Is an over the range microwave different than other microwaves? Is your kitchen ready for one? We’ll cover everything you need to know including sizing, features, price points, installation pitfalls, programs, and the best models available to buy today.
The over the range microwave is designed to be tucked away neatly above your stove. It often comes with a built-in ventilation system that clears the air as you cook. It is a superhero that saves valuable space on your kitchen countertops and clears away nasty grease and odors.
An over the range microwave can do everything the standard microwave can do, from defrosting your prime cuts of meat to making a quick midweek meal. But it also has a few extra powers that make it a great addition to any modern cooking space. If you’re looking to remodel your kitchen with a contemporary look, you want to free up some more counter space, or simply need a replacement for an older model, this appliance is a great option for you.
Let's get started.
What is an over the range microwave?
Most people don't shop for appliances frequently. Therefore, the insider language from the industry may not help with decision making. Let's quickly define the terminology.
An over the range microwave is a space-saver that hangs over your stove attached to the kitchen cabinets on the side and on it top. It incorporates ventilation and stovetop lights. All in all, you will free up precious counter space with this type of microwave while getting a relief from smoke, odor, and grease.
An over the range microwave is not a microwave drawer. Also, it is not designed to be used on top of a counter. Most recently, speed ovens gained popularity in high-end kitchens. Although these innovative products satisfy popular microwave functions, you will not be able to place them over a stove.
While range hoods are a great ventilation option most kitchens are simply not roomy enough to accommodate them.
Is it a match for you?
Pros: Is this a right choice for you?
- No clutter on countertops. You need a solution for microwave cooking and ventilation without sacrificing counter space.
- Great replacement solution. You’re replacing an outdated model. Some models even incorporate more advanced cooking solutions such as convection.
- Ideal ventilation, overhead light and cooking solution. You have a 24-inch or 30-inch stove and the bottom of your kitchen cabinet is at least 30-inches high (too low could be a safety hazard).
Cons: Why might it be the wrong fit?
- 30-inches is the maximum width. You have a range that is more than 30 inches wide.
- Not ideal over a high-output pro stove. Your cabinets are too low to the cooktop (the stovetop will burn the bottom of your microwave if it is installed too low).
- Requires adequate cabinet clearance. Your cabinets are too low to the cooktop (the stovetop will burn the bottom of your microwave if it is installed too low).
- No inverter over-the-range microwaves. You are looking for an inverter microwave similar to Panasonic NN-SN966S. There are currently no inverter over the range microwaves on the market.
What you need to look for in an over the range microwave
Finding the right microwave for your kitchen can be a tricky thing to do. We’ll give you the lowdown on the sizes, power, price and installation of over the range microwaves to help you make the right choice for your home.
Size and Type
First thing's first - you have to make sure to measure the space over your stovetop before starting to shop. It’s important to know that the large majority of models will measure around 30 inches wide. There are smaller models at 24 inches wide, but they’re a bit harder to find.
What to measure:
Of course, you'll want to measure the width of the space to make sure proper fit. However, many people forget to measure the height as well. This is important because older microwaves were shorter than the newer models. But why is this a problem?
- On a modern, 16 1/2" over the range microwave, you want the bottom of the kitchen cabinet to be at least 30 inches from the cooking surface. This will leave you a 13 1/2" clearance.
- If your contractor took the shortcut and installed tile to the bottom of the old microwave, the new microwave will extend to the tiled area. This will make installation slightly more difficult. That's why it's important to get professional help.
If you have a pro-style range, you will need 36" clearance from the cooking surface. The microwave itself also needs to have a heat-shield so that the bottom does not melt.
Power in Watts
The cooking power of a microwave is measured in watts, meaning the more watts your microwave has, the quicker you can cook your food. In addition to speed, higher wattage allows for more flexibility. This means you also get more program and sensor cooking options.
For example, when using the defrost program, the microwave knows how long to apply power for the given amount and type of food. The microwave then adjusts power levels so your food does not burn or brown in an unwanted fashion.
