Does An Air Fryer Use More Electricity Than A Microwave?

Originally posted on 12 August 2023 @ 20:45

Does An Air Fryer Use More Electricity Than A Microwave?

Air fryers have become incredibly popular recently, with many appreciating their ability to deliver that much-coveted crispy, fried texture while utilizing minimal or no oil. However, while air fryers employ heated air to cook, microwaves use rapid radiation to heat food. The question then is, which of these appliances is more economical in terms of your electricity expenses? It’s time to delve into this discussion.

In this blog post, we will know which one is better for you air fryer or microwave if you want to save your electricity cost.

How Do Air Fryers Work Their Magic? 

Air fryers are tiny convection ovens. A heating coil and a fan circulate hot air around the food at high speed to cook it fast. Air frying creates a nice crispy texture similar to deep frying but without all the oil.

Most air fryers have temperature dials up to 400°F and timers to set the cooking time. Popular models from Philips, Cosori, and Instant hold 3-5 quarts of food.

Microwaves Use Radiation to Cook 

Microwave ovens use electromagnetic radiation to cook food. It sounds scary, but it’s harmless radiation that makes water molecules in the food vibrate super fast. All that molecular movement creates friction and heats the food.

Microwaves can only penetrate about an inch deep though. That’s why there’s a turntable – to help cook more evenly. Power levels go from 500-1200 watts and they have timers too. Basic microwaves fit 0.5-2 cubic feet of food.

How Much Juice Do Air Fryers Use?

Most air fryers need 1200-1500 watts of power. But here’s the thing – they don’t run full blast the whole time you’re cooking. Air fryers cycle on and off. They’ll turn on to preheat, then go off while cooking with residual heat.

The average power draw is more realistically 700-1000 watts. To cook a batch of food, air fryers use 800-1500 watt-hours. 

Microwaves Use Full Power Constantly

Microwaves are rated at 1000-1200 watts typically. And they use that full power the entire cooking time. So if you zap something for 5 minutes in a 1000-watt microwave, it’s using about 5000-watt hours of electricity.

For a small 1-2 person meal, expect 500-1000 watt-hours used. More for baking, less for quick reheating. Using lower power settings can reduce electricity usage.

Comparing Electricity Costs

Let’s break down the electrical costs. Air fryers need about 800-1500 watt-hours per meal. Microwaves use 500-1000 with quick cooking or reheating on the low end. With the average electricity rate around 12 cents per kilowatt-hour, an air fryer meal costs you 12-18 cents. A microwave meal is 6-12 cents. 

When cooking bigger batches, the air fryer gets more efficient because it cooks more food at once. If you air fry four chicken breasts using 1500 watt-hours, that’s 18 cents of electricity. Doing four chicken breasts in the microwave one at a time would be 2000 watt-hours or 24 cents.

What Affects Energy Use?

Lots of factors determine how much power air fryers and microwaves use:

  • Wattage: More watts equals more electricity.
  • Cooking time: Longer cooking times use more energy. 
  • Quantity: Bigger portions use more power.
  • Function: Reheating vs. baking changes energy needs.
  • Power settings:  Lower microwave settings save energy.
  • Batch cooking: Staggered cooking wastes energy.
  • Efficiency: Newer models use less energy. 
  • Air fryer cycling: On/off intervals affect electricity usage.  
  • Manual preheating: Don’t do it! Uses extra electricity.

Tips for Saving Power

Here are some ways to use your air fryer or microwave more efficiently:

  • Cook more food at once when possible – maximize that energy!
  • Skip preheating unless you have to – just delays cooking.
  • Use lower microwave power levels when you can.
  • Cook multiple items together in the microwave.
  • Set timers and don’t open the door until time’s up!
  • Match appliance size to portion size.
  • Clean your appliances for maximum efficiency.
  • Unplug when not in use to prevent standby power draw. 
  • Consider lower wattage models to save energy.
  • Follow manufacturer guidelines for optimal settings.

Key Takeaways:

  •  Air fryers generally use more electricity per meal than microwaves.
  • Microwaves are great for quickly reheating individual portions.
  • Air fryers can be more efficient than microwaves for larger households since they cook more servings at once. 
  • With some simple usage tweaks, both appliances can cook great-tasting food while saving you energy and money!
Does an air fryer use more electricity than a regular oven?

You betcha. Air fryers need more power than a full-size oven because of the fan circulating the hot air. Ovens are more efficient for larger batches. 

Should I get a more powerful air fryer or microwave?

I’d stick to average wattages unless you need lightning-fast cooking. Higher watts mean higher electricity bills!

For a family of 4, what’s more energy efficient? 

Air fryers for the win! You can cook more servings at once instead of reheating them multiple times in the microwave.

What’s cheaper for meal prepping – an air fryer or a microwave?

Microwaves are great for quickly reheating individual portions. But air fryers let you cook full meals for the week more efficiently. 

Should I preheat my air fryer before cooking?

Don’t bother! Preheating just wastes electricity unless it’s totally necessary for what you’re cooking.


At the end of the day, air fryers and microwaves both have their perks. Air fryers crisp up food with that fried taste, but gobble more electricity per meal. Microwaves zap leftovers in a flash, but can’t cook big batches as efficiently. 

For small households, don’t overlook the microwave just for reheating and cooking single servings. Bust out the air fryer when you’ve got a crowd to feed or want to meal prep. 

With a little know-how, you can use both appliances in ways that keep your food tasty and your energy bills under control. Pretty soon you’ll be an energy efficiency pro! Now go relax and enjoy those crispy air-fried wings, you’ve earned it!

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