Why Buy an Over-the-Range Microwave?
Microwave ovens are a common household appliance, but many are evolving to be more than the simple microwave found in your mom's kitchen. Today, the best microwaves are more powerful and compact than before and also include features to increase the variety of foods you can prepare with a single appliance.
An over-the-range microwave is a convenient appliance, especially if you need to clear some counter space. The best microwave ovens of this variety combine the latest microwave technology with the functionality of a ventilation hood for your cooktop range. Installed over your stovetop and off the counter, these built-in microwaves do the work of a high-power microwave and replace a traditional range hood. An over-the-stove microwave and ventilation hood gives you more countertop space in your kitchen and clear polluted air. It also provides powerful cooking, defrosting, melting, popping, and, in some models, even baking and roasting.
Over-the-Range Microwaves: What to Look For
Over-the-range microwaves are handy appliances to have in your kitchen. Much more than simple microwaves, the over-range microwaves have sensor-cooking options to take the guesswork out of preparing food, in addition to other features to make cooking simpler. The ventilation hood clears the air while you're cooking on your stove or in your oven, and most models have fans that start automatically when they sense too much heat or polluted air. While all models in our review outshine basic microwave ovens, the Kenmore Elite, GE Profile and LG LMV18 top our list. Their features and functionality make them the cream of the crop of over-the-range microwave ovens. Take a look at our learning center for even more information and articles on over-the-range microwave ovens.
We looked at a wide range of over-the-range microwaves for a variety of prices. They can be priced anywhere from $200 to $900, and the upper range, in many cases, is justifiable because of the amazing capabilities of the machines. Many over-the-counter microwave oven models are designed to make you forget about your oven and stovetop, because these microwaves bake cakes, steam vegetables, and reheat or cook virtually anything. We looked at microwave ovens that do the traditional duties of a microwave well, while adding a great ventilation system for your stovetop. We looked specifically at the following categories in our research:
Most modern microwave ovens offer sensor cooking in one form or another. This means the appliance senses moisture to determine if your food is cooking properly and makes temperature adjustments to finish the job. Some newer over-the-range microwaves also perform the functions of a second convection oven, so you can bake, roast and broil right in the microwave. Many also include offer a generous interior capacity that allow you to reheat a collection of plates at the same time. If leftovers are on the menu for your family, you won't have to form a line. You can all come to the table at the same time. Some over-the-range microwave ovens allow you to delay start times and lock the controls so children cannot change the settings. We looked for these advanced features, as well as for common items like turntables, cavity lights and power level choices.
The best over-range microwave oven hoods offer quality vent functions in addition to quality microwave features. A good vent has a strong airflow capacity; the best in our lineup can handle up to 400 cubic feet per minute. A quality vent offers multiple fan speeds, and many start automatically when they detect too much heat from the cooktop. We also looked for over-the-range microwaves that hide the vents – or at least make them look sleek and attractive.
The stovetop, oven and built-in microwave really take center stage in your kitchen's decor. We looked for units that come in a variety of colors and feature attractive designs. Certain design elements, like multicolored displays, can also add to functionality. Shelves or racks are valuable additions. A cooktop light is also standard and useful. It also is helpful to be able to turn off the turntable if you are cooking a particularly heavy dish.
Warranty & Support
We looked for manufacturers that stand behind their over-the-range microwave ovens with solid warranties and customer service. While it's unlikely you'll purchase a unit from the manufacturer itself, if there is any sign of trouble or you have a question, the original maker should be a great source of information and help through its website, customer service representatives and warranties.
An over-the-range microwave oven can save you time, counter space and trouble by taking on the job of two appliances. The ones that do both jobs the best offer solid features across the board and look gorgeous in your kitchen.