Microwave wattage can range anywhere from 500-1,500 Watts. You can get a good over the range microwave between 800-1,000 Watts.
While you can expect to pay more for an over the range microwave, you can also expect more bang for your buck. You will get better features and higher quality cooking power than you can with your average countertop microwave.
Aside from saving space, features include more overhead lighting and built-in ventilation. These are qualities a countertop microwave simply cannot match.
You may be a “DIY-er” at heart, but this is one of those moments when you should leave it to the pros! You should absolutely opt-in for the professional installation of your over the range microwave. It can be tricky to secure the microwave to the cabinets safely, so don’t leave it to chance.
Another thing to check is the type of fuel type your stove uses. If you have a gas stove, you’ll need extra space above the cooktop to avoid burning your new microwave. At the end of the day, getting a professional to install your microwave is safer and will make life a lot easier.
All over the range microwaves come equipped to recirculate air in the exhaust venting system to trap grease and get rid of odors. However, if you would like to vent outside your home, make sure to check if your venting is vertical or horizontal. This information will help you to confidently shop for a microwave that will work in your home.
Too often, we forget about maintaining our home appliances. Over the range microwaves have mesh filters to trap grease, preventing it from spreading around your home. We recommend cleaning these filters every three months. Most filters can be cleaned under running water, and some can even be popped into the dishwasher for an easy clean.
Additional charcoal filters can also help get rid of pesky odors. They fit discreetly in front of the grease filters and need to be replaced every six to twelve months to keep kitchen air clear of any unwanted smells.
Now for the fun part - added features. These features give you the conveniences of new technology as well as the reliability you expect in a modern microwave. Here are some of the features we recommend looking for when shopping for an over the range microwave.
Sensors take the guesswork out of cooking and allow you to confidently defrost or reheat any dish.
Sensor cooking technology checks the moisture in your food as well as the humidity inside the cooking space to automatically adjust the power level and cooking time. This ensures your baked potatoes and corn on the cob will never be dry or overcooked.
Microwaves with sensors give you more control and options, allowing you to set a specific cook temperature - just like your wall oven.
Pre-programmed keys allow you to cook your food with the simple touch of a button. There are loads of options such as Express Cook, which helps you to instantly cook meats, veggies, casseroles, and more.
If you need to add a little more cooking time, select the Extra 30 Seconds program to give your food a quick blast on full power. There’s also the all-important popcorn button to make sure you’ve got your snacks ready for movie night.
Fortunately, most modern microwaves come with a ceramic enamel finish, which is super easy to clean. Another option is stainless steel with an antimicrobial coating, which is also great for easy cleanup.
No matter which option you choose, it's easy to keep your microwave cleaning routine simple. Most of the time, all you need is a moist sponge to clean your microwave. You can also microwave a bowl of water with a lemon to loosen any caked on debris.
As new technologies emerge, over the range microwaves include a variety of extra cooking modes and technologies. Some are definitely worth considering, while others may not be as useful.
You may be wondering, “do I need convection oven mode?” It really depends on your cooking habits and your space. Convection over the range microwaves actually act like a second oven. On top of the standard microwave features, convection mode can offer so much more. It will allow you to bake, roast, crisp and cook like you would in an oven. You can even bake a cake in convection mode. When you're done, simply switch the setting back to microwave mode and pop some popcorn!
Do I need a grill on my microwave?
The grill function is great for ‘on the go’ families, who want to cook food in a hurry. It can cook all kinds of meats including chops, sausages, steaks, hamburgers, bacon, and even thin fish. If you use the combination mode, the grill and microwave work together to give you speedier results.
To get the most out of the grill, use the grill accessory to place your food close to the heating element at the top of the microwave. They’re not ideal for baking enthusiasts, but are perfect if you need a quick fix like grilled cheese sandwiches or reheated pizza.
Do I need steam mode?
The short answer is probably not. The advantages of steam cooking are excellent for healthy eaters, but this type of technology isn’t super advanced at the moment. Although steam technology shortens preheat times and gives you fresh tasting food, you might be better advised to invest in a steam oven.
