Making Porridge: The Difference 100 watts Makes

While I was away at site this week our old LG microwave ‘blew up’. I wasn’t here at the time but the way it was explained to me was that there was a bang, followed by a ‘ftzzz’ noise, followed by sparks, followed by a burnt plastic smell. And the microwave was, to use the correct technical terminology, stuffed.

So my wife went off to buy a replacement. We figured the old, now stuffed, LG branded microwave had lasted a good 10 years so we really could not complain that it had finally chucked the towel in. I told her to get a 1200w unit like the one we had, and, as the LG had lasted so long and worked so well, we may as well stick with LG.

She called me from the shops (I was still on site at the time) and said there were no 1200 watt units anymore. The highest rated one at the shop where she was looking was 1100 watts.

So now we have an 1100 watt LG microwave in our kitchen and I have to say that 1100 watts is quite a bit different to 1200 watts when it comes to making my morning porridge.

I have a strict routine in the making of my morning porridge when I am home. Three quarters of a cup of oats, a cup and a bit of water, sprinkle of salt, then in the microwave for two minutes. Then a bit of a stir around and one more minute in the microwave and it is ready to eat—after sprinkling on cinnamon and adding a drizzle or two of honey.

So that is an even three minutes in the microwave for the finished edible product. This timing has worked for years—seriously; years.

Because the new microwave is 100 watts lower in power than the old one I more or less did not expect this to make much of a different to the timing of things. After all, we are talking about something like an 8 percent difference in power. How much could that possibly affect things?

Well as it happens it would appear that the missing 100 watts makes at least half a minute of difference in the preparation of porridge because I had to give my porridge another 30 seconds in the microwave. Even then, even though I ate the porridge, it was not quite done as well as normal. It really needed another 10 seconds or so. But just working on the extra 30 seconds that means that porridge that used to take 180 seconds to ‘cook’ to perfection in a 1200 watt microwave now takes 210 seconds in an 1100 watt microwave.

So although the drop in power is mere 8.3 percent I actually need to cook my porridge for 15 percent longer (at the very minimum) to get the required ‘perfectly done’ outcome.

I am sure some people who know far more than I about how microwave ovens work and how the power rating is calculated can probably explain why this is so. It probably involves some horrendously complex calculation factoring in the oven cavity size, the distance of the food being heated from the microwave source, and the speed of the rotating carousel. But the bottom line here is that it now takes me a full half a minute longer to prepare my porridge in the mornings!!

Or, maybe, just maybe, these new Chinese watts are not as powerful as the old Korean watts used to be. Just a thought.