The best over the range microwave plays a central role in the kitchen in 2019: it serves as a clock, a preparation tool, a cooking device, a reheater, and so much more. For our tests of overthecounter microwaves it’s all about capacity – nothing under 1.6 cubic feet of cooking space, venting options, and competent exhaust fans with speed options. We also took into account wattage, with none of our picks falling below 1,000 cooking watts, and power levels, which range from one to ten. Check out over the range microwave venting options below! And, if countertop microwave is your bet, then check out these countertop microwave features to look for.
- 1 Top Over the Range Microwave Ovens Compared
- 2 How We Choose the Best Over the Range Microwave
- 3 Why You Should Buy a New Over the Range Microwave
- 4 #1 Pick GE JVM3160RFSS – Editor’s Choice/Best Over the Range Microwave Stainless SteelThis model is a great option for the typical kitchen.
- 5 #2 Pick LG LMV2031ST – Best Quality Over the Range Microwave
- 6 #3 Pick Whirlpool WMH31017AW – Best Small Over the Range Microwave
- 7 Over the Range Microwave Features to Look For
- 8 Mistakes to Avoid
Jump To: The top Over the Range Microwaves side-by-side.
Ultimately, these considerations and tests led us to pick the GE JVM3160RFSS 30″ Stainless Steel Microwave as our top model. It has the “right” features for a overtherange microwave oven for most kitchens along with a useful number of customization/one-touch features…all at an affordable price. They do so much more than your gas range.
Top Over the Range Microwave Ovens Compared
|Editor's Choice/Best Over the Range Microwave Stainless Steel||GE JVM3160RFSS||Check Price|
|Best Quality Over the Range Microwave||LG LMV2031ST||Check Price|
|Best Small Over the Range Microwave||Whirlpool WMH31017AW||Check Price|
How We Choose the Best Over the Range Microwave
Over the range units are a little different from countertop models, so we focus more on each kitchen appliance with features that are important to these oven-centric microwaves. That includes:
- Size (Inside): We chose models that were 1.6 cubic feet or larger, because these microwaves tend to be larger and often need more cooking compartment size for more ambitious projects and platters.
- Size (External): You usually don’t have much of a choice when it comes to over the range spaces…which means you need to buy the right microwave the first time, or you’ll just have to return it. Of course, we don’t know what sort of microwave space you’ve got, but we tried to include a variety of options that can fit different kitchen spaces. Just remember to use your tape measure!
- Cooking power: Some might prefer a 850w overtherange microwave, but in our buying guide, there’s nothing below 1,000 watts for us, and you can go quite a bit higher, too. Larger microwaves need more power! A 1000w overtherange microwave is powerful enough for most users, however. That’s why we went with 1000 watts of cooking power for cooking your food.
- Venting/exhaust fan options: Let’s talk ventilation systems. Oven ranges typically come in two flavors. One uses range hoods for an exhaust fan, and may or may not have room for a range microwave – although it’s unlikely. The other option uses a microwave that typically connects to a fan system or has a fan built into it. We like exhaust fans with a couple speed options, and we provided a variety of airflow options depending on how much suction you prefer. These may or may not have charcoal filters. Airflow is measured in CFM or cubic feet per minute: more CFM means more air is moved per minute. We looked for CFM options that showed effective venting capabilities, preferably over 250 CFM. We did not look at things like a cooktop light.
- One Touch Buttons: We were particularly impressed with the express cooking settings that let you instantly pick a certain time frame. However, sensor buttons that offer input on how long to cook foods are a welcome addition too. Good cooking controls make it easy to use, allowing you to have the right cooking times for all of your food. That’s why sensor technology is important.
- Design: Obviously, the design of an over-the-range microwave is going to vary based on the brand you need. LG and Samsung are going to look very different from Whirlpool and Kenmore, and usually focus more on style than substance. But we favored sleeker, more modern designs that are more likely to fit into today’s kitchen from all brands to give you the best “range” of options available. If it had an energy save feature, even better. People love that they save counter space.
