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Microwave Buying Guide

Microwave Buying Guide

small blue microwave

Microwaves make defrosting foods easy and warming up leftovers temptingly fast. But there’s more to consider than how well a microwave can shorten prep and cook times. This microwave buying guide walks you through the features and sizes available so you can choose the best microwave oven for your kitchen.

Types of Microwaves

Countertop Microwaves

Countertop microwaves have virtually zero installation. Because of their portability, countertop microwaves are a popular size for dorms and small apartments. The flexibility often makes up for any loss of counter space. For example, kitchen carts and baker’s racks also make convenient storage for microwaves. If you’re placing your countertop microwave under your upper cabinets, pay special attention to the height of the unit you’re buying.

Built-In Microwaves

A built-in microwave is installed directly into the wall and then surrounded by your cabinets. Because built-ins can be put virtually anywhere in your kitchen, you can choose the best look and the most convenient location. Consider your tastes and habits. For instance, a microwave installed at eye level gives you easy access, while a unit installed right above or below a built-in oven creates a more seamless look.

See below for the types of built-in microwaves. Visit our guide on How to Install a Built-in Microwave for help once you’ve selected your purchase.

Over-the-Range Microwaves

If you like your appliances to pull double duty, an over-the-range (OTR) microwave is the machine for you. OTRs double as a hood range and can be set up with ventilation. This saves valuable counter space, and even some money when you nix a traditional range hood. That being said, there is not an OTR microwave that can vent as well as a hood, so consider your cooking habits before you buy. You may also need an electrician to install an OTR.

Microwave Drawers

Drawer microwaves are meant to be installed under your counter and look more like an oven than a traditional microwave. Look for microwave drawers with hidden controls for an even sleeker look. Additionally, when installed at hip-height, these microwaves become the most easy-to-use and convenient option.

Microwave Capacity

Compact Microwaves

A typical compact microwave oven is no more than 18 inches wide, 12 inches tall, and about 14 inches or less deep. These microwave ovens are rated between 500 and 1000 watts of power and measure 1 cubic foot or less in capacity.

Medium-Capacity Microwaves

These are the typical family-size microwaves, with a width of about 20 inches or more. The interior of a medium-size microwave typically holds between 1.6 and 2 cubic feet. Somewhat larger than the compact microwaves, the power runs from 1000 to 1500 watts.

Large-Capacity Microwaves

These microwaves are capable of cooking a full meal, with a size of well over 20 inches wide, 20 inches deep, and 12 inches or more high. They can handle a 9-inch by 13-inch casserole dish or even a roast or turkey breast.

Microwave Features

Look for timesaving features and settings for popular foods, such as potatoes and popcorn. For quick cleanup, invest in durable microwave materials such as metal, glass, or stainless steel. Less-breakable, updated features, like buttons instead of a turn dial, make using your microwave easier. Safety lock features can keep children out of harm’s way, while a turntable helps to ensure that food cooks evenly. Don’t forget to investigate the microwave’s noise level before you buy. Reading customer reviews of these features can provide first-hand knowledge of a microwave’s performance.

Microwaves have become one of the most essential elements in a kitchen, and you can get yours with FREE SHIPPING* at Overstock. We also offer a full fleet of cooking appliances. Check out our Large Appliances Buying Guide for shopping tips that will make kitchen life easier in every way.

*Available in continental United States.