One of the most important spaces in a house is the kitchen. You might be living on your couch, binge-watching, or starting a cooking channel of your own. Alternatively, you might be a busy office-goer, working double shifts to support your family and living on reheated food.
All these situations have something in common that is a workable kitchen. However, a kitchen is not essentially complete without its appliances. One of the most important, common, and frequently used kitchen appliances has been a microwave.
With the fast-paced life that the world is going through, there is absolutely no time for cooking. This is why reheating and defrosting food has become one of the seldom done activities in the kitchen. Unless you love cooking, or you are planning to start a food channel of your own, food typically means defrosting the left-over pizza or reheating stale food. This makes a microwave imperative for a running kitchen.
Moreover, there are numerous other functions that a microwave can be put to use like grilling, baking, and making perfectly poached eggs for breakfast. Therefore, considering buying a countertop microwave might be one of the best decisions that you have taken till now.
Variety is the spice of life and that of microwaves too. This means that there are a variety of microwaves available in the market from which the buyer has to choose. Moreover, a countertop microwave has a few essential features and factors that the buyer should consider before arriving at the best countertop microwave.
Moreover, when going through the product description of a microwave, the buyer might come across terms like child lockout, automated sensors, and turntables which are some of the unique features of the appliance. This guide aims to explain all the relevant features and factors that are needed to be considered by the buyer before going in for the final purchase.
Let us first look into the different types of microwaves available in the market and what are their distinguishable features. The buyer might be confused with their choice of going for a countertop microwave. A comparative study of all the types of microwaves will help him or her understand the choice better. Although the countertop microwave is the most popular and widely purchased type, let us delve into the other types too to get more clarity.
Table of Contents
- What are the different types of Microwave ovens?
- Benefits of Countertop Microwaves
- 11 Best Countertop Microwave – Everything You Need to Know
- How to keep the microwave clean?
What are the different types of Microwave ovens?
The types of microwaves can be divided into three broad categories namely the countertop microwaves, the over-the-range microwaves, and the built-in microwaves. The countertop microwaves are the most popular and household version of the microwaves. The over-the-range and built-in microwave models have their special features but are not pocket-friendly. All three types of microwaves have been discussed as follows.
1. Countertop Microwave Oven
The countertop microwave is one of the best solutions for frozen dinner. They come within an affordable range and can fit on a counter in the kitchen or any other space as per the convenience of the buyer. Moreover, one of the notable features of the countertop microwave is that it does not involve a complicated installation process. It can be just unboxed and plugged in.
However, if the buyer has a congested counter or limited space on the counter then he or she might consider buying a smaller model. Alternatively, a small cart or any other space can also be considered for keeping the countertop microwave.
2. Over-the-Range Microwave
An over-the-range microwave, as the name suggests, has to be located above the range in the kitchen. This means that an over-the-range microwave can save counter space. Moreover, this type of microwave comes with ventilation features that suck in the grease-laden air from the kitchen and replace it with clean air. They also come with lights that illuminate the cooktop and give the kitchen a high-end look. However, an over-the-range microwave takes up the space of a range hood cabinet that the buyer might consider purchasing later.
3. Built-in Microwave
The built-in microwave is the most expensive type and can be customized according to the convenience of the buyer. This means that the built-in microwave can be located in the place of cabinets or with the full-sized wall ovens. These microwaves enhance the outlook of the kitchen and can also be built in the form of drawers with the food being pulled out of it in compartments.
Although the built-in and over-the-range microwave seem like the perfect deal, it might cost you more than your estimated budget. Moreover, both these types of microwaves require specialized assistance and help for installation and also consume more power than required by an average household. A countertop microwave is best suited in terms of price, installation, and portability. The best countertop microwaves might be the perfect match for you.
Benefits of Countertop Microwaves
There is a range of benefits that these microwaves come with. Beginning with the various functionalities that these microwaves can offer, they require no extra cost for installation. They are portable and can be carried or shifted to any space having a socket nearby. Moreover, they come within an affordable range and are simple to handle.
They also have quite a few exclusive features and does the basic of heating the food evenly. Nonetheless, these microwaves can be maintained and cleaned easily. A built-in or an over-the-range microwave cannot be moved as willed and the entire kitchen space has to be redesigned in case of any changes post-installation.
Moreover, their cleaning and maintenance is a more strenuous task and might require professional help. Therefore, with an optimal budget and a clean counter, all you need is a Countertop Microwave to make your life easy. The Toshiba ML2-EC10SA(BS) can be a perfect example of a countertop microwave.
11 Best Countertop Microwave – Everything You Need to Know
Several factors should be considered before making the final choice of the best microwaves. These factors if considered properly will help the buyer to opt for the right countertop microwave.
