Compact Microwaves – How They Work – Where to use them
Our kitchen appliances are more than a convenience, they are often a necessity. In today’s world, many people are getting away from eating out at restaurants and are now preparing food at home. They want to do so for budget reasons but to be candid, home-cooked meals are also a lot tastier. In order to prepare food properly, most people use the basic essentials, including a microwave oven.
The problem with having a microwave oven is the fact that you do need to make room for it, and that isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Individuals who live in a small apartment or a dormitory recognize the benefits of having a microwave but they don’t necessarily want to give up precious counter space. Installing the microwave over the oven may not always be an option as well. That is why many people opt for a compact microwave oven because it provides the convenience of being able to reheat food or cook a meal at home without taking up too much of the kitchen.
In most cases, such a compact microwave is going to be used on the countertop. You may think that you have a very limited amount of space on your countertop but when you stop to think about it, it is unlikely that you use the out-of-the-way corners for anything more than storage. Often, you can get a portable microwave oven and use it in those small areas. A small countertop microwave may have a tiny footprint but when you make the right choice, it can still be just as powerful as a full sized model.
Of course, there are many different areas where you make use a countertop microwave. Primarily, they will be used in the kitchen but we will take a look at a few other places where they can be used conveniently.
How Do Microwaves Work?
Along with knowing where to use a small countertop microwave, it is also important to understand how they work. Although you don’t need to understand all of the science behind the operation of a microwave oven, understanding how it works can help you to make the most out of what this appliance has to offer.
Most people really don’t give the operation of a microwave oven much thought. They simply put the food or drink in it, push a few buttons and expect it to be heated quickly. In fact, many people think that the microwave is nothing more than a fast operating convection oven. In reality, it is quite different.
Microwave ovens make use of radio waves at specific frequencies and as the radio waves pass through the food, it agitates the water molecules inside, causing them to vibrate on an atomic level. As they do so, they generate heat and it is the vibration and the associated heat the cooks the food and warms the liquids. The water inside of the food is vibrating all at the same time and that is why it is able to cook much more quickly than a conventional oven, which heats the food from the outside inward.
The plastic or glass that is used in a microwave oven does not heat because the radio waves pass through it without causing any agitation of the molecules. The metal that you might accidentally put in the microwave, however, reflects radio waves and causes the arcing that can damage the unit. The metal in the walls of the microwave work the same way by reflecting the waves inward so it doesn’t cook anyone in the nearby area.
As is the case with many inventions, the magnetron technology used in microwaves was originally developed for military use in radar systems. In 1946, it was noticed that a candy bar in the nearby area of the radar system had melted and the idea for a microwave was born.
Miniature Microwaves for the Small Kitchen
One of the most common areas where a compact microwave oven is used is in the kitchen. After all, that is where we tend to cook the majority of our food. For a very small kitchen, a small countertop microwave is typically the option that is considered. They have a very small footprint but they still typically have enough power to do most of the things that people want to do with the microwave.
Another option rather than a countertop microwave is to use a small over the range microwave oven. This is especially beneficial if you have a limited amount of space over the oven, either in height or in width. It may limit the area that you have to work above the stove but with a proper installation, it will typically be a convenience that you can live with.
One of the most important factors for choosing a portable microwave oven for the kitchen is to consider the size. Miniature microwave ovens can be anywhere from 0.5 to 1.1 cubic feet and obviously, the exterior size is going to get larger as the interior capacity gets larger. You need to measure carefully and consider other factors, such as the length of the power cord and available outlets.
Miniature Microwaves for the Bedroom
Another option that you may want to consider is purchasing a portable microwave oven to use in the bedroom. In many larger homes, this is going to be a convenience that really is unnecessary. In a smaller apartment or condominium, however, having a microwave in the bedroom can provide many benefits.
