over the range microwaveFrom all the designs offered in microwaves, you have wrapped your head around the idea of having an over the range microwave. That’s a great decision. But we both know there is much more work to be done before you find the ideal one for you. I will be getting into that shortly.

First, just in case you didn’t know, an over the range (OTR) microwave is one that is installed above the kitchen range. The beauty of this microwave type is that other than optimizing on your kitchen space it gives the room a compact stylish look that will never get old.

Even more exciting, most OTR microwaves double as ventilation option for your kitchen saving you ventilating costs while keeping your kitchen fresh. I will be talking more about OTR microwave ventilation in this guide. In fact, I will be telling you everything you need to know before buying an OTR microwave. If I have caught your attention, I suggest you read on to get the inside scoop on OTR microwaves.


When going for an OTR microwave, you will be faced with many options and variations that will demand you make a choice. The whole idea is to choose the best option that will appeal to your budget, lifestyle, and needs. Since this process can be intimidating to say the least, I have narrowed it down to the most essential choices you will be making while getting an OTR microwave.

#1. The heating technology.

In this case, you are provided two major alternatives, the conventional or the convection microwave. The convection microwave usually combines the features of a typical oven with those of a microwave hence the ability to heat and bake food. It comprises of a fan that circulates warm air hence evenly heating food and making it crispier as opposed to soggy. This way, your food gets to retain its flavor. The even heat distribution also makes it quite ideal for baking brownies and cookies (avoid cakes that have an open grain structure), grilling and even roasting among other things. The downside to having this kind of microwave is that you will have to pay a little extra and food can easy burn if not well monitored.

On the other hand, a conventional microwave uses a singular heat component to warm food as opposed to air circulation. This means that it cannot be used to bake and is restricted only to warming food. More often than not, conventional microwaves do not heat food properly or may end up making it soggy especially when dealing with pastries. They usually come at a much more affordable price and offer more dishware options such as plastics compared to the convection alternative.

If you often do a lot of baking or you are accustomed to having cookouts, your best bet would be going for the convection microwave as it is faster and gives you more cooking options. But if you only need a microwave for the occasional warming of food, I’d suggest going for the conventional microwave.

#2. Ventilation options.

As said earlier, OTR microwaves are usually installed with ventilation options that help rid your kitchen of smoke, moisture and even grease from cooking. Classified broadly, you have internal ventilation or rather recirculating microwaves and external or vented microwaves.

Recirculating OTR microwaves work by filtering the air and redirecting it into your kitchen. The filters absorb the grease, moisture and smoke emitted while cooking and direct fresh, filtered air back. Different microwaves come with different filtration technology such that some have double filters while others have one. The filters can either be removed and disposed of after some time while or regularly cleaned if they are permanent. When going for disposable filters I’d suggest charcoal filters as they are quite effective and easy to come by. To find out whether your oven needs a filter change, watch out for these signs.

Vented microwaves as the name suggests comprise of a vent or duct that redirects smoke and grease from outside.


Vented microwave.

It is connected to an exterior wall that allows the hot air together with grease and smoke to be deposited out of the house. Although they are not as efficient as range hoods, they are better preferred to recirculating microwaves. The only downside and a minor one at that is; vented microwaves sometimes cause noise due to blowing wind from the outside.

While choosing, go for the recirculating microwave if it is impossible to duct to the outside or you do not use your kitchen that much. This, however, will come at the cost of regularly changing the filters on your oven which is at times a gruesome task.

#3. Size matters!

The size of your microwave matters for two main reasons, the available kitchen space for convenient placement and the general size of your kitchenware. For one, it would be such a shame to buy a microwave that cannot accommodate most of your kitchenware hence need to warm food in turns.

More often than not, the size of the microwave usually appeals to the space you have available. If you have a small kitchen, consider going for a smaller microwave and the opposite is true for a bigger space. For large microwaves, you can go through brands from Panasonic as they offer some of the largest microwaves in the market.

#4. Power.

Most microwaves come with a power ranging from 500-1000 watts. The more the watts the faster it is to heat or warm food. Choosing a microwave depending on the power is pretty straight forward, simply match the power requirements of the device to the ones on your power outlets. If your outlets cannot support high voltage, consider reinstalling or changing your microwave preferences.


When choosing an OTR microwave or any microwave for that matter, there are some features that just have to exist without any exceptions. These include:

  1. Variable power options.

Gone are the days when microwaves come with full, medium and low power options. Thanks to technology, you can set the exact temperature you want to warm your food at either digitally or using a knob (I prefer digitally). This way, you will be able to defrost without burning food and get much more accurate results when warming your meals.

