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Are Over-The-Range Microwaves Going Out Of Style? (Reviews / Ratings)

Steve Sheinkopf  |  October 16, 2020  |  6 Min. Read

Microwaves  |  Microwave Drawers  |  Ventilation  |  Speed Ovens

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The over-the-range microwave checks a lot of boxes in kitchen design. It will centralize your cooking and remove the microwave off your counter.

Over-the-range microwaves are relatively inexpensive and look good over the matching stove.

It checks all the boxes except one important feature.

Unfortunately, it can be a pretty big problem, depending on how you cook.

In this article, you will learn the specifications of over-the-range microwaves and why they don't matter.

You will learn how to vent and the best alternatives to an over-the-range microwave as well.

Are Over-The-Range Microwaves Going Out Of Style?

Cafe-Appliances-Yale-Appliance-in-HanoverCafé Appliances Over-The-Range Microwave And Gas Range at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

First, to answer that question, the answer is no, over-the-range microwaves are not going out of style.

Whirlpool just started manufacturing an over-the-range microwave to be a direct replacement for a hood.

You can still buy an over-the-range microwave with plenty of features.

Short on time? Get our free Ventilation Buying GuideLearn More

Best Over-The-Range Microwaves

Here are a few interesting over-the-range microwaves to consider. 

Sharp SMO1854DS Over-The-Range Microwave - $329

Sharp-SMO1854DS-Over-The-Range-Microwave

Sharp has convection over-the-range microwaves. You can use it as a regular microwave, use convection, or combine the cycles to save half the time without compromising the food's flavor.

GE JNM7196SKSS Over-The-Range Microwave - $279

GE-JNM7196SKSS-1GE has Advantium technology in its over the range. They use high powered light bulbs for cooking with two different models.

You can buy it in standard 110-volt or rewire your outlet and cook eight times faster with their 220-volt model.

See More: Over-The-Range Microwaves

Over-The-Range Microwave Venting

electric-freestanding-ranges-at-yale-appliance-in-hanoverOver-The-Range Microwaves and Freestanding Ranges at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

The over-the-range microwave has not changed much since I first saw it back in 1988.

The typical specs are 16.2" tall, 16.375" deep, and 30" wide to match the range.

Depth is a problem, as you will see.

The average CFM (how many cubes of air is exhausted in a minute) is 300-400.

Most range hoods are 400-695 CFM's for a standard gas range.

The microwave was an adequate vent for a typical stove designed in the 1980s and 1990s.

However, while the over-the-range microwave specifications haven't changed, gas ranges have increased output considerably.

The average gas range had a power burner of 12,000 BTU back in 1988.

Now let's look at an average range.

samsung-freestanding-range-with-an-over-the-range-microwaveSamsung Freestanding Gas Range and Over-The-Range Microwave at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

This Samsung has two burners similar to a pro range at 19,000 and 17,000 BTU with a 5th burner at 10,000 BTU.

A range was 50% more powerful at 60,000 BTU versus 40,000 BTU back in 1988.

Yet the over-the-range microwave hasn't changed, and low CFM is only part of the problem.

How To Vent Your Stove

Ventilation-System-at-yale-applianceVentilation and Blower System at Yale Appliance in Boston

 

Let me break down the various components of proper venting.

CFM

 You may know it as blower speed. It is the acronym for cubic feet per minute or how many air cubes are exhausted per minute.

A 400 CFM over-the-range microwave exhausts 400 cubes of air. Blowers can be mounted internally, externally, or inline in the duct.

Capture Area

Capture is a frequently overlooked component of ventilation. It's just the depth.

However, if you think you can buy a shallow 1000 CFM hood, the smoke will billow past the hood and into your kitchen.

The average hood is 21-24" in depth, whereas the over-the-range microwave is only 16".

Along with below-average CFM, you now have a shallow capture area.

That will be an issue on the more powerful burners.

Duct Run

Straight up is the best way to exhaust your hood. It's where the smoke is already going. Straight back is also ok.

However, bending the duct more than once will reduce the static flow of the exhaust.

