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Where Do You Place a Microwave in a Kitchen Plan?

December 15th, 2014 | 2 min. read

By Steve Sheinkopf

Microwaves were the first, fast “wonder” appliances. They were actually designed in the US by Litton Industries in the 1970s.

They created tons of excitement as if the future was finally here. Flash forward 40 years and tell me: Are you excited about your microwave?

Microwaves can present problems in tight kitchen plans. However, there are new products to help you reconsider placement. We will look at a few options. If you have questions, feel free to comment below. 

Counter Top Microwaves

If we were to follow the history of the microwave (I know, why would we?), the first microwave was placed on the counter. That’s where we had ours when I was a lad. Counter top microwaves are really affordable.

You can also build in some of them into a cabinet with a trim kit. The trim kit allows the microwave to exhaust the heat from the back. It’s the metal strips with louvers on the top and bottom to allow for ventilation. Have a look at the picture below...


Built-In Microwave

Built-in microwaves eliminate louvers and match many wall ovens. They look better, but there is a significant cost difference between a trim kit and built-in unit. KitchenAid, Jenn-Air and Miele all manufacture this type of microwave.


Under Cabinet Microwave

GE is the only company manufacturing a under cabinet microwave. It is 24 inches wide, yet is only 12 inches deep. It can also be built in.


Over-the-Range Microwave

The over-the-range microwave (OTR) is a great product. It incorporates the hood with the microwave and centralizes cooking with the range. It is also surprisingly cheap with prices starting at $190.

However, the CFM (amount of air filtered in a minute) is relatively low at 310 CFM. Even basic gas ranges now have power burners of 15,000 BTU or more. The microwave can efficiently exhaust power burners and is not designed for heavier cooking like woks or grills.


Microwave Drawers

Drawers are the newest microwave iteration. They are manufactured by Sharp and labeled by every other company (look at this article Best Microwave Drawers to understand the subtle differences).

They are similar to the built-in microwave, but they slide out instead of opening down. There is no stooping. Drawers are great for islands and lower cabinets.


Which Would I Choose?

That depends. How much room do you have? How do you cook? These are the two most important questions you need to ask.

If you do not use the microwave that much, buy a simple counter top. My Moms friend has a gourmet kitchen and placed a counter microwave on a shelf almost in another room.

I like the over-the-range microwave, but not if you need the ventilation from the stove. The drawer is great for lower cabinets, but the built-in is better for upper cabinets.

But at least you have plenty of choices. There is also some great technology like speed ovens, but that is covered in other posts.

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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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