What to Look for Before Buying a Microwave Oven

Expert tips on how to buy the best microwave.

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1. What should consumers look for when selecting a microwave?

When shopping for a microwave, consider style, size, and functionality. There are a wide variety of microwaves available today to fit every need and kitchen design. Microwaves come in many shapes and sizes, including countertop microwaves, over-the-range microwaves, microwaves built into cabinetry, and microwave drawers.

Microwaves come in many sizes. Countertop and over-the-range microwaves offer the most capacity, with some models large enough to fit a 15-inch dinner plate. For small spaces, microwave drawers are very popular as they install into lower cabinets tucked out of sight. Speed ovens look like miniature wall ovens with a drop-down door design offering both microwave and oven functions, perfect for kitchens of all sizes.

In the past, microwaves offered speed and convenience – heating leftovers, beverages, and thawing frozen goods. Convection microwaves provide additional oven capacity. Some convection models offer additional roasting, broiling, and speed cooking functions for added versatility.

2. What differentiates a good from a bad microwave?

Microwave power is rated in watts. Most microwaves offer approximately 1000 watts. The higher the wattage, the more powerful the microwave will be. Over-the-range microwaves also include ventilation and are often mounted above the cooktop or stove. A microwave’s venting power is rated in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. The higher the CFM, the better the venting capabilities. Microwave vents are often rated between 200-400 CFM. Lastly, a good microwave will meet your desired needs and design goals. It’s important to ensure the microwave will fit into one’s space and is installed properly. Everyone uses a microwave differently. Some quickly zap leftovers or melt butter, while others rely on its cooking and baking capabilities. Before purchasing a microwave, consider the modes to ensure all needs are met.

3. How long does the average microwave last?

Most appliances today last about 8-16 years depending on the frequency of use and how it is installed. To make a microwave last longer, it’s a good idea to keep it clean and install it according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

4. Any favorite brands / models?