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Microwave Ovens Buying Guide

Microwave ovens have revolutionized cooking. Speedy and smart, they are a modern living must-have for the home.

 

From reheating leftovers to popping corn to cooking whole meals, the microwave helps you carry out all sorts of kitchen chores faster and easier. With prices ranging from under a hundred dollars to over a couple of thousand, it’s important to find a microwave that fits your kitchen and cooking style, so you don’t buy more machine that you need.

Types of Microwave Ovens

The first place to start when microwave shopping is to pick the type and size of oven you want. Depending on the set up of your kitchen, you may not have much choice, especially if you are replacing an existing model. However if you’re renovating, a wider range of options is available.

Types

Counter Top Microwaves

The most popular and least expensive model is the counter top microwave. Its main drawback is that it can take up a lot of valuable counter space. Decide how much space you’re ready to give up when choosing a counter top model. That said, some of these microwaves can be installed to fit underneath a cabinet or as a built-in if you also purchase an optional trim kit.


Over-the-Range Microwaves

An over-the-range microwave, also know as an OTR or microhood, fits over your range and includes a hood built into the base of the microwave that draws in the hot air from stove top cooking, cleans it and then exhausts it. The fresh air can be recirculated into the house or vented outside. This space-saving design frees up your counter, but does cost more and you may need an electrician to install it. There is also a general consensus that these microhoods do not vent as well as a regular full-size vent hood.


Built-In Microwaves

If you are remodeling your kitchen, you can pick a built-in microwave to be installed within custom cabinets. These types have unfinished sides and some have work lights. Due to being a less popular choice on the market, they cost more than counter top models.

 

Size

How big and how powerful a microwave should you get? That mainly depends on what you plan on doing with it. If you are mostly reheating foods for just you, then a smaller model will suffice. If you plan on cooking meals for the whole family, such as casseroles, then look for a full-size microwave oven.


Exterior dimensions are the external height, width and depth of the microwave and will help you determine where the oven can fit. The interior is measured in cubic feet (cu. ft.). Power is measured in wattage; more watts means more heat, which results in faster cooking.


Small: up to 0.9 cu. ft.; 600 – 800 watts; good for apartments
Medium: 1.0 to 1.4 cu. ft.; 850 – 1650 watts
Large: greater than 1.4 cu. ft.; 850 – 1650 watts; good for families