Microwaves have become an essential appliance in every kitchen. They are perfect for reheating leftovers, defrosting frozen food, and cooking quick meals on hectic days. But when it comes to choosing between a countertop and an over-the-range microwave, which one is the better option?
Countertop Microwave: Pros and Cons
A countertop microwave is a freestanding appliance that sits on a countertop or a shelf. It is easy to install and does not require any special skills or tools. Here are some of the pros and cons of a countertop microwave:Pros:
- Portable and easy to move around the kitchen
- Available in different sizes and designs to fit any kitchen style
- Simple to install, plug in and play
- Less expensive than over-the-range microwaves
- Occupies valuable counter space
- May not fit in small kitchens with limited countertop space
- No built-in ventilation system, which may increase cooking odors and humidity levels in the kitchen
- Can be noisier than over-the-range microwaves
It is important to note that countertop microwaves are not as powerful as over-the-range microwaves. This means that they may take longer to cook or heat up food, which can be inconvenient for those who are in a hurry. Additionally, some countertop microwaves may not have as many features as over-the-range microwaves, such as convection cooking or sensor cooking. However, for those who are looking for a simple and affordable microwave option, a countertop microwave can be a great choice.
Over-the-Range Microwave: Pros and Cons
An over-the-range (OTR) microwave is designed to be mounted above the stove or cooktop. It is also known as an over-the-counter microwave or a range hood microwave. Here are some of the pros and cons of an over-the-range microwave:Pros:
- Saves valuable counter space by being mounted on the wall
- Built-in ventilation system that removes cooking odors and humidity from the kitchen
- Integrated lighting system that illuminates the cooktop surface
- Can be noisier than the countertop microwave, but still quieter than a range hood
- Requires professional installation or DIY skills to mount it correctly
- Only available in limited sizes and designs, which may not match your kitchen style
- More expensive than countertop microwaves
- May not fit in small kitchens with low ceilings or high cabinets
One additional advantage of an over-the-range microwave is that it frees up space in your kitchen. By mounting it above the stove, you can use the counter space for other appliances or food preparation. Additionally, the built-in ventilation system helps to keep your kitchen smelling fresh and clean, as it removes cooking odors and humidity from the air.
However, one potential drawback of an over-the-range microwave is that it can be more difficult to access than a countertop microwave. If you are short or have mobility issues, you may find it challenging to reach the microwave to place or remove items. Additionally, if you have a large family or frequently cook for a crowd, you may find that the limited size of an over-the-range microwave is not sufficient for your needs.
Size Matters: Choosing the Right Microwave for Your Kitchen
Before you decide whether to buy a countertop or an over-the-range microwave, you need to consider the available space in your kitchen. The size of the microwave should fit the available countertop or wall space. For countertop microwaves, the size is measured in cubic feet, while over-the-range microwaves are sized by their width. Countertop microwaves are available in various sizes ranging from 0.5 cubic feet to 2 cubic feet. Mid-size microwaves, which are between 1 to 1.5 cubic feet, are the most popular size for most kitchens. Over-the-range microwaves range between 24 inches to 30 inches wide. Ensure that you measure the height and the depth of the available space to choose the right size.
Aside from the size, you should also consider the wattage of the microwave. The wattage determines how quickly the microwave can cook or heat food. Microwaves with higher wattage can cook food faster than those with lower wattage. If you plan to use your microwave for cooking meals, it is recommended to choose a microwave with at least 1000 watts of power. However, if you only plan to use it for reheating or defrosting, a lower wattage microwave may suffice.
Another factor to consider is the features of the microwave. Some microwaves come with additional features such as convection cooking, grilling, and steam cooking. These features can be useful if you plan to use your microwave for more than just reheating food. However, they also come with a higher price tag. Consider your cooking needs and budget before deciding on a microwave with additional features.
Top Brands for Countertop Microwaves
There are many microwave brands and models to choose from. Here are some of the top brands for countertop microwaves:
When choosing a countertop microwave, it’s important to consider the features that are most important to you. Some models come with advanced features like convection cooking, while others prioritize simplicity and ease of use. Additionally, you’ll want to consider the size and capacity of the microwave, as well as its overall design and aesthetic.
Another important factor to consider when choosing a countertop microwave is its energy efficiency. Look for models that are Energy Star certified, which means they meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Choosing an energy-efficient model can help you save money on your energy bills and reduce your environmental impact.
