Microwave Dimensions: What You Need To Know

It may seem unimportant to find out the typical measurements of everything in your home. In some cases, it can be. But when you’re short on space or want to scale correctly, finding the correct sizes is important.

Microwave Dimensions

Today, we’re going to figure the sizes of different types of microwaves because, in today’s world, almost every home has one. Those without houses even use microwaves! Take college dorms for example. 

They have microwaves when they don’t even have a kitchenette. Or even offices with nothing but microwaves and water tanks. So yes, microwaves are everywhere, giving us a good reason to learn more about them.

History Of The Microwave Oven

Types and style of microwave
Image from Flickr

You’d be surprised how many people don’t know where microwaves come from, especially those who’ve had a microwave their entire lives. Would the teens of today believe that microwaves were once a hotbed of conspiracies?

It all began at the end of World War II when the term microwave was used for military radars and not something used to cook our dinner. At the time, companies that built these radars were always studying new ways to use these waves. 

They did know that the waves could be used as a source of heat, but this was primarily used in the medical field. Though the knowledge was there, and the idea was shared at the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago, the actual application wasn’t.

The Release Of The First Microwave 

It wasn’t until 1958 that the application was shared with the world via Reader’s Digest. It shared that in 1947, a patent application by Raytheon’s Percy Spencer was sent out to patent the use of microwaves.

You wouldn’t believe that popcorn was a major focus then as it is now. One of the only foods that is still made primarily via the microwave in private homes. But how was this discovery made? It all started with peanuts.

The man responsible for the discovery was using the microwaves when he found that the peanut bar in his pocket began to heat. His first initial food cooked with the waves? An egg! Not the best choice, as we now know. 

As inexpensive as microwaves re now, in the 1950s, when the first microwave was released, the Tappan RL-1 was a wall-mounted microwave that cost almost $1300. In today’s world, that’s almost $15,000.

The Effect Of Radiation

In the 1970s, concern began to skyrocket that the radiation from microwaves was causing severe health issues. Unfortunately, in 1973, they confirmed that they could not verify the safety of the microwaves.

The reason for this statement was that they didn’t have the technology to test the radiation. However, most people assumed it meant they found out that microwaves were indeed dangerous, which isn’t surprising. 

Today, the technology has advanced, giving us safer microwaves and better testing to ensure that the microwaves we do have are safe for cooking food and being around in general. But it truly is the mindset of the everyday consumer that has changed the most. 

Why People Use Microwaves?

A lot of people just assume that those who choose a microwave over another food-heating appliance are lazy or young. But this isn’t true. After all, most homes in America have microwaves that are used regularly.

This is because some foods are simply better microwaved. Other times, you can spend a tenth of the time cooking something that would take much longer cooking in the oven. This is the way of the microwave. 

So microwaves are indeed for convenience and specialty items. They are becoming increasingly popular even after all of this time due to the fact that they are the cheapest way to heat food as well as the most convenient. 

But did you know there are many different sizes of microwaves? Yep. There may be a standard but there are also different types of microwaves that you can buy. So finding what is right for you is crucial. 

What Are Typical Microwave Dimensions?

Microwave Dimensions: What You Need To Know

Microwaves actually come in many sizes. They are usually sold anywhere from 1.0 cubic feet up to around 2.2 cubic feet capacity. As for width, you’ll find most microwaves are between 21 to 25 inches. 

Height is a little bit more standard with a small range of 12 to 15 inches for most microwaves. Though there will always be exceptions. These are just the typical ranges, not that your microwave must fit in this range.

There is also a possibility that the microwave you have your eye on is unique. Companies are always trying to find the next big thing and sometimes that’s an odd microwave with features never seen before. 

Types Of Microwaves 

Types Of Microwaves 

The size of the microwave depends on the type of microwave. So microwave dimensions vary, though not a lot, depending on what type of microwave you’re looking for. Hopefully, this can help you find out what you need. 

