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[Webinar] Kitchen Appliances to Avoid in 2024

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

August 22nd, 2023 | 8 min. read

By Steve Sheinkopf

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It seems like such a clever idea.

Replacing your hood with a microwave centralizes your cooking.

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

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

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

Moreover, you will learn other options for your microwave and the basics of ventilation.

Let’s get started.

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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 is simple, especially if your cabinets are already built in.

You will centralize your cooking area over your range with an over-the-range microwave.

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

Understanding Over-the-Range Microwaves

Cafe-Appliances-Kitchen-at-Yale-Appliance-in-Hanover-2023

The over-the-range microwave was my favorite appliance in the 1990s. It combines the microwave with the vent, effectively centralizing the microwave function.

It is off your counter and at eye level.

However, microwaves are only 16 inches deep, but the front burners you most likely cook on the most are 23 inches.

When cooking, fumes such as smoke, carbon monoxide, and other harmful pollutants tend to linger in the kitchen, especially when using high-output gas burners.

Back in 1986, the total stovetop output averaged at 35,000 BTU (British Thermal Units). Nowadays, a mere two burners can exceed that output.

This does not include professional (pro) ranges with burners averaging 20,000-25,000 BTU.

Then again, placing a microwave over a pro range is an exceptionally bad idea. Stop here if that is what you are considering.

Role of a Range Hood

monogram-brass-kitchen-range-hood-and-professional-range-at-yale-appliance-in-hanover

Range hoods can be excellent depending on their depth, CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute), and how you vent.

A 21-inch-deep hood with 350 CFM will be marginally better than the over-the-range microwave.

The average CFM on a microwave is about 310 CFM (cubic feet per minute), but hoods vary between 300-1500 CFM depending on the hood.

Yale-Appliance-Ventilation-Hoods-Gas-Cooking

The better hoods at 24 inches deep will cover the front burners and exhaust those powerful front burners.

Pro Tip: If you frequently cook with high heat, such as using a wok or griddle, it is recommended that you consider a high-performance hood that is at least 24 inches deep and has a CFM range of 900-1200.

If you currently have a hood with a depth of 24 inches and cook frequently, I advise you to be careful before making the switch to an over-the-range microwave. (I know, I am cautioning you a lot).

Now that we have a clear understanding of the main functions of an over-the-range microwave and a range hood, let's move on some important factors to keep in mind.

Considerations Before Replacing Your Range Hood with an Over-the-Range Microwave

Before you start, you must assess if the unit is ducted. This means that you can either have a duct that leads outside, or have a ductless system that vents back into the room.

For ductless, installation is simple because you do not have to line up the vents.

Note: Ventless is a last-resort option. Even though you filter out the grease and smoke, various gases like nitrous oxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and others may still linger in your kitchen and home. It is always advised to vent these gases outside.

If ducted, you want to make sure the ducts line up properly. Most hoods and microwaves are centered.

However, the duct sizes may be different. You can always buy a duct transition converting the exhaust opening to your existing duct.

This is what duct transitions look like:

Duct-Transition-1
Duct-Transition-2

You are changing the shape from a hood or over-the-range microwave to whatever your ducting is internally.

Over-the-Range Microwave Installation Process and Challenges

Do you need to cut your cabinet to accommodate an over-the-range microwave?

You will encounter a height restriction problem with most conventional over-the-range microwaves.

Over-the-range microwaves are about 15.5 to 17 inches high, yet hoods vary from 10 to 18 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 as an option.

For smaller hoods, you can replace your hood with a low-profile microwave hood.

Whirlpool-WML35011SS

Whirlpool has three models, while KitchenAid has two at 10 inches tall and is manufactured to replace conventional ten-inch hoods.

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

Although they are not tall, you still have a 1.1 cubic foot capacity, enough for a dinner plate.

The larger over-the-range microwave capacity is up to 2 cubic feet.

You must choose whether to cut the cabinets for a larger capacity or if 1.1 cubic feet is enough.

Safety Considerations Before Installing Your Microwave

Electrical Safety

  • Circuit Capacity: Ensure the circuit to which the microwave will be connected can handle the appliance's electrical load.
  • Outlet Location: The outlet should be in the cabinet above the microwave to avoid dangling cords.
  • Unplug First: Before installing or adjusting, ensure the microwave is unplugged.

Proper Ventilation

  • Over-the-range microwaves either vent externally or recirculate the air. Ensure that there is a clear path to vent the exhaust outside if it is set up for external ventilation.
  • Ensure ductwork, if used, is clean and leads to an external vent. In older installations, this is a problem.

Correct Mounting and Brackets

  • Use the proper mounting brackets and templates provided by the manufacturer.
  • Ensure that the wall and the cabinet can support the weight of the microwave. This might require additional reinforcement.

Height and Clearance

  • The bottom of the microwave should be a minimum of 30 inches above the surface. This might vary based on local building codes and manufacturer recommendations.
  • Ensure enough clearance between the stovetop and the bottom of the microwave. This prevents heat damage and allows for the efficient operation of the exhaust fan.

Handling the Microwave

  • Over-the-range microwaves are heavy. Always have at least two people lift and position the microwave during installation to prevent injury. Our installers are always 2–3-man teams.

Stability

  • Secure the microwave to prevent it from being accidentally knocked off or pulled down.
  • Use all the recommended screws and bolts to ensure they are tightly fixed.

Cord and Plug Safety

  • Ensure the cord is not pinched or under tension when the microwave is mounted.
  • The plug should be easily accessible if the microwave needs to be quickly disconnected.

