For most homes, a microwave has become an essential cooking appliance. Even if you're not the creative type who wants to explore all possible cooking and baking features, a microwave can certainly help you get dinner on the table in short order.
Then there are those who love to reheat left-overs, make snacks and bake the occasional quick coffee cake when guests drop in. And we can't forget how handy this appliance is for melting butter for baking recipes or steaming a few veggies.
Whatever your microwave use and experience level, this is one practical kitchen appliance. And if your needs are small, you can often cut a few corners and features with a smaller model to save money and space.
However, if you don't confirm that your selection has all the features that matter, you might be looking for a replacement sooner than you might think. Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a microwave oven.
1. Interior Space Does Matter
If you're looking for a compact model and want to be able to reheat dinners, a standard dinner plate will not always fit in some smaller microwave ovens, especially those in the 0.5 cu. ft. range. This is one thing you'll want to confirm.
There are some slightly bigger models, still under 1 cu. ft. that will accommodate dinnerware or microwave accessories. If a larger micro is your preference, you will not likely have such constraints. Give some thought to what your general use will be, before you shop.
2. Overall Appliance Size
While there will be plenty of interior cooking space if you chose a large micro, placing it may require more area than you might expect. A large microwave will definitely take a fair chunk of prime counter space, or alternatively, you could place it on a micro stand or cart. You'll also gain a little storage with one of these too. It's always a good idea to plan out your microwave placement before you buy.
A portable microwave requires a standard electrical plug-in, so no special installation required. However, an over the range model will need to be vented, but this is one style that is worth considering, especially if you would like to add a vent and light above your cooking range. As for installation, you might need some help with this style of micro.
3. Additional Cooking Options
You will pay more for a microwave with an additional cooking technology, but the outlay will be worth it. If your budget can handle it, consider a microwave with convection cooking. It will provide more time-saving cooking options, as well as better baking results.
Also, note that microwaves can have different power levels. That matters when it comes to cooking time. A small low-powered microwave will take longer to bake a potato or heat dinner.
4. Preset Features Vary
Though we think of preset Popcorn and Baked Potato functions to be fairly standard, there are still models out there that lack some very practical settings. The kids will love the auto settings and these will also reduce the risk of overcooking and overall food waste.
5. Replacing a Microwave?
This is the time to get features that really matter to you. It's also a good idea to explore alternative placements for the new microwave if you need to improve the workflow in your kitchen.
Since there's no standard size when it comes to microwave ovens, take measurements to ensure a successful installation. Also, keep in mind that some models are quite deep. You'll also want to consider the door swing area and how that will affect convenience.