Whether you choose Samsung or pick GE, some might prefer their microwave stainless steel, while others might want some color. A stainless steel over the range model looks great in modern homes, but not so great in a rustic environment where a stainless steel overtherange microwave looks out of place. No problem. There’s something for everyone, with models that look great with your coffee makers, rice cookers, toaster oven, pressure cookers, food processors, and other appliances. And unlike countertop microwave ovens, all will save you counter space. Most people seem to like stainless steel overtherange models, but we are all different. One last note: Your microwave should be easy to clean.
Read More: How to Clean a Microwave Easily
Why You Should Buy a New Over the Range Microwave
Microwaves make a perfect partner for the average kitchen oven. First, they give you an easy set of controls for your oven fan, which can siphon away smells and even decrease grease build-up on surrounding cabinets – with multiple fan speeds to increase air flow if necessary. Many over the range microwaves also include lights to increase visibility a bit, quick timers that may work much better than your kitchen timer, and other features that help with multiple cooking projects!
Also, if you need a little more than just a microwave, take a look for the best over the range microwave convection oven combo or best over the range convection microwave – there are a lot of options out there when it comes to smart ovens, and you should find the model that works for your cooking habits best. For some that might be convection microwaves, while others prefer countertop microwave ovens.
#1 Pick GE JVM3160RFSS – Editor’s Choice/Best Over the Range Microwave Stainless SteelThis model is a great option for the typical kitchen.
Price: $239.99 | Watts: 1,000 | Capacity: 1.6 cubic feet | One Touch: 30 Seconds, Two Food Buttons, 6 Express Cook Options, Defrost, Beverage | Power Levels: 10 Power Levels| Exhaust Fan: Two-Speed, 300 CFM | Dimensions: 33.5 x 19.4 x 20.2 inches
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: GE’s model is the best bet if you want a high-quality microwave with a great change of fitting in with your kitchen.
This beautiful GE microwave is an excellent choice for modern kitchens. With its classy stainless steel lines, easy-open handle, and large buttons, the model scores extra high on the usability scale. The additional features also impressed us, primarily because they are middle-of-the-road options that suit any kitchen and can easily fit in many oven arrangements without worrying too much about compatibility. So this is why we pick GE for this spot. The 1,000 watt rating is average cooking power, but enough to cook pretty much any food with no heating surprises (sometimes at higher wattage microwaves can burn food if you’re not prepared). The 1.6 cu ft capacity of this GE microwave with 1000 watts of cooking power is perfect for families and can handle nearly size of dish when cooking your food, and even the venting system – with its simple two-speed controls and 300 CFM air flow – will suit nearly any kitchen without annoying you with complex controls.
There are also a few small but noticeable bonuses which we appreciated with this 1000watt microwave. The turntable can be turned on or off based on what you are cooking, and power levels can either be programmed automatically or switched to manual mode based on your preference. While there aren’t a lot of one-touch buttons, you do get options for popcorn and potatoes, the two most common microwave foods – along with defrost options by weight or time, reheating options, and a beverage button. There’s a little something for everyone here, and no feature does more than it needs to. The control panel is easy to use as well.
An important side note here regarding price: The best price on over the range microwaves varies between $200 and $300, and may also change between sellers. It’s worth it to scan the Amazon sellers offering these models so you can see if you can get a lower price than we have listed.
#2 Pick LG LMV2031ST – Best Quality Over the Range Microwave
Price: $300.00 | Watts: 1,000 cooking watts| Capacity: 2.0 cubic feet | One Touch: 30 Seconds, 8 Sensor Cook Options, Melt/Soften, Auto Defrost, Popcorn | Power Levels: 10 | Exhaust Fan: Three-Speed, 400 CFM | Dimensions: 15.9 x 29.9 x 16.4 inches
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: With one of the biggest cooking compartments and most powerful fans we’ve seen, this LG microwave means business.
