Last Updated: July 2017
A microwave is a must have cooking appliance in a modern kitchen. Offering you the ability to not only warm up various types of foods and drinks quickly, a microwave also provides you with great flexibility. You can use this appliance to do virtually anything that your stove top or even your oven would do, from thawing meats to boiling water – and so much more.
While a microwave is a must have appliance, traditional countertop units can take up a lot of space, which a lot of homeowners may find not only annoying, but they may find that it impacts their entire kitchen. Why? – Because you need to have a space that is completely devoted to a countertop microwave, which can limit your countertop space; not exactly ideal, especially if you have a smaller kitchen.
So, what’s the solution to a countertop microwave? An over the range microwave, of course! Also called ‘built in’ microwaves,’ over the range microwaves are essentially countertop microwaves that are secured above an oven and underneath a bank of upper cabinets. They can also be placed on a shelf above a range, or placed inside a cabinet. The main benefit of this type of microwave is that it takes the microwave up and off of the countertop, freeing up your countertop space so that you can use that valuable space for other things, like food preparation or the storage of other appliances. Additionally, many people enjoy that the over the range microwave is placed at eye level, which makes it easier to keep an eye on what is cooking inside of them, and makes it easier to use.
Some over the range microwaves also offer built-in ventilation, which is a big plus if you don’t have a range hood, or you don’t want to purchase an additional range hood. Simply turn on the vent and the smoke and heat from items you may be cooking on the stove top will be ventilated.
While an over the range microwave certainly offers several advantages, buying one may be harder than you might think. There are so many different options available and factors to consider when purchasing one, which can make finding the best option for your needs a challenge.
In order to help you confront the challenges that can be associated with buying an over the range microwave, we have put together this useful buyer’s guide for you. In this guide, we highlight a wealth of pertinent information related to buying an over the range microwave. We discuss the elements that make for a good over the range microwave, and the elements (or lack of elements) that make for poor quality options, discuss certain factors that you should keep in mind when shopping for one of these appliances, and so much more. We also share the details of five over the range microwaves that we consider to be the best available on the market today.
After you read through this buyer’s guide, you will have all of the information that you need to choose the best over the range microwave for your specific needs.
What You Need to Know About Over Range Microwave
In order to get the best over the range microwave, you really need to know what makes for a high quality appliance and what makes one less than high quality. Believe it or not, not all over the range microwaves are created equal, so if you want to get the best option available, you are going to want to be able to differentiate the good from the bad.
In our opinion (and based on the opinions of countless users,) the following elements make for a high quality, durable and reliable over the range microwave that will meet all of your cooking needs.
A Selection of Presets
The best over the range microwaves offer a wide range of presets. These can include options such as popcorn, kids food, reheating, defrosting and beverages, which can be turned on with the simple push of a button. The more presets that are available, the more flexibility your microwave will offer.
Another quality that the best over the range microwaves offer is cooking sensors. This feature measures the humidity inside the microwave while it is in operation, automatically adjusting the cooking times in order to prevent overcooking. With cooking sensors, you won’t have to worry about constantly checking on your food and monitoring its progress; simply press a button and the microwave will do all of the work for you.
An On / Off Turntable
Turntables are great for preparing certain foods, but they aren’t useful for others. Plus, depending on the size of your dish, the turntable can actually impede cooking. The best over the range microwaves offer a turntable that can either be turned on or off.
Evenly Heats and Defrosts
Of course, you want your microwave to evenly cook or defrost, and the best over the range microwaves do just that.
There are also features that you are going to want to look out for that indicate an over the range microwave isn’t exactly the highest quality. You are going to want to avoid purchasing an over the range microwave that has – or that lacks – the following…
Avoid purchasing an over the range microwave that doesn’t offer presets. Presets give you a lot more flexibility and freedom with your microwave, and makes using the appliance a whole lot easier. If you want to ensure that the appliance will meet your expectations, avoid purchasing one that doesn’t offer presets.
No Turn Table
A turn table allows you to ensure that the food is exposed to even amounts of heat, which, obviously, ensures that the food is evenly cooked. While a turntable may not be necessary for all of your cooking, defrosting or reheating, you are definitely going to want to have one, as it will certainly allow for better cooking.
Steer clear of an over the range microwave that is poorly constructed. You want the appliance to last as long as possible, and you will likely be using it often. Obviously, if it is not well constructed, it isn’t going to last a long time. Check user reviews to find out if they appliance you are considering is well constructed.
Best Over the Range Microwave in 2017
Because our aim is to help you find the best over the range microwave possible, we present to you the five best options that are currently on the market.
These brands had to meet our criteria for a good quality over the range microwave, had to offer a range of features, and had to have good reviews from consumers. They also had to pass our own testing (we tried each one out ourselves!)
