Shopping for the best dorm room microwave might seem like a rite of passage, but don’t run off to purchase one just yet. The last thing you want to do is end up with a microwave that doesn’t make the grade. That could be because it’s doesn’t meet the colleges requirements or your child’s needs.
Microwaves make a lot of sense for a dorm room. It can help to make sure your student always has a warm meal, whether that’s heating up a package or ramen noodles or creating a mini gourmet meal. A microwave will help keep food cost down and not force you kid to endure the cafeteria horrors. It’s also great for keeping the snacks coming, especially during those night studying sessions.
Check the Colleges Rules on Dorm Room Microwaves
Before worrying about size and wattage power for a dorm room microwave, you first need to find out what the college allows. Many schools ban microwave outright, but do provide them to dorm dwellers in common areas such as dorm lounges or near vending machines.
Some colleges have a limit on wattage of microwaves used in their dorms. I’ve read prohibitions on microwaves anywhere from 750-watts and on up. That generally has to do with overall power consumption of electrical power (image 1,000 dorm rooms with a 1,000 microwaves all popping corn at midnight! Can you say lights out!).
If this information hasn’t already been provided to you and your student, then check with the school before buying a new microwave.
Small Microwaves Are Made for Dorm Rooms
This is one case where size definitely matters and the smaller the microwave, the better. I mean small as in physical size. Dorm rooms are always tight on space and students have been know to keep their microwaves in some unusual places, from under the bed to in the closet.
Luckily, even when dorm room partners are sharing a microwave, it doesn’t need to be that large. A dorm room microwave just needs to cook or heat up single meals and of course, those late night popcorn snacks. Small microwaves the work well in dorm rooms generally come in these sizes:
- 0.7 cu. ft.
- 1.0 cu. ft.
- 1.2 cu. ft.
Size also has an impact on the total wattage of a microwave. A good rule of them is that the smaller the physical size, the lower the wattage in a microwave. Wattage for compact microwaves range from:
- 700-watts to 1,000-watts
The wattage is important, however, because it determines how fast a microwave will heat and cook. Here’s an example: on average, a cup of water will come to a boil in a 1,000-watt microwave in about one minute. In a 700-watt microwave, it might take that cup of water two minutes to boil. As the saying goes, you mileage may vary, but what you can always count on is a lower wattage microwave to take longer to cook.
For most students, however, an extra 30 seconds or minute shouldn’t matter when the trade off is a microwave that fits into a tight spot.
Features Count for a Dorm Room Microwave , Too
The most basic of microwaves heats foods up fast, but today’s microwaves can do more than that, even compact microwaves. Those extra features will come in handy for a dorm room microwave, especially since it will be the only cooking device available. As you’re looking at microwave for you college student, look for ones that include some – if not all – of the following features.
- Turntable – most microwave nowadays include a turntable to help with even cooking.
- Variable Power Levels – allowing foods to cook from low to high power levels for more flexibility.
- Auto or Preprogrammed Menus – takes the thought out of cooking with preprogrammed times and power levels for different foods.
- Quick Time Selection – that allows the addition of more cooking time, usually in 30 second increments.
- Digital Clock and Timer – an extra clock is never a bad thing in a dorm room and a timer, of course, will all your student set cooking times for different foods.
The Best Microwave for a Dorm Room
The best microwave for any use, of course, is the one that meets all you needs. In the case of a dorm room microwave, these would be the features I would look for:
- Size – as small as possible that has the maximum power and features
- Power – if the college allows, I go with as much as I could (a 1,000-watts would be nice)
- Feature – turntable for sure and a few preprogrammed features
- Costs – as little as I could get away with, but still get a durable microwave for my student (I’m thinking under $75).
I’ve recently reviews two compact microwaves that meet the criteria above. They also have good customer feedback.
The Haier MWM0701TB Microwave Oven is a small, but over many features. It’s also one of the top selling compact microwaves on Amazon. Its size alone makes it the ideal dorm room microwave, but when you add the features, then it’s not too far from the best!
The Magic Chef MCD990R Microwave Oven is a little bigger in both physical size and power than the Haier. It doesn’t have as many preprogrammed menu selections, but it makes up for it in price and it’s flash red color, which for me makes it the perfect dorm room microwave :).
Take a look at this side-by-side comparison of the two compact microwaves so you can determine which is the best dorm room microwave.
Which is the Best Dorm Room Microwave? You Compare!
And if you’re looking for more than just a dorm room computer, don’t miss my other microwave reviews.