What is a Smart Microwave?

Do more than simply reheat leftovers

Black smart microwave on white background.
Screenshot / Samsung.com 

A smart microwave is a microwave oven that connects to your smart home network, usually via Wi-Fi and includes expanded features and capabilities usually associated with smart devices. Smart microwaves have barcode scanning capabilities which is used to download cooking instructions. They also use moisture sensors to avoid drying out food, and can communicate with you through your smartphone. You may even be able to control your microwave through your smart home's virtual assistant.

What Can a Smart Microwave Do?

Most people think of a microwave as a device to reheat food or pop up a bag of popcorn for family movie night. Smart microwaves are more versatile and incorporate more cooking options to increase the number of ways you can use this appliance. They also include Wi-Fi connectivity, voice control, and other technology features you would expect from a smart appliance.

Let’s check out some key features of smart microwaves:

  • LED touchscreen interface, with some models including a proximity sensor that senses when you’re nearby and increases the size of the display so you can see cooking status and other information in a quick glance.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity and compatible with voice control systems such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.
  • Start cooking cycles from anywhere with your smartphone and receive alerts when food is ready.
  • Scan barcode on packaged food and automatically download the proper cooking instructions to follow to prepare your food.
  • Tracks your routines and most commonly cooked foods to suggest customized quick settings tailored to you.
  • Look up recipes and read steps aloud to you, provide photos of each step, and in some cases, even play short videos of recipe steps.
  • Convection technology and additional heating elements add options for toasting, crisping, browning, and even air-frying foods.
  • New interior coatings release food splatters easier and many include anti-microbial properties to avoid growing a science experiment in your microwave.
  • New options to disable the turntable for larger, square dishes suitable for roasting foods.
  • Moisture sensors monitor food throughout the cooking process to prevent food from drying out and overcooking.
  • Some models offer the option for a door that opens from the top, instead of the side, more like an oven.
  • Power-saving mode turns off displays and reduces latent energy use when the device is not in use or when you are not home, to conserve energy and save you money.

Note: Features vary by brand and model. Our overview includes features of note from across the spectrum of smart microwaves available from multiple manufacturers.

Common Concerns About Smart Microwaves

With all the new features included in smart microwaves, consumers are bound to have concerns. Here are a few of the common concerns many people have about smart microwaves.

With Wi-Fi connectivity, can someone use a smart microwave to hack into my smart home system and cause problems?

A smart microwave, and any smart appliance really, uses the same Wi-Fi connection that your other connected devices do, such as your computers, TV streaming service, and tablets. The most important thing you can do to protect your smart home and all connected devices is to exercise good safety and security practices in your Wi-Fi set-up, including limiting to secure connections only and using unique complex passwords.

Are smart microwaves way more expensive than traditional microwaves?

They are. However, part of the cost is for features that increase the usefulness of the microwave for more types of cooking options such as toasting, roasting, and air-frying. These features along with improved technology capabilities move the standard microwave more toward an all-in-one cooking device. A good way to determine if the cost is workable for you is to evaluate if a smart microwave would eliminate the need for other appliances, such as a toaster oven or deep fryer, and also save you on electricity costs. For comparison only, depending on the brand and quality, you can pick up a standard (not smart) microwave for between $50 to $350. A smart microwave generally costs between $400 to $1,500, depending on the features, brand, and model you select.

Are smart microwaves more expensive to repair?

With traditional microwaves, particularly those on the less expensive end of the price range, many people throw them out and replace them when they break down, rather than repair them. Smart microwaves are more likely to be repaired because of the higher cost to replace them, however, information comparing repair costs isn’t available because of this common practice of disposing of traditional microwaves. In this case, smart microwaves are definitely better for the environment because they’re more likely to be repaired than tossed in a landfill.