Microwave Oven Buying Guide


Microwaves are the epitome of convenience. For most folks, its the appliance they never really pay any mind to. Typically, a microwave is used to cook and/or reheat food with the most common application being the latter. Microwaves are found in almost every home, as well as, work office kitchen or break rooms. It is arguably the best appliance invented in the last century in terms of usage and effectiveness. Microwaves saves a lot of time compared to more traditional ways of reheating food as with using a kitchen range or oven. In relation, microwaves also use less energy and resources compared to traditional ovens as well.

Simply speaking, microwaves are able to cook food using radio waves. The exact science involves a form of electromagnetic radiation waves to induce the molecules in your food to move and produce thermal energy. This process, in turn, is what allows food to heat up and cook. In regard to this process, microwaves are quite effective at stimulating the moisture and fats in foods to produce heat. Certain foods benefit greatly from using the microwave, such as butter or chocolate without the risk of burning.

We live in a time where microwave ovens aren't really given much thought, in the sense that they are pretty much a staple appliance in any modern home kitchen. In the same regard, buying a new microwave oven may also not merit much thought or consideration.




Generally, microwaves nowadays offer a numeric touchpad control, but some also offer simply turn-dials. Lower end models will offer a turn dial, whereas, mid to high end models will typically provide a number touchpad.




A child lock feature is useful for households with small children in order to avoid unwanted usage or mishaps involving the microwave.



A common feature found on most mid to high end microwaves, a turntable helps food receive microwaves more evenly.

Racks: Some ovens may provide racks in addition to a turntable and some may only have a rack as its only feature. The benefit of having a rack allows for more food to be heated at the same time.



Microwave oven food containment capacity is determined by cubic feet. Smaller microwaves usually have about a 1 cubic foot capacity (1ft x 1ft x 1ft) and larger microwaves can accommodate up to 2 cubic feet or more on their oven cavity.



Some microwave ovens are equipped with food and temperature sensors to automatically adjust cooking power and cooking time.

Cooking Watts

Microwave oven cooking capabilities are judged by wattage. Typically, 1,000 Watt microwaves are the standard. Microwaves range from anywhere from 700-1600 watts. A general rule of thumb is the higher the wattage, the faster food will cook.

Purchasing a New Microwave Oven



The most common type of microwave found in most homes are countertop microwaves. These microwaves are typically the least expensive.

As with most appliances and consumer goods, the more features a microwave oven provides will equate to a higher cost.



Microwaves come in various sizes to accommodate all sorts of counter space.

When buying a new microwave oven, there are a few things to consider. One of the main things is to consider where the microwave will be located.

Types of Microwave Ovens

There are a few types of microwaves to accommodate certain kitchen layout aspects, but overall the two most popular designs are countertop microwaves and over the range microwaves.



A very common style of microwave, the countertop fits practically anywhere you have space for it. The only negative aspect of a countertop microwave is the fact that you lose counter space wherever you place your microwave.



Over the Range

Another very common style of microwave, the over the range style usually offers a few bonus options for being located above the range. Some over the range microwaves are convection that offers the use of radiant heat with fan circulation and microwaves to cook food. Most, if not all, over the range microwaves provide a ventilation system to remove cooking vapors and circulate air around the range. OTR microwaves are also designed to match ranges in design. However, today with the prevalence with high output BTU kitchen ranges, it may not be a good idea to use an OTR microwave because it is not as effective as a ventilation hood to remove smoke and grease. Also, high performing ranges generate a very large amount of heat which is detrimental for an OTR as well.



As the name implies, this style of microwave is designed as an alternative in which the microwave oven is placed inside a wall or within the confines of cabinetry. It is a nice design choice to free up counter space and is designed to fit anywhere along a wall or shelf and is intended to blend flush with the overall kitchen design.



Similar to a built-in microwave oven, a microwave drawer is located underneath a counter and is designed to pull outward like a drawer. The benefit in this design relieves the requirement in using valuable counter space.

Conventional vs Convection Microwave Oven



A conventional microwave oven relies on the use of only microwaves to heat food. Generally, a conventional oven cannot crisp food.




A convection microwave oven utilizes both microwaves, as well as, radiant heat and some with the assistance of fan circulation. The benefits a convection microwave oven provides is a faster cook time with the ability to create a crispy golden brown texture on the exterior of food. A convection microwave oven is sometimes marketed as a "speed oven" or similar name.

Some Practical Advice

Microwave Safe Plastics:

Most folks might not pay attention towards using microwave safe plastics to reheat food, but it’s actually harmful to use materials not deemed safe for the microwave. Some plastics can be effected by the microwave radiation and transfer chemicals into your food.


It is almost common place for everyone to warn against placing any type of metal inside a microwave oven. Although, technically metal can be placed inside a microwave in certain ways, it is not advised because of the potential of damage to the microwave itself. For all intents and purposes, just don’t place any kind of metals inside your microwave.