Microwave ovens have been ubiquitous in kitchens since the 1980s, but more recently, intrepid tinkers have taken them apart to reassemble for parts for their own projects. There’s a veritable gold stock of parts for DIY home inventors here, from powerful heavy duty components that can be used to make a Tesla Coil to basic durable parts for all sorts of hobby projects. or Raspberry Pi for home automation

Luckily, the overall setup of a microwave oven hasn’t changed much over the years, making identifying and safely removing parts fairly easy. In this article, we’ll walk you through how to take apart a microwave oven safely and show you some of the design ideas the inventors came up with using the parts.

Before we begin, we need to discuss three important points:

  1. Microwaves are devices high voltage , which should never be disassembled while connected. In addition, color conventions for wiring may vary from country to country. Be sure to know exactly what you are looking at!
  2. A high voltage capacitor can cause a fatal blow even after like the microwave has been out for months. We will show you how to safely discharge these capacitors in this article, but they must be followed.
  3. The magnetron inside the microwave oven may contain beryllium oxide in ceramic insulators, which can be fatal upon entry into the lungs. Just remove it safely, but never try to take it apart. It’s not worth it!

Every time you consciously mess with high power, this at your own risk and potentially fatal. In short, be safe! Live to tinker another day! Now, with that said, let’s get started.


The first step is to find a microwave. You may have an old one that has been replaced — in my case, my neighbors got rid of theirs and left it on our stairs. It should be noted that this disassembly is not suitable for microwave inverter, because they work differently.

How to safely disassemble the microwave oven and what to do with the microwave oven by parts whole670

You don’t need many tools for this disassembly, although this can vary with different microwave oven designs. I found that this is enough:

  • Phillips screwdriver with insulated handle.
  • Pliers with insulated handles.
  • Heavy duty insulated work gloves.

How to safely disassemble a microwave oven and what to do with parts Gloves and tools

I have found that the gloves serve a dual purpose: not only do they protect me, but they also act as a good barrier between my hands and years of dirt built up inside the microwave casing. I also found it convenient to have a small bowl nearby to store all the screws.

Before you begin, check the case to see if it contains any useful information. Many microwaves have complete circuit diagrams available for download online, which are a great way to learn about circuitry, so be sure to write down any model numbers you find. For more information on learning DIY electronics, check out this great resource.

In this case, the manufacturer kindly placed the internal electronics circuit on the back of the case.

How to safely disassemble a microwave oven and what to do with the electrical parts diagram

Just in case you need a reminder soon, you don’t need to understand German to know that something labeled «Achtung» and «Warnung» could potentially be dangerous!

Screw here, screw there

Make sure the microwave is turned off.

Check again.

I’m serious. Check. We can wait

Now start by removing all the screws you see on the outer case. You may find that the top of the shroud can be removed first with screws around the edges, giving you just enough access to assemble the parts without completely taking them apart, although some models are harder to crack than others.

Once you have the outer casing removed, you will be able to see the components. While the arrangement may vary, almost all microwaves have the same set of basic parts.

How to safely disassemble a microwave oven and what to do with parts labeled side photo

  1. Transformer (commonly called MOT).
  2. high voltage capacitor.
  3. Fan.
  4. High capacity compact thermostat (small black circular component).
  5. Magnetron.
  6. Relay.
  7. Front Panel.

The very first thing to find is a capacitor. This model was part of the fan assembly, although this may vary. Not touch the capacitor contacts under no circumstances! In case the image above is not clear, this is what you are looking for:

How to safely disassemble a microwave oven and what to do with a large parts cover

If possible, you should discharge the capacitor before removing. In this case, the capacitor was enclosed in a fan assembly, so it had to be removed before it could be discharged. Wearing gloves and holding an insulated handle, use a screwdriver or pliers to close both capacitor terminals. Hold it there for a few seconds to make sure it touches both pins accurately. When this happens, you may see a flash or hear a loud crack, so be prepared!

How to safely disassemble the microwave and what to do with the parts unloading lid gif

Magnetron, move over!

Magnetrons can be incredibly dangerous, while you’re shielded from radiation when they’re not on, ceramic insulators can contain beryllium oxide, which can be fatal if inhaled. If Magneto is an enemy of the X-Men, the magnetron is the enemy of all lungs everywhere.

We will carefully remove it from the case, but only to gain access to the screws holding the transformer in place. If you can remove the transformer without removing the magnetron, leave it where it is.

How to safely disassemble a microwave oven and what to do with magnetron parts

Most magnetrons look like this and are attached to the main microwave housing with four screws. Carefully remove it, wrap it up, and set it aside to be safely thrown away later.

Transformer time

The high voltage transformer (commonly known as the microwave oven transformer, or MOT) is the real prize in this showdown. The MOT supplies AC power (here it may be 240V, it may be different for you) to the primary coil and through the electromagnetic induction stages which are turned on so that 1800 — 2800 volts comes out from the secondary coil. The more windings you have on the secondary, the higher the voltage and the lower the amplifiers, and vice versa.

High voltage transformers can be expensive items to buy for hobby or home use, but with careful IOT modification can be used to provide a wide range of different power requirements.

The MOT is heavy, so it is almost always attached to the bottom of the case with two or four screws. Carefully remove the wires and screws and pull out your prize.

How to safely disassemble a microwave oven and what to do with MOT parts

There are some fantastic projects you can do with this beast which we will talk about later in this article.

