Over-the-range microwaves are perfect for small kitchens or for those of you would love to have more countertop space available for placing other items that you use on a regular basis. These are not your average microwaves, so there are some things that you need to know before you buy them.
They can be extremely efficient when you know what to look for and choose the right product, so let’s dig deeper into the topic.
Top 3 Picks
Most Powerful: Frigidaire Gallery Over-the-Range Convection Microwave
Packing 1,450 watts of power, the Frigidaire is one of the top choices because it offers everything you’d expect to get from an over the range microwave.
Customer’s Choice: Samsung Over-the-Range Microwave
“The microwave design is beautiful, it’s also extremely easy to use. My food reheats evenly and exactly as expected. Also very easy to install.” (Customer review)
Most Versatile: Panasonic NN-CD87KS Home Chef 4-in-1 Microwave Oven
The Panasonic NN-CD87KS is more than just a microwave, packing the technology needed to act as a convection over, an air fryer, and a broiler.
What Is an Over the Range Microwave?
If you have ever found yourself in a situation where you struggled to find your way through the kitchen and prepare your food because you lacked the countertop space to move around freely, then you probably considered that it would be a great idea to get some of those appliances out of the way.
An over-the-range microwave is basically a microwave of a specific dimension that allows you to mount it one the wall or place it in a designated opening next to your kitchen cabinets. Heavier and less portable compared to your average microwave oven, these units come with built-in exhaust fans that use filters to recycle and recirculate air or they can be ducted outside. Over-the-range microwaves will typically take the place of a range hood, but they are not as efficient as one.
Tips for Installing an OTR Microwave
You can easily install an OTR microwave by yourself but there are situations where you have to call in a professional. A pro is needed when there is no existing vent duct or no electrical outlet in the proximity of the new microwave.
If you are determine to go through with the installation yourself, you are going to need a stud finder, a jigsaw, a level, tape measure, a carpenter’s pencil, drill and bits, a Phillips screwdriver, a ratchet wrench and dockets, tin snips if you’re going to install a vent, some masking tape, sheet metal screw, metal foil tape, an vent collar/vent fittings that are needed for the project.
- The first step is finding the studs, as the mounting strip for the back of the microwave needs to be secured to them. Using a stud finder can help. Make sure you mark them down with a pencil once you find them.
- Proceed to apply template paper on the wall. This should come with your microwave. You have to apply the right template to the cabinets and drill holes where indicated. These holes are required for venting and power cords.
- You will have to cut the opening for the vent depending on how the existing vent runs. A jigsaw is best used here.
- When you’re ready to install the mounting bracket according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The strip needs to be anchored at stud locations for a better installation.
- When you position the microwave oven, you might require a little bit of assistance to put it in place. The electrical cord should go through the drilled hole.
- While the person who is helping you holds the microwave in place, attach the top mounting bolts (which should be delivered with the kit). With the microwave in place, go into the upper cabinet and thread the bolts through the drilled holes. The person who is holding the microwave can let go when the bolts are threaded, and you can proceed to tighten them.
- The last step requires connecting the duct if you have a venter microwave model. Note that this step might require some fitting. Don’t forget to seal all joints using metal tape.
How to Choose
There are few specific features that you need to pay attention to when buying an over the range microwave, and these include:
- The size of the microwave is important, especially if your kitchen space is somewhat restrictive. These products are available in different widths, and usually measure about 17 inches in height, 16 inches in depth, and 30 inches in width. Considering the fact that what sets these products apart from regular microwaves is the fact that they need to fit over your range, measuring that space is a crucial part of determining the right size for your future OTR microwave.
- The wattage plays a major role in how the unit will perform when required to heat your food. An over-the-range microwave should have between 900 and 1,000 watts. Anything lower will cause the food to heat unevenly, and more powerful units, while better, are more expensive.
- The microwave’s control panel is usually placed on the right side of the door, but this varies from one model to another. The location of the control panel is important depending on the height at which it’s placed. If you want the unit to be accessible to shorter family members, you have to take that into consideration when you’re navigating different designs.
- The settings of the unit will grant you control over the different features, and you can pretty much figure out if a microwave is good for you based on the settings it has. You want a unit that allows you to set up your own cooking time, as well as the power level. You might want to choose microwaves with defrost settings or those with presets that include potatoes or pizza.
- Convection heating is found on some models that aren’t just microwaves but also double as convection ovens. These units come with heating elements that can cook certain meals better. For instance, they can roast a turkey or give your pizza that nice crispy crust you love. With this additional heating system, the microwave is more likely to prepare food evenly.
- These types of microwaves come with exhaust hoods. The vents on these microwaves can push air inside or outside the house. They usually have charcoal filters that remove grease and smoke from the air, preventing it from recirculating in the room. The exhaust fan on a microwave needs a minimum of 300 cubic feet to be efficient.
The Best Over the Range Microwaves
The ZLINE microwave is here to show you how high-performance technology can fit into a compact device that offers plenty of features for versatile cooking and food heating. There are plenty of impressive features to talk about, such as the fact that you can boil water in 2 minutes and 15 seconds. With a 900 watts power cap, this microwave includes the auto-defrost feature, convection and sensor cooking, plus a bunch of shortcut options for making popcorn or other goodies. It measures 16.4” H x 30” W x 15” D and has a capacity of 1.5 cubic feet.