On the other hand, maybe mainstream features aren’t for you. If you are less worried about compatibility and space, and more concerned with finding a 1000watt overtherange microwave large enough for your ambitious cooking projects, check out this model! We’re not saying you can cook a chicken in the 2.0 cubic ft overtherange microwave (it wouldn’t cook evenly or well), but you could certainly reheat one with no trouble at all. I love that 2.0 cu ft capacity. This model (with a 14.2-inch turntable) is perfect for larger plates, platters, and even small pizzas, which makes it particularly suitable for families.
But size isn’t the only thing that made us pick this LG model. The venting system, which uses a charcoal filter to reduce smells, is one of the most powerful around with three speed options and 400 CFM airflow. The sensor cooking options will automatically sense and set times for foods like mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, and hotdogs, so if these are some of your favorite foods you know which model will take care of you. The glass-like control panel is also particularly easy to clean, and the model is designed to save energy thanks to its EnergyStar rating. I love the energy save design. Aside from that 1000w overtherange microwave feature, it is also a good looking stainless steel overtherange model. It will cook food flawlessly and is easy to clean.
#3 Pick Whirlpool WMH31017AW – Best Small Over the Range Microwave
Price: $220.00 | Watts: 1,000 | Capacity: 1.7 cubic feet | One Touch: 30 Seconds, 3 Food Buttons, Soften/Melt | Power Levels: 10 | Exhaust Fan: Two-Speed Recirculating, 220 CFM | Dimensions: 16.1 x 29.9 x 17.2 inches
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Whirlpool’s simple model provides a hidden vent and utilitarian controls with unique automatic cooking options.
If your kitchen and oven needs are a little smaller, try out this Whirlpool model! The capacity is still a large 1.7 cubic ft overtherange microwave, enough to handle most dishes, and with 1,000 watts you won’t need to worry about extra-long heating times. This 1.7 cubic ft. 1000w microwave comes with an exhaust fan that is a mild version with two speeds and 220 CFM airflow, more suitable for small kitchens with less active stovetops. However, the food buttons allow you to cook popcorn, potatoes, and similar foods with ease – and there’s even a pizza reheat button in addition to common features like defrosting.
Note that this version comes in white but also offers an option for the best over the range microwave in stainless steel, which makes it a bit easier to match to a variety of kitchens. Like our LG model, it also has a hidden vent feature that streamlines the whole design, an added touch of the simplicity that defines this utilitarian model. The only downside is that this simplicity also means there’s a lack of some modern features, such as sensor cooking. Anyway, it is a great budget pick with ten power levels.
Over the Range Microwave Features to Look For
- Compatible Brands and Sizes: A common question buyers have when looking for the best over the range microwave with a vent is, “Does it need to be compatible with the oven in terms of brand?” It doesn’t…but it’s a very, very good idea. Choosing the same brand is an easy way to make sure that the design is close enough to your range to match and avoid looking out of place. Perhaps more importantly, choosing the same brand and same size makes sure the kitchen appliance will fit and hook up properly to any adjacent components. If you have a smart home, you will want to choice one that is compatible with your other smart home devices.
- The Right Fan: The best microwave range hood units also include a vent fan to siphon away odors, smoke, and more from the range. Picking the right fan is important. A powerful fan can quickly channel away smells, but it’s also going to be very loud. Our LG model takes a different path with a vent system designed to be as quiet as possible (as well as powerful), which is one reason we liked it. Meanwhile, a less powerful fan – like in our Whirlpool model – may be quiet but won’t be as effective if you’re handling a lot of cooking projects at the same time.
