Does a Microwave Need a Dedicated Circuit?

A dedicated circuit has been of great help when it comes to protecting all my household appliances.

Previously I would place all my appliances on a single circuit, a dangerous move that overloaded it and led to the tripping of the circuit breaker.

Yes, a microwave requires a dedicated circuit, especially microwaves with high wattage levels. When placed on the same circuit with other appliances, a microwave may cause power surges or even pose a danger to the other appliances.

When the circuit breaker trips, it stops the floor of energy to the connected appliances.

Eventually, it wears off and fails to trip, leading to overheating the electrical outlet and damaging your appliances. If the problem is not noticed as early as possible, it could start an electrical fire.

This article focuses on whether a microwave requires a dedicated circuit. It also explains what a dedicated circuit is and its benefits, among other related issues.

What is a Dedicated Circuit?

A dedicated circuit, also known as a National Electric Code or individual branch circuit, is specifically designed to ensure enough power is supplied to a single appliance without overloading the system.

Usually, electronic appliances of 700 watts or higher will greatly benefit from a dedicated circuit. According to the electrician I hired after experiencing several power surges, my 1,000 watts microwave needed a 20 Amp dedicated circuit.

Among the appliances that need a dedicated circuit in our homes are dishwashers, microwaves, washing machines, garbage disposals, and refrigerators.

Benefits of a Dedicated Circuit to Your Microwave Ovens

A dedicated circuit prevents overloads and surges, makes it easy to use an extension cord, and limits the power outlets.

1. A dedicated circuit prevents overloads and surges

A dedicated circuit prevents power overloads and surges by ensuring enough power is supplied only to a single house appliance. Multiple appliances on a single circuit lead to power overloads and surges by doing the following.

  • Tripping of the circuit breaker
  • Interrupting the power supply to house appliances
  • The circuit breaker wears off.
  • Overheating of electrical power outlets
  • Damaging connected electrical appliances
  • Causing electrical fire.

Electrical appliances of higher wattage levels, like dishwashers, microwaves, washing machines, garbage disposals, and refrigerators, should use a dedicated circuit to prevent all the above possibilities.

After installing a dedicated circuit for all household appliances in my house, there were no more abrupt power interruptions due to the tripping of the circuit breaker.

2. A Dedicated circuit makes it easy to use an extension cord

Certain extension cords are strong enough to cause tripping of power. As mentioned earlier, frequent tripping wears off the circuit breaker, leaving the power outlets vulnerable to damage and a possible electrical fire.

Using such extension cords on a dedicated circuit prevents power interruptions from reoccurring

3. A dedicated circuit limits power outlets

It is safer when the number of outlets in your home is only reduced to one. It prevents the possibility of being tempted to plug in several appliances on a single circuit when another appliance is already plugged in.

However, you can turn any random circuit in your home into a dedicated circuit by plugging in a single appliance, for instance, a microwave, and disconnecting all the appliances. The plugged-into circuit becomes a dedicated circuit because it can carry the microwave power load.

What Happens if You Don’t have a Dedicated Circuit for Your Microwave

If you do not have a dedicated circuit, your microwave will overload circuits, create power surges, and damage other appliances on the same circuit

1. Your microwave will overload circuits

Your microwave is highly likely to overload its circuit if it is of high wattage. The higher the wattage level of a microwave, the more power it requires. Ensure the power outlet can supply the energy a microwave needs to run or get a dedicated circuit.

2. Your microwave will create power surges

When the microwave demands more power than a circuit’s supply capacity, the circuit breaker often begins tripping, interrupting power. Tripping to interrupt the power supply prevents damages that may be brought about by excess energy leading to electrical fires.

3. The microwave may cause damage to other appliances on the same circuit

A higher-wattage microwave cannot share the same circuit with other appliances of lower-wattage levels. The amount of energy supplied to the microwave, maybe too much for the other appliances causing them electrical shock damage.

How Do I determine if I need a Dedicated Circuit for My Microwave?

Figure out the wattage level of your microwave and if your microwave shares the same circuit with other house appliances.

I realized just how much I needed a dedicated circuit in my home after understanding how dangerous it is for my microwave and other house appliances to share the same circuit.

1. Microwave wattage

Most microwave wattage ranges between 600 to 1500 watts. Suppose your microwave’s wattage level is on the higher end of these ranges; the chances are you need a dedicated circuit.

The higher the microwave wattage, the more power the microwave needs. The only way to control the power supply in the microwave is to get a dedicated circuit.

2. Whether your microwave is sharing a circuit with other appliances

Each house appliance should be linked to a single dedicated circuit. It is not wise for several appliances to be connected to a single circuit. The circuit gets overwhelmed, and the circuit breaker begins to trip.

Tripping leads to frequent interruption of power; eventually, the circuit breaker wears off and can no longer interrupt excess energy that can cause damage to your appliances.

How can I Install a Dedicated Circuit for My Microwave?

