Are over-the-range (OTR) microwaves any different from other microwaves? If you're not well-versed with these devices, we're here to help you take one home today.
We'll be covering everything about the best OTR microwaves, including an FAQ section and a comprehensive buying guide. We'll answer:
- How does an OTR microwave work?
- OTR vs Countertop Microwaves
- Are OTR microwaves outdated?
Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
- Its sensor cooking feature automatically adjusts power level & cook times.
- LED lighting provides a clear visual of the cooktop surface during cooking.
- The overall functionality is excellent without overwhelming users with too many high-tech features.
The Frigidaire FGMV17WNVF is a powerful 1000-watt OTR model with sensor cooking and a massive 30 preset options. This 1.7 cubic Ft. cooking machine features its popular "space wise rack," which allows users to cook multiple items simultaneously via the 2-level cooking system. And to top it off, the microwave comes in a stylish all-black stainless steel surface.
What we like:
Easy maintenance: Thanks to Frigidaire's very own Effortless Clean interior surface, you can easily wipe & clean any spills.
XL glass turntable: Fitting large bowls and casserole dishes is not an issue with its XL glass turntable, which rotates efficiently for even cooking.
Versatility & Easy Functionality: This OTR microwave supports over 30 cooking options ranging from snacks to chicken nuggets, which you can cook/preheat at a simple touch.
What is an OTR microwave?
OTR or over the range microwave combines a microwave and a range hood. It's an excellent appliance choice for saving space in the kitchen while maximizing functionality. With OTR microwaves, you also get additional capabilities like lighting and venting. The venting power is shown as CFM, and higher CFM means more excellent airflow.
Depending on its placement and preference, OTR microwaves offer different options like indoor air filter circulation or conventional venting. A vented hood typically directs exhaust outdoors, while hood-free models circulate air indoors via a grease-collecting carbon filter, which has to be replaced often.
In terms of sizing, most over-the-range microwaves are generally 30-inches wide. However, the sizes do vary in terms of different models.
What's the difference between OTR & Countertop Microwave?
One main difference between the two appliances is the location. As the name states, the countertop models are placed on your kitchen counter. The OTR microwaves, on another note, are those installed directly above a cooktop or range. It's an excellent option for individuals with very little counter space or those who prefer in-built appliances' décor aesthetic.
The countertop model does not do much in terms of saving space as it cuts down the cooking area. However, these are much more convenient and cost-efficient as they usually do not require installation. The OTR microwave models are budget-friendly, but you may have to splurge out in installation, which often varies.
Of course, if you're in desperate need of more counter space, you can always consider storing your microwave-safe utensils inside the microwave when the appliance is not used.
Are over-the-range (OTR) microwaves outdated?
First, let's answer the question with a simple 'no' and follow it up with the 'why.' Although there are more advanced kitchen appliances these days, the OTR microwaves continue to tick many boxes in terms of functionality and convenience, and performance till today.
Not only does it centralize your cooking, but it also frees up cooking space on the counter. And compared to fancy high-tech microwaves, OTR microwaves are much more affordable. Plus, you can still purchase efficient OTR microwaves that offer tons of great features.
What is the lifespan of over-the-range (OTR) microwaves?
The longevity of an over-the-range (OTR) microwave is usually about 10 years. However, this number highly depends on its maintenance. Making simple and easy gestures like wiping it right after spills can extend the appliance's life, and not to forget – it keeps the interior clean. You can also help prevent moisture build-up by utilizing the fan cooking on the stove.
Microwaves usually are not as grimy as an oven. But even then, the only guaranteed way to keep the appliance running is to frequently clean it from your end. This means regularly wiping the interior after use and cleaning out the grease filters, especially if you constantly prepare fried foods.
What microwave capacity do I need?
When it comes to microwave capacity, it generally depends on the daily use and what you primarily use the microwave for.
Capacity refers to the interior area of the microwave, and it's often measured in cu. Ft. (cubic feet). Hence, a 0.5 cu. ft. capacity can fit a single ten-inch dinner plate—meanwhile, a 2 cu. Ft. can accommodate larger cookware of about 9 by 13-inches. Before purchasing the product, determine what you plan on using the microwave primarily for – simply reheating or cooking full dishes.
Is it good to clean the vents of an over-the-range (OTR) microwave?
Yes, cleaning OTR vents is a fantastic idea. This is because a clean vent will equal better airflow, which can help extend the longevity of the microwave. Although the vent can be easily pulled, be gentle with it to avoid accidental breakage and not bend the grates. For cleaning, you can run the vent under warm water, wash it thoroughly with soap, give it a light scrubbing and then finally, allow it to dry in the air.
Can I install an OTR microwave myself?
Unlike the countertop models that only require plugging in, an OTR model requires more work in terms of installation. Suppose the OTR microwave you chose comes with outdoor ventilation; this means you won't be able to handle the installation if you don't carry any experience with ductwork. In such cases, it's better to hand over the installation to an expert.
Since the vent is typically built on the wall, the installation is much easier when you're building or remodeling the kitchen. In addition, there are also numerous DIY posts/videos these days, so if you're tuned with handling electrical appliances, you can give those a try. but keep in mind that the installation process often varies depending on the microwave model. But it's equally doable even in an old kitchen.
