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I want to know if the way my microwave works is 'normal' or not. Here's the deal, when I set it at 50% power, it doesn't go to 50% power, it goes to more like it's 100% power for 50% of the time set. For example, if I set it for 2 minutes at 50% you can hear the 'power' kick in for maybe 15 seconds, then it sounds like it goes to no power for 15 seconds and repeats this until the 2 minutes is up. Is that how they all work? And is that really the equivalent at say having a 1000w microwave working at 500w for the 2 minute duration, even though it's 1000w for 1 minute?
 

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My guess is it's less technically complex and therefore cheaper to just turn it on and off and keep the output constant instead of varying the power output. As far as whether 2 minutes at 1000w with breaks is the same as 1 minute at 1000w, I don't know but I suspect not. The microwave works by putting out EM waves at just the right frequency for water molecules to start "vibrating" , and the heat is produced by friction between molecules. If we were to use an analogy from the macro world and imagine a drill bit drilling into metal, running it at 1000rpm for one minute continuously would result in a much hotter drill bit than running it for 15 seconds and then stopping for 15 seconds because that would allow some of the heat to dissipate.
 
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