Microwaves warms food and snacks up quickly

Microwaves - Buying Guide

There is a wide range of microwaves to choose from, including basic models that make heating up a frozen meal easy to high-end models that provide a number of additional convenient cooking options.

Microwave Styles

Countertop Microwaves. Rests on any open surface in your kitchen. These freestanding microwaves are portable. A few benefits include:

  • Easy to move
  • Widest variety of capacity and power ranges
  • Some models can be mounted underneath a cabinet to free up counter space
  • Offers economical solutions for any budget
  • Versatile features and functionality

Over-the-Range Microwaves. Installs above your range or cooktop in place of a range hood. Functions like countertop microwaves, but also eliminates smoke, steam and cooking odors through built-in ventilation system. Additional considerations include:

  • Some models incorporate hidden vent design for a sleek, clean appearance
  • Built-in light that brightens cooking surface
  • Include capacity ranges from mid- to large-sized units, but with less depth than countertop models
  • Costs a bit more than countertop microwaves
  • Should be professionally installed

Built-In Microwaves. Can be installed into a wall or cabinet for convenient operation.

  • Saves space in kitchen
  • Capacity ranges from mid- to large-sized models
  • Higher watts deliver more power to cook food quickly
  • Requires larger upfront investment
  • Professional installation is recommended

Type Capacity Power Installation and Usage


0.5 (compact) to over 2.0 cubic feet (large)

600 to 1,300 watts

  • Versatile design fits any type of kitchen
  • Wide range of sizes provide multiple cooking options
  • Ideal for occasional to heavy use


0.8 to 1.4 cubic feet (mid-sized) to over 2.0 cubic feet (large)

Usually exceeds 800 watts

  • Space-saving unit installs over range or cooktop
  • Vents smoke, steam and odors from kitchen
  • Ideal for moderate to heavy use


0.8 to 1.4 cubic feet (mid-sized) to over 2.0 cubic feet (large)

Usually exceeds 800 watts

  • Fits into wall for seamless, stylish appearance
  • Perfect for kitchens short on counter space
  • Ideal for moderate to heavy use

Cooking Options

Standard microwaves can defrost, reheat and cook a variety of foods. Convection microwaves combine microwave and convection heating in one convenient appliance.

  • Capacity ranges from compact (0.5 – 0.8 cubic feet), mid-sized (0.8 – 1.4 cubic feet) and large (1.4 to over 2 cubic feet)
  • Power varies from 600 to 1,300 watts
  • Convection microwaves crisp and brown, as well as quickly heat food


  • Automatic Defrost. Allows you to select the type of food and weight you wish to defrost and automatically determines the optimum power level and cook time.
  • Convection Cooking. Circulates air evenly around food and is often used for crisping and browning.
  • Sensor Cooking. Assesses moisture levels in food as it cooks and automatically adjusts power levels and remaining cook time to ensure even heating.
  • Child Lock. Allows you to prevent accidental use by locking the control keypad.
  • Turntable/Movable Tray. Rotates food to ensure even heating.
  • Shortcut/Convenience Keys. Allows you to prepare specific foods with the touch of a single button.
  • Time Cook. Allows you to program two different cook times and power levels for a single dish.