Create a circuit breaker or an outlet designed for microwaves.

1. Using a circuit breaker

Circuit breakers are installed in your microwave’s electrical panel to protect it from overloads and surges. Therefore, having a circuit breaker of equal wattage level to your microwave makes it sufficient enough to act as a dedicated circuit and can be installed as one.

2. Using an outlet

Install a dedicated circuit to your microwave by using an outlet. Get an outlet designed for microwaves; they are larger and are designed to resist overloads and surges.

How Much Does it Cost to Install a Dedicated Circuit for a Microwave?

Installing either 20-amp or 30 to 50-amp will cost around $500 to $700.

20-amp circuits are often used by smaller household appliances like toasters and stand mixers. Installing them is a bit cheaper than their counterparts. Larger household appliances like water heaters, stoves, dryers, or ovens use 30- to 50-amp circuits, which are expensive to install.

What Size of a Circuit Breaker Do I Need for a Microwave?

The size and the wattage level of a microwave determine the size of the circuit breaker it needs.

For instance, a microwave whose wattage level is 1000W will need a circuit breaker whose size is 15 or 20A, while a microwave of 1500W needs a circuit breaker whose size is 30A.

Older or smaller microwaves can still run without a dedicated circuit, while others can survive with a 15A circuit breaker.

Even though a 20A circuit breaker can sustain a maximum of 2400W, it is wise not to try your luck and remain at a maximum of 1920W. However, it doesn’t mean that circuit breakers cannot be used on lower-wattage microwaves.

You can still use the 20A circuit breaker on a 1000W microwave. At the same time, a 30A circuit breaker can support a maximum wattage level of 3600W, but it is wise to let the maximum wattage it handles be 2880W.

Also, the 30A circuit breaker can be used on a low-wattage microwave of 1500W. An average microwave of 1000W can therefore survive by using a 14A, 15, or 20A circuit breaker.

Table showing various microwave wattages and dedicated circuits needed

Microwave wattages Dedicated circuits needed
Below 700 W 15 Amp
700-900 W 15 Amp to 20 Amp
1000 W and above 20 Amp


Which Other Kitchen Appliances Need a Dedicated Circuit?

Garbage disposals, dishwashers, and refrigerators are common kitchen appliances that need a dedicated circuit.

Most kitchen appliances have heating elements that attract huge amounts of electrical current. For this reason, I deem it appropriate for each kitchen appliance to be connected to a dedicated circuit before they are used.

Below are the main reasons I link all kitchen appliances to a dedicated circuit.

1. Refrigerator

Refrigerators need a dedicated circuit to prevent overload by letting your fridge and other kitchen appliances run on the same circuit. Most modern refrigerators need a 20-amp dedicated circuit.

2. Garbage disposals

A garbage disposal may not appear as huge as your microwave or fridge, but it has a motor known to use excess energy like other kitchen appliances. And therefore, it needs to run on its own dedicated circuit of either 15-amp or 20-amp.

3. Dishwashers

A dishwasher can also not share a single circuit with other kitchen appliances. There is a high possibility of overloading the circuit. Therefore, consider getting a dedicated circuit of at least least 15-amps for your dishwasher.

Faqs on Does a Microwave Need a Dedicated Circuit

1. Does a 700-watt microwave need a dedicated circuit

Yes, a 700-watt microwave needs a dedicated circuit of 15 Amp to 20 Amp. Even though a 20 Amp dedicated circuit is suitable for high-wattage microwaves, it can also be used on lower-wattage microwaves like the 700-watt one.

2. Does a 1000-watt microwave need a dedicated circuit

Yes, a 1000-watt microwave needs a dedicated circuit of 20 Amp. Microwaves of higher levels will survive better with 20 Amp dedicated circuits. Using a dedicated circuit of less than 20 Amp will very easily lead to a circuit overload, and if care is not taken, it can very well lead to electric fires.

3. Can a microwave be plugged into any outlet

No, you cannot plug your microwave into any outlet. Most microwaves have a 20-amp plug that must be plugged into 20-amp outlets. Do not expect that a 20-amp plug will suit a 15-amp outlet.

4. Can a refrigerator and microwave be on the same circuit

No, both a microwave and a refrigerator cannot be on the same circuit. Both appliances need huge amounts of energy to operate; each needs a dedicated circuit to avoid overload and power surges.

5. How to reset microwave circuit breaker

Most microwave circuit breakers must be reset from time to time by turning off the microwave, unplugging it, and restarting it after two minutes. The process will restart the microwave system from within and might even solve whatever issues might have interrupted the power supply in the first place.

Final thoughts

A microwave needs a dedicated circuit, especially 700 watts and above. However, it is believed that microwaves of lesser watts or those that are much older can run on a 15 Amp, and sometimes it does not even need one.

Dedicated circuits ensure enough power is supplied to a single appliance without overloading the system.

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