Average cost of microwave

The microwave is a piece of technology that has fundamentally changed the way that people use the kitchen. Most people have a microwave in their home, as it is a major convenience. There are countless brands of microwave available today, and they are available in a range of colors and sizes. There are various power levels available, as well, and this should be considered when you are buying a microwave. While we look at the Average cost of microwave, One of the most common ways to use a microwave is simply to have it sitting on your countertop or on a table in the kitchen. These will not require any installation beyond plugging them into an outlet. However, those who want to have a built-in microwave or who want to have the microwave installed above or below the counter will have a few more steps to take.

Average cost of microwave

Microwave installation: Below are examples of how much it will cost for the labor for the microwave installation. The cost of the microwave itself is separate.

ItemUnit CostQuantityLine Cost
Above/Below the counter microwave$50-$100 each1$50-$100
Labor Cost (installation)$50 fee1$50
Total Cost$100-$150 each1$100-$150

Other considerations and costs

  • When choosing a microwave, make sure that it is large enough to accommodate the types of foods you want to use it to cook.
  • If you choose to have a built-in microwave, keep in mind that when you replace the microwave, you will need to get that is the same size.
  • Built-in microwaves will have a higher installation cost.

DIY considerations

  • Microwave installation is easy whether it is on the countertop or you are using brackets to install it above the range or below the countertop. It will only require basic tools. Make sure that you follow the instructions of the installation kit and you should not have any problems.
  • If the microwave is built-in, it should be installed by those who installed the cabinets.

Microwaves make life easier in the kitchen, heating food and liquids quickly and cutting down on cooking times. Most people have a microwave somewhere in their kitchen, with many people opting to have it permanently installed as part of the design.

The average homeowner typically spends around $200 for a new microwave that is installed above their range.

Styles of Microwave Installations

Frequently, microwaves are installed above the range, but that is not the only place they can be located. Depending on your layout and needs, you may want a different installation:

Installation styleProsCons
Countertop($0)No installation requiredCan be easily movedTakes up valuable countertop space
Above range($50-$100)Can provide lightMay provide ventilationTakes up no counter spaceNot all vent to the outdoorsCan collect grease and grimeRequires precise fit/size
Below counter($50-$75)Easy installationTakes up no counter spaceHarder to reachRequires bending
Below cabinet($50-$75)Easy installationTakes up no counter spaceAt easy-to-use heightAwkward positioningNot much room between microwave and countertop
Built-in 1($200-$2,000)Out of the wayCustom placement means it goes right where you wantSeamlessly blends with kitchenRequires a custom cabinet or panel kitMay be expensive

Combo Functions

Microwaves often do more than simply heat food through vibrating moisture. Some microwaves have combo features or functions that allow you to grill food ($300 to $500) or become a convection oven ($400 to $600). Keep in mind, however, that when investing in a microwave, you also need to consider its size, location, and ultimate purpose. These combo-featured microwaves may not be as reliable for microwaving or function in certain areas of the kitchen. Do your research before committing to a combo oven to ensure it meets your needs.

Size

Microwaves come in a variety of sizes. In some cases, such as a countertop model, the size does not matter beyond personal preference. However, for custom built-in 1 units and above-range installations, the size of the microwave is very important.

For this reason, countertop models come in several sizes, while above-range, built-in 1, and under-counter models have a more limited set of sizes. Typically, this will be between 29 to 30-inches wide, 15 to 16-inches deep, and 16 to 18-inches high. Take careful measurements of any openings before purchasing to ensure the new microwave will fit.

Installation

Microwaves are fairly straightforward to install, regardless of whether they are above-range models, built-in, or installed using brackets 2 below the cabinets or counters. Nearly all microwaves come with an installation kit that includes brackets and hardware designed for their installation. The kit is usually installed first and then screwed into place. The microwave is plugged in and slid into the brackets. If the microwave vents out of the house, this will be hooked up just before the microwave is slid into its bracket.

Labor

Installing a microwave is a fairly quick job and can be carried out by either an electrician or handyman. Above-range microwaves are the most common type installed in the U.S. Costs for this type of installation are usually between $50 and $100, depending on how tight the fit, whether there are existing brackets 2, and if the vent needs to be connected. The total job takes less than hour to complete on average.

