Microwave ovens are standard in most kitchens, and many people couldn’t image not having this convenient countertop appliance. If you are looking for a new microwave oven there are some features to consider so you can be sure you are getting the best one for your money.
How to choose a microwave oven
One of the first steps is to decide if you want a conventional or convection microwave, and each has its own advantages. Convection microwaves use a heating element and fan to circulate the heated air for thorough and even cooking, and are often priced slightly higher than conventional models. Both are capable of roasting, browning and grilling foods, though a convection microwave is generally able to finish cooking faster.
There are several different styles of microwave ovens to choose from, and the right one for you will often depend on where you are going to place it.
Countertop Microwave Ovens: Designed to sit on the counter, these microwave ovens are usually compact and affordably priced. The small size is easily portable, though it should be noted that you will lose countertop space with these microwave ovens.
Above Range Microwave Ovens: Great for smaller kitchens, these space saving microwave ovens are designed to be mounted above your stove. A small exhaust fan filters any smoke for the stovetop, along with venting steam from the microwave. The prices can vary depending on the included features, and many consumers find it helpful to decide on a budget before choosing an above range microwave.
Microwave Oven Drawers: While relatively new, these microwave ovens are quickly gaining in popularity. Since it is designed to be installed as a drawer, it can be the perfect choice for cramped kitchens with limited counter space. While it does have all of the capabilities as a traditional microwave oven, professional installation is often required which should be factored into your budget.
Combined Microwave and Conventional Ovens: Priced significantly higher than other types of microwaves, these combination models are ideal for small kitchens. You have the convenience of a microwave and the cooking ability of a traditional oven combined in one appliance. The microwave is generally above the conventional oven, and most have a sleek design that blends in beautifully with your other stainless steel appliances.
Size and Power
The size and power capabilities of the microwave oven will depend on what you are planning on cooking, along with your budget. Larger models can provide you with up to 1,600 watts of power, while smaller microwave ovens may be only able with producing 500 to 800 watts.
Features and Functions
There are a wide range of features to consider, and your budget will help you decide which ones are necessary so you don’t waste your money on functions you will never use. Almost all models come with factor settings for one touch convenience that include automatic cooking times and power levels.
This important safety feature prevents the microwave from turning on or running if the door is open. While most models come with two interlocks for safety, there are some microwave ovens with three. This gives you additional protection in case one of the interlocks fails.
If the microwave does not rotate it will be almost impossible to quickly and evenly cook or warm your food, and it can turn into an expensive purchasing mistake. While almost all microwave ovens do come with a center plate that rotates, it is still recommended that you check before you make your final decision.
Adjustable Power Controls
Along with convenient preset power levels and cooking times, you also want to be able to adjust the functions manually. Not only will this help you conserve energy usage, it also gives you more cooking options. To make it easier to program the right settings, look for a microwave that comes with a helpful cooking guide.
Another important safety feature to look for is whether the microwave oven comes with a “child lock” on the door. This prevents curious youngsters from opening the microwave and possibly burning their hands on a hot plate. This can be especially important if you have a convection microwave oven which often runs at higher temperatures. A preset code will open the door when it is entered into the keypad.
This is a relatively new feature that offers even more convenience. Included on most new models, sensors measure the amount of steam in the microwave oven and will automatically shut it off when the food is done. This eliminates the need to set the timer, and takes most of the guesswork out of deciding when food is thoroughly cooked.