Next up, we have the Cosmo over-the-range microwave, another excellent product with features that offer better and more precise control over the way you prepare or heat your food. It has up to 1,000 watts of power, offering even heating for whatever you place on the turntable. It is equipped with a smart sensor that can detect when your food is hot and comes with an optional rack for heating multiple types of food at the same time. It has 6 pre-programmed cooking options, but it lacks convection cooking. It measures 16.4” H x 29.8” W x 15.4” D and has a 1.9 cubic feet capacity.
Another great purchase from Cosmo is this 1.6 cubic foot over-the-range microwave. Capped at 1,000 watts of power, everything about this unit is amazing, starting with the display that’s easy to read and the black front that makes every kitchen look elegant and high-tech. It has a black glass finish that brings a modern appeal to your kitchen. There are several presets that allow you to operate the microwave with a single push of a button. It doesn’t offer convection heating but it does offer sensor heating. There are 10 power levels to choose from with this 16.4” H x 29.9” W x 15” D unit.
Samsung is no stranger to making high-quality appliances and gadgets, so it should come as a surprise that they make some of the best over-the-range microwaves on the market. This particular model is available in all kinds of finish options, from white to stainless steel. The microwave measures 17.06” H x 29.88” W x 16.5” D and has a capacity of 1.9 cubic feet, which should be enough to heat plenty of food at once. It comes with 5 autocook options and features sensor cooking for your convenience. The finish of the microwave is fingerprint resistant, just to make cleaning a little easier.
Another killer microwave is this model by Bosch, a brand I’m sure you’re all familiar with by now. This particular model comes with LED console lettering that makes it easier on the eyes, plus a few more features that make it worth the money. It has convection cooking to deliver an oven-type experience. The multi-speed vent will make sure to remove smoke and odors from the kitchen, leaving you with no regrets after using it. It has a reheat setting that will determine the cooking time and power level needed to heat your meals to perfection. It measures 16.5” H x 29.88” W x 15.88” D overall and has a capacity of 1.8 cubic feet.
Sharp delivers one of the best over-the-range microwaves, with features and functions that make it an excellent kitchen appliance. It has a smaller capacity than the other microwaves we’ve looked at today, with only 1.1 cubic feet to offer. It has an 850 watts power capacity and measures 16.34” H x 29.9” W x 15.3” D. It offers both convection cooking (with 1,400 watts of power) and sensor cooking. It comes with a built-in exhaustion system that equips a two-speed ventilation fan plus a hood light. There are 8 sensor cooking options to choose from.
With a total of 1.5 cubic feet and a 1,450-watt power capacity, this over-the-range microwave is a true winner. It offers convertible ventilation which means that you get to choose whether you want the unit to recirculate the air inside the room or have it ducted outside. It comes with a charcoal filter and 2 grease filters that should keep you covered for a while. It integrates cooktop lighting and has a pretty sweet night light option as well. It offers both convection and sensor cooking. Overall, this Frigidaire unit measures 16.37” H x 29.87” W x 15.75” D and comes with a turntable of 13.63 inches in diameter.
Coming in strong at 15.25 x 29.88 x 16.5 inches, the GE JVM3160RFSS microwave is another suitable option for those interested in a decent microwave that doesn’t cost a small fortune. This model offers 1,000 watts of power and a total capacity of 1.6 cubic feet. The control panel is located on the right side of the unit and grants control over features and settings that you can manually program for personalized results. It is equipped with a two-speed venting system and features 10 power levels.
This Panasonic isn’t exactly an over the range microwave because it measures 22”W x 13.4”H x 17”D, but it is still a product that can be installed in a designated space above the kitchen counter, so you don’t have to occupy any countertop space if you don’t want to. What makes the Panasonic NN-CD87KS truly special is that fact that it works as a microwave, convection oven, air fryer, and broiler, all in a single product. The convection feature works at temperatures between 100° and 425° F. The air fryer feature circulates air so that you can make crispy food without having to bathe them in oil. With the broiler feature, you can make meals that are frown and toasty.
Is over the range microwave good?
If you have limited countertop space in your kitchen, an over the range microwave is definitely the right choice. Since they don’t occupy any space on the surface of your kitchen furniture, they are perfect for opening up space.
Are over the range microwaves a standard size?
Most over the range microwaves that you’ll find on the market have a 30-inch width in order to fit the cutout where they’re going to be installed.
What is the best over the range microwave oven to buy?
There are plenty of brands that make really good over the range microwaves, such as Samsung, GE, Bosch, Frigidaire, LG, and Panasonic.
Does over the range microwave need to be vented?
As far as ventilation is concerned, you have two different types of over the range microwaves: some allow the installation of a ventilation system while others come with charcoal filters that can recycle the air inside the kitchen.
An over-the-range microwave is a kitchen appliance that needs to combine functionality and aesthetics. It has to fit into the kitchen design and the space that’s specifically designed for it. With an over-the-range microwave, you can free up a lot of countertop space, as regular microwaves can be quite big and bulky. The specifications for such a product are pretty similar to those of a regular microwave, with the major differences being in the fact that these models can have ventilation functionality and can double as convection ovens.