The Finest Over-the-Vary Microwave Choices for the Kitchen – BobVila.com
Since they arrived in kitchens back in the 1980s, over-the-range microwaves have been popping popcorn and warming up frozen dinners while saving valuable counter space.
These space-saving microwaves have come a long way since then. Today’s models feature powerful 1,000-watt outputs and capacities up to 2.2 cubic feet. Some double as convection ovens, allowing you to speed cook while also achieving the crisp brown crust on meats and baked goods associated with conventional ovens. Other features include integrated sensors that automatically adjust the time and power to optimize cooking. Smart models are available that connect to your home’s WiFi network, allowing you to program and control the microwave with a smart device or through voice control with a smart home assistant.
If looking to update your kitchen appliances, then read on to learn more about the features you may want to consider and to find out why these models are some of the best over-the-range microwaves you can buy.
BEST OVERALL: Samsung 1.9 Cu. Ft. Over-the-Range Fingerprint Resistant MicrowaveBEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Amana 1.6-cu.-ft. Over the Range MicrowaveBEST SMALL: Whirlpool – 1.1 Cu. Ft. Low Profile Over-the-Range Microwave Hood Combination BEST HIGH CAPACITY: Samsung – 2.1 Cu. Ft. Over-the-Range MicrowaveBEST CONVECTION: GE -Profile Series 1.7 Cu. Ft. Over-the-Range MicrowaveBEST MULTI-LEVEL: LG Electronics 2.2 cu. ft. Over the Range MicrowaveBEST FEATURES: FRIGIDAIRE GALLERY 1.7 Cu. Ft. Over the Range MicrowaveBEST SMART TECH: Whirlpool 1.9-cu ft Smart Over-the-Range Microwave
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Over-the-Range Microwave
When shopping for an over-the-range microwave, consider the features you need as well as the size that will fit in your kitchen.
Over-the-range microwaves come in different widths. The most common dimensions are 30 inches wide, 17 inches high, and about 16 inches deep. Unlike standard microwave ovens that sit on the counter, over-the-range microwave ovens must fit in the space above your range. Measure the space above your range to determine the maximum size. The interior volume of over-the-range microwaves is measured in cubic feet. The average size for this type of microwave is between 1.5 to 1.7 cubic feet, which is plenty of cooking space for most families. Smaller units have 1.1 cubic feet of space, while larger models offer up to 2.2 cubic feet.
The optimal wattage for an over-the-range microwave oven is between 900 and 1,000 watts. A lower wattage may make your microwave struggle to heat food evenly. More powerful over-the-range microwaves with 1,100 and 1,200 watts will heat food faster and more evenly, but they usually come with a higher price tag.
Most microwave ovens offer shortcuts for commonly microwaved foods, eliminating the guesswork that goes into manually selecting the power level and cooking time. Some shortcut buttons include settings for popcorn, pizza, hot dogs, and potatoes; higher-end microwaves offer additional preset options.
Most microwaves also have auto defrost settings that optimize cooking temperature and thawing time. On some higher-end models, sensors monitor the food as it cooks and automatically adjust the cooking time and power for optimal results.
On most over-the-range microwaves, the control panel is at the right of the door, but some models position the controls as part of the microwave’s aesthetic or functionality. Other microwave models have control panels along the bottom of the door, making it more accessible for shorter family members. Others go with a more streamlined look by placing the controls inside the door.
Microwaves with smart technology connect to home WiFi systems, which means users can control the microwave from a smart device or through voice commands on a smart home assistant. Some smart microwaves include a database of foods, allowing users to determine the optimal cooking time by scanning the barcode on the packaging with a smartphone.
Specific microwave ovens offer dual features, so they’ve not only a microwave, but also a convection oven. A dual-function microwave adds a heating element to the cooking process, allowing you to brown roasts and turkeys or crisp pizza crusts. By combining two types of heat, food can cook more quickly, which can prevent it from drying out.
Over-the-range microwaves also have exhaust hood duties. All over-the-range microwaves have hoods with fans that vent to either the interior or exterior of the home. These hoods feature charcoal filters for removing smoke and grease from the air before it is recirculated into the room or sent out an external vent. A standard exhaust fan on a microwave should have a rating of at least 300 cubic feet per minute. Some higher-end microwaves use 400-cubic-feet-per-minute fans.
Microwaves include other features to improve safety or maximize convenience.
A child lockout feature allows the controls to be unlocked when a preset code is entered into the keypad. Though less crucial when the microwave is well above the reach of most young children, it may be an option to consider.The turntable holds your food and largely determines the capacity of the microwave. Most microwaves have turntables that are around 14 inches in diameter. Convection microwaves allow the turntable to be locked during convection baking.Other features include delay-start time options that let users pre-program the microwave to start cooking while they’re away.
Our Top Picks
The following list includes some of the top models organized by category. They feature models from familiar and well-known appliance manufacturers.
With its 1.9-cubic-foot capacity and sensor cook technology, this model from Samsung is one of the best microwaves to mount over the range. It features Sensor Cook technology, which monitors food as it cooks and automatically adjusts the cooking time for optimal results.
With 1,000 watts of power, it has ample energy for cooking, while 12 preset cooking options take the guesswork out of heating the most commonly microwaved foods. A powerful 400-cubic-foot-per-minute fan supplies plenty of ventilation for the range. Other features include a ceramic enamel interior for easy cleaning and a fingerprint-resistant stainless steel finish.
