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Mar 6, 2013 04:34 AM

OTR microwave & hood died and I need advice

Our microwave with ventless exhaust hood that goes over the range ("OTR") has died without any warning. (The Kenmore was about 18 years old, i believe).

I am thinking of replacing it with an OTR micro-convection combo. Would you get that combo or stick to the micro-hood alone?

Went to Sears yesterday, and liked the feel of the Kitchen Aid and GE Profile units. The Kenmore one seemed less solid. The price point is around $ 580-695.

What are your ideas about features to look for or avoid? Have you had any experience with any of these brands or others?

Is it worth insisting on a 400 vs. 300 cfm exhaust? Does it make that much of a difference? It seems most are 300 cfm. (We have a sensitive smoke detection system with our home security, and I always get very anxious when there is ANY smoke off a burner or pan…so exhaust fan is very important).

Also, I am not sure about how difficult it would be to vent the unit (I live in a 1954 rambler, and the kitchen is on the main level, with only the unfinished attic above to the roof). Does every convection-micro combo have to be vented?

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  1. Kenmore manufactures absolutely nothing. They have someone else make the product, slap the Kenmore label on it, and then stick you with the awful Sears service department instead of the manufacturer's. It's not worth the minimal amount you save over the equivalent name-brand product.

    Speaking of equivalent name-brands: KitchenAid is one of the many brands made by Whirlpool. They make, in rough order low to high end: Amana, Maytag, Whirlpool, KitchenAid, and JennAir. The products across brands are almost completely identical, except the higher end products have nicer trim and cost a hell of a lot more. For example, here's the KitchenAid:

    And here's the matching Whirlpool that goes for half the price:

    Venting shouldn't be TOO difficult. A vent hood should lead outside anyway, otherwise you're just blasting the vented air right back at the cook.

    1. You can also look on ebay. There are many huge wholesale operations that sell the same appliances for $100 off most stores.

      1. can i please have more advice about my specific questions, esp. about the venting issue?

        it is an electric range, by the way. (i'm looking at another thread, and the range is gas. the query there is essentially about buying a dedicated hood, or a micro with hood-like features). reading some of the replies on that thread, it seems like 300-400 cfm is paltry (compared with a true vented hood), so the difference between 300 and 400 is almost meaningless.

        2 Replies
        1. re: alkapal

          Okay, on the venting questions:

          You can vent out the back (through the wall to the outside) or go vertical through that attic and out the roof. (Do not vent into the attic space.)

          The difference between a nominal 400 cfm and a nominal 300 cfm is not much by itself, but there are real world differences between the units so that a 400 cfm unit may perform noticeably better than a 300 cfm unit. Bear in mind, first off, that the CFM ratings may be somewhat "imaginative." Check out the gardenweb appliances site and search on "OTR."

          There are some other variables that may make a 400 cfm unit a better performer. For instance, there is an LG OTR unit -- LG LMHM2017, I think --- which has an "extenda vent." This unit can extend the front vent over the front stove burners (unlike most OTR units, which only have intakes over the back burners of the stove.) This gives you better pickup and better air-clearing performance when venting to the outside.

          Every convection-micro unit I have ever seen does have venting but they do not have to be vented to the outside. Most come with recirculation adapter kits but some supply it as an add-on.

          Whether 300 to 400 cfm is "paltry" compared to a true vented hood -- well that ain't necessarily so. There are a lot of basic hoods that only pull 160 CFM. That's probably okay for stovetop steam for some folks but not very helpful when your pans are smoking. Hoods can go ten times that level, of course. But, when you above 400 CFM, you might (or might not) need to worry about providing some make-up-air so you do not backdraft furnace vents, fireplaces, clothes dryers and gas water heaters. Again, lots of discussion of this around the web. Search on the abbreviation "MUA" sometimes helps.

          1. re: JWVideo

            thanks. that was useful to know. i appreciate it.

        2. 1/3 more exhaust between the units isn't "paltry". More is more, and 1/3 more is alot. I'd certainly go with the 400cfm model.

          But then if it were me, I'd forgo the OTR microwave altogether. I hate the things.