You'll spend less money on a steam microwave than a steam oven, but there really is no comparison to the results you'll with a steam oven. Additionally, steam cooking is only available on select microwave models.
Many brands, however, do incorporate steam cleaning in their microwaves. This is different from steam cooking and is a nice bonus if you like to keep your interior extra clean.
9 Best Over the Range Microwaves
Now that you have a better understanding of what to look for in an over the range model, let's break down our top nine picks. We’ve made our selections based on important considerations like design, versatility, price, and functionality.
1) Best Value: Samsung ME17R7021ES Over the Range Microwave
The Samsung ME17R7021ES is jam packed with features like eco-mode to reduce standby power, and a charcoal vent system to quickly eliminate steam and odors.
Its One Touch Cooking program is also great for making quick and easy meals.
This over the range model is great for large families, with a spacious 1.7 cu. ft. capacity. Its 1000 Watts power is more than enough for speedy and versatile cooking, while its 300 CFM ventilation system eliminates smoke, steam, and odors with ease.
Another great bonus of the Samsung ME17R7021ES is the adjustable cooktop light, which can be placed on either high or low, depending on your needs.
Not only is the Samsung ME17R7021ES practical and efficient, it's sleek too! This microwave will elevate your kitchen with clean lines, a striking LED display, and a number of different color options to choose from, including black stainless steel.
2) Best for Easy Clean: LG LMV2031SS Over the Range Microwave
The highlight of the LG LMV2031SS is its large 2.0 cu. ft. capacity. In addition to providing ample cooking space, the interior comes equipped with an easy-to-clean anti-bacterial coating.
Another feature that makes this sleek over the range microwave stand out the most is its QuietPower Ventilation 400 CFM exhaust fan. The fan can be set at three different power levels, including low, high, and turbo. The vent is hidden from view for a seamless appearance, but works quietly and powerfully to remove odors and smoke while cooking. This is a huge perk, as the ventillation system works effectively without disrupting your conversations.
Many users rave about the bi-level cooking rack, which allows you to cook more than one item at a time. However, others complain that the display and food view may be too high for the average person.
Overall, this 1000 Watt powerhouse comes with ten different power levels and eight sensor options to give you a truly versatile cooking experience.
3) Best 24-inch: Haier HMV1472BHS Over the Range Microwave
For years, there were very limited over the range options for small kitchens with limited width space. Haier saw this gap in the market and delivered the HMV1472BHS for 24 inch model.
The Haier HMV1472BHS is an excellent choice for a 24” range. This model has 10 heating levels, pre-programmed cook options and a sharp LED display. Also, It also has an Auto-On Venting system that activates the vent fan if the unit becomes too hot from the cooking surface below.
This model's sleek and modern doesn't include a handle. Instead, it features glass-touch electronic controls.
Although the price tag on the Haier HMV1472BHS is a bit higher, many people seek this model out because it's a perfect solution for 24" spaces.
4) Best Budget: GE JVM3160RFSS Over the Range Microwave
The GE JVM3160RFSS offers great value at an affordable price. Its notable features include an optional turntable (which is ideal for larger plates), a non-stick interior for easy cleanup, and convenient pre-programming options. and two fan-speed settings so that you can control your ventilation needs.
This 1000 Watt microwave comes in a variety of fingerprint-resistant colors like stainless steel and slate. It even has two lighting options that can act as either a full cooktop light or a nightlight.
Many users love the fact that this over the range microwave is quiet and easy to use. In fact, the GE JVM3160RFSS even offers two fan setting so that you can adjust the ventilation based on your needs.
5) Best for Low Kitchen Cabinets: Whirlpool WML55011HS Over the Range Microwave
The Whirlpool WML55011HS is the only low-profile over the range model on the market. This 1000 Watt microwave has a 1.1 cu. ft. capacity and an ultra-modern look. In fact, in order to keep this model looking sleek, Whirlpool concealed the touch controls, placing them on the inside of the microwave.
