Microwave Oven Buying Guide For The Smart Shopper

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While it seems like everyone has a microwave oven in his or her home, it can be tricky to choose the right appliance for your use. No matter whether you want to cook, reheat food, or only warm up water for a cup of tea, using a microwave oven buying guide is the best way to make sure that you get a fabulous microwave oven for all of your needs. Because you don’t want to overspend, and you do want to make sure that the appliance you choose has all of the features that you d, using a buying guide will help you stay on track.

Questions a First Time Microwave Oven Buyer Should Ask Themselves

How much space do I have?

How much room you have in your kitchen will play a huge role in choosing the right microwave oven for your use. If you have plenty of countertop space, then it is likely that you will select a countertop model. On the other hand, if you do not have room on your countertop for another appliance, then it’s important to consider other locations for your microwave and how you will have it installed.

What’s my budget?

Knowing your budget before shopping for a new microwave oven will ensure that you do not accidentally overspend when you get to the store. It’s easy to get excited when looking for a new microwave oven, but newer models can be costly. When you know how much you are comfortable spending, then you’ll be able to find a model that is in your price range easily.

Do I need a specific size or power?

It’s important to take into consideration how many people you are going to be cooking for at once, as well as how much power you think you will need. Compact microwaves are great for use in a small apartment or dorm room and are large enough to heat up food for one person at a time. If you have a large family and will be reheating large amounts of leftovers, then it’s a good idea to opt for a microwave that is not only larger but also has more power. Higher wattage microwave ovens will be able to heat food more quickly and evenly so that you can feed everyone all at once.

Our Top 3 Microwave Picks

Types of Microwave Ovens

Image of an over-the-range microwave ovenThere are a few different styles of microwave ovens, and each class will be beneficial in its own way. When you know what styles you will benefit from the most, then you can pick the perfect microwave oven for your kitchen.

  • Countertop Microwaves: these microwaves are great for many people because they have a lower price tag than other types of microwaves. Also, they are very easy to install. They can be placed on the counter and then easily plugged into an outlet. As long as you do not try to use that same outlet for some different kitchen appliances, then you won’t have to worry about accidentally tripping the circuit breaker. They are available in a number of different power levels and sizes, making it easy to find the right one for your home.
  • Over the Range Microwave: these models are ideal if you do not have a lot of countertop space in your kitchen and want to free some of it up. They can be vented to the outside of your home, but this will require the help of an electrician. They generally have a light on the bottom, as well as a vent system, so that they can take the place of an oven hood both by illuminating your workspace and venting fumes and steam from your food. Because you will be lifting hot food over your head when you have this type of microwave, it is essential that you are very careful.
  • Built-In Microwaves: while these microwave ovens are traditionally included as part of an integrated kitchen package, you can buy them separately and then have them installed. They are usually surrounded by cabinetry and create a very sleek and custom look in your kitchen. One problem with this type of microwave is that it is not easily replaced, which can make repairs and replacing the unit expensive.
  • Drawer Microwave: a type of built-in microwave, this is a relatively recent advancement in microwaves and makes it easy to access the food that you are cooking or heating up. They glide out and have the benefit of requiring the user to reach down to pick up food rather than trying to lift it over their head. Additionally, they tend to keep food warmer for a more extended period.
  • Over the Counter Microwaves: very similar in design to microwaves that are placed over the range, these microwave ovens are hung over countertops. They do not need to be able to vent as you will not be frying or sautéing under them, but buying one with a light on the bottom does make it easy to see when you are prepping food.

Top Microwave Oven Manufacturers

Image of a kitchen with a microwave ovenWhen you don’t know what kind of microwave oven will best benefit you, then it’s a good idea to buy one from a top manufacturer. This will set your mind at ease that the company you are buying from has been able to produce great microwave ovens time and time again. It is possible that this will reduce the anxiety that you feel about choosing your new appliance. Some of the top companies who make microwave ovens include Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Danby, Farberware, Breville, Cuisinart, and GE. Not only do these manufacturers produce amazing devices, but they offer excellent customer support to anyone who runs into problems when using their microwave ovens.

Factors to Consider when Buying a Microwave Oven

Before spending money on a new microwave oven, you need to consider factors that are going to help you make your decision. While this will take more time, it will generally result in you being significantly happier with your purchase.

