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Old 08-18-2015, 03:46 AM   #1
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Microwave with or without turntable?

I've started looking for a microwave, and skipping a turntable seems desirable in an off-road vehicle. -- Is it?

I have 2kW inverter capacity, and would primarily use it with a generator anyway, so I suspect I'd be much happier with a 1000W unit over a 700W one. -- Any reason to go with a smaller one?

At this point I'm torn between one of the smallish cheap 700W units or a 1kW commercial one that skips the turntable and is just slightly larger. -- Of course the commercial one is 5x the cost, though not really prohibitive either.

Does anyone have a unit they really love? Or am I over-thinking this? (It's nearly 3am, I probably am...)
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Old 08-18-2015, 04:06 AM   #2
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Re: Microwave with or without turntable?

To my mind and as a non-microwave equipped van owner..........if reliability and more flexibility were the watchword I'd go for the 1K watt commercial version. This of course assumes its occupied space isn't an issue.

Being mounted inside a vehicle would induce vibrations and minor shocks the home version might not sustain over the longer term. While the turntable feature seems nice how often does one really, really use it? I've read microwaves generally are used for nothing more than warming meals as opposed to fully cooking them which is where the turntable might be most beneficial.

There are stand-alone turntables you could use if needed, removed if not necessary at the time.

Cost is always a consideration but for me personally reliability is the main decision maker. So far I've never been disappointed going with the better or heavier duty item.
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Old 08-18-2015, 05:16 AM   #3
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Microwave with or without turntable?

Our van has a microwave with turntable, installed when SMB built the van (1998) and it's still working fine. We're 2WD and don't off-road much, other than fire roads. The turntable does shift around, but when traveling we put stuff inside the MW to keep it from doing so (paper towel roll, empty plastic food storage containers). If I got a new unit I'd probably get one without a turntable though.
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Old 08-18-2015, 06:06 AM   #4
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Re: Microwave with or without turntable?

I've had lots of RVs and never had a microwave fail due to vibrations, though I have had one fail due to power issues, a surge or whatever fried it, twice in the same RV. I wouldn't let the turntable part bother you. We use our microwave to store towels and it never makes a peep. It's a very small 700 watt model and two spare towels folded up fit perfectly in it. I think space is the issue for most people in a van. That and only occasional need for a microwave, plus the amount of power they draw is probably why most of us have a tiny one.

Whether your inverter can handle it or not wouldn't be as important to me as how much it impacts your battery bank.

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Old 08-18-2015, 06:19 AM   #5
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Re: Microwave with or without turntable?

I have a cheap 700W unit with a turntable. If we climb into the wayback machine before turntables, the food warms unevenly. I'm a heavy microwave user and wouldn't consider one without a turntable. If you are willing to move the food around every so often, you can probably achieve somewhat uniform heating.

That being said, we store stuff in the micro when traveling....we need the space and when the micro is empty, the glass turntable bounces around a bit.

You have plenty of inverter to run either size you are considering. From a power consumption standpoint they are probably equivalent since the 1000W unit uses more power but cooks faster than the 700W unit.

Th only other consideration is size; in my build there would be no way to fit a 1000W micro.

One more thing, if the 700W dies, replacements are $59 and easy to obtain at any big box store.
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Old 08-18-2015, 08:45 AM   #6
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Re: Microwave with or without turntable?

http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/res ... waves.html

Smaller is likely more efficient than larger according to this site. So depending on your needs .... Warming small portions vs cooking for larger groups would be consideration.

Re: TT - we put a large folded up dish towel between the the TT dish and the roller ring, that keeps things nice and quiet.
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:25 AM   #7
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Re: Microwave with or without turntable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 86Scotty
Whether your inverter can handle it or not wouldn't be as important to me as how much it impacts your battery bank.

^^This is key. We have a 1500w inverter and it runs our 700w microwave fine. But they do draw down the batteries quickly. We have a three-battery bank of about 315ah and that handles it pretty well, but I usually start the van when using the MW just to offset some of the draw.

We use our MW sporadically, mainly for quick hot-dog lunches while traveling and for my wife's coffee in the morning. We rarely camp at a plug-in site, but when we do we will use it more often. Note that we don't have a stove and the MW is our only "inside" cooking facility.
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Old 08-18-2015, 11:36 AM   #8
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Re: Microwave with or without turntable?

It's actually not clear to me that a larger or smaller one would use more or less energy. The run times seem to scale pretty linearly: https://www.microwavecookingforone.com/ ... t1000.html What I don't know is if efficiency does.

The commercial microwaves will, if I understand it correctly rotate the beam internally. I've used them in cafeterias and don't recall uneven heating.

Space and the $50-60 replacement cost might be the bottom line though.
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:46 PM   #9
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Re: Microwave with or without turntable?

It seems to me that the power setting is nothing but a timer that turns the unit on and off at a specific time interval. The time it is actually on, each MW will pull the maximum amperage it's rated for if I'm correct on this. I almost never run mine on high unless the engine is running. Before I added a 270A alternator, the MW running on medium or higher setting caused my separator to open and close as the inverter pulls the battery down below 12.8 volts. As the alternator replenished the batteries and reached 13.3 volts the separator would close. The bigger alternator supplies enough that the separator rarely switches unless on the highest setting. I still only have a smaller 700 w model and am happy with it. I can also use it on low power for short periods of time w/o the engine running and not worry about putting a huge load against the battery bank. At least my refrigerator or other items don't see a low voltage situation like 10volts or lower with the MW pulsing at a low rate. My batteries rarely drop below 12v. I also bang around on rough trails and washboard and no issues. I also use it as storage for paper towels which keeps the glass dish in place.
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:12 PM   #10
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Re: Microwave with or without turntable?

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb
It seems to me that the power setting is nothing but a timer that turns the unit on and off at a specific time interval. The time it is actually on, each MW will pull the maximum amperage it's rated for if I'm correct on this.
I'm pretty sure that's correct, with the notable exception of the newer inverter microwaves. I don't think I'd bother with one of those for the van, but it does seem like better technology.


Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb
Before I added a 270A alternator, the MW running on medium or higher setting caused my separator to open and close as the inverter pulls the battery down below 12.8 volts. As the alternator replenished the batteries and reached 13.3 volts the separator would close. The bigger alternator supplies enough that the separator rarely switches unless on the highest setting. I still only have a smaller 700 w model and am happy with it. I can also use it on low power for short periods of time w/o the engine running and not worry about putting a huge load against the battery bank. At least my refrigerator or other items don't see a low voltage situation like 10volts or lower with the MW pulsing at a low rate. My batteries rarely drop below 12v. I also bang around on rough trails and washboard and no issues.
Thanks, that's actually useful information. My separator is always open when the engine is off, but I don't love sending my fridge into a confused state at all, which does seem more likely with a higher power microwave.

Quote:
Originally Posted by daveb
I also use it as storage for paper towels which keeps the glass dish in place.
There seem to to be some consensus on this, which make sense.

Thanks to everyone for sharing information here, I do think this all points in slight favor of the smaller unit, which of course is always a good default choice, in a space challenged van.
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