The following over the range microwaves not only met our expectations, but exceeded them.
The GE JVM3160RFSS 30 Inch Over the Range Microwave Oven
GE has been one of the most trusted names in appliances for generations, and their JVM3160RSS Over the Range Microwave is definitely a testament to their reputation. Offering 1.6 cubic feet of space and 1000 watts of power, you will have plenty of room to heat up those large casserole dishes, and plenty of power to cook whatever you have in them, too.Check Price
Thanks to the on / off turntable, you can easily control whether you want the turntable to be turned on or if you want it to be turned off, thus ensuring your food is prepared the way that you want it to be. With an auto and time defrost option, a selection of power levels and pre programmed settings for various types of foods and drinks, you will be able to use this GE over the range microwave for virtually everything.
The two speed, 300 CFM ventatlation system allows you to easily remove smoke, steam and odors from the items that you are preparing on the stovetop below, this over the range microwave doubles as a range hood. The stainless steel housing, coupled with the black touchpad control panel make this a handsome addition to any kitchen. Oh, and it’s durably constructed, so you can be sure that it is a wise investment and will last you a long time.
The Frigidaire MWV150KW 1.5 Cubit Foot Over the Range Microwave
If you have a smaller kitchen, or you don’t necessarily need a high powered, oversized over the range microwave, than the Frigidaire MWV150KW is an excellent option to consider.Check Price
Because this microwave is made by Frigidaire, you already know that it is going to be made of exceptional quality. With 1.5 cubic feet of interior space, this is a smaller over the range microwave option; making it an ideal choice if you have a smaller kitchen or just don’t need a whole lot of microwave. However, it should be noted that just because this over the range microwave is smaller in size, that doesn’t mean that it is less powerful. Quite the contrary, actually.
This microwave offers easy to use touch pad buttons, which will allow you to easily select various temperature and power options so that you can literally get a meal prepared or a cup of tea warmed. The dual speed ventilation turn this over the range microwave into a range hood, too. The white housing offers a stark appearance that will look great in any kitchen.
The Sharp R 1871 1.1 Cubit Food 850 Watt Over the Range Convection Microwave Oven
Take your microwave cooking up a notch with the Sharp R 1871 1.1 Cubic Food 850 Watt Over the Range Convection Microwave Oven. Offer 850 watts of power, this over the range microwave doubles as a convection oven, and can be used for everything from defrosting and warming, to baking, broiling and roasting. It truly is an all in one appliance.Check Price
The seven digit interactive display, complete with bush button controls, makes this microwave and convection oven combination a breeze to control. The smart and easy sensor settings detect the amount of humidity in the microwave and adjust the heat settings accordingly so that you can be sure your foods will cook to perfection. The 13 inch turntable gives an adequate amount of space and ensures even heating. The interior light allows you to keep a close eye on your foods, with ease.
Thanks to the built in exhaust system, you have an automatic range hood, too. And, the low and high racks give you more space inside, so you can cook a few things at once, and enable you to choose the right setting for your food. You’ll also like the hood light, which will shine down on your range, allowing you to clearly see what you are preparing on the stove top.
The GE JVM7 195SFSS 1.9 Cubic Foot Over the Range Sensor Microwave Oven
The first thing you will notice about the GE JVM7 195SS 1.9 Cubic Foot Over the Range Sensor Microwave Oven is the stunning aesthetics. The brushed stainless steel, coupled with the black panel over the viewing window and the black touchpad give it a sleek and stylish look that will compliment any kitchen.Check Price
Of course, looks isn’t all that this over the range microwave has to offer. Inside, there is 1.9 cubic feet of space, which gives you plenty of room to microwave foods and dishes of various sizes. The glass recessed turntable ensures that the heat is distributed evenly over the food, ensuring that food is heated evenly. A range of preset controls allow you to set the microwave to the perfect setting with the push of a button.
Add to all of this the fact that this over the range microwave oven also has a three speed exhaust fan, making it double as a range hood, and you have an ideal appliance for your kitchen.
The LG LMV 1683ST Over the Range Microwave Oven with 300 CFM Venting System
LG is highly regarded for creating some of the most cutting edge appliances with the latest technologies, and their LMV 1683ST Over the Range Microwave definitely showcases the company’s innovation.Check Price
Offering 1.6 feet of cubic space, you will have tons of room to defrost, cook, or warm up a wide range of foods. The no fuss defrosting option allows you to thaw out even the thickest cuts of meat with the greatest of ease. The one touch cook or warm settings, of which there are a variety, are easy to operate and make using this microwave an absolute cinch.
The turntable ensures that the heat inside the microwave is evenly distributed around your food, ensuring that it is evenly cooked. This innovative microwave also offers a keypad lock option, which prevents accidental starts from occurring. A powerful exhaust system will clear out steam, smoke and odors from whatever you are cooking on the range below, and the built in light will shed plenty of light over the top of the range so you can clearly see what you are cooking below.
