Microwave - Benefit of Power Levels

Variable power levels add flexibility to microwave cooking. The power levels on the microwave oven can be compared to the surface units on a range. Each power level gives the microwave energy for a certain percent of the time. Power level 7 is microwave energy 70% of the time. Power level 3 is energy 30% of the time. Most cooking will be done on High which gives you 100% power.


To change the Power Level (on most models):

  1. Touch TIME COOK.

  2. Enter the desired minutes.

  3. Touch POWER LEVEL.

  4. Enter the desired Power Level.

  5. Press START to start the cooking process.


You can also change power levels during cooking but you cannot change them during "automatic functions."


Power levels are most commonly used in recipes to prevent overcooking. Fats and sugars heat very quickly (for example, cheese toppings or brown sugar glaze). Using a lower power level or adding toppings halfway through the cooking time will help avoid overcooking of these items.


The time it takes to cook food in microwaves depends upon the amount of food, its size, shape, density and starting temperature as well as the cooking wattage of the microwave.


These are general guidelines to help in cooking:

  • High (100 percent) power is best for browning, boiling liquids, cooking or heating fish, ground meats, bacon and vegetables.

  • Medium-High (70 percent) power is best for gentle cooking of meats and poultry, baking casseroles and convenience foods, sautéing and re-heating food.

  • Medium (50 percent) power is used for slow-cooking and braising food.

  • Low (30 percent) power is used for defrosting, simmering and delicate sauces.

  • Warm (10 percent) power is used for heating breads, keeping food warm for a short period of time and softening butter, cheese or chocolate.


The number of power levels available on a microwave vary depending upon the model. Each level serves a definite purpose and should be used as recommended. Power levels are a percentage of "on time" for the magnetron tube which cycles on and off to obtain the various levels. Below are lists of power level percentages that are found on GE Appliances microwave ovens.


Most GE Appliances models
High Power100% on time
level 990% on time
level 880% on time
level 770% on time
level 660% on time
level 550% on time
level 440% on time
level 330% defrost
level 220% defrost
level 110% warm


Models with 5 power levels
High power100% on time
Medium High power70% on time
Medium power50% on time
Low power30% on time
Warm power10% on time