not quite – but it’s still going to be a nice little luxury all the same).

Let’s take a little bit deeper into the ins and outs of whether or not a power inverter can run a microwave in a truck to begin with.

Can a Power Inverter Run a Microwave?

Power inverters can run a microwave oven. Pure sine wave inverters are recommended because their output is equivalent to utility power, just like your home. Modified sine wave inverters tend to be unstable and cause performance issues that may damage the microwave.

The important thing is finding a power inverter that can supply you with all the power you need. Over the road drivers can and do use microwaves in their vehicles all the time. 

It would be a stretch to say that getting a microwave set up with a traditional inverter is “plug and play”. In some cases yes, but it if you want a more pro install there’s a bit more to it.

That’s not really the case at all, even. You’re going to have to do a little bit of finagling around to get your microwave to work with an inverter (any inverter) just because the way these small kitchen appliances are designed.

Here’s the thing – the extra time and energy you put into getting your inverter squared away for microwave use is going to be worthwhile. Having a microwave with you while you’re on the road gives you access to more food choices and makes things a little more like home. 

This isn’t going to take all day. And it definitely isn’t going to require a mastery of electrical knowledge or the hands of an electrician.

There are a couple of things you have to focus on to get the right inverter for the job, but together you and I will cover the heavy lifting of that in just a second.

What to Look for in a Quality Inverter

First things first, you need to make sure that you are getting an inverter that has plenty of power for the kind of job you’re looking for it to do.

A lot of people see that their microwave requires 500 W, 700 W, or 900 W of juice and then automatically think that the inverter they grab to run this appliance has to match 1:1.

That’s not the way this works.

You see, the cooking power that your microwave needs is going to be an entirely different number than the amount of power it needs to run on a continuous basis.

If you end up getting your hands on an inverter that can only handle the running power of your microwave and not the cooking power you’re going to be popping fuses left and right – or maybe even run the risk of burning out your inverter.

What you need to do is pay close attention to the draw and power consumption of your microwave. But we’ll get deeper into that in just a second.

The second thing you need to keep in mind is the importance of getting a pure sine wave inverter and not a modified sine wave inverter. 

Yes, microwaves can (generally) be powered by either of these inverters and do a halfway decent job with whatever you have on hand.

But if you’re looking to maximize performance and you’re looking to maximize efficiency (not to mention safety) it’s a much better idea to get your hands on a pure sine wave power inverter for sure.

Going with a pure sine wave inverter is going to deliver the kind of consistent power that your microwave would have gotten if it was plugged in at home (where it was designed to run in the first place).

You’ll get much more normalized performance, you’ll get much more efficient operation, and you won’t have to worry about either of these two electrical components going “on the fritz”.

A modified sine wave inverter, on the other hand, can cause a world of issues you have to troubleshoot on the road – and who wants to deal with that?

Finally, be sure that you have a reliable power source to draw from when you jack your inverter in.

All any inverter does is simply convert DC power to AC power. That’s it, there’s no other magic to this piece of hardware.

This means that if your inverter is plugged into a power source that is consistent and steady you’ll be rock solid. But if the connection is inconsistent your inverter is going to be as well, and that’s going to have an overall impact on how your microwave operates.

power inverter

Keep Your Vehicle Idling 

It’s not a bad idea (as a general rule) to keep your truck running whenever you’re going to be running your microwave, either. Not a problem for truckers as they tend to keep their vehicles running almost all the time. 

That provides a much more stable source of power and guarantees that you want to totally discharge your battery just because you wanted to warm up a couple of burritos and a big jug of coffee!

If you want to read up on more, you can check out our article on pure sine wave vs modified sine wave to get more details.

What Size Inverter Do I Need to Run a Microwave Oven?

Like we mentioned a moment ago, it’s not a good idea to have an inverter that is a 1:1 matchup with the “advertised” wattage rating for your microwave. More about that here

If you have a 500 W microwave the last thing you want to do is attach it to a 500 W power inverter.

A microwave that size might draw north of 1100 or more watts the second that it powers up, and your inverter just won’t have the capacity to meet that power demand – and it definitely won’t have the capacity to flood your microwave when it needs extra juice to heat or cook.

The same goes for 700 W and 900 W microwaves, for that matter.

700 W microwaves regularly need 2100 or more watts just to get started, and 900 W microwaves can draw anywhere between 2700 W of juice when they power on up to 3000 W or more.

If your inverter is under powered you’re going to notice immediately – mostly because your microwave flat out isn’t going to work.

Always (ALWAYS) pop the hood on your microwave, so to speak, and read about what it’s actual power demands are going to be.

Figure out how much wattage it’s going to draw when it turns on, how much it’s going to draw when it is running, and how much it’s going to draw if you have to run any of the special settings (defrost, reheat, popcorn, etc.).

Then make sure that you have a power inverter that’s going to have more than enough capacity to deliver peak wattage no matter what.

Only then will you be good to go!

Can a power inverter run a microwave?

You bet it can!

You just have to pick the right one and make sure it meets your power needs. .

Don’t Forget About Your Truck Batteries

Your inverter is only going to be a key cog in the wheel here for getting your new microwave up and running in your truck.

A high-performance inverter is going to require a solid battery (more), and every inverter – but especially power-hungry diverters that need to deliver the kind of wattage 900 W microwaves might demand on startup – are going to be really power-hungry.

There’s going to be a lot of voltage draw down as soon as your inverter kicks into gear, and if you are heating things up for an extended amount of time (or cooking with your microwave) you’re going to run the risk of wearing your batteries down in a hurry.

You’ll want high quality battery banks that are designed to recover quickly, that have liquid electrolyte inside that can speed this process up efficiently, and batteries that aren’t going to cause your inverter to go on the fritz, either.

semi trucks parked at dock

Batteries that are too small, batteries that are old or damaged, or batteries that have been exposed to cold temperatures for extended amount of time are going to be the most susceptible to trouble spots.

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your truck battery bank, but it’s doubly important to do so if you are going to be running inverter components and small kitchen appliances inside of your vehicle every now and again.

The last thing you want to do is call up for assistance because your battery has given up the ghost while you were working on a TV dinner or popping a bit of popcorn.

Nobody wants to make that call back to the shop or (heaven forbid) send that callout over CB. Those are the kinds of incidents folks usually don’t live down!

But as long as you zero in on the tips and tricks we highlighted above you shouldn’t have much to worry about finding the right inverter for your microwave and enjoying a little bit of luxury on those long hauls.

The Wrap Up

can a power inverter run a microwave

Can a power inverter run a Microwave? Yes they can and other appliances to if you’re chosen wisely. Microwaves are pretty much a must have appliance today in order to cook a wide variety of snacks and food. 

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