So, you want to choose the best microwave oven? Before going into the details, let us understand a little bit about microwave ovens. This is also referred to as “microwave” in short. A microwave is an appliance that uses microwave radiation to heat food. On the other hand, an ordinary oven has a gas or electrical heating element which heats the air inside the oven; the hot air inside the oven then heats the food.
WARNING: Above all, never use metal utensils in a microwave oven. But, utensils made of glass, silicon and microwave safe plastic can be used.
Before you Choose the Best Microwave Oven
The first thing you need to assess is your cooking habits. What types of foods do you cook? Boiled, fried, baked, roasted, etc. are some types. Hence, do you need a microwave along with your conventional oven or stove? Nowadays, almost all middle-class households have both conventional stoves and microwave ovens.
The next thing to consider is the available space in your kitchen. You also need to consider the size and capacity of the microwave. Obviously, the microwave has to fit in with your kitchen size, colors, etc.
To read our article on total modular kitchens, click here
Countertop Microwave Ovens
As the name suggests, countertop microwave ovens are simply placed on any flat surface. Countertop ovens are easily movable since they are not fixed. They fit in easily with both decorated and plan kitchens. This is the most common type of microwave, seen in most households, small shops, etc.
Over-the-Range Microwave Ovens
Over the range microwave ovens are typically fitted above your conventional cooking range. This puts all your cooking appliances in one centralized location of your kitchen. Over the range microwaves normally come with a ventilation system that can circulate air in and out your kitchen. Thus, you don’t need an additional chimney when you have one of these microwaves.
Built-in Microwave Ovens
Again, as the name suggests, this type of microwave is fixed and built in along with your kitchen cabinets. Built-in microwaves may have separate panels for the actual oven and controls. These are best installed in well decorated modular kitchens. Most big cafeterias use built-in microwaves. Obviously, these are expensive to buy, install and uninstall.
Size & Capacity
Most compact microwaves measure about 20 inches (50 cm) wide, 11 inches (28 cm) high, 14 inches (35 cm) deep. Larger microwaves may go up to 24 inches (60 cm) wide.
Capacity of a microwave is measured in cubic feet (cu.ft.) or liters (L). Thus, you can have microwaves with capacities of 0.6 cu.ft. (17L), 0.7 cu.ft. (20L), 0.8 cu.ft. (25L), etc. This is the capacity of the inside of the actual oven part of the microwave. 0.7 cu.ft. (20L) is good for a family of four members. Families with more than four members should go for 0.8 cu.ft. (25L) or more.
Features to look for in the best microwave oven
On one hand, most microwaves offer a standard set of features and facilities. On the other hand, there are subtle differences that can make a lot of difference to your cooking pleasures. Here are some of the features to look out for:
Best microwave: Solo, Grill or Convection
- A solo microwave is good for basic work. This includes heating, defrosting, etc. You can make an excellent cup of coffee, heat up your food quickly, and so on. But, don’t expect much from solo microwaves beyond that.
- Grill microwaves will do all the things that a solo will do. In addition, these will grill and brown foods to your desire. Making a grilled sandwich is a breeze with this type of microwaves. However, this also has some limitations.
- A convection microwave is the best of the lot. It will do all the things that solos and grills will do. But, it will also bake to the delight of professional bakers. So, if you want to make a proper cake, this is your best choice. By comparison, convection microwaves are also the costliest of the three types.
Power and Wattage
The lowest wattage for the best microwave oven is in the range of 500-700W. This range will allow you to heat up your food, make a cup of coffee, etc. On the higher wattage end, a microwave with 1,000 to 1,200 watts and above has more power to deliver larger, complex meals. With some microwave models, you can steam, air fry, grill, bake, broil and even roast foods.
To know your monthly electric bill for using a microwave, you first need to calculate the kWh or kilowatt-hours. It’s pretty simple actually. Let’s go through an example.
Firstly, estimate how long you are going to use your microwave per day. An average of 30 minutes total per day is a pretty good estimate for basic food heating. Grilling and baking will take longer but then you won’t be grilling or baking every day, will you? This means that you will be using your microwave for about 900 minutes per month (30 mins x 30 days). 900 mins is equal to 15 hours.
Secondly, let us assume your microwave is a 800 watt machine. 800 watts for 15 hours is 12,000 watt-hours (800 W x 15 hrs), or 12 kilowatt-hours (12,000 W ÷ 1,000). Hence, a 800 watt microwave, used for 30 mins per day, will consume about 12 kWh of electricity in one month.
So, if your average electric charge is 16 cents per kWh, then 12 kWh will cost you only $ 1.92 in that month. Double that to 1 hour per day, and your electric bill will be $ 3.84 only.
Best Microwave Oven: Cooking Modes and Presets
This refers to power and timer settings for particular food preparations. If you want to prepare a special food item, then you need to go through various recipes and cooking guides. But, for most cooking, there are pre-defined modes. A good microwave should have these features for both veg and non-veg items. With presets, you only need to prepare the raw food items, like marinating, mixing, etc. After that, simply pop the raw mixture into the microwave and select the required preset. Your microwave will take care of the cooking and will beep when completed.
Best Microwave Oven: Child Lock and other Features
Children are smart and like to emulate grown-ups. But, sometimes, they do not understand the effects of their actions. A child might playfully hit the start button when the microwave is empty. This is a dangerous situation. Hence, there must be a zero load lock, child lock, as well as other safety features.
The front panel of the best microwave must have easy to use controls. There must be knobs or buttons for power, timer, presets, etc. There should also be a good display that should include a countdown timer and other settings.
The best microwave should have a clear front glass panel so that you can see the inside of the oven without opening the door. Normally, the inside of the oven is dark. Hence, there should also be a switchable light inside.
Researching and Comparing Brands and Models
Customer reviews are a vital tool that you get when you shop online. This is something that you won’t get in offline shopping. But, should you read only the positive customer reviews? Or the negative reviews only? What if there are hundreds of reviews; how many will you read? How will you decide which are the genuine and proper reviews? These are vital questions when it comes to customer reviews.
Reading customer reviews are good but make sure you don’t go into an endless loop when reading reviews. Read the first few and then get back to our recommendations and expert opinions. As mentioned on our home page, you can rest assured that the information on our pages will filter your choices down to the best microwave ovens.
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Anando Banerjee has been providing different types of services, as an employee and thereafter as a self-employed professional, to clients in multiple industries in various countries of the world since 1984. He has an MBA in Healthcare Management.