Panasonic Microwave Sensor Settings

What This Is

Panasonic has a number of different sensor settings, identified by particular food items (listed in the table below), but does not list the times or power levels for these settings. The table is a compilation of these levels.

The data was taken from a 2004 Panasonic NN-TK964 1250 watt 1.6 cu ft. (0.045 M³). This is a keypad model, with "breakfast", "lunch/snack", etc. on the right and a "function" button beneathe the "0".

Panasonic Sensor Settings

So here's the list:
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Categories are for the above "keypad" microwave. Panasonic "Luxury" Dial Wheel Microwaves typically have 18 "sensor" settings, which can be matched to this list according to their descriptions in the owner's manual. Keypad models typically have 9 or 18 "sensor" settings.

category18-setting no.9-setting no.itempower   sensor time   run-down timepower   comment
(side buttons)
11oatmeal70%to boil   0 sec. --
22breakfast sausage50%to boil 0 sec. --
33omelet50%to boil   50 sec.@ 50%
4--soup70%to boil   21 sec.@ 70%
54frozen entrée50%to boil   21 sec.@ 60%"stir display"
65frozen pizza50%to boil   85 sec.@ 60%(high defrost; then heat)
7 --frozen pocket50%to boil   50 sec.@ 50%
Side Dish
86Potato70%to boil   81 sec.@ 50%
97Fresh Vegetable70%to boil   30 sec.@ 70%
108Frozen Vegetable70%to boil   ~6 sec.@ 50%"stir display"
11 --Canned Vegetable50%to boil   55 sec.@ %
12 --White Rice70%to boil   270 sec.@ 20%
13 --Brown Rice70%to boil   510 sec.@ 20%
14Frozen Dinner50%to boil   42 sec.@ 50%
159Pasta70%to boil   52 sec.@ 50%rolling boil
16Stew70%to boil   37 sec.@ 70%
17Ground Meat50%to boil   sec.@ %"stir display"
18Fish Fillets50%to boil   0 sec. --(best guess is steamed fresh fish)

Limitations and Methodology

The sensor function operates in two stages:
  1. "Sensor heat" mode - food is heated to sensed moisture level (moisture in the oven cavity)
  2. Timed heat in "Run Down" mode.
In the "Sensor" mode, the sensor function is believed to set a cooking power, typically 70% or 50%, and continue until a particular moisture level is sensed. The sensor then goes to a "Run Down" mode, in which a partial power level, between 20% and 70%, is applied for a specific time period.

The test was initially tried with a cup partially filled with water. Initially, I measured the temperature of the cold water, with the intent of measuring the end temperature. When it became apparent that the sensor sets the oven to boil water before going to a timed mode, I switched to a smaller quantity of water in a small Japanese dipping sauce bowl (After all, it's a Panasonic microwave). The bowl was partly filled with tap water but I did not continue to measure the initial temperature.

The test limitatations include:

No attempt was made to determine if the microwave selects a different moisture level for different sensor selections.
The microwave sensor does not appear to compensate for heat. That means that, as the oven gets warmer, more moisture is required for sensing boiling temperature.

It is possible that the time to boil the water in the "Sensor" mode affects the "Run Down" mode. This would affect the results, which used the small dipping bowl of water.

The oven cavity temperature affects the sensor programs. The cavity temperature varied significantly with sequential test runs using the small dish of water. One effect was that more moisture was required for sensing after the oven became very warm.

Heating in Plastic Containers

While the names given by Panasonic are suggestive of some pre-packaged entrees, it is important to avoid heating foods in most plastic containers. There are some plastic containers which are considered "microwave safe plastics", the safety of such materials is not assured. Some materials, such as plastic wrap are only safe if kept separate from the foodstuff and not allowed to touch the food.

Unless the material is indicated as "microwave safe", a ceramic or glass dish should be used. Uncoated paper is also generally considered safe; however, many paper products are coated with plastic.

More information is found at

Courtesy of Stan Protigal

Comments about this site: email me

first posted 26-Dec-11; rev 29-Dec-11 This page copyright 2006, Stan Protigal