Can You Replace a Range Hood With an Over-the-Range Microwave?

Jason Anemaet  |  September 24, 2021  |  3 Min. Read

Range Hoods  |  Over-the-Range Microwave

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It seems like such a good idea.

Replacing your hood with a microwave centralizes your cooking.

It also removes the microwave from your counter or cabinet, giving you more overall space.

In this article, you will learn how to replace a hood with a microwave step by step.

You should also know that replacing a range hood with a microwave is NOT a good idea in many instances, especially if you like to cook.

You will also learn some other options for your microwave as well as the basics of ventilation.

In this article, we will be a how-to section, a why not section, along with better alternatives.

How to Replace Your Hood With a Microwave

1. Cutting Your Cabinets to Accommodate an Over-the-Range Microwave

kitchenaid-over-the-range-microwave-hood-installed-with-cabinets

You have probably looked for an over-the-range microwave solution to replace your range hood.

However, you have encountered a height restriction problem.

Over-the-range microwaves are about 15.5 to 17 inches high, yet most hoods are 10 inches tall.

You could not install the microwave hood because the bottom would be too low for the cooking surface.

You could always cut the cabinets, but who wants to do that?

Here is a better option: replacing your hood with a low-profile microwave hood (shown below).

KitchenAid-low-profile-over-the-range-microwaveKitchenAid Low Profile Over-the-Range Microwave

 

KitchenAid has two models, the KMLS311HSS and the KHMC319ESS (with convection), with only a 10-inch height designed to replace a hood.

KitchenAid KMLS311HSS - $899

kitchenaid-KMLS311HSS-low-profile-microwave

Features:

  • 1.1 cu. ft. Capacity
  • Sensor Cooking
  • Fingerprint Resistant
  • CleanRelease Non-Stick Interior
  • 1,000-Watt Cooking Power
  • Concealed Touch Controls
  • 90° Hinge Door
  • LED Cooktop Lighting
  • Tap-to-Open Door

KitchenAid's low-profile microwave hoods have surprisingly good features.

Although they aren't tall, you still have a 1.1 cubic foot capacity. This is midsize. Other over-the-range microwaves can have up to 2 cubic feet.

You have to choose whether you want to cut the cabinets for a larger capacity or whether 1.1 cubic feet is enough.

2. Changing the Electrical System for an Over-the-Range Microwave

You must change and adjust to the microwave's electrical requirements.

If your range hood is hard-wired, you may need to move install and relocate an outlet.

A Whirlpool microwave hood installs like a regular over-the-range microwave. However, your hood is probably directly hard-wired. 

Whirlpool-sunset-bronze-2Whirlpool Over-the-Range Microwave

 

Older under cabinet hoods are usually directly wired and not on a plug. If that is the case, the wire will have to be moved into a receptacle in the cabinet above.

It is not difficult because the power is already there. Yet, you will still need an electrician.

3. Preparing the Cabinet for an Over-the-Range Microwave

Whether you buy a tall or large over-the-range microwave, microwaves are mounted to a steel plate. The plate and screws are part of the microwave package.

  1. You must start by using the provided screw hole template for the top cabinet base. Mark the hole marks and drill them out.
  2. Once those holes are drilled, it’s time to mount the back wall bracket. Once secured you will use this mount for leverage when finalizing the install, in the next step. This doesn't support the microwave. Instead, it only gives you some leverage.
  3. Next, pull the cord through to the outlet above and pull out the slack as you move up.
  4. Lastly, screw the bolts from the cabinet into the microwave below.

Congratulations, you now have a microwave over your range.

But before you install an over-the-range microwave, you should know the issues.

Short on time? Get our free Ventilation Buying GuideLearn More

How to Vent 

Ventilation is tied into four parts, how many cubic feet of air is moved per minute (CFM), capture area, duct size, and where your duct runs air out of your home.

When replacing a hood with a microwave, you should be concerned with two of the four, CFM and capture area, especially if you cook a lot.

CFM or cubic feet per minute is how many cubes of air flows through the vent in one minute. 

Microwaves are typically 360-400 CFM. Hoods can vary between 250-1500 CFM. A shallower hood is between 250-600.

If you cook a lot, you want to ensure you are not replacing a higher CFM hood with a lower CFM microwave.

Capture Area is the height, width, and depth of a vent. Contrary to popular belief, smoke is not immediately evacuated when turning on your hood. It is chambered, then exhausted.

Microwaves have very little capture depth. They don't cover the front burners, which are coincidentally the high output burners of most ranges.

Smoke will billow past a microwave into your kitchen and house.

When to Replace a Hood With a Microwave

samsung-freestanding-range-with-an-over-the-range-microwaveSamsung Over-the-Range Microwave

 

If you cook in the microwave frequently, then replacing your hood with an over-the-range microwave is a good option.

However, if you are using an over-the-range microwave as your ventilation, you shouldn't cook on your cooktop as much unless boiling water. If possible, only use the back burners of your range with an over-the-range microwave. 

The only other time to replace a hood with a microwave is if your current hood is underpowered or recirculating.

When to Not Replace Your Hood With a Microwave

thermador-60-inch-pro-range-with-steam-Thermador Professional Range with a Griddle

 

You should not replace a hood with an over-the-range microwave if you do any type of high-volume cooking. Frying, griddling, or using a wok all cannot be adequately vented with an over-the-range microwave.

You might want to replace your hood with a higher CFM hood if that's the case.

You do not want all that smoke, grease, and heat in your kitchen and home.

We all know what an underventilated kitchen smells like. You don't want your kitchen to smell like yesterday's fried fish.

However, indoor air pollution is a genuine concern. We are breathing worse air inside our homes than even outside in our cities.

Other Ideas for Microwaves

1. Hang It Up

GE-PEM31SFSS

The least expensive option is to hang a microwave from your cabinet. The GE PEM31SFSS is 11 inches deep and is designed to fit under your cabinet.

2. Build It In

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

 

This can be done in any number of ways. Many existing microwaves can be built into the cabinet with a "trim kit," a stainless frame to circulate air to the front.

Many new microwaves are set to be built in like wall ovens.

Microwave drawers are popular and can be mounted anywhere from under your counter to below your wall oven.

You press a button, and the drawer slides out.

Can You Replace a Range Hood With an Over-the-Range Microwave?

Yes, you can replace a range hood with an over-the-range microwave. It's simple to do, especially if you already have your cabinets built in.

With an over-the-range microwave, you will centralize your cooking area over your range.

However, it may not be advisable if you truly like to cook due to poor ventilation.

Additional Resources

Get the Yale Ventilation Buying Guide with features, specs, and how to vent any range properly. Well over 1 million people have read a Yale Guide.

view our ventilation buying guide

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