Essential Features to Consider in an OTR Microwave
The following are essential features to look out for when choosing the best over-the-range (OTR) microwave.
The size of a microwave can be measured in two ways - dimension and the total cu. Ft. (cubic feet) typically ranging from 0.7 to 2 for most types of microwave will offer a sense of interior sizing. However, you should also inspect the turntable dimensions to ensure the microwave can handle dinner plates.
Most average sizing of OTR microwaves usually ranges between 1.5 - 1.9 cu. Ft., which provides enough space to fit large plates. Also, make sure to check out the exterior dimensions to ensure the microwave fits into its respective space above your stove. This is an essential check, especially in surrounding cabinets that can limit space.
Wattage means the cooking power of the appliance, and for a standard microwave with sensor cooking, you'll want to search for one with a wattage between 900-1000. if it goes lower than that, it can result in a slower cooking time, and it may not even heat the food evenly. Remember that higher wattage OTR microwaves are typically more pricey due to their high power capacity.
Every microwave comes with pre-programmed settings meant for common or specific food tasks. But there are some models which come with more settings. This is because some OTR microwaves contain more sensors that help detect the steam dispersed by the food to make cooking power & time adjustment automatically.
We recommend looking for the melt/soften feature if you tend to bake a lot. Some microwaves also offer kids-friendly presets, which can be an excellent learning addition if you have small children in your house.
Since over the range (OTR) microwaves built-in feature fans to provide ventilation, it's essential to consider the airflow rating, often measured in cu. ft. per min. Most score around 300 or 400, but a higher number is generally appreciated more as it is more efficient. You can also benefit from microwaves that feature more than a single-speed setting.
- Weight & Time Defrost - Simply enter the weight of the food and the oven...
- Melt Feature - Worry-free melting of butter caramel chocolate and...
- Recesses Turntable with On / Off - Controls turntable operation
- Sensor Cooking Contro s - Automatically adjusts time and power for...
The JVM6175SKSS is GE's affordable offering and a fan favorite among many, and we can see why. While the 1.7 Cubic ft. microwave leans towards a smaller side, it still punches over its weight, given its ability to switch off the turntable.
What we like
Value for money: Considering its affordable price tag, this device is packed with features like 2-level cooking, sensory cooking, etc., which you usually find in higher-priced models.
Multiple finish options: Design-wise, the appliance has five different finishes to match any kitchen aesthetic.
Sensor Cooking Controls: Its sensor cooling controls allow the device to automatically adjust for various settings like defrost, reheat, popcorn, melt, etc.
- Efficient & effective - 1000 watts of cooking power and a 10 different...
- 1-6 min quick start
- Dimensions - Overall: 16.4'' H x 29.9'' W x 15'' D | Cutout: 20'' W x 10''...
- Press N' Go - One touch cooking programs allow you to easily cook your...
You can get any favorite food item cooked with ease and convenience with this 1.6 Cu. Ft. OTR microwave from Black+Decker. The appliance contains a massive 1000-W cooking power with over 10 unique power levels to manage different cooking needs. It's an easy win for those looking for a smart, efficient, and stylish appliance.
What we like
Safety Lock: The device features a safety lock system that can shut the control panel to prevent accidental use.
Incandescent Lighting: The above the range lighting helps highlight the cooking space for increased optimal preparation.
Press N' Go: It features the Press N' Go single-touch cooking program that allows easy access and preparation to any favorite food.
- 1000W & 11 VARIABLE POWER LEVELS The Galanz 1000W over-the-range microwave...
- LARGE 1.7 Cu.Ft CAPACITY & 9 AUTO-COOK PROGRAMS The large 1.7 Cu.Ft...
- HEAVY DUTY ALUMINUM HANDLE & STAINLESS STEEL LOOK The door handle is made...
- 2 SPEEDS EXHAUST FAN & 30-SECOND EXPRESS COOKING Exhaust fan with 2 speeds...
The GLOMJA17S2B-10 OTR microwave is the thoughtful engineering of Galanz, resulting in a generous capacity of 1.7 Cubic Ft., which is enough for a large 12x9 baking dish. It features the auto cook and reheats system with specific beverages, potatoes, pizza, meat, and more programs.
What we like
Heavy-Duty Handle & Stainless Steel Surface: The door handle comes in a heavy-duty aluminum construction with an ergonomic design, and the durability is further enhanced through the stainless steel surface.
9 Auto-Cook Settings: The microwave can not only cook for large crowds, but it also features a massive auto-cook setting of 9 different programs ranging from beverage to pizza.
Dual Exhaust Fan: Dual exhaust speed fans support the vent system to eliminate any smoke quickly.
- Style: Over the Range
- Volts: 120 Volts
- Capacity: 1.8 cu. ft.
- CFM: 450
The SMO1854DS OTR microwave from Sharp is a stylish addition to any home setting. The appliance is backed with stainless steel finish design with easy to read display, a powerful 1100-Wattage, and a capacity of 1.8 Cubic. Ft.
What we like
Even Heating: The microwaves carousel turntable system helps ensure even heating, which results in faster cooking.
Space-Saving Convenience & Power: It features a fully-smart sensor cook menu and melt/soft feature backed by a massive 1100-w power.
One-Touch Convenience: The convenient, preset single-touch keys allow easy cooking from 30 secs to 6 minutes.