The Ultimate Microwave Oven Buying Guide
Ideas and Advice

The Ultimate Microwave Oven Buying Guide

Regardless of whether you're a hardcore foodie or someone whose cooking ability stops at taking things out of the freezer, a microwave is a critical element of your kitchen — and that's where our microwave buying guide comes in. At Appliances Connection, we want you to choose the perfect microwave for your needs, because in the end what matters most about an appliance is how much you use it. From overhead microwaves to over-the-range microwaves, built-in microwaves and even microwave drawers, read on to learn about the various types and configurations of microwave that are available on the market.

Advanced Features for Convenient Cooking

Advanced Featured

Heating technology has come quite a long way since the invention of the microwave oven, and you can expect a variety of modern features with any new microwave. While not every microwave will come with every feature, it's important to consider your needs and the space you're putting your microwave in. Choosing a few key features can help you narrow down the field of choices to a more reasonable level.

Some of the features available on modern microwave ovens include:

Sensor Cooking

Sensor Cooking

Constantly measures the temperature and moisture level of your food, automatically ending cooking when your food is done


Sensor Cooking

Rotates your food as it cooks, ensuring the most even heating and reducing the potential for burned food

Automatic Defrosting

Sensor Cooking

Uses sensors to detect when frozen food is perfectly thawed

Convection Cooking

Sensor Cooking

Combines the speed of a microwave oven with the raw power of convection

Smart Features

Sensor Cooking

Let's you connect your microwave to nearby compatible appliances or to your smartphone

Child Locks

Sensor Cooking

Prevents unauthorized use of the microwave by children

Selectable Power Level

Sensor Cooking

Let's you reduce the effective wattage of your microwave for slower cooking


Sensor Cooking

Can set a countdown independent of cooking

Hidden Controls

Sensor Cooking

Only appear when you need them, decreasing visual clutter in your kitchen

What Sizes of Microwave Are Available?

What Sizes

There are a lot of sizes of microwave out there. Some styles of microwave, especially built-in and over-the-range microwaves, require precise measurements and installation, while the only things you need to start using a countertop microwave is some space in your kitchen and a power outlet. In general, you'll find that nearly all microwaves are between 24 in. and 30 in. wide, but there are compact countertop microwaves as small as 15 in. wide that are perfect for smaller kitchen spaces.

The more important size consideration when buying a new microwave, however, is its internal capacity. If you only ever cook small items, you can get microwaves with capacities as small as .5 cu. ft. (which is still large enough to fit a small dinner plate). On the other hand, you can get a built-in microwave or countertop unit that can hold up to 2.2 cu. ft — that's more than enough to accommodate larger cookware. Ultimately, you'll want to consider your own needs for the food you plan on microwaving before you make a choice based on a microwave's capacity.

All About Cooking Wattage

Cooking Wattage

Microwaves come with a wide variety of wattage options, and it can be difficult to know exactly what wattage you need. The choice is made even more difficult when you consider how many microwaves come with adjustable power levels that let you set the microwave's power to a fraction of the maximum available.

In general, most frozen food is calibrated for microwaves with 1,000 to 1,100 W of cooking power, meaning that if a lot of your food comes to you pre-made, it can be an enormous time saver to choose a microwave that maxes out at that level. If you need more or less power, Appliances Connection sells microwave ovens that use as little as 700 W and as much as 1,600 W.

Low wattage microwaves are useful for keeping your electrical bill manageable, but they can take a longer time to fully heat your food. Higher wattage microwaves can cook food more evenly and quickly, as well as heat larger meals without leaving cold spots.

What Type of Microwave Do You Need?

Microwave ovens are among the most customizable kitchen appliances around. There are quite a few microwave installation types, and choosing a style should be one of the first things you do when you decide to buy a new microwave.


Countertop microwaves are the easiest type of microwave to install: simply plug one in, and you can start heating your food right away. But this comes at the cost of counter space, meaning that they may not be the best option for smaller kitchens where space is at a premium.


Over-the-range microwaves are installed above your range or cooktop, and they usually double as a 300 CFM to 400 CFM range hood. This is especially useful in smaller kitchens, but having one means that you can't install a more powerful range hood without also getting a new microwave.

Built In

Built-in microwaves are installed directly into your cabinets, allowing for flush installation nearly anywhere in your kitchen. These are great for modern, luxury kitchens where you don't want a microwave oven cluttering things up. They often have lighting or other features on the bottom of the microwave, allowing you to illuminate your countertop as well as cooking food. These can be a great way to increase the available space on top of your countertops, although you lose out on cupboard space instead.


Drawer microwaves, meanwhile, are the newest development in microwave oven technology. These install under your counters, flush with the drawers in your kitchen, and you pull them out like a drawer (thus the name). Because of the way they open, they tend to be able to handle larger food items than their front-opening counterparts (even when they have a similar capacity).

Conventional Microwave or Convection Cooking?


If you want to enhance the function of your microwave, consider a unit that comes with convection cooking. While traditional microwaves simply use electromagnetic waves to heat food, convection microwaves double as a small convection oven, using a fan and a heating element to heat your food evenly, quickly. Convection microwaves often come with racks that allow you to heat multiple dishes at once, as well. Convection microwaves can be used entirely like traditional microwaves, and many of them come with a combination setting for items like frozen pizzas. The convection setting on convection microwaves is ideal for items that should be crisped and browned, such as roasts, bacon, and baked goods.

Practical Advice for Using Your New Microwave

New Microwave

There are a few easy ways to get the most use out of your new microwave. The first is to never put metallic items into your microwave: whether it's a stray fork or a piece of aluminum foil that was used to wrap your takeout, putting metal in a microwave leads to sparking and can even set your food on fire.

Another important tip for using a microwave is to arrange food so that it cooks evenly. The thickest parts of your food should go on the outside of the plate, with smaller items in the middle.

Covering your food before you place it into a microwave not only preserves the moisture level of your food, but also keeps the cavity of your microwave clean.

If you're cooking hot dogs, sausages, potatoes, or any other food item that has a skin, pierce the skin with a fork before you microwave it. Otherwise, the food item is at risk of exploding.