Difference between Microwave and Convection mode

A month ago I bought an oven to make my cooking timings more efficient. Before that, I searched the web for things to consider and the most appropriate options.

I did come across microwave and convection mode options and had to decide which one is preferable.

I am going to discuss my findings to help other mothers and home managers out there choose rightly.

Early in my search, I found terms like convention, microwave, oven, etc., confusing. But what really is the difference between microwave and convection mode?

Generally, both microwave and convection are meant to heat/cook food. However, the main difference lies in how they cook the food.

For instance, microwave ovens heat or cook food using microwaves, while convection ovens heat up the food by first heating the grills, then warming the food via the convention fan.

In short, the main difference lies in the type of heat source the two ovens use.

Difference between Microwave and Convection oven

The two appliances have similar characteristics, and both ovens can fix meals quickly. However, there are more differences than you should know.

These are crucial details that help you make A good buying decision. I am highlighting them here below for a better understanding.

Machine set up

The microwave oven has magnetrons responsible for producing microwaves to best up the food.

Magnetrons act as the waveguide that helps the waves spread into the inner container or stirrer that rotates your food to ensure it’s heated or cooked evenly.

The convection oven has cooking elements positioned on the bottom and top part of the heating chamber. Besides, it comes with a fan and grill.

Cooking process

In a microwave oven, the magnetron produces microwaves via a vacuum tube. Basically, the oven converts electricity into electrons then oscillates them to the microwave frequency to produce microwaves.

The microwaves pass through the heating chamber through the reflection of the material coating, which bounces it back, severally cooking the food in the chamber.

The penetration power of the microwaves forms heat, which cooks the food as the turntable at the bottom rotates the food to ensure it’s evenly cooked.

On the other hand, the contention oven cooks the food is heating elements that convert the electrical energy into the necessary heating energy.

It achieves this goal by converting normal air into hot air. This hot air circulates in your heating chamber and, in the process, heats your food.

Cooking time

The cooking time varies depending on the thickness and size of your food. Your main focus should be the quality of the food afterward. Is the food evenly cooked or not? How do the two ovens handle cooking?

Well, the microwave oven starts cooking the inner layers first then cooks the outer layers last. However, the convection oven starts cooking the food from the outer layers and finishes with the inner layers.

If you are cooking food of the same thickness and size, it will take less time to cook using a microwave oven than if you use a convection oven.

Cooking applications

How do they perform in reheating food?

If you often reheat your food, then the microwave is the best option as it’s faster and heats the food evenly.

Microwaves vibrate water particles in the food a million times per second. Therefore, the reheating process is faster using a microwave oven than a convection oven.

How do they perform when drilling and baking?

A convection oven is excellent when baking, browning, roasting, or grilling food. Mostly, it’s because of the heating method.

Convection ovens heat food from the outside first and finish with their layers. This particular heating method makes your food broil, crisp on the outside, and moist inside. You don’t get much from a microwave.

However, the marketplace has new microwaves that use convection cooking methods.

Be sure to check it out before buying. You can find a microwave oven for broil, grill, and bake option via contention mode.

How about defrosting food?

I am a fan of defrosting frozen food before eating. Maybe you are too. So, how do the two ovens fair when it comes to defrosting?

Well, the microwave oven is perfect for defrosting frozen food before eating. Sadly, convection ovens lack this important feature.

How about energy consumption?

Energy consumption is a vital consideration when buying appliances. I am very cautious about how much energy my appliances draw and the bills they leave me with at the end of the month.

Microwave ovens consume far less energy than convection ovens. It also varies depending on the model. Feel free to read the specs before buying.

However, the consumption is between 500-1800 watts as opposed to convention models, which have an energy consumption of 2500-5000 watts.

How about capacity?

Microwave ovens have up to 60 liters capacity, while the convection oven only goes up to 32 liters.

Therefore, if you feel you have large food batches, a microwave oven suits your needs better.

However, it’s a problem putting large dishes in a microwave oven because the rotating surface is small.

How about operating temperature?

The operating temperature sets the two ovens apart. The microwave uses microwave energy to heat the food, which means the temperature is lower than if you use a convection oven. 

The convection oven heats food via hot air, which it circulates in the cooking chamber. The oven operates at a higher temperature.

What’s the comparison of convection and microwave ovens in terms of cleaning?

Cleaning your ovens is a crucial task to ensure the food is hygienic. I hate doing hectic cleaning. I’m sure you do too. So, where does that leave us?

Cleaning convection ovens is more difficult compared to microwave ovens. However, it’s the heating elements in convection ovens that make the task harder.

I suggest you clean the oven only when the heating elements have gone cold. Besides, it will take some time to clean the trays.

Cleaning the microwave oven takes less time and labor, thanks to the smooth finish of the walls. Just use a cleaner and damp towel.

Are there any risks or disadvantages to using Microwave and Convection ovens?

It’s always important to look at the drawbacks of any appliance before buying. Microwave ovens have a safety feature that shuts off the microwave energy when the oven door is open.

 Convection oven

  • Not ideal for multiple cooking as the food can burn.
  • It warms the room and spreads the smell of your food after use.
  • Sometimes the fan is noisy
  • It may catch fire if you raise the temperature too high as the material used is not heat resistant.

Microwave oven

  • It doesn’t have a rack facility
  • Careful use, as laid out in the product instruction manual. It helps to avoid microwave radiation. However, the advanced models are leak-proof radiation making the ovens safer to use than in the past.

What are the dos and don’ts of using both ovens?

  • Don’t repair the microwave alone to avoid causing more damage, instead of an expert.
  • Never operate the microwave oven if the door is damaged. Ensure a specialist replaces it first before using it.
  • Don’t boil water in an oven because the water will be superheated causing burns and damage.
  • Only place materials that are marked safe to use in an oven and avoid placing metals to a kid sparkling which damages the oven.
  • Don’t operate the oven when it’s empty.
  • Avoid microwaving foods like chilies, fruits, leafy greens, processed foods, oils, and breast milk.

Final thoughts

If you are going to buy an oven and have to choose between convection and microwave, it’s best that you understand what you will be getting.

According to my research and analysis, I can ascertain that microwave ovens offer better value for money in terms of cooking time and efficiency.

Microwave outperforms convection ovens in all areas except in baking, radiation, and grill.

Ovens are a vital part of modern home cooking as they heat food fast and reduce cooking time.

I do warm food in my oven because it’s an efficient process that saves time when I’m running late. Choose wisely and enjoy happy cooking!


Is it possible to place a convection oven on top of my microwave oven?

Yes. However, you should not use both simultaneously to avoid circuit problems. Also, ensure your microwave can bear the weight of your new oven.

What is the use of the fan in the microwave?

Microwaves have fans that act as stirrers that help in spreading microwaves evenly in the cooking chamber.

Is it possible to broil food in a convection oven?

Yes, you can broil food by changing the oven setting to broil. It helps make the upper chamber hotter to broil your food better.