What is an Over the Range Microwave?

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Updated August 17, 2022

Microwave ovens come in a few different types- countertop, built-in, and over-the-range designs, so if you’re shopping for one, you may be asking the question “what is an over-the-range microwave?”

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Range microwaves offer ergonomic convenience when creating meals that use both the conventional oven and the microwave.
  • Despite their convenience for some kinds of use, the height of the floor makes them less accessible for kids, smaller adults, and some differently-abled users.
  • Range microwaves tend to be more powerful and larger than countertop models, but are more expensive and require installation, usually recommended being done by a professional (adding to the cost.)

Over-the-range microwaves are a great option for several reasons, depending on your kitchen needs and the look you’d like your kitchen to have, and some of the best microwave ovens available are range types, so understanding what they are and what benefits they have can help you make the right purchase decision. You may also want to take a look at how to use microwaves properly before making that decision.

Insider Tip

Range microwaves tend to be more powerful and have larger useable cooking areas than countertop models. Higher potential power levels mean less cook time for most meals.

The Different Types of Microwave Ovens

Microwave ovens come in three basic styles, though all still heat food the same way. Countertop microwaves are standalone units that can be placed anywhere near a grounded outlet into an appropriately sized circuit breaker and don’t require any special installation. These are the most common types found in homes.

Built-in microwave ovens can refer to both over-the-range microwaves and drawer microwaves since they’re both installed into cabinets or walls, but built-in microwaves are sometimes what drawer microwaves are called specifically.

Drop-down drawer microwave ovens are the least common type and require the most complicated installation. Range microwaves are those that are installed below an upper drawer or attached to the wall specifically above a standard oven.

What are Over-the-Range Microwaves?

Range model or over-the-range microwaves are microwave ovens that are installed either underneath an upper kitchen cabinet or in the wall directly above a standard oven range.

They tend to be larger than the average countertop models and often require a professional installation, though many people will choose self-installation regardless. Their sleek design also makes them attractive to aesthetic-minded home cooks.

There are a few key benefits to over-the-range microwaves:

  • A range microwave provides ventilation for both the microwave and the oven below, making it two appliances in one.
  • They can save considerable kitchen space and counter space over countertop microwave ovens, leaving space for other appliances and products and giving you more options for kitchen layout.
  • They are usually larger (measured in cubic feet) and higher-powered than countertop types and increased size and wattage, heating larger dishes with shorter cooking times, especially in sensor cooking.

Range microwaves also have a few drawbacks compared to other designs.

  • Kids and smaller adults will have a harder time using the microwave safely because of its height from the floor.
  • Range microwaves require installation- which is often best done by a professional.
  • Range microwaves tend to have a higher price tag than comparable countertop models, especially those outfitted with sensor technology.

Whether a range microwave is the right choice for your kitchen or not will be up to several factors, including cost, how often you’re going to be using it (and for what), and who’s in your household. Weighing the pros and cons will help you make the right choice.

Warning

Though most models can be installed by the user, manufacturers usually recommend professional installation for safety and efficiency reasons.

F.A.Q.S

Can you use a countertop or regular microwave over the range?

No, countertop models are not designed to be installed with the enclosures or range hood of range microwaves, and additionally don’t feature the kind of venting that range microwaves have built-in.


How long does an over-the-range microwave with a stainless steel interior last?

While stainless steel bodies can increase the cooking efficiency of your oven among other benefits, they still have the average life expectancy of normal microwaves- around 7 years.


How long does it take to install a range microwave?

Installing a range microwave yourself should take a little over 2 hours with the proper tools, though a professional will probably take less time, and manufacturers tend to recommend a professional installation. It may be quicker or longer to install a microhood microwave, but that depends on your professional.



STAT: Range microwaves tend to have higher power ratings than comparable countertop models, with many being rated at 1100 watts instead of the standard 700. (source)

STAT: The first wall-mounted range microwave was introduced in 1955 and cost the equivalent of $11,000. (source)

STAT: The average lifespan of a microwave oven is 7 years, though they’re usually built for about 10 years of use. (source)

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