Are you looking to buy a new microwave oven for your kitchen? Do you want to replace your old and backdated microwave oven with a new one with better features?
Read this microwave oven buying guide for consumers.
Buying a Microwave Oven
Both online and offline microwave oven stores offer a wide range of choices of different brands with all kinds of features and attractions. Different models with different features are available. There are countertop and over-the-range microwave ovens. Microwave ovens are of different sizes and power. You may also want to know how a microwave convection oven differs from a conventional microwave. Till few years back, almost all microwave ovens were same with more or less the same features. People used to reheat their leftover food and to pop popcorn.
With so many options available, anyone can get confused in choosing the best microwave oven for his or her kitchen.
So, how to choose the best microwave oven? What are the things that one should know before buying a microwave oven?
Let us now see what should a consumer know before buying a new microwave oven.
What are the Best Microwave Oven?
Best microwave ovens should have at least following features:
- It should brown, roast, and grill foods like a conventional oven.
- It should cook meals without overheating your kitchen.
- It should be suitable to cook specific recipes using a pre-programmed touch keypad
- There should have automatic shut off feature so that it shuts off automatically when the food is done. This is possible with sensors with pre-programming.
Types of Microwave Ovens
There are three major types of microwaves ovens – countertop models of microwave oven, above-range units, and combination microwave ovens.
What are Countertop Microwave Ovens
Countertop microwaves are the most common and most popular model
among consumers. GE microwave ovens are the top seller in this category. Countertop microwaves are economical, small and portable. Price range of these models is from $30 to $400. Disadvantage with these countertop microwave ovens is that they occupy a lot of your kitchen work area. They can occupy up to 2 – 3 square feet of counter space. Some models of countertop microwaves can also be mounted under a cabinet using specially designed kits.
What is Above-range Microwave Oven
Above-range or over-the-range microwaves are designed to be installed above the kitchen range. They rank second to countertop microwaves in popularity. There have been significant improvements in design and features of these microwaves. These units are equipped with exhaust fans for venting steam and filtering smoke from a stove’s top burners. Many of the models have multispeed fans that recirculate air using replaceable charcoal filters. There is no need to vent out these units. Many of them have automatic shut off feature.
These microwaves need special installation. Some of the most famous brands in this category are GE and Sharp microwave ovens. Price range of these models is from $250 – to $1,000 depending on the features.
Combination Microwave Ovens
These microwaves are technologically advanced and are quite luxurious and expensive. They are a combination of built-in conventional oven and microwave oven. Special features may include – dual ovens have drop-down doors and a sleek stainless design. These ovens are comparatively expensive and can cost as much as $3,000 to $3500 depending on features.
Microwave Oven Features
New generation of microwave ovens are loaded with new features that make your kitchen smart and your cooking job convenient. There pre-programmed shortcut settings to automate power levels and cooking times for foods such as popcorn, pizza, frozen food, and potatoes.
Here are some of the very important and basic features that you should always look for before buying a new microwave oven:
- Interlocks: Most of the modern microwaves have two interlocks, some even have three. If one lock fails, the backup interlock works. This is one of the most important safety feature of any good microwave oven. This feature is extremely important in case door opens or is ajar.
- Turntable: Turntable or revolving glass plate inside a microwave oven is extremely important for even cooking. In the absence of a turntable inside a microwave, you will need to stop the microwave several times and turn the food by hand. Most microwaves have removable turntables. Some new versions also have rectangular trays that slide back and forth.
- Child lockout: Another very important feature that any good microwave oven must have. Child-proof doors are especially important on microwave convection units, where dishes may be extra hot when they come out of the oven. The child-proof doors can be locked and released using the keypad.
- : Variable power lets you change the setting level because you do not always need to use your microwave at full power. You can simmer food at 45-55 percent power, or defrost at 30-35 percent.
- Automatic sensors: Automatic sensor in a microwave oven is comparatively a new technology that can tell when food is sufficiently cooked by measuring steam in the oven. There is no need to set a timer. The microwave automatically shuts off making that food will not be overcooked or undercooked. Most of the new models of microwaves are now having automatic or smart sensors.
Microwave Oven Size and Power
How large and powerful should your new microwave oven be depends on your own needs and kitchen space. Keep in mind that the lower the power, the longer it takes to cook a meal. Higher wattage heats food more quickly. More power is better for cooking entire meals.
If your need is to cook more than just popping popcorn or bake a potato, you should buy a mid-size or full-size oven. If your need is to cook full meals for the entire family, you should buy a large model with high power such as some of the large-size.
Small and compact microwaves ovens are suitable for dorm rooms, offices, and apartments. These compact microwaves yield 500 to 800 watts of power. Microwave toaster ovens are a “do-it-all” model of the compact microwaves. They can warm meals for one, heat water for tea and cocoa, and toast bread and bagels and do other such small cooking jobs for you. Some of the microwave toaster ovens are equipped for up to 24 toaster settings and 10 automatic cooking settings.
Mid-size microwave ovens yield 800 to 1,000 watts of power.
Full-size ovens deliver 1,000 to 1,600 watts of power.
Convection and Conventional Microwave Ovens
Microwave convection ovens are result of modern cooking technology that combines basic microwave technology with radiant heat to let you roast, brown, and grill foods.
A basic conventional microwave oven is powered by a magnetron tube that emits microwaves which then pass through glass and plastic containers and is absorbed by the food so that the food gets hot.
These ovens have a heating element and a fan to circulate the heated air inside the oven. Microwave convection ovens promise for fast cooking, juicier pot roasts, crustier pizzas, cooking bacon and crisping bread and much more.
Microwave ovens with convection feature are priced little higher than the conventional microwave ovens.