Testing

  • After installation, test the microwave's functions, including the exhaust fan and light, to ensure everything works properly.

Installation Manual

  • Always refer to the manufacturer's installation manual for specific guidelines and warnings.

Personal Safety

  • Use safety gloves to avoid cuts or injuries during installation.
  • Wear safety goggles, especially when drilling or adjusting cabinetry or walls.

Now that you have your friend and your glasses on, let's install this microwave.

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 directly hard-wired.

Older under-cabinet hoods are usually directly wired and not on a plug.

From this:

Converting-A-Hardwired-Range-Hood-(1)

To this:

Commercial-Electric-Outlet-

If so, the wire must be moved into a receptacle in the cabinet above.

It is not difficult because the 110-volt power is already there, but you will need an electrician or someone extremely handy to move the outlet

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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.

Prepare the Area

  • Remove the old range hood.
  • Clean the area where the microwave will be installed. This includes both the wall and the bottom of the cabinet above the range.

Review the Installation Manual

  • Before starting, read the manufacturer's installation manual to familiarize yourself with the specific requirements for your microwave model.

Mark and Drill the Wall:

  • Most microwaves come with a wall template. Tape this template to the wall to mark where the mounting bracket will go and where any holes need to be drilled.
  • Drill the necessary holes in the wall for the mounting bracket and any bolts that will go through the cabinet above.

Install the Exhaust Vent (if applicable)

  • Decide whether you will be using a recirculating vent, a wall vent, or a roof vent.
  • If you are connecting to existing ductwork, ensure that it is clean and of the appropriate size, or use a transition to change the shape.

Attach the Mounting Bracket

  • Hold the mounting bracket (which will support the bottom rear of the microwave) against the wall, aligning it with the drilled holes.
  • Secure the bracket to the wall using the appropriate screws or bolts.

Prepare the Microwave

  • Remove the mounting plate attached to the back of the unit. If so, remove this plate and set it aside.
  • Adjust the exhaust fan if needed. OTR microwaves can typically vent out the back, out the top, or recirculate. Make sure the fan is oriented in the direction you need.

Lift and Set the Microwave

  • With the help of another person, lift the microwave and hook it onto the support bracket on the wall.
  • While one person holds the microwave in place, the other person should reach over and thread the power cord through the drilled hole in the bottom of the upper cabinet.

Secure the Microwave

  • Open the cabinet doors above the microwave. Using the top template (if provided), mark and drill the necessary holes.
  • Insert the bolts through the cabinet holes and into the top of the microwave. Tighten these bolts until the microwave is securely fastened.

Connect the Exhaust Vent (if applicable)

  • Attach the microwave vent to the ductwork if you use external venting. Depending on the design, this might involve using aluminum vent tape or screws.

Plug in the Microwave

  • Ensure the cord is not pinched or stressed. Plug the microwave into the outlet inside the cabinet above.

Test the Microwave

  • Turn on the microwave and test all its functions, including the exhaust fan and light, to ensure it operates properly.

Final Touches

  • If your microwave has a grease filter or metal mesh, ensure they are in place.
  • Install any additional accessories or covers as indicated in the manual.

Congratulations, you now have a microwave over your range.

Over-the-Range Microwaves vs. Range Hoods: Cost

The costs vary by geographical area and what is needed.

The general range hood is about $200-$400, depending on the electrical and cabinet work required (assuming you can find an electrician). Range hoods for pro ranges or high performance range hoods can range from $1,199 to over $10,000.

On average, an over-the-range microwave will cost around $250. However, a KitchenAid convection 10-inch low profile over-the-range microwave can cost as much as $899.

So, you are looking at $350-$1,250 as a good range for switching a hood to an over-the-range microwave.

Should You Replace Your Range Hood with an Over-the-Range Microwave?

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

That depends on how you cook and the effectiveness of the existing hood.

Why You Should Replace Your Range Hood with an Over-the-Range Microwave

It does not matter from a venting perspective if your hood is shallow or ventless.

It is centralized and convenient at eye level if you cook primarily in your microwave.

Also, an over-the-range microwave is fine, especially if you boil water and do not cook on the cooktop much.

Why You Should Not Replace your Hood with an Over-the-Range Microwave

You should not replace a professional range hood or place an over-the-range microwave over a high-output burner.

You should also not replace a hood with an over-the-range microwave if you cook frequently or at high outputs.

In addition, you can also place a microwave anywhere.

Other Locations for Microwaves

Sharp-Microwave-Drawer-2023-built-into-kitchen-island
  • Hang It Up - 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.
  • Build It In -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.
  • "Draw" Kit In - Microwave drawers are popular and can be mounted anywhere from under your c ounter to below your wall oven. You press a button, and the drawer slides out.

Additional Resources

Get the Yale Ventilation Buying Guide with features, specs, and how to vent any range properly. Well over 1.5 million people have read a Yale Guide.

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve Sheinkopf is the third-generation CEO of Yale Appliance and a lifelong Bostonian. He has over 38 years of experience in the appliance industry, and he is a trusted source of information for consumers on how to buy and repair appliances.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

Steve is passionate about helping consumers find the best appliances for their needs, and he is always happy to answer questions and provide advice. He is a valuable resource for consumers who are looking for information on appliance buying, repair, and maintenance.

Despite being the worst goalie in history, Steve is a fan of the Bruins and college hockey, loves to read, and is a Peloton biker. The love of his life is his daughter, Sophie.

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