This Amana model proves that a quality over-the-range microwave oven doesn’t have to cost a lot. With 1,000 watts of power and 1.6 cubic feet of capacity, this microwave can handle a family’s cooking needs at a fraction of the cost of comparable models. Features include auto-defrost and one-touch buttons for 30-second increments.
With its two-speed, 300-cubic-feet-per-minute exhaust fan and charcoal filter, this microwave also handles ventilation duties. A powerful light adds visibility for stovetop cooking. With three different finishes, including stainless steel, black, and white, this microwave matches most kitchen appliances in a kitchen.
For those willing to compromise capacity and preprogrammed settings, this compact model from Whirlpool can fit in most small spaces. At just more than 10 inches high, this microwave takes up about the same amount of space as an under-cabinet ventilation hood.
At 1.1 cubic feet, it has a smaller capacity, but it offers power comparable to other microwaves with 1,000 watts. It features a streamlined appearance with a control panel that’s hidden behind the door. Preset buttons are few, but they include popcorn and defrost. Despite its small size, this microwave handles its ventilation duties well with a powerful 400-cubic-feet-per-minute fan. This microwave complements various kitchen styles with three finish options: black, white, and stainless steel.
With more than 2.1 cubic feet of capacity, this model from Samsung is one of the largest over-the-range microwaves on the market. In addition to offering plenty of cooking space, it also boasts 1,000 watts of power. To allow for the extra capacity, this microwave features a door that spans the unit’s entire width, with the control panel on the bottom of the door. Despite its spacious interior, this microwave still fits a standard 30-inch-wide opening.
In addition to its impressive capacity, this microwave offers some extra features, including sensor cooking and one-touch cooking for popcorn, pizza, and veggies. A powerful 400-cubic-feet-per-minute fan provides superior ventilation for the range.
This microwave from GE’s Profile Series combines convection cooking with a microwave, allowing faster meals while also providing golden brown toppings on meat and baked goods. Sensor cooking controls monitor food for optimal cooking temperature and time, eliminating the guesswork. Programmed buttons include controls for convection baking and roasting and a combination cook button for simultaneous microwaving and convection baking.
LED lights brighten the cooktop while a 300-cubic-feet-per-minute fan system provides ample ventilation. This microwave, which fits in a 30-inch-wide opening, has 950 watts and 1.7 cubic feet of capacity. Additional features include a steam clean button and a control lock.
Cook multiple dishes at once with this high-capacity, multi-level microwave from LG Electronics. This microwave boasts a whopping 2.2 cubic feet of capacity and a removable rack, which means a casserole and side dish can cook simultaneously. With 1,000 watts, this microwave features plenty of cooking power to handle a full meal.
In addition to its multiple cooking levels, this LG Electronics microwave features unparalleled stove ventilation with its ExtendaVent. With the push of a button, the vent extends over the cooktop, allowing it to better capture grease and smoke with a 400-cubic-feet-per-minute fan. Touch controls are located across the bottom of the door and feature one-touch cooking options for commonly microwaved foods, such as popcorn, chicken nuggets, hotdogs, and macaroni and cheese. The microwave fits a standard 30-inch opening.
This model from FRIGIDAIRE is packed with features that make it easier to use than a standard microwave. Sensor cooking automatically adjusts the power level and the time for optimal cooking or reheating. Its preprogrammed buttons and 30 cooking options cook food ranging from popcorn to veggies to chicken nuggets. A removable rack allows for multilevel cooking.
In addition to cooking, over-the-range microwaves also provide ample lighting and ventilation for the stove. This model, which features 1.7 cubic feet of capacity, does both thanks to bright LED lighting and a powerful 300-cubic-feet-per-minute fan. FRIGIDAIRE’s Effortless Clean interior makes wiping up messes easy, while a smudge-proof stainless steel exterior resists fingerprints.
With cooking sensors and smart technology, this microwave oven from Whirlpool is cutting edge. This model connects with a smart device via WiFi to enable users to send multiple cooking steps to the microwave, so they can use both the microwave function and convection oven function to cook food from start to finish. When paired with devices like Alexa and Google Assistant, your voice controls the oven.
The convection oven can cook at temperatures up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Sensors regulate cook time and temperature for the best results. It uses a sound sensor to determine when the popcorn is ready based on the number of pops. Other features include a four-speed, 400-cubic-feet-per-minute fan and preprogrammed buttons for cooking common foods. This microwave has 1,100 watts of power and 1.9 cubic feet of space. It fits a standard 30-inch opening.
FAQs About Your New Over-the-Range Microwave
If you still have questions about over-the-range microwaves, then keep reading to find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
Q. Can any microwave go over the range?
A microwave should not go over a range unless it’s specifically designed to serve as an over-the-range model. An over-the-range microwave includes a vent.
Q. Can a microwave go above a gas range?
All over-the-range microwave ovens can be installed above a gas range as long as they meet the minimum 66-inch mounting height from the floor to the top of the microwave.
Q. Do over-the-range microwaves vent well?
An over-the-range microwave with a powerful 400-cubic-feet-per-minute fan may never vent as well as a vent hood. A hood has a much larger capture area than a microwave ventilation system. Ventilation hoods also are more powerful, with fans that are 900 cubic feet per minute and greater.
Q. How long should an over-the-range microwave last?
An over-the-range microwave will usually last about 10 years, depending on how well it’s maintained. Keeping the interior clean by wiping it down after spills helps extend its life. Make sure to use the fan when cooking on the stovetop to prevent moisture from building up on the microwave’s components. Never put anything in the microwave that could damage it.