  1. Easy to clean interior.

Whether you like it or not, at one point or the other you are going to cause a mess in your microwave. How easy it is to clean up determine the ease you will have in maintaining your microwave hence determining its durability. Go for interiors made of porcelain enamel or stainless steel for easy cleaning.

  1. A turn-table.

It can be quite a daunting job to manually rotate your food while trying to warm it in a microwave. This calls for the curtail need of a turntable when buying your OTR microwave oven. Moreover, a turntable ensures that food is evenly warmed with some equipped with the ability to turn from side to side to accommodate big dishes.

If a turntable is not provided, ensure an alternative for even heat distribution is provided such as a rotating heat element.

This feature is commonly overlooked while buying microwaves despite its importance. Interlocks ensure that the microwave stops working when the door is open. This protects you from burning and of course from any radiation depending on your heating method. It also allows inspection of food without necessarily resetting the timer. Some microwaves come with two or three interlocks for backup in case one fails.

  1. Efficient ventilation.

When going for an OTR microwave be sure to have an effective ventilation system installed be it internal or external. This will ensure that your kitchen stays clean and fresh especially when food is burnt.


Microwaves have advanced with time and are now built with features that enhance user experience. Going for a microwave with this features is at times a matter of preference and may cost you extra in some cases.

  • Child lock. They ensure children cannot open or access the microwave. They can be activated and deactivated using a keypad.
  • Automatic sensors. This involves some next level technology that allows the microwave to adjust itself depending on how cooked the food it. It determines this by the steam emitted from food and can automatically go off if the food is too hot.
  • Preset convection. It allows food to retain its taste as well as provides browning and crisping option for certain food when preset.
  • Some microwaves come with racks to allow easy simultaneous warming of food.
  • This allows for cooking food with steam and can be ideal for steamable food such as fish.
  • Interior warming lamp. Yet another impressive feature that ensures your food stays hot until you decide to take it out of the microwave.
  • Conveniently placed control panel. OTR microwaves come with the control panels that are placed lower on the device for easy access. Some even come with touch screens for the same purpose as well as for style.


General Electric.

 These guys are known for making all sorts of home electrical appliances including microwaves. They are responsible for making some impressive over the range microwaves ranging in designs and price. Some of the most compact and space optimizing OTR microwaves come from GE so if you happen to have a small apartment you can start your search from these brands. A couple of notable OTR microwaves from GE that are especially noted for their great ventilation and plenty of special features include the GE PVM9179DFWW Profile and GE JVM3160RFSS microwave oven. If you can get an OTR microwave from GE, rest assured it will serve your needs fully.
Kenmore is another brand of OTR microwaves you should consider acquiring yours from. Their microwaves come in very sleek designs and are especially noted for the stainless steel interior making it quite easy to clean and maintain. Although their OTR microwaves come at a considerably high price, they truly have the features to back it up. For instance, the Kenmore Elite 80373 is an excellent OTR microwave that even got a gold award from customer reports rating.

Another top brand when it comes to selling quality OTR microwaves is Samsung. Their microwaves are quite sleek and come at middle range prices. Moreover, they are sold all over the world and hence can be purchased easily. An example of their top brand is the Samsung ME21F707MJT/AA microwave which is quite efficient and riddled with special features.

If you want an affordable OTR microwave, consider acquiring one from L.G. despite their affordable prices, these microwaves are quite efficient and contain a generous amount of special features for convenience. One of their best brands is the LG 1.8 CF 1100-Watt Microwave that will serve your needs efficiently.

There are other notable brands that will give you an easy time in the kitchen at a pocket-friendly price and contain excellent features. They include; Panasonic, Sharp, Electrolux KitchenAid and Jenn-Air. With microwaves from the brands above you will be guaranteed a sleek design that matches your kitchen as well as functionality.


Setting up an OTR microwave is simpler than it seems. In fact, you will require the usual home appliances for this. The tricky thing about installing an OTR microwave is that, when placed too high it will limit short people from accessing it and too low will make your kitchen look small. Your best bet is to install it just above eye level while considering the people who use it. If you do not have confidence in self-installation (especially if you plan to vent it) you can request your dealer to do it for you.

Maintaining an OTR microwave is pretty much same as maintaining your traditional microwave the only difference is in ventilation system maintenance. Be sure to regularly change your charcoal filters to enable them to work efficiently. Vented microwaves do not require as much follow up as recirculating ones but checking up once in a while will ensure longevity in your system. You can perform this test to determine whether it is time to perform a maintenance run or even replacement.


Buying an OTR microwave does not have to be a hassle. Just select one that suits your lifestyle and budget without apologies. I am really eager to hear your views, questions, and experiences on OTR microwaves so leave me some words and I will get back to you in a jiffy!


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