- Turntable Types: Another feature to consider are turntables. They often see a lot of use in above range microwave models, so what do you like in a turntable? Do you prefer a glass turntable, which are a bit easier to clean? Do you need turntables that are more than a foot in diameter? Do you want the option to turn the turntable off if necessary? Are you more interested in a toaster oven model for breakfest foods,
- Clocks and Timers: Since this type of microwave tends to occupy a central space in the kitchen, clocks and timers with bright LED lights are a surprisingly important cooking feature. All our picks have large and visible LED options for setting both clocks and timers. How else are you going to know when your baked potatoes are done? These features help to ensure that you always have the perfect cooking times.
- Energy Saving Features: Finding the best over the range microwave brand isn’t easy, but we suggest you take a look at energy saving features, like those our LG model comes with.
- Lighting: Do you need over-the-range lighting options? Then make sure that your microwave is compatible with this wiring option first!
Mistakes to Avoid
Measure Twice, Buy Once: If you’re wondering how to install over the range microwaves or how to remove them, you need to start with measuring. A 36-inch over the range microwave may offer a ton of cooking space, but it won’t fit in a space designed for a 24 inch over the range microwave. With cabinets usually on at least one side, you don’t really have options to expand the space, either. So measure carefully!
Picking Controls You Don’t Understand: Some of the new sensors and cooking buttons for foods like chicken nuggets are exciting, but it’s usually a mistake to pick controls you don’t really understand. People rarely learn a new microwave cook function– they typically just choose the easiest option. If you’re not already comfortable with a particular set of controls, you may not want to base your buying decision on them. For instance, do you even use an auto cook function on your current microwave? Or the defrost options? Or any of the sensor settings? Extra features are only great when you are going to use them. Additionally, child locks can be purchased to keep your kids safe around the microwave.
Ignoring Your Venting Requirements: There’s not much difference between an over the range vs. built in microwave when it comes to your venting requirements, but don’t get lazy here. Not all microwaves work with all venting setups regarding the direction of the vents, recirculating options, and more. Check out your venting setup and what role your microwave plays in it before you make a purchase! Remember, more CFM is suitable for larger kitchens.
Choosing a Microwave That’s Too Small: The smallest over the range microwave may save you money and energy…but it’s not going to do much good if your plates and cups don’t fit inside because the size in cubic ft is too small. Additionally, over the range models often need a bit more space than countertop models to fit properly over the oven. This buyers guide recommends that you don’t go under one cubic foot of space, if possible.
What Else Should You Think About?
When looking for the best over the range microwave, and you check price on Amazon, remember to consider how you personally use microwaves before you buy! Our buying guide will help you to make the right choice for your kitchen. It doesn’t matter if you choose a standard microwave or convection cooking with convection ovens.
Additionally, a common question people have when considering with a overtherange convection microwave or any type of microwave is safety, and how they can be properly used without fire or radiation hazards. We have information on if it’s okay to microwave styrofoam, and what sort of portable ovens you can use outside without encountering dangerous chemicals or accidentally ruining your devices. For a more in-depth look at radiation devices and why we all have them in our homes, you can read up on the FDA’s report on microwaves.
If you want a reminder about measuring properly, here’s a quick form you can download and fill out when comparing specific microwave models for your unique kitchen space. Remember that microwave hoods must be at least 30 inches from the bottom of your cabinets in most setups. You should also spend some time studying your wiring and venting requirements – these can differ based on oven systems, and you don’t want to be caught by surprise with an electrical project or a fan system that doesn’t work in your kitchen.
Today’s popular microwave brands include Panasonic, GE, Sharp, Whirlpool, LG and Samsung. These companies make many of the popular overtherange microwaves and convection microwaves that are in homes today like the LG lmv2031st, LG lmhm2237st, (the LG lmv2031st is a favorite) the GE jvm7195sfss, GE pvm9005sjss, the Frigidaire fgmv176ntf, Sharp r1514, the Sharp r1874t, GE jvm3160rfss. The GE jvm7195sfss is another very in demand model, but these are all outstanding.
When it is time to buy your over the range microwave instead of a countertop microwave for your modern kitchen, make sure that you check price on Amazon and go over this buying guide so that all of your bases are covered.
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