Note: there are still other sizes of microwaves not listed below but these are few and far between. Almost every microwave you find in stores will fit into one of the categories below. 


  • Height: 12″ – 15″
  • Width: 21″ – 25″
  • Depth: 16″ – 20″
  • Capacity: 1.0 cu. ft. – 2.2 cu. ft.

The countertop microwave is the standard microwave and most likely the type of microwave that you’ll get. Most countertop microwaves need to have a clear path for ventilation since they are meant to be freestanding.

A lot of people like to use a kitchen cart for their countertop microwave. This makes it easy to move the microwave around and keeps it off the counter. If you do put it on the countertop, considering putting a mat or fireproof contact paper under it. 


  • Height: 10″ to 17″
  • Width: 24″ to 30″
  • Depth: 15″ – 18″
  • Capacity: 0.8 cu. ft. – 2.1 cu. ft.

Over-the-range microwaves are made to go in a slot above the stovetop. They are made differently as they will be able to withstand the heat from the stove wafting up above as well as the lack of ventilation. 

Although for that extra safety boost, you can always have the microwave vent outside, it isn’t necessary. You can simply have a small area for the microwave to vent back into the kitchen, though this will add heat to the room.

Types and style of microwave


  • Height: 17″ – 22″
  • Width: 24″, 27″ or 30″
  • Depth: 20″ – 25″
  • Capacity: 1.0 cu. ft. – 2.2 cu. ft.

Built-in microwaves are usually a bit larger than other types of microwaves. This is because they are built into the space and often have a frame of some sorts. They take up more space in some ways and less space in other ways.

Built-in microwaves are considered high-end and they look amazing. if you don’t want counter space taken up and have the cabinet space to spare, this is definitely your best option that will add value as well. 


  • Height: 8″ to 17″
  • Width: 24″ – 30″
  • Depth: 15″ – 18″
  • Capacity: 1.0 cu. ft. – 2 cu. ft.

A drawer microwave can range greatly because it can be made into a drawer and made to fit different sizes of drawers. More often than not, they are actually smaller than your standard microwave, but not by much.

They can also either be made to fit into a drawer and used as a standard microwave or made to be a drawer and slide out when it’s time to use. This is a very interesting type of microwave that saves a good amount of space.


  • Height: 12″ – 18″
  • Width: 21″ – 28″
  • Depth: 16″ – 24″
  • Capacity: 0.8 cu. ft. – 2.1 cu. ft.

A convection microwave is a multi-purpose microwave that can work as a normal microwave and it can work like a convection oven. Now, this is the ultimate way to save space if you’re going to have both anyway.

The more time that goes on, the more options that will be added as well. Soon enough, there will be microwave ovens that work as air fryers, toaster ovens, and so much more. That’s an exciting future for this device. 


  • Height: 10″ – 11″
  • Width: 15″ – 18″
  • Depth: 12″ – 16″
  • Capacity: 0.5 cu. ft. – 0.9 cu. ft.

A mini-microwave can be used in any house but it was made to be used in RVs, tiny houses, and studio apartments. It is much smaller than a standard microwave but can work just as well as any other.

It will have a smaller capacity and won’t be able to heat everything that another microwave can. However, most TV dinners and other microwaveable items will fit. But for family-sized meals, you’ll have to stick to a standard microwave. 

Finding The Right Microwave Dimensions

Finding The Right Microwave Dimensions

Now that you know your options, you can start measuring. Begin by deciding where you want your microwave to go. Most people prefer to put it on the countertop or above the range. So measure the spot you’re going to place it.

Since there are ranges for each type of microwave, knowing how big the vacant spot will be is important. So, get the measuring tape and get to work. If you find out that the standard will be too large, then switch to a small one. 

The size isn’t important unless you plan on using the microwave regularly and feeding your whole family with it for dinner. Otherwise, you can stick to a standard air fryer, pizza oven, or convection oven.