The only difference is in the installation of a built-in model. In this case, the microwave should be installed by the cabinet installer to ensure the best fit. This can increase labor costs to a minimum of $200.

Toaster Ovens vs Microwaves

If you are looking for a countertop appliance to cook and heat food, you may want to consider toaster ovens vs microwaves. Toaster ovens take up less space and can brown and crisp food as well as warm it. However, a toaster oven will also take longer to cook or warm food and cannot heat liquids.

Enhancement and Improvement Costs

Additional Cabinets

If you want a built-in microwave, you need specialty cabinets. These cabinet costs start at around $400 a linear foot.

Outlet or Receptacle

If you install a microwave where there is no current electric outlet, you will need to have one installed. This costs around $200 to $750 on average.

Defrost Option

Many microwaves have a defrost setting that helps speed cooking. This is becoming a standard feature, but some models may cost around $50 more on average.

Built-in Sensor Technology

Another increasingly available feature for microwaves is built-in sensor technology. These features can tell when food is close to being done. For example, a popcorn setting will stop before the popcorn burns. Microwaves with this feature start at around $200.

Additional Considerations and Costs

  • Most microwaves are fairly easy to maintain. Keep in mind, however, that above-range models may collect grease.
  • When using a countertop model, try to locate it in an area where you do not need the counter space.
  • If you do not have space for a countertop model, an alternative is to purchase a microwave cart, which can be positioned anywhere in the kitchen.
  • Microwaves have different wattages. The higher the wattage, the faster it will cook, but the higher the price. Lower-wattage microwaves tend to be slower and not cook as evenly.
  • Many microwaves have several preset cooking settings. These often include things like popcorn, pizza, frozen dishes, potatoes, and rice. These settings make using the microwave easier and more convenient.
  • Generally, a handyman will charge less for the installation than an electrician. However, an electrician can add an outlet if necessary at the same time.

How to buy a microwave

This buying guide is what you need if you’re looking for a new microwave.

Your Pizza Rolls deserve a good microwave. This countertop wonder, whose origins date back to the 1940s, is probably one of the most frequently used appliances in your kitchen thanks to its ability to reheat food fast (and cook a mug cake or two). There are a variety of options when it’s time to select a microwave, so we’ve broken down the options you have when you’re ready for a new microwave.

Location

The first decision you need to make about a new microwave is where in your kitchen you want to put it. The location affects the price, features, size and installation of the appliance. You have three main options:

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Countertop

This is the most common type of microwave. They generally cost less and are significantly easier to install than other models. Just find a spot on the counter for it to sit, plug it into an outlet and you can use it right away.

The biggest issue with the countertop microwave is how much space it needs. If you have limited room on your countertop, you may either want to look at the smaller countertop models available, look into placing your microwave on a small cart, or consider another style of microwave.

Price: $40 to $700

External dimensions: From roughly 10 by 18 by 14 inches for compact models to roughly 14 by 24 by 20 inches for larger models

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

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Some of GE’s stoves and over-the-range microwaves are connected via Bluetooth.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Over-the-range

You install this style of microwave above your range, which will save you some counter space. These models have vent systems that take the place of the oven hood and lights to illuminate your cooktop.

Price: $190 to $1,300

External dimensions: Usually wider than countertop models, about 16 by 30 by 15 inches

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

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Sharp

Built-in

Built-in models that you place among custom cabinets or paired with built-in, full-sized wall ovens are the most high-end (aka expensive) types of microwaves. Some microwaves in this category are even designed specifically as drawers with a compartment you pull out for your food.

Price: $500 to $5,000 and up

External dimensions: This varies widely depending on type, and drawers tend to have more depth than countertop or over-the-range models, hitting about 15 by 30 by 26 inches

Internal capacity: Less than 1 cubic foot to more than 2 cubic feet

Wattage: Typically 600 to 1,200 watts

Size

It’s important to find the right-sized microwave that will meet your food needs and fit in the space you have for it. First, you want to measure the counter or other space where you plan to put your microwave. Then, measure the height, width and depth of any model you’re considering to find out if it will fit on your counter top, over your range or in a custom spot. The external dimensions can vary a lot, from 10 by 18 by 14 inches on the smaller side to 14 by 24 by 20 inches on the larger side.

