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Over the Range Microwave..recs?

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I am looking to get an over the range microwave but don't know which ones are better than others. My current microwave is an old Sharp that I purchased 16 years ago at Bradlees! I was leaning towards a Frigidaire at Lowes but I also see LG,Maytag,Whirlpool,& GE. I would like to spend around $300. Any recommendations would be great! Thanks, Richie

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  1. I was in Home Depot the other day and they had some very attractive prices on the GE units with convection -- not sure if the $300 dollar limit will get you there unless you go with open-box or last year's model (both of which would seem like OK options to me...).

    The convection units are just a whole lot more versatile. Performance is more than adequate to take on baking a quick batch of cookies, browning up a combo-cooking roast or bird, broiling a quick toasted cheese sandwich or doing a medium sized casserole without heating "the big oven".

    Of course you probably already know that the "fan" feature on most OTR units is not very effective at controlling kitchens odors/grease, but the space savings is hard to beat without re-doing cabinetry.

    While there were a batch or two of GE microwaves that had some problems in the past the QC lately has been very good, especially on the convection units. Reports of 10+ years of heavy use are not uncommon.

    3 Replies
    1. re: renov8r

      renov8r, what you say about the otr units not controlling odors and grease is so true. I hate mine. If/when we remodel our kitchen, that will be the first thing to go. I will HAPPILY sacrifice the space savings that an otr unit offers, and install a proper range hood/ventilation system instead.

      1. re: foodstorm

        I'm in the same boat, bought a house with one of these things installed in place of a range hood. The cabinetry wasn't designed for it so it is way too low over the cooktop. I can't use my largest stockpot, even smaller pots are difficult and you'd think that being close to the cooking surface would make it better at pulling smoke/fumes away - wrong. I can't really recommend OTR microwaves as a good idea, it puts a lot of kitchen activity in one place. When I cook by myself, not so much a problem, when someone else is cooking with me we end up bumping into each other all too frequently.

      2. re: renov8r

        I'm going to second the GE convection microwave units. In this day and age, the function of the microwave is limited enough that you might as well add another feature. Now, if only they'd make a microwave that was smart enough so that you could set a timer for 2 hours rather than being limited to 99 minutes, 99 seconds. :)

        My Blog: http://www.epicureforum.com

      3. hmmm... You'll be replacing a 16 year old microwave? You may have a huge problem. It sounds as if your kitchen cabinets are not currently configured for a microwave to hang over your cooktop, and if that's the case, do you know how expensive it can be to reconfigure kitchen cabinets on top of the cost of the microwave?

        I am sure that any manufacter's product will come with a minimum recommendation for distance the bottom of the appliance must be above the cooktop. On top of that, almost all cities have a minimum in their building code. So you do need to check all of this out before you buy.

        Then, all of the over-the-stove microwaves that I recall seeing also included venting for the cooktop. Most of them just "filter" the air and kick it back into the kitchen. There are some that can be vented to the outside. In either case, the vents don't do a really good job. But if you never cook anything on top of the stove, it won't matter. Listen to those who own them. Sounds like they're not very happy with them.

        The microwave-convection option is a good one *IF* your standard oven is not convection. If it is, don't bother.

        Ask yourself what kinds of things you expect to use your new microwave for. If you have a large family and plan to nuke things like trays of frozen lasagna, then you need a full power/full size microwave. But if you plan on using it for "normal" things like reheating coffee, nuking popcorn, and melting chocolate, you will do just fine with a smaller oven that has a smaller countertop "footprint." WalMart has some for way under a hundred bucks that do a great job.

        Finally, make sure it has a rotating tray in the bottom. I think there are still a few that don't have this feature, and having to turn a dish manually is a drag.

        Good luck, and may you be happy with your choice for years to come!

        1. We're redoing our kitchen and switching to a proper hood (though a cheap one ~$200). We plan on sticking the microwave behind cabinet doors to being out when needed. That said, we're not heavy users of microwaves.

          1 Reply
          1. re: aivri

            I don't think I've had that request -- have considered a single door that lifts up, as a pair of normally opening doors might present some obstacles. Many of the folks that go with tambour doors or other "appliance garages" tell me that idea was better than the execution. It can make access to large/heavy appliance even more awkward and for light appliances they regret "planting" them on valuable counterspace. Of course some folks still love 'em too.

            There are some "drawer style" microwaves that seem like they'd be easy to disguise, though I have not done that yet.

            Good luck and let us know how your project turns out.