Rest sweep

Now that you have the big components, gradually remove everything else piece by piece. You might find it easier if you removed all the wiring first.

Don’t forget to remove the bottom panel to remove the turntable motor!

How to safely disassemble a microwave oven and what to do with the motor back of the motor

After you have everything worked out, you will have a sufficient set of components:

How to safely disassemble a microwave oven and what to do with parts

Depending on how modern your microwave oven is, your choice may vary slightly. In this case, we exited with:

  • 1 x powerful 240VAC pole motor from fan.
  • 1 x 240V geared motor from turntable.
  • 1 x Small lamp 240V with fitting.
  • 5 x Microswitches.
  • 3 x High voltage thermostatic switches.
  • 1 x 20W 20 ohm resistor.
  • 1 x Electric heating element (this microwave had a grill function).
  • 1 x 12V relay.
  • 1 x 240A to 12V transformer.
  • 1 x High voltage transformer.
  • Various pieces of high voltage nominal wire and mains wire.

Along with these things we also got various smaller resistors, diodes, capacitors and an inductor.

I also removed the front panel of the microwave as one piece. It contains a motor for the timer and two more microswitches. This device is already standalone and compact, and it can be used for other purposes, as you will see later.

How to safely disassemble the microwave oven and what to do with the front panel of the 670 parts

Now that you have everything you need, collect the pieces that you won’t be storing for recycling. A practical way to do this is to assemble the outer case with the magnetron inside it, and then take the entire unit to a local recycling center for safe disposal. Different locations have different rules for disposing of the instrument, be sure to follow local rules and regulations.

Now what?

Now we have all these parts, what are we going to do with them? Some of them are quite specialized and will only be needed in very specific situations. Some of them, however, can be used here and now.

The micro switches we clean are momentary normally open (NO), normally closed (NC) or selector switches rated up to 16A 250V (remember yours may vary depending on your country).

How to safely disassemble a microwave oven and what to do with parts switches

While they are capable of high voltages, they are great for smaller projects as well, as they are spring loaded so they can be easily installed on door and window frames instead of reed switches as part of a home home security system. If you are new to microcontrollers, they also work great in projects.

How to safely disassemble a microwave oven and what to do with a push button switch

As an added bonus, I found that the wiring, which was also salvaged, fits perfectly into the holes on the breadboard.

Message relayed

We have considered the use of a 5V relay with microcontrollers before, and the same principles can be applied to the relay we rescued.

The relay we removed from the microwave indicates a 12V coil, although many relays operate at a lower voltage. The relay I removed in this case only works fine with 9V, making it the perfect relay to use in a microcontroller project, and since the relay here can draw up to 250V 16A, it should be able to keep running in almost any home automation setup. .

How to safely disassemble the microwave oven and what to do with the parts relay 520x500

You can find specifications for most components by searching by make and model number.

Instructables contributor homunkoloss provided a simple guide to connecting a 12V relay to an Arduino.


The motor attached to the fan is a pole motor running at 240V AC. The advantage is that it is very powerful, but at the same time remains quite quiet.

How to Safely Disassemble a Microwave Oven and What to Do with a Fan Parts

This makes it ideal for use as a homemade smoke removal fan, which anyone with a soldering iron should have.

By modifying this John Ward design to use a fan, you can create a powerful extractor on a low budget.

John estimates this build cost £75, although with no additional fan costs and with clever reuse of other cleaned parts, this is the perfect budget (and health conscious) DIY project.

You can of course use a fan to make, well, a fan! Profpatables user Profpat plugged an old microwave oven fan into an old monitor stand to make a heavy duty desktop fan for free!

How to Safely Disassemble the Microwave Oven and What to Do with the Fan Monitor Stand Parts
Image credit: profpat via Instructables

Front Panel

The front panel of the microwave above was one of the older models with a motor that counted down before turning off the microswitch, although you may have a newer digital display. This device can be used as a countdown timer — perfect to remind you to get up and stretch after a period in front of the computer!

The internal microswitch can also be used to control the appliance. Instructables user Koil_1 used a digital timer to create a multi-device shutdown timer.

How to safely disassemble a microwave oven and what to do with spare parts instructables homunkoloss 375x500
Image Credit: Koil_1 via Instructables

Raise the power

The turntable motor in a microwave oven moves very slowly from the AC power. This means that the high torque motor is able to generate power when turning by hand. In a surprisingly simple project, Instructables user ahmedebeed555 created a hand-grip phone charger with almost no parts!

Maintenance time

Earlier in this article, I mentioned that the MOT was the most valuable part that can be cleaned from a microwave, and a quick Google search will show why. These transformers have been retooled to create a host of strange, bizarre, and sometimes downright dangerous inventions, from homemade electric arcs to smelting furnaces, spotting and welding machines.

YouTube inventor Grant Thompson has a series of videos covering most of these projects, and while they are all great ideas, his videos on building your own ARC welder provide clear instructions on how to do your own welding on a small budget.

All in a trash day

This article has covered just a few things you can do with an old, no longer needed microwave, and even small parts that are not immediately usable are more things in your toolbox for future projects. Cleaning and repurposing old appliances is a great way to learn about electronics and reduce the amount of waste we produce.

Just before leaving again: Always be careful when working with high power electronics. Be sure to observe the appropriate safety precautions and use protective equipment if necessary!

Have you made any amazing inventions out of cleaned microwave oven parts? Have you dismantled other devices and created your new machines from them? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image Credits: Sergey Kazakov / Shutterstock

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