This Whirpool also comes with a powerful 400 CFM blower, which helps to eliminate stubborn smells, grease, and smoke from your kitchen.
One of our favorite things about this microwave is the tap-to-open door. This allows you to open the door by simply tapping it with your finger, wrist, or elbow. This increased flexibility allows you to open the door, even when your hands are full.
6) Best Bluetooth Sync: GE Profile PVM9005SJSS Over the Range Microwave
The GE Profile PVM9005SJSS takes the guesswork out of microwave cooking with its state-of-the-art sensor technology. It will automatically adjust the time and power level to meet the needs of each specific dish.
This model offers tons of space with 2.1 cu. ft. and a clean, modern design. It’s most unique feature is the ChefConnect capability. This innovative option lets you connect your microwave to your GE range with Bluetooth technology. For example, when using ChefConnect, the clocks on your over the range microwave and GE range will sync, and the lights and vent will turn on automatically when a burner is turned on.
Overall, most users adore the design, size and usability of the 1,050 Watt GE Profile.
7) Best Sensor Cooking: Whirlpool WMH32519HZ Over the Range Microwave
The Whirlpool WMH32519HZ is a 1000 Watt over the range microwave with a 1.9 cu. ft. capacity. Its innovative sensor cooking technology automatically adjusts the cook time depending on the needs of your dish.
This Whirlpool model also has a steam cook option, which requires a separate steam accessory to work. When in use, you can effortlessly steam vegetables and rice without having to turn on your stove. It has a 3-speed, 300 CFM ventilation system to reduce cooking odors. This model also features a CleanRelease Non-Stick Interior for quick, painless clean-up!
Overall, most users report a high level of satisfaction with the Whirlpool WMH32519HZ. However, many are disappointed that the steam accessory is not included and must be purchased separately.
8) Best Color: Cafe CVM517P4MW2 Over the Range Microwave in Matte White
The Cafe CVM517P4MW2 exudes true glamour and excellence. If you are looking for a microwave that breaks the mold and adds flair to your kitchen design, this Cafe model may be for you. But aside from its stylish design, this model is a powerhouse with both standard and convection technology. In fact, the fast cook setting even combines the best of both technologies!
This 1000 Watt microwave oven has a spacious 1.7 cu. ft. capacity, making it the perfect addition to your kitchen if you love to entertain. On top of creating golden brown appetizers and cookies with the convection technology, this versatile microwave also allows you to steam rice and veggies with the touch of a button.
From a design standpoint, this microwave is unique and customizable to your preferences. You can select the handle and knob options in chic colors like brushed bronze or black. Plus, in matte white color, your microwave will look modern without a cliche stainless steel face.
9) Best Handle Free Style: Frigidaire Gallery FGBM19WNVF Over the Range Microwave
The Frigidaire Gallery FGBM19WNVF is a large, 1.9 cu. ft. over the range microwave packed with powerful features. This 1000 Watt model utilizes sensor technology and a 3-speed ventilation fan, which can be set to low, medium, or high based on your needs. The Frigidaire Gallery also has a removable turntable and simple, one-touch buttons.
The Frigidaire Gallery FGBM19WNVF has a streamlined, handle-free design. It's also smudge and fingerpring resistent, making it perfect for homes with little hands (or paws!) Other highlights of this model include a zero-clearance door to fit the tightest spaces, and an "Effortless Clean" interior. With the Frigidaire Gallery, you can focus on the joy of cooking rather than the stress of cleaning.
Users especially love the LED lighting on this model, which makes it easy to see your cooktop. It also serves as a nice design element in your kitchen.
With an over the range microwave, you're getting two powerful appliances in one. Not only do you get a versatile microwave, but you also get a powerful ventilation system. All in all, they are a great option for those looking for a space-saving alternative to a countertop microwave or a traditional range hood.
Does Amazon make an over the range microwave?
AmazonEssentials is a great source for inexpensive products. In fact, the Amazon microwave is only $59 and comes with nifty features like Alexa voice controls. At this time, Amazon does not make over the range microwaves.