by Staff Writer
Microwaves have become one of the most essential kitchen appliances in a home. Appliances like microwaves are designed to make our lives easier, shorten prep and cook times and make clean up a snap; microwave ovens are a huge timesaver. Microwaves make defrosting foods easy and warming up leftovers temptingly fast. This microwave buying guide will guide you through the many features and options in the world of microwaves so you can pop some popcorn and enjoy your newest kitchen appliance that much sooner.
Countertop microwaves: This microwave sits directly on the counter. If you have limited counter space, then consider a smaller capacity microwave or extra kitchen storage; kitchen carts make great storage for microwaves, as do baker's racks.
Over-the-range or built-in microwaves: Built-in microwaves are mounted directly into the cabinetry of the kitchen. If your cabinets have space for a built-in microwave, go for it; you'll save valuable counter space with this microwave style. Some over-the-range microwaves even have venting systems incorporated into the bottom, adding another helpful appliance to your kitchen.
Compact microwave: This is the smallest microwave available, also called a portable microwave. Compact microwaves are a popular size of microwave oven. A typical compact microwave oven is no more than 18 inches wide, no more than 12 inches tall and about 14 inches or less deep. These microwave ovens are rated between 500 and 1000 watts of power and measure less than 1 cubic foot in capacity.
Medium-capacity microwave: This is the family-size microwave. It is somewhat larger than the compact microwaves. The width is typically 20 inches or more. The interior of a medium-size microwave typically holds between 1 and 1.5 cubic feet; the power runs from 1000 to 1500 watts.
Large-capacity microwave: This microwave is capable of cooking a meal. With a size of well over 20 inches wide, as much as 20 inches deep and 12 inches or more high, this microwave oven can handle a 9-inch by 13-inch casserole dish or even a roast or turkey breast.
Type and size: Countertop models take up counter space, but they tend to have a larger capacity than most built-in models. Built-in microwaves save space, but they require installation.
Microwave capacity: Larger overall size doesn't always mean the microwave has more usable capacity. Some large microwaves may take up more space but have the same (or less) usable capacity of a smaller unit.
Decide on extras: Some microwaves come with extra features, such as grilling and browning. Special features increase the price.
Convenience and safety: Look for timesaving features and settings for popular foods, such as potatoes and popcorn. There are also safety lock features, which can keep children out of harm's way.
Turntables: Definitely look for a microwave with a turntable. This useful feature helps to ensure that food cooks evenly.
Noise: Investigate the microwave's noise level before you buy. Read customer reviews for first-hand knowledge.
Quality components: Look for durable materials like metal, glass or stainless steel. Less-breakable, updated features, like buttons instead of a turn dial, make using your microwave easier. As for quality electronics, read customer reviews about the microwave's performance and purchase a brand name you trust.