If we ignore 5GHz WiFi, then both microwaves and WiFi create photons at ~2.4GHz but one of them will boil water in a few seconds but the other doesn't have any effect. So what's the difference?

Is it simply the number of photons created? Is that what the wattage of a microwave measures? If so, what would be the wattage of a wireless router?

Does the enclosed space have anything to do with it?

If it all has to do with power output could I put enough WiFi routers together in a room to cook a turkey (from microwaves and not waste heat)?


1 Answer 1


Power - your wifi router puts out about 0.1 - 1.0 W, your microwave oven puts out 1000W.
It would take a lot of wifi routers to cook a turkey - more than you think because the antennea on the router is designed to spread the power evenly around the room rather than concentrate it on the center of the oven.

There is a danger of being 'cooked' from being close to very high power transmitters such as some warship's radar while they are operating.

ps. It's the same reason your laser pointer can't be used to cut steel plates (or James Bond) in half!

  • $\begingroup$ I once knew a radio technician who worked on the satellite dish trucks for a local TV station. 240W input ERP 8MW output---goose flies by and ZAP ....well done before he hit the ground $\endgroup$
    – Old_Fossil
    Commented May 18, 2016 at 16:56
  • $\begingroup$ So is wifi dangerous due to the microwaves? $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 20:25
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @masterwarrior123, wifi woudl be dangerous because of the microwaves, but it is limited to very low powers $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 21, 2017 at 23:03
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    $\begingroup$ @masterwarrior123: most wifi is radiated omnidirectionally, whereas point-to-point radio links try to aim their energy as tightly as possible. that's what made the goose unlucky - it had to fly into a beam that's only a little larger than its body. even if your wifi could radiate thousands of times more energy, it would need a big dish pointed only at you to be dangerous. but enough energy and/or concentrated enough, you get cooked. $\endgroup$
    – markhahn
    Commented Jul 16, 2017 at 21:09
  • $\begingroup$ Won't higher power mean shorter wavelengths? I'm so confused as to how microwaves can carry that much energy in the first place. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 11:12

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