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Microwave ovens are the fastest way to cook food. The heat or energy used to cook food goes directly to the food and cooks it. For most foods, it cooks fine. For other foods, it leaves a lot to be desired. Microwaves have become an appliance of convenience. With today’s schedules and the way everybody seems to be in a hurry, the microwave has turned into, for some people, their #1 way of cooking.
Microwaves used to be big, bulky, and expensive. For the most part, they are now small, easy to use, and fairly cheap. They basically come in about 3 different styles, though 1 style is not as popular as it used to be. They also come with different options like convection cooking, grilling elements, defrosting capabilities, sensor cooking, and even power level cooking.
Countertop These are by far the cheapest microwaves out there. On sale, you can easily find them for under $100. At this price, it kind of makes it a disposable appliance. If it breaks, just throw it away and buy another one. Some countertop models come with some of the options we mentioned and can raise the price to $500 or more.
At that price, most people will have them fixed. Before you buy a countertop model, think hard what you are really going to be using it for. At home, ours is only used for popcorn, defrosting, and warming up coffee and leftovers. Why spend more then you need.
Over The Range(OTR) These space savers are almost in every home it seems. Thes units combine a countertop microwave with an exhaust hood. They usually have a larger capacity then a countertop style, but besides the fan, the base models sometimes offer less then countertop models.
These units start, on sale, under $200. They are at the verge of being a disposable appliance. Fancier models with upper scale options can cost close to $1000 or more. One big problem with these units, is that to repair most of them, they need to be taken down or un-installed.
Another big complaint we get with these units is that they do not “suck” like a regular exhaust vent, and most of them don’t. From our experience, the majority of these low cost OTR microwaves do not vent like even a cheap vent hood does. Another big problem with these units is that the insides get very dirty with what you are cooking underneath it. A microwave that has been above a range in a home that cooks a lot of fried foods, looks like a microwave that is at least 15 years old inside where the customer can not see.
If you could just see all the build up of grease, dirt, and whatever that collects inside the microwave cavities, you would agree with our next statement. It is our opinion from experience, that micrwaves should never be put above a stove or range. Futhermore, OTR microwaves have a life span of only 1/2 of what a common countertop microwave has.
If you don’t believe us, look at an old range hood that has been up for about 10 years, especially in a home that fries a lot of food. You will see what we are talking about, because that is what is inside your microwave on your control board, magnetron, switches, capacitor, and anything else inside.
Built-In Built-in microwaves are basically countertop microwaves. Some will not have finished shells or may have some sort of stays or mounting brackets to them, but they are a countertop microwave. They usually are inside a cabinet with a grill/faceplate around it so it looks like it belongs to the wall oven. They units are usually more expensive then countertop units, but are much easier to service then OTR microwaves or the last style microwave.
Combo Unit w/Wall Oven These are units that are part of the wall oven unit, they are not an individual unit like the built-in model. These units are the hardest type of microwave to work on. To repair or replace 95% of parts the whole oven must be un-installed and many access panels taken off.
The keyboard/keypad can and may be integrated with the oven keypad. These models are in decline, the manufacturer, like Frigidaire, is now making a unit that looks like 1 unit, but with about 4 screws and a plug, you can slide the microwave right out. These combo units, like the built-in model, are easier to repair.