Countertop vs Over-the-Range Microwave

Coby McKinley Profile image

Written by:

Updated August 19, 2022

If you’re shopping for the best microwave oven, you may wonder if a countertop vs an over-the-range microwave is the better choice. Kitchen space is valuable, especially if you utilize every cooking surface to make your favorite food. Even if you only prepare frozen food items in your device, there is a perfect microwave type for your cooking style. So, if you’re curious if your kitchen layout needs a traditional countertop microwave or range model, read on.


  • Countertop microwave models are cheaper than OTR microwaves, but they take up cooking space.
  • Range-style microwaves sit above your stove, offering a sleek design and venting options.
  • If countertop space is your primary concern, go with an over-the-range microwave.

OTR vs Countertop Microwaves: What’s the Difference?

The main difference between these appliances is where they are located in your home. The countertop model takes up kitchen counter space, which may cut down your cooking area. The benefits of a countertop microwave are convenience and cost, as this model microwave is usually cheaper and requires no installation other than getting plugged into a power source.

Insider Tip

If you need extra space, consider storing microwave-safe utensils in your microwave while it isn’t in use.

A range model is similar to a built-in microwave, but they do not require professional installation unless you want a trim kit. Just like in the battle of a built-in vs countertop microwave, OTR models have exhaust venting and, sometimes, extended-range microwave dimensions. That said, you should investigate what’s better than a microwave for more versatile features.

Cooking Space

It’s no secret that you’ll have more usable countertop space with an over-the-range microwave vs a countertop microwave. If you have a small apartment or home, the range microwave is a space-saving solution for your kitchen counter. That said, countertop models are often compact microwaves that save as much space as possible.

Cooking Speed

Unless you choose a unit with additional features than standard cooking power, neither type of microwave will cook faster than the other. That said, most range models offer greater closed-door depths over countertop models. So, while a range microwave won’t make faster meals, they may make larger portions of your favorite foods in a single session.

If you crave convection microwave cooking, consider reading our guide to lightwave ovens vs. conventional microwaves.

Installation Expense

Countertop microwaves offer ease of installation that range models do not have. In addition, some OTR microwaves, while they have a sleek design, require professional installers to connect them to a built-in ventilation system. That said, many consumers appreciate the space-saving benefits of their range microwave ovens, even though the installation cost is higher than a countertop model. That said, it’s a better idea to go with a built-in microwave over a countertop model, which is why you’ll want to check out our roundup list of the finest OTR microwaves. For a peek at a couple we recommend, check out the Bosch vs KitchenAid over-the-range convection microwaves.


Ensure your OTR microwave is correctly installed before you use it. An unsteady unit may fall and cause damage to your body or kitchen.


What can you put in a microwave?

Any food, liquid, or microwave-safe container can go in a microwave oven. However, do not place metal cooking utensils of any kind in your microwave because the metal can spark, causing electrical damage to your home.

What are standard microwave sizes?

The standard microwave oven interior measurement is in cubic feet. The basic height and width measurements for microwaves are 16-18 inches and 29-30 inches. The average interior depth is between 15-18 inches.

Does a countertop microwave need ventilation?

You can place your countertop microwave almost anywhere in your kitchen. That said, do not allow clutter to gather on your unit because it is a fire hazard. So, while the unit needs ventilation, you do not need any specialized installation.

STAT: According to Neal S. Cooper, microwaves lose up to 30% of their cooking power after ten years of use. (source)

Coby McKinley Profile image