This is an important factor to consider before entering into the world of microwaves. In modern times, a microwave oven has become an integral part of cooking. However, the type and functionality of a microwave oven depend on the price range within which the budget falls. The Walsh WSCMSRO9BK-09 is an affordable model that comes within a lower budget.
The buyer might be overwhelmed with the high-end microwave ovens. However, it is always recommended to start small and easy. Thus, opting for a countertop microwave, which costs within a range of $50 to $300 depending on its size. The Panasonic NN model seems like a perfect buy with optimal features in it.
The place where the oven shall be kept also matters. For instance, a typical medium-sized countertop model would have a width of 20 inches and a depth of 18 inches. Now, the buyer should have a free space on the counter of such dimensions to accommodate the appliance. In case so much space is not available, then a smaller-sized microwave should be opted for. A countertop model is also portable, which makes it further easier to move according to convenience. The Commercial Chef CHM770SS is one of the cheapest and best-buy models available in the market.
3. Cubic Feet
Once the buyer has finalized the location where the microwave oven will be kept, he or she must measure the place available in terms of width and height. This will simplify the process of selecting the appliance as the buyer will be able to choose the model, which matches the measured metrics.
The internal capacity of a microwave is measured in cubic feet. This means that the amount of food that the appliance can take at one time is measured by the cubic foot. Typically, the countertop models range from 0.5 feet to 2.2 cubic feet.
The buyers must remember here that the internal capacity of cubic feet cannot be related to size as there is no established scale yet that defines the capacity range about the size of the appliance. However, it can be assumed that compact-sized countertop models range within 0.5 cubic feet to 1.2 cubic feet.
The medium-sized models start from 1.2 cubic feet to 1.5 cubic feet. The large-sized models fall within 1.6 cubic feet to 2 cubic feet and the models with extra-large internal capacity can have a figure of more than 2.2 cubic feet. A normal microwave oven might have an internal capacity, which falls between 1.4 to 1.8 cubic feet. The SHARP Stainless Steel Carousel seems like the perfect example.
If all these measurements in cubic feet confuse you and make you dizzy then one of the simplest ways to check the internal capacity suitability of the appliance is by bringing a dinner plate to the shop and examining whether it fits properly or not. The buyers can refer to the Frigidaire FFMO 1611LS for a better understanding.
Wattage is another important consideration that the buyer must go through to make the right choice. The wattage refers to the total power consumed by a microwave. The buyers should remember here that microwaves with more power will be able to reheat the food quickly and evenly.
The optimal range of wattage within which the microwaves are available is from 600 to 1200 watts. Most high-end models end up with 1,000 watts of power capacity. The high-end models come with a higher wattage and can do a lot more than reheating food evenly. Smaller countertop models come with 700 watts on average. However, the buyers must be aware of the fact that microwaves with higher wattage and inner capacity come with a higher price.
These are the essential factors that have to be considered before buying a countertop microwave. If the buyers can scrutinize their needs based on the above-mentioned factors then they will easily be able to arrive at the best microwave with the required capacity, wattage, and size inches.
However, there are several features too that should be considered before arriving at the perfect countertop microwaves. It is imperative to understand these features as the buyer might not want to miss out on his or her bowl of microwaved popcorn and other related features. The buyers can refer to the Panasonic NN-GN68KS for a better understanding.
5. Features of Countertop Microwaves
Some features come with small portable microwaves. These are the features that set the best models apart from the rest. While checking the product description, the buyer should ensure that all the features are present in the product. The features can be listed down as follows.
This is one of the most common and most wanted attributes of a small microwave. This feature is typically designed for owners who want to avoid the hassle of manually configuring the settings for heating or defrosting food.
The appliance has a series of presets that lead to automated power levels suitable for cooking. These preset help the buyer to save both time and power. For instance, one of the most common preset power levels available is the popcorn settings, which enables you to get your bowl of popcorn easily. The buyers can refer to the Nostalgia RMO4AQ Retro Large countertop microwave that comes with some automated power levels.
Expensive microwaves can come with around a hundred presets and can cook about anything like pizza, potato, frozen food. Some presets also have features like delayed heating time alternatives or settings that keep the food warm after it has been cooked. The only limitation of the default mode feature is that it can only be used for common food preparations and other customized food prep presets cannot be entered into the system.
This is another new-age feature that the buyers should look out for in their product. The manufacturers, in their pursuit of improving and enhancing the customer experience with a small microwave, have come up with attributes that might surprise you. This feature is typically present in large ovens and can come in handy when a particular dish or food requires direct heating.
A convection oven has a huge range of benefits. A convection oven comes with a convection fan that does not only help heat food quickly and evenly but also turns it brown and crispy to make it more delicious. The fans circulate the hot air inside the appliance, which heats food evenly. Some microwaves let the buyer use the fan only while processes like baking or roasting. However, the best brands let you use the convection mode at all times including frying and grilling the food. Microwaves that come with a convection fan will cost more than an oven without a convection fan.