  • Conventional vs. Convection: while most people are just fine with a traditional microwave oven in their home for use, some prefer the added benefit of buying a convection microwave oven. Conventional models use microwaves that can pass through both plastic and glass to quickly heat and cook food. Convection microwave ovens have a heating element and a fan that will circulate the warm air. The result is food that is more evenly heated or cooked and can even be crisped.
  • Appearance: Microwave ovens generally come in a number of different colors so you can choose to have yours match the rest of the appliances in your kitchen if you desire. No matter whether you want white, black, or stainless steel, there is likely a microwave oven that will fit the décor of your kitchen.
  • Price: it’s possible to wait for the microwave oven that you want to come down in price, but if you are interested in a microwave oven that has a lot of features, then you are likely to have to pay more to get the appliance that you want. Even though some microwave ovens will come with a higher price tag, if you do not need all of the included features then you can likely choose a different model.
  • Internal Size: it is very easy only to consider whether or not you are going to have enough countertop space for your new microwave oven, but if the model doesn’t have enough internal room for you to heat up the food that you want, then you won’t use your new appliance. Smaller families and individuals can generally get away with buying a much smaller microwave than larger families can.
  • Location: if you are building a new kitchen, then you will be able to quickly decide whether you want your microwave as a part of your cabinets or above your stove. If you have an existing kitchen, then you may have to hire a professional to complete this type of installation. No matter what the age of your kitchen is, it’s worth considering a countertop model, as they are the easiest to get set up.

Features to Look for in a Microwave Oven

Microwave ovens all have many different elements to choose from. When you think about which features are critical to you, then you can find the best microwave easily. It’s a good idea to come up with a list of the features that you want in your microwave oven to ensure that you get the most use out of it and that it meets your needs.

  1. Turntable: this is used to help keep food moving while in the microwave oven so that it does not heat unevenly or have spots that are very hot when you take it out. Some models rely on a rectangular tray instead of a turntable to heat the food, which is ideal if you are going to be heating up large dishes or platters.
  2.  Presets: presets make it easy to just push a button and start cooking or heating up your food. Because you won’t have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to set the microwave oven to work correctly, you can use presets to defrost, reheat, cook popcorn, and even cook potatoes quickly and easily.
  3. Sensors:  advanced models that are available on the market have included sensors that will automatically adjust the power level, as well as the cook time, on your microwave oven so that you do not overcook your food. These sensors will often also turn off the oven when the food is too hot so that you don’t risk ruining your meal or having a fire.
  4. Child Safety Locks: if you have children in your home and are worried about them trying to use the microwave oven when you are not around, then it is worthwhile to invest in an appliance that has child safety locks. These prevent children from being able to use the microwave.
  5. Non-Stick Interiors: you can make cleaning your microwave oven as easy as possible when you opt for one that has a non-stick interior. This means that you will be able to quickly wipe out your oven when it is dirty instead of being stuck trying to chip off old food that has cooked on to the walls.
  6. Racks: while it is rare to find microwave ovens with shelves, if you want to be able to heat or cook multiple things at a time, then it’s worth looking for this feature. They maximize the capacity in your oven and allow you to heat up more than one thing.
  7. SpeedCook: this is a feature that combines microwaves with light waves for incredibly fast cooking. They can also generally grill, broil, and brown food.
  8. Quick Keys: these buttons let you add additional time to the cook time without stopping the microwave oven and starting over. This also means that you do not have to worry about changing the power level, as pushing these buttons will lower the cook time.

Putting it All Together

Image of a countertop microwaveOnce you have decided how much money you are willing to spend on your new microwave, then it is essential that you choose a type. No matter where you want to install your microwave oven in your kitchen, there is one that will meet your needs. You can then come up with a list of your “must have features” to make it easy to compare various microwave ovens and to determine which one will best meet your needs.

With so many different types of microwave ovens on the market, it can be overwhelming to go shopping for a new appliance if you do not take the planning process step by step. It’s a good idea to go to a store where you can see the microwaves you are considering buying in person. This will let you quickly tell if the one you want to buy will be large enough for your family.

By using this microwave oven buying guide, you can have confidence that you will have the perfect appliance for your kitchen. Because you do not want to be disappointed in the microwave that you buy, it is important to spend some time planning which type is right for you, as well as what features you can’t live without.

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Duke Taber is the owner of 3 successful websites and is now taking his skill as a writer and using it to help non-profit organizations and leaders around the world.