Then there’s also the internal capacity, which can range from less than 1 cubic foot to 2 cubic feet or more. There doesn’t seem to be any set rule for how internal capacity correlates to size (like 1 cubic foot = small, 1.5 cubic feet = medium, etc.), but here’s an attempt to break it down:

Compact: Under 1 cubic foot

Midsize: 1 to 1.5 cubic feet

Full-size: 1.6 to 2 cubic feet

Extra-large: More than 2 cubic feet

Most microwaves are somewhere around 1.4 to 1.8 cubic feet. Still not sure which size you need? If you’re out shopping, bring in a plate or bowl from home that you plan to use often to make sure that it fits inside the microwave.

Still in doubt? Measure everything, take notes and check with your appliance retailer for help deciding what would work best. For over-the-range and other built-in models, you most likely won’t be the one installing your new microwave, so you can always avail yourself of their expertise.

Wattage

Microwave wattage equals power. In general, the higher the wattage, the faster and more evenly your food will cook. Most microwaves sit somewhere between 600 to 1,200 watts. Larger, more expensive microwaves tend to have a higher wattage, so this is a price and size consideration that can strongly influence microwave cooking performance.

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This GE microwave has scan-to-cook tech via a related app.Chris Monroe/CNET

Features

Many microwaves share common functions. Here are some microwave cooking essentials: cook time, defrost, power level and timer. Each one requires your direct input, but they are usually very easy to set. Most microwaves have touch panel controls and a rotating carousel to spin your food for more even cooking.

Default settings

Many microwaves come with preset cooking modes so you only have to press one button to automatically cook a dish. For example, many microwaves have a “popcorn” button that will cook your bag based on factory settings. This can be handy for common dishes you heat in the microwave, but you’ll have to figure out if the microwave’s default cook times work for your own food. Other common presets include: baked potato, pizza, beverage, frozen dinner and reheat.

Broil

Manufacturers are increasingly including features in microwaves that mimic what we see in full-size ovens, such as a broiler. This is a good addition for finishing off a dish or cooking something for which you’d prefer more direct heat.

Convection

A convection fan that’s built into the back of a microwave oven circulates the heat around the food to cook things more quickly and evenly. (Many new full-size ovens come with at least one convection fan.) However, microwaves with convection fans are generally more expensive than those without.

Inverter technology

Inverter heating is another option available on some high-end models. If you want to heat something at a 50 percent power level, most microwaves actually switch between 100 percent power and 0 percent power to average in at 50 percent power. This doesn’t yield great results if you want to heat something on a lower heat and achieve an even result. So, some models now use inverter technology, which maintains a consistent 50 percent power. That way, you can poach salmon, make a fluffy omelet, etc.

Other advanced features

In addition to new heating technologies, higher-end models usually have more presets than just the basic pizza, popcorn and baked potato standard. Some use moisture sensors to detect food doneness. And we’ve started to see models include LED lighting on the interior.

“Smart” technology, i.e. options that connect microwaves to the internet and other products, aren’t as widespread in microwaves as we’ve seen in other kitchen appliances. However, we’ve seen GE Appliances include Bluetooth technology in some of its over-the-range microwaves. This connection, which GE calls “Chef Connect,” pairs the microwave with compatible GE ranges so the light and fan beneath the microwave automatically turns on when you turn on a burner.

More options

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Will the June Intelligent Oven become the next microwave?Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Other small appliances have started to make a case for forgoing the microwave, such as steam ovens that use water to cook for more moist heating or the basic toaster oven that mimics a full-size stove. These options promise to cook more effectively than a microwave, but it might take longer to reheat your food.

Smart countertop ovens have also started to become an option. The June Intelligent Oven uses facial recognition technology to identify food and cook it automatically, and the Tovala Smart Oven will scan packaged meals for automatic cooking, including frozen meals from Trader Joe’s. These options are promising, but the technology is too new to determine whether or not these will become kitchen staples.

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