What Does Cubic Feet Mean in a Microwave?

If you’ve ever come across a microwave oven, you must be familiar with figures like 1.2 CU.Ft, 1.5 CU.Ft, 2.7 Cu.Ft among others. The figures represent the capacity of the microwave, and Cu stands for cubic unit.

So, what does cubic feet mean in a microwave? The cubic units in a manufacturer’s description of the microwave are meant to give you an idea of how big or small the oven’s interior is.

Understanding the cubic units is extremely important when choosing a microwave for your home. It’s actually one of the basic factors you need to consider when shopping for this appliance.

Categories of Microwave Ovens by Capacity

What Does Cubic Feet Mean in a Microwave

Based on the capacity of cubic units of microwaves, there are 3 categories by which microwaves are sorted. They include:

1. Compact Microwave Ovens

Microwaves under this category are the smallest and least energy-consuming. They have an internal capacity of less than 1.0 cubic feet.

2. Mid-Size Microwave Ovens

These microwaves come in a medium size and boast an interior capacity of between 1.0 and 2.0

3. Full-Size Microwave Ovens

Full-size microwave ovens are the largest and have a 2.0+ cubic feet capacity. These models are the best for larger households and are the most energy-consuming.

More on Capacity Classes

Getting the right microwave for your home is not an easy task. This is because microwaves are meant to be used for a long time, just like any other appliance.

Below, we discuss how understanding the cubic feet of a microwave can help you predict its basic functionality.

Compact Microwaves

These microwaves are the smallest and have the most compact internal capacity of below 1.0 Cu. Ft. They usually come with basic features such as defrost, heating, and warming.

The units consume less energy, usually 700 to 900 watts but require a longer cooking time.

And since they have a small footprint, these compact microwaves are ideal for persons living in small apartments, school dorms, and for a small family of 3 or less.

Compact microwaves come at a budget-friendly price hence ideal for you if working with a tight budget.

Mid-Sized Microwave Ovens

Medium-sized microwaves can serve a bigger family of up to 5 persons. These units boast an interior capacity of up to 2.0 cubic feet and can accommodate bigger pans.

Most microwaves in this category boast a wattage of between 1000 and 1100 watts.

These units cook faster than the compact models and boast a few advanced features like convection, sensor cooking, inverter cooking, and more.

Full-Sized Microwave Ovens

These microwaves come with the largest internal capacity of more than 2.0 Cu.Ft. The units have a larger footprint, higher wattage output of between 1200 to 1400 watts, and come with a higher price tag.

These microwaves can make enough food to serve a family of 5 to 8.

And although full-sized microwave ovens are the least economical, they are highly functional and will offer you a relaxed cooking experience thanks to many auto cook features.

The Most Common Cubic Feet for Microwaves

Visit any household, and you’ll most likely find out that they use a full-size microwave oven. It’s actually estimated that 60% of users prefer using ovens with a capacity range of between 1.2 to 1.9 cubic feet.

This doesn’t rule out the fact that there are those who prefer microwaves that can fit on top of the counter with ease.

Bigger microwaves over 2.0 cubic feet are also common for individuals with larger households.

You’ll find smaller than 1.0 cubic feet microwaves with individuals with tiny kitchen countertops or those with limited microwaving needs.

How to Measure Cu.Ft of a Microwave

Sometimes, you might have to measure a microwave oven when looking for a replacement or when you simply want to know whether the appliance is suitable for the intended purpose.

But now, since microwave interiors are usually measured in cubic feet, how can you calculate and estimate the size of its interior?

To determine the cubic feet of the microwave, get a measuring tape and take 3 measurements as indicated below:

  • Start measuring from the lowest to the highest point of the microwave’s chamber (height). While doing so, ensure that you’re not taking the measurements of the external height but that of the oven chamber (inner height).
  • Measure the width (inner width) by extending your measuring tape from one side to the other.
  • Measure the interior space from the back to the front (depth).
  • Multiply the three figures to get the oven’s cubic feet.
  • After that, divide the answer to (iv) above by 1,728 to find out the Cu.Ft of your microwave oven.

Frequently Asked Questions

01. What is the size of a standard microwave in cubic feet?

The capacity of a standard microwave usually ranges between 1.5 and 2.2 cubic feet.

02. How can you find the cubic feet of a particular microwave?

To get the cubic feet of any microwave, you need to multiply the unit’s length, width, and height in inches and then divide the answer by 1,728.

03. Is a 0.7 cubic feet microwave oven big enough?

A 0.7 cubic feet microwave is a small microwave typically used by people who rarely use microwaves, those living in small apartments, or RVs.

04. How do you know the capacity of the microwave to buy?

The number of people in your family should help you know the size of the microwave to purchase. The bigger the number, the larger the microwave and vice versa.

05. Is a 1.1 cubic feet microwave suitable for a small family?

Yes. A 1.1 Cu. Ft microwave oven is a mid-sized oven and can make enough food for a small family of 4 or less.


The cubic feet of any microwave oven can indicate the unit’s footprint, energy consumption levels, price tag, and overall functionality.

Understanding the cubic Ft of a microwave will help you know the standard functionalities to expect from it and lessen the frustrations that come with selecting the best microwave to meet your needs.

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