Duct Size: 4 inch round duct is for a 180 CFM dryer exhaust, not a range. Duct sizes should be a minimum of 6 inch round or larger.

Make-Up Air 

Any vent over 400 CFM in the state of Massachusetts now needs an equal return of air into your home.

Wherever you are reading this, you should have a return on a more powerful exhaust.

I explain it fully in the webinar below. 

Kitchen Renovation Mistakes to Avoid Webinar | Yale Appliance And Metropolitan Cabinet

 

Over-The-Range Microwave Alternatives

Induction Ranges And Cooktops

Wolf-Induction-CooktopWolf Induction Cooktop 

 

Induction is a magnetic heat and is far more efficient than gas at 90% vs. 55% gas.

Consequently, the advantages include:

  • Boils faster: Way faster than even a pro burner
  • Simmers lower: Gas blows out at a low temperature
  • Most child safe: Induction can only be activated by metal, so your (and my) toddler can not accidentally turn it on.
  • Easiest to clean: The glass is not heated. Spills do not become encrusted into your cooktop
  • Fewer HVAC costs: You don't have 60,000 BTUs of heat in your house
  • Less venting required

Over-The-Range Microwaves Alternatives

Microwave Drawer

bosch-microwave-drawer-on-display-at-yale-appliance-in-hanoverInstalled Bosch Microwave Drawer at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

Microwave drawers slide out with a button touch and are great in spaces like islands and cabinets.

Microwave drawers are all produced by Sharp. But with brands like Jenn-Air, Thermador, and Bosch, they are better-looking and can be mounted flush to your wall.

Speed Oven

Sharp-microwave-drawers-at-yale-appliance-in-hanoverSpeed Ovens And Built-In Microwaves at Yale Appliance in Hanover

 

Speed ovens are convection microwaves. They can cook as a microwave, convection oven, or both.

Speed ovens can be placed anywhere, unlike microwave drawers, because they fold down and do not slide out.

The more powerful 220-volt products need to be placed in a wall cabinet.

You can cook in a speed oven. The best is Miele because the controls are so easy to use. JennAir, KitchenAid, and Bosch Benchmark have a decent product as well.

Under Cabinet Microwave

GE-appliances-under-cabinet-microwaveGE Appliances Under Cabinet Built-In Microwave

 

GE has a 12-inch deep microwave designed to be placed under a cabinet. It is a bit dated looking, but not bad as a last resort.

You can build it into a cabinet as well.

Should You Buy An Over-The-Range Microwave?

The over-the-range microwave is not going out of style. It still is a good design even after all these years.

However, an over-the-range microwave can not handle the grease and smoke of today's higher-powered gas stoves.

If you do cook, consider induction or place the microwave somewhere else in your kitchen.

Additional Resources

Get the Yale Ventilation Buying Guide with features, specs and how to vent any range properly. Well over 800,000 people have read a Yale Guide.

view our ventilation buying guide

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WHY SHOULD YOU TRUST US?

A few review sites have placed this at the bottom of their articles. So here is our take: Our mission is to find reliable products for you to buy. Other review sites may say this as well.

However, we don’t love every product. Quite frankly, it costs us way too much money in repair costs to support less reliable brands.

In fact, we sell fewer brands than most appliance stores. Here is why:

We feel it is our responsibility to repair your appliances after you buy them.

We now have 30 service technicians, each averaging 8-10 calls a day Monday through Friday, plus another 110 on Saturday. That's over 30,000 service calls logged in one year.

The labor rates of fixing an appliance do not come close to the true cost in any product’s warranty period.

That is why no major retailer has a service department. It costs too much labor, money and time.

Our Blog is a bit different than most others you will read. We cannot write glowing reviews of unreliable products.

Hopefully, the bloggers and organizations who write such glowing product reviews for every brand consider servicing these products first. Only then they will understand the consequences of their marketing.

Steve Sheinkopf

My goal has always been simple: I want Yale to be the best retail experience anywhere. I have tried to create a compelling environment for customers and employees alike.

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