Top Brands for Over-the-Range Microwaves
When it comes to over-the-range microwaves, there are fewer brands to choose from. Here are some of the top brands for over-the-range microwaves:
LG is a popular brand for over-the-range microwaves due to their sleek and modern designs. They offer a variety of sizes and features, including convection cooking and sensor cooking options.
Another top brand for over-the-range microwaves is Frigidaire. They offer a range of models with features such as one-touch cooking and multi-stage cooking options. Frigidaire microwaves also come with a variety of finishes, including stainless steel and black stainless steel.
Installation and Maintenance: What to Consider
The installation and maintenance of a microwave can significantly impact its performance and longevity. Here are some things to consider regarding installation and maintenance:Installation:
- Countertop microwaves only require plugging into an electrical outlet
- Over-the-range microwaves should be installed by a professional or by following the manufacturer’s guidelines
- Make sure it is mounted correctly to avoid any accidents
- Clean and wipe the interior and exterior surfaces regularly, following the manufacturer’s recommendations
- Replace or clean the air filters(available for over-the-range microwaves) periodically
- Check the microwave’s electrical cords and plugs for any damage or fraying and replace them immediately if needed
- Inspect the door for any damage or malfunctioning parts to avoid any leakage of microwave radiation
Energy Efficiency: Which Type of Microwave Saves More Energy?
When it comes to energy efficiency, countertop and over-the-range microwaves are relatively similar. The amount of energy used depends on the wattage of the microwave. Generally, most microwaves range between 500 to 1500 watts. The higher the wattage, the more energy it consumes. However, over-the-range microwaves are designed to be more energy-efficient by incorporating a ventilation system that reduces the need for a separate range hood.
Price Comparison: Is One Type of Microwave More Affordable?
When it comes to the price of microwaves, countertop microwaves tend to be less expensive than over-the-range microwaves. Countertop microwaves range from $50 to $500, depending on the size and features. On the other hand, over-the-range microwaves range from $250 to $1000, depending on the brand, size, and features.
Safety Concerns: Factors to Consider Before Making a Purchase Decision
Safety is a crucial factor when it comes to electrical appliances. Here are some safety concerns to consider before making a purchase decision:
- Ensure that the microwave door closes securely and tightly to avoid any leakage of microwave radiation
- Check if there are safety sensors that turn off the microwave if the door is not fully closed or if an object gets stuck in the door
- Do not operate the microwave empty as it may lead to the magnetron overheating and damages to the appliance
Design and Aesthetic Appeal: Which Type of Microwave Suits Your Kitchen Style?
The appearance of the microwave can play a major factor when it comes to choosing between countertop and OTR microwaves. Here are some things to consider:
- Countertop microwaves come in various sizes and designs that can match your kitchen style
- OTR microwaves only come in limited designs, which may not always match your kitchen style
- Some OTR microwaves come with stainless steel exteriors, which can match modern kitchen styles
Noise Level: Which is Quieter, Countertop or Over-the-Range Microwave?
The noise level of a microwave can be a concern if you have a small or an open-concept kitchen. Generally, over-the-range microwaves are quieter than countertop microwaves. This is because OTR microwaves come with built-in ventilation systems that reduce the noise produced by the appliance.
Cooking Features and Options: Which Type Offers More Flexibility in Cooking?
When it comes to cooking features and options, both countertop and over-the-range microwaves offer similar functionalities. The type of microwave you choose depends on the types of foods you like to cook and your personal preferences. Both types of microwaves offer cooking features such as defrost, reheat, cook, and popcorn settings. Some high-end microwaves come with additional features such as sensor cooking, potato or pizza settings, and auto cook menus.
Cleaning and Maintenance Tips for Both Types of Microwaves
Microwaves need regular cleaning and maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity. Here are some cleaning and maintenance tips for both countertop and over-the-range microwaves:
- Use mild soap and warm water to clean the interior and exterior surfaces weekly
- Wipe the door and control panel after each use with a damp cloth
- Use a microwave-safe cover to avoid any spills or splatters
- Never use abrasive cleaners or steel wool pads to clean microwave surfaces
Conclusion: Which is the Better Option for You?
Deciding between a countertop and over-the-range microwave depends on your kitchen space, your cooking needs, and your personal preferences. Both types of microwaves have their pros and cons. Freestanding countertop microwaves are portable and easy to install, but they occupy valuable counter space. On the other hand, over-the-range microwaves save counter space, have a built-in ventilation system, but can be noisier and more expensive. It is important to consider all factors before making a final decision about which type of microwave is best for your needs.