Our Consumer Guide to Over the Range Microwave
Of course, we feel that the over the range microwaves that we listed above are a cut above the rest that are currently available on the market; however, we also know that they may not meet your specific needs. For that reason, you may be looking at purchasing another over the range microwave that we didn’t include on the list.
Since we want to make sure that you purchase the best option, and that it will meet your needs, we have included this consumer guide in our buyer’s guide. Here, you will find pertinent information related to buying an over the range microwave so that you can make the best possible decision.
Types of Over the Range Microwave Ovens
There are two main types of over the range microwave ovens, which include:
- The Conventional Microwave Oven – This type of over the range microwave emits microwaves that pass through glass and plastic containers to cook and heat food. This is the most basic of microwave ovens, and it can be used to heat, cook, boil and do a variety of other cooking tasks.
- The Convection Over the Range Microwave Oven – This type of microwave oven has a heating element as well as a fan. It combines basic microwave technology and radiant heating. In other words, it emits microwaves that pass through glass and plastic containers, and it also circulates hot air throughout the microwave and through and around the food, much like a traditional oven, allowing you to roast, bake, brown and even grill foods.
Things to Consider When Purchasing an Over the Range Microwave
There are several key factors that you are going to want to keep in mind and consider when you are shopping for an over the range microwave oven. These factors include the size of the unit and the cost, among other things. By taking these factors into consideration, you can ensure that you will purchase the best over the range microwave oven for your specific needs.
Here’s a look at some of the most important factors that we think you should keep in mind when you are shopping.
The Size of the Appliance
There are two factors that will help you determine the size of the microwave that you need; the amount of food that you plan on cooking and the amount of available space you have to accommodate it. Obviously, while the latter is very important, the former needs to be considered first, because if you don’t have enough space to accommodate the unit, well, you won’t be able to use it. Make sure you take measurements before you start shopping so you know what size you should purchase.
How will you Use the Microwave
What do you plan on using your over the range microwave oven for the most? Do you plan on just using it for quick reheating and basic cooking, or do you want to use it to do more advanced cooking, like broiling and backing? The type of cooking you plan on doing will indicate which type of microwave will best suit your needs. For instance, if you want to use it to bake and broil, you will need a convection model.
Where Will You Put It?
While yes, an over the range microwave is intended to be placed over a stove, you don’t necessarily have to place it there. You can also place it under cabinets that are not located above a stove, or you can put it inside a cabinet, for example. Make sure you know where you want to place it before you start shopping.
All microwaves make some degree of noise, but some are certainly louder than others. How much of a factor is noise for you? If you don’t want it to impede conversations while you are using it, for example, you should opt for one that operates at a quieter level.
While the look of the over the range microwave won’t impact its efficiency, it will impact the look of your kitchen. Since this appliance will likely be in plain view, you want to make sure that you choose something that works with the look of your kitchen. For example, if you have a modern kitchen, a white over the range microwave may not work well with the design of the space. Likewise, if you have a country kitchen, a stainless steel model may stick out like a sore thumb.
The Cost of the Over the Range Microwave Oven
You should also factor into consideration the cost of the over the range microwave oven. These appliances can vary greatly in price. Generally, the larger the unit is and the more features it offers, the more expensive it is going to be. Make sure that you know how much you want to spend before you start shopping so you can stay within your budget and avoid spending more than you are comfortable with.
Features Over the Range Microwave Oven Can Offer
There are a number of features that an over the range microwave oven can offer. These features are intended to increase the functionality of the appliance, and make it safer; however, as mentioned above, the more features that the appliance offers, the more expensive it will be. You should be aware of these features and their intended purpose so that you can determine if you want or need them, and if the added expense will be justified.
Here’s a look at some of the top features that over the range microwave ovens can offer.
This is a valuable safety feature to have. Though it can’t be seen, it ensures that the microwave will not run if the door is open or is even slightly ajar. This will protect you and your family from the microwaves that the appliance emits, as well as the heat. Most microwaves have two interlocks, though some have three. If one lock should fail, the backup locks will take over.
If you have little hands in your house, a child lock is a worthwhile feature to look for. This feature locks the door, preventing it from being opened, unless a code is entered into the keypad. This is a particularly handy feature on microwave ovens that are convection ovens, as it will prevent your little one’s hands from being burned by hot dishes.
If you have food that you like to cook at the same temperature, and plan on cooking it often in your microwave, you might want to consider a memory function. With this feature, you can easily set the temperature and assign it to a specific button. Simply push the preset button and the microwave will operate at the setting, the power and for the amount of time that you have set it to operate at.