Although microwaves have been a convenient appliance to keep on our kitchen’s countertops, they have their set of disadvantages. One is that they are space-eaters in the kitchen.
This has led to the concept of over-the-range (OTR) microwave ovens, one that any homeowner and cooking enthusiast should consider given its space-saving advantage coupled with its aesthetics and overall cooking efficiency.
However, even with the advantage that OTR microwaves present, you should still be cautious about choosing the best over the range microwave 2018.
Different brands have varying advantages as well as disadvantages. From basic features such as its power and size to more advanced ones like its sensors, we will help you decide which of the 5 brands listed below fits your interests the most. Check out the reviews below!
**Below, you’ll find our more detailed reviews, but you can also click the links above to see current prices or read customer reviews on Amazon.
What are Over-the-Range Microwaves?
OTR microwaves are essentially the same as standard microwaves, but instead of cluttering your space, it is mounted on the top of your stove. This gives it an advantage as it saves a lot of space, especially for smaller kitchens.
Another characteristic of OTR microwaves is its duality in its role in your kitchen, as they can serve as a range hood for your stove top, as well. Although it may not be as effective as a typical range hood, an OTR may get the job done depending on your standards. It’s also bigger than a counter-top microwave, giving it an edge in terms of capacity.
Compared with other microwaves, an OTR microwave is more expensive than a standard one but is cheaper compared to built-ins. Although some OTR microwaves are installed as built-ins, built-in microwaves are not specifically featured with the over-the-range function as it is designed to be installed in cabinets, walls, and any place of your liking.
Read More: How does A Convection Microwave Oven Work?
OTR microwaves cost between $190 to over $1,000. With a capacity that varies from under 1 to 2 cubic feet, these microwaves operate between 6001,200 watts (OTR’s are designed to operate more efficiently at 1,000 watts for speed in heating).
This gives you an option to consider OTRs more as it caters to not just smaller kitchens but to faster cooking process and heating as well.
The installation process of OTR microwaves is well-studied by its developers and engineers to avoid any electrical circuit malfunction. These microwaves are usually wired into the wall, avoiding any hanging wires that may jut out and pose a danger in the household.
So when buying and installing an OTR microwave, it is advised that you seek professional help as the wirings can be tricky to install. OTR microwave installation tutorials are available online should you decide to install one yourself.
Watch how an OTR microwave is installed in this video.
More Features to Consider
Besides the pricing and power, there are other features to consider when choosing the best over the range microwave.
Due to continuous innovations by a variety of companies, microwaves have been engineered to tackle broader areas that cater to your everyday cooking experience. It should be noted that you should be aware of these features and functions before making a final decision on what to buy.
Size and Capacity
As previously stated, over-the-range microwaves are not space-eaters like countertop microwaves, but it’s also worth noting that even though you plan to hang it above your stove, the size and capacity of your microwave still matter.
One of the reasons to consider, as with any other kitchen appliance, is whether it suits your lifestyle or not.
Are you living alone in a small apartment and you don’t need a big microwave? Then maybe consider getting the smallest. If you belong to a large extended family, then maybe it’s best to get the largest size to heat big portions in one go.
Buying a microwave is just like buying a cellphone; you don’t buy a new one every week (or month even) so it’s advisable to think about its efficiency and it suits your lifestyle in the long run to save money.
Microwave sizes are usually measured in cubic feet. For more information on size and capacity, please refer to this link.
Accessories and Aesthetics
Although you may think of this as optional, it is always worth your time to check into the design and overall appearance of the OTR microwave that you will buy.
Would you like it to stand out in your kitchen? Then maybe go for a lighter, more unique color. Or maybe you wish for your microwave to blend in with the kitchen exterior? Or perhaps match it with your stove?
It’s worth it if you go the extra effort to prepare and plan how your new OTR microwave fits in with your kitchen exterior.
Meanwhile, it’s also good to look into the added accessories that you will buy. Should there be extra add-ons like trays, racks, and other tools that enhance your cooking prowess? Then that’s always a big bonus.
The wattage of your microwave corresponds to the power and speed of its operation. Since most of us want fast-heating microwaves, you should tend to look for the higher wattage. It’s advisable that you choose a wattage that goes around the 1,000-watt mark for fast and efficient heating.
Sensors mainly boost an OTR microwave’s heating accuracy for the best results. The sensors present in the microwave adjust the power supply accordingly so that the moisture coming from your food will match the necessary heat supply.
These sensors are used mainly as a device that assists other functions as it gives an indicator on the condition of the microwave’s humidity.
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There is a wide array of functions present in all sorts of microwaves that you may want to look further. Some notable ones are:
- Chaos defrost: A mechanism that reduces defrosting time.
- Multiple-Sequence cooking: A coordinated adjustment of heat supply that enables you to start from defrosting to actual cooking.
- Preset Programs: Similar to the ones in an induction stove, these programs allow you to automatically set a function that is best suited for your dish.
- Convection: Spreads heating more evenly for better cooking results.
For a more detailed and fundamental tutorial on a microwave’s functions and technology, kindly refer to this video.