Buying Guide

Microwave Buying Guide

Microwave Types

Choose a microwave that fits into your kitchen, matches your home's style and provides enough cooking power to handle the needs of your family.

Countertop Microwaves

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

  • Traditional, standard microwave (0.8 to over 2.0 cubic feet)
  • Easy to move
  • Widest variety of capacity and power ranges; usually between 0.5 to 2.0 cubic feet 
  • Some models have a coordinating trim kit that allow it to be built in to the wall, freeing up counter space
  • Offers economical solutions for any budget
  • Versatile features and functionality

Over-the-Range Microwaves

Over-the-range microwaves install above your range or cooktop in place of a range hood. They function like countertop microwaves, but also eliminate smoke, steam and cooking odors through built-in ventilation system. Additional considerations include:

  • Select models have sensor cook feature for easy reheating or convection feature for enhanced cooking capabilities
  • Built-in light that brightens cooking surface
  • Capacity ranges from mid- to large-sized models (0.8 to over 2.0 cubic feet)
  • Available in a range of sizes and wattage; usually over 800 watts
  • Different venting options: External venting sends the smoke through an outside exhaust vent, whereas recirculating venting microwave pulls air through a charcoal filter then vents it back into the house.
  • Low profile microwaves are slightly shorter and much wider than conventional microwaves, allowing them to fit in the same space as an under cabinet range hood. (Based on a 24-inch minimum install height.) Despite their compact size, they are still large enough to fit tall glasses and wide dishware.

Built-In Microwaves

Built-in microwaves can be installed into a wall or cabinet for convenient operation.

  • Can be installed into a cabinet or wall
  • Saves counter space
  • Capacity ranges from mid- to large-sized models (0.8 to over 2.0 cubic feet)
  • Higher watts deliver more power to cook food quickly
  • Requires larger upfront investment
  • Professional installation is recommended
  • Available in a range of sizes and wattage; usually over 800 watts

Drawer Microwaves

Drawer microwaves are installed below a countertop or wall oven and pull out like a drawer. Food is placed in the microwave from above rather than from a front, swinging door. 

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. 
  • Easy cleaning/non-stick interior simplifies cleanup by only requiring a damp cloth. Microwaves with stainless-steel interiors remain odor free. 
  • Sensor cooking assesses moisture levels in food as it cooks and automatically adjusts power levels and remaining cook time to ensure even heating. 
  • Power levels vary according to microwave models, so remember that the higher the wattage, the faster and more evenly your food will cook.
  • Stainless steel microwaves have a stainless steel exterior, making clean up easy while adding to the modern look of your kitchen.
  • Child lock allows you to prevent accidental use by locking the control keypad. 
  • Turntable/Removable trays and rack rotate food to ensure even heating and can be removed for easy cleaning. 
  • Shortcut/Convenience keys allow 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. 
  • Ventilation levels are indicated with cubic foot per minute (CFM) to indicate how much air the microwave can circulate. The higher the CFM, the higher the airflow.