Finicky electricity/microwave

So, I just finished hosting my first guests, and have discovered a problem with my electrical wiring. The unit is a mother in law suite in my basement, and i discovered the entire thing is wired onto 1 20 amp circuit. I offer a full-size refrigerator as well as a microwave, and a few nights ago my guests tripped the breaker making popcorn. My ex husband the electrician says that microwaves pull 12-15 amps on their own and should have a dedicated circuit. I live in an older (50s) home with a small electrical panel, no room for any new circuits, so I will be having him install a new panel to remedy this in the long run.

In the short run, though, while we go through the permit process, I still have guests booked with me for coming weekends. I did some experiments with combinations of lights turned on and determined that if you run the bathroom, the microwave kicks off quickly (bathroom has 3 fixtures plus a fan). If you run every single other light but the bathroom, you can microwave for 3.5 minutes before it trips. If you run it 3 min, stop for a few seconds, run 3 more min it’s ok.

So, in the meantime, do I: a. contact pending guests and tell them no microwave? b. Communicate as clearly as possible to not run micro/bathroom at same time and to limit usage to 2 minute intervals (cushion built in to prevent error)? c. Offer some kind of discount for current or future stay based on either of these?

My guests are here for festivals/eclipse/university events so the microwave is mostly for restaurant leftovers and snacks, not heavy use.

I’m so annoyed with myself for not discovering it earlier and am hoping it doesn’t impact the rating from my very first guests.

Wouldn’t it simply be easier to remove the microwave?


Seems tricky. How many bookings do you have already lined up?

Is it possible to get your electrician ex fix a quick either/or switch for the current supply between the the bathroom and m/w. So folk can only use one or the other?

If not, Option B might not work, they’ll say ‘sure’ and still do it anyway. You’ll have to go and fix the tripping, and they’ll give you a low rating.

I would probably consider a combination of A and C - tell current guests there’s an electrical issue which will need a few weeks to be fixed. So no m/w and you’re offering a certain % discount for the change of offering. If they’re not happy, they’re welcome to look elsewhere, you’ll refund them the full booking amount.

Word in something similar on your listing and say discount will apply until the situation is fixed, or simply ignore it like @Helsi says.

And I might think of making the electrical situation appear to be an issue out of your control - unforeseen fault and a difficult permit process.

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For current booked guests, wouldn’t it be a breach if you had promised them access to a microwave?

Things happen at properties all the time which mean non essentials like mircowaves might not be working at all/properly

I didn’t say ignore it. I said remove it.

Clearly the host should mention this to upcoming guests who have already booked and remove it from the listing description.

Take the microwave out immediately. The reason it’s tripping is that it’s overloaded and is a fire hazard. Let the guests know by message that there is no microwave until you upgrade the electrical service.
Also, if you haven’t already done so change all your light bulbs to LED as they use the least electricity.


Thanks for the feedback. I am hoping it can be resolved in the next 2 weeks, and have blocked that weekend off from guests so the repair can be done (all power shut off for half a day). If there was something to do in a pinch I would but there’s no in between solution.

The only guests between now and then is a 1 nighter for the eclipse. The next guests, if it takes longer than anticipated, are a trio of late 20s dads here for a college football guys weekend…they seem very unlikely to be upset at the loss of the micro.

That was my gut feeling. Better an annoyed guest than a house fire. We are all led in my house (ace hardware had an amazing deal over the new year) so it’s already as low as it can go.

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A one-nighter hardly matters.
And we can be sure that guest will get their micro waves from the eclipse!

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If your electrical problems could cause a fire; you should delist your property and cancel any bookings you have until you can add new circuits. Guests bring their own appliances that use electricity (blow dryers, curling irons, etc.). It is not safe to hope that guests will remember and follow your instructions about how much electricity can be used at a given time.

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Remove the microwave, get it fixed asap, apologize and leave some wine and chocolate for each group of guests as an apology. Maybe leave the footy dad’s a 6 pack of beer and some dip and chip instead. Small cost for happy guests. And message them all in advance in the event they have a real need for a microwave.

Ok, microwave removed, contacted the eclipse guest and she confirmed she does not use a hair dryer/flat iron/other heat producing appliance, she was totally cool about it, refunding her 10% for the inconvenience. The wiring is perfectly safe for cell chargers and the like, just nothing pulling a lot of amperage. Blocked all dates between now and football dads, should be able to get electrician in to do the fix between now and then so that the microwave, fridge, and bathroom are all on their own circuits. Thanks for the feedback everyone.