The inverter technology is a unique feature that helps you regulate the power with which the microwave heats or defrosts food. This means that if the buyer sets the microwave to a lower power level then it might swoon from a lower power setting to a higher power setting intermittently. This might lead to uneven or less intense heating of food. An inverter technology-enabled microwave lets the appliance work at the set power level consistently, which results in uniformly cooked dishes like a poached salmon or a bouncy omelet.
A turntable is an important component of a microwave oven. The turntable is the glass plate that rotates to facilitate the uniform heating of food. The buyer should consider the size of a turntable as the food containers and dishes has to be placed over it. The food plate or container should not outgrow the turntable.
Moreover, it should also be ensured that the turntable is removable and can be cleaned at regular intervals. The material used to support the turntable also matters and should be heat resistant. Some microwaves also come with a feature that lets the user switch on or off the table rotation.
This is one of the high-end features that countertop microwaves come with. The appliance has a sensor or many sensors that measure the amount of steam coming out from food to make whether the food is sufficiently cooked or not.
The automatic sensor monitors the steam and permits the appliance to shut down on its own preventing undercooked or overcooked food. Sensor cook has become one of the trending attributes that eliminate the need for the buyer to be there at all times. A sensor cooking push button is also available with expensive microwaves. The buyers can refer to the Galanz ExpressWave Sensor Microwave, which comes with a similar feature.
Some of the expensive microwaves might feature a removable rack. This enables cooking at two levels and can enhance the process of reheating and defrosting.
This is one of the essential attributes that can be useful if you have a house full of toddlers who are curious about anything and everything. The child lock feature enables the oven door to be locked with a code entered in the keypad and can be unlocked with the same. This feature keeps the children safe from touching heated surfaces or any other accidents or injuries.
This is another feature of crucial importance. Many careless accidents can be prevented with such a simple feature of interlock in which the appliance will not run if the door is not properly locked. Some microwaves come with a triple lock feature for upgraded safety.
The user-friendly control panel should constitute of large buttons which are easier to read and clean too. Moreover, some of the microwave ovens come with a door and others with a push button. The buyer can choose any one option according to his or her convenience and preference. The Faberware model seems like a perfect example.
Easy Cleaning Interiors
The buyer must be mindful of the fact that the countertop microwave has an interior material that can be easily cleaned. Moreover, the material should be stain-proof, bacteria-resistant, and should not be affected by the occasional food spatters.
There is a range of smart technology options that the new-age big brands are coming up with like facial recognition to identify food type and related cooking settings, voice controls, and other smart technology attributes.
These are the attributes that define the best countertop microwaves that are available in the market. If the buyer has gone through all the features then it shall not be a difficult task to buy the perfect compact microwave. One of the best available models that can be referred to is the Samsung Electronics MG11H2020CT.
How to keep the microwave clean?
The buyer must go through the manual of the product to understand the proper product handling guidelines. Moreover, there are certain general guidelines that he or she should follow to extend the life of the appliance.
- Food spatters should be cleaned immediately to avoid hotspots that might affect the interior.
- The grease filter should be cleaned at regular intervals.
- Be gentle with the microwave door and do not slam it down.
- The microwave should not be run empty without food.
- Metal food containers should not be used.
- In case, there is a malfunction, professional help should be sought.
How long does a countertop microwave last?
The life expectancy of any electric appliance depends on the care with which it is treated after use. If properly maintained and cleaned, a countertop microwave can last for around ten years. However, the buyer might consider replacing the item if the door or inside material has a crack.
How often should the microwave be cleaned?
It is recommended that the microwave should be cleaned after each use to maintain it. A soft cloth or sponge can be used to clean the interior surface. Moreover, the turntable can also be removed and cleaned so that no food particles are left beneath it.
What is the optimum wattage for a good microwave?
Small or compact microwaves with 700 watts can heat food evenly. However, if the buyer is looking for a faster option that will reduce the cooking time then he or she must go for a 1,000 watts model.
This buying guide has provided the best overall information that is needed to buy the best countertop microwaves. The buyer should consider all the factors and product attributes before going in for the purchase. It can be probably assumed that after going through the guide, the buyer will get enough clarity in regards to why he or she will need a microwave and what are the exact specifications that the model will require. It should also be remembered here that an expensive appliance does not guarantee a longer life expectancy. It all depends on the care and maintenance with which the product is treated after use. Moreover, the buyer must use a soft cloth or a sponge to clean the interiors of the microwave daily. Food spatters not only tend to be hotspots but also can lead to the growth of bacteria inside. Therefore, proper cleaning is mandatory. Wishing you all the best. Happy purchasing!