First of all, there are plenty of portable microwave oven options that will fit quite well in the bedroom. You can cook food or warm a drink easily in one of those units. The primary reason why most people would consider having a microwave in the bedroom is because they want the convenience but they don’t necessarily want to use the space in their kitchen. As long as you have room for it in an out-of-the-way area of the bedroom, it can help to save your counter space.
Dashboard Dining – A Miniature Microwave in the Car
Sometimes, you may want to take your microwave oven on the go but you don’t necessarily want to take the one that you use at home. This is especially something that is considered for those who spend a lot of time in their car for business purposes. After all, you may find that you are constantly eating at a restaurant or dining on cold sandwiches at lunchtime. The convenience of having a car microwave oven is something that should not be overlooked.
There are a lot of different portable microwave options for use in an automobile. One thing that you do want to consider, however, is that the microwave should be specific for use in the car because you will be using the 12 V available power in the automobile to plug in the unit and operate it. There are some converters available that allow you to plug a regular microwave into the car but in many cases, you will not have sufficient power to do so.
A car microwave oven can be a real convenience and many workers have found that it is nice to have a warm meal when they are out on the road. That being said, even if you use the 12 V power in the car to operate the portable microwave oven, it is still going to pull a significant amount of power. It is a good idea to run the car during the time that you are operating the microwave so that you don’t put a drain on the battery.
You should also be careful to store the microwave between uses in a safe area. There are a lot of internal working parts to a microwave that could be damaged if they are not handled properly. Unless you have the microwave built into the car in a customized way, it is likely that you will want to have a container with some padding to hold the microwave between uses.
Using a Microwave in the Dormitory
When we go to college, there are certain niceties that we may have enjoyed at home that we will miss while we are away. One of those is the use of a microwave and when you think about the life of most college students, the benefit of having a microwave becomes clear. Most students are not going to take the time or have the available appliances to cook a homemade meal. If they have a dormitory microwave, however, they could easily heat up a meal on the go.
Size is going to be the primary consideration for a dormitory microwave. Most will opt for the most portable microwave oven available, which is typically enough to do most of the cooking that will be done by an average college student. In the end, it still is just a convenience but it is one that offers many benefits, including giving you a home-like feel to the dorm.
Taking Your Kitchen with You When Traveling
One other option that you may want to consider for a compact microwave oven is taking it on the road with you when you travel. It doesn’t matter if you are pulling a camper behind you, staying in a hotel or driving an RV, having a microwave is going to provide many benefits.
Perhaps the most notable benefit for many people is the fact that a portable microwave oven is going to save a significant amount of money. One of the larger expenses that we have while we are traveling is eating at restaurants. You could easily spend $20 or more for a restaurant meal but you can make a similar meal in a microwave (with a little practice) for just a few dollars.
If you’re going to use the travel microwave in a camper or RV, be sure that it is secured in its location for travel. If you are going to take the microwave into a hotel room, it is a good idea to package it in a box for transport so that you don’t raise any questions at the front desk as you are passing by.
How to Choose a Microwave
These are just a few of the many different areas where you can use a portable microwave oven. You should also choose your microwave according to various available options. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing your miniature microwave.
Size – small microwave ovens can range in size from 0.5 to 1.1 interior cubic feet and typically, the exterior size goes up as the interior size goes up. Be sure that your microwave fits conveniently in the available space.
Wattage – Although you could get a 600 W miniature microwave oven, you may want to opt for a minimum of 750 W, if the size allows for it. The larger wattage allows food to cook more quickly and easily.
Options – some compact microwave ovens are going to be very portable, not only in their interior size but also in the available options. Most of them are going to have the basics, including a timer, but there are going to be others that offer one touch operation for convenience. Make sure that you choose a microwave oven that will provide the options you need.
Color – although it does not affect the operation of the microwave, you do want to choose a color that is going to fit in well with your decor. The typical colors are white, black and stainless steel but there are other options if you look for them.
Modern technology has allowed the convenience of the microwave to exist in a miniaturized form. When you consider the different options that are available with a microwave, you can see that it really is a convenience that you would not want to live without.