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Jan 14, 2012 06:58 AM

Range Hood vs OTR Microwave

Dear Chowhounds,

I am in the process of the doing a kitchen update and am pondering the the trade-offs between the extra counter space an Over-the-range (OTR) microwave yield and the superior venting we would get from a dedicated range hood.

Until now, we have only had a recirculating/filtering vent hood. (For this update we will be doing the work to add external ducting.) Considering that, and assuming I don't do a lot of deep frying or other highly odoriferous cooking, would an OTR Microwave with a 300 or 400 CFM vent make me happy or should I go with dedicated hood??

From a budgetary point of view, I am considering lower end gas ranges with convection ovens. I would like to keep the range / hood or microwave combo under $2000 or so.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts. Any recs on specific brands models in my price range would be welcome too.


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  1. If you are adding external ducting go with the range hood. I have a recirculating OTR and while it is better than nothing it doesn't really handle even simple frying well; even if ducted out the capture area is small.

    1. Absolutely go with vent with external ductwork imo. Maybe use a microwave cabinet (if you have room) to free up some counter space.

      1. I"m another one suggesting a traditional hood if you can manage it. Even if you don't do a lot of frying, you'd be surprised how you need it for sauteing even in minimal amounts of fat. And don't forget about stove top grilling - which makes quite a bit of smoke. I use my Le Cruiset grill pan quite a bit.

        It is also good for catching the condensation which rises up from boiling pots of water. I remember in my last home, I had a micro hood and it just could not handle when I'd be cooking pasta; it would have water dripping from above onto the stove top - and that one was vented to the outside even. The range hood sucks that up and out efficiently.

        2 Replies
        1. re: sivyaleah

          We just got rid of our OTR microwave and replaced it with a Kobi hood vented outside. Our microwave was also previously vented outside as well.

          Absolutely no comparison. Kobi at its lowest (silent) speed) moves more air than the noisy microwave ever did.


        2. Well, this is the first house I've lived in with an OTR micro and frankly I'm not really a fan of it. But I do a decent amount of canning and use 20 quart pots. I prefer to have as much free space above the stove as possible.

          1. We've got a 30 inch range but chose to get the 36 inch Venezia Zephyr vent. It wasg a combination of planning for the future (larger range) and I thought the physics involved would make for a better draw. We've had it now for 6 years and we've never had a problem with it (I'm sure I just jinxed it now). External venting is wonderful, just remember that it is an uninsulated hole in your house and if you live in a VERY cold climate....wel.... Here in NJ, no big deal.

            3 Replies
            1. re: jnk

              I just ordered a 30" Zephyr Range hood today. I am not that worried about the uninsulated whole in the wall but at 680CFM it could sure suck all the warm air out of our house in a hurry. (It's about 0F in MN at the moment.)

              1. re: dalewest

                I think you'll really appreciate the way this hood works. We've had ours for 6 yrs now and the biggest problem we've has is that one of the 4 halogen bulbs just burned out. Best of luck with it.

                1. re: dalewest

                  Good choice. There is usually a recommended clearance from rangetop depending on the output of the gas range. That usually doesn't put a microwave in easy reach safely.