It doesn’t matter whether you have a tiny kitchen in a studio apartment, or a gourmet kitchen in an expansive home – there’s never enough space on the counter for all of your appliances.
Can openers and Cuisinarts jockey for space with waffle irons and rice cookers, toaster ovens push pasta makers and espresso machines into drawers or pantries. The only place any of them can realistically be placed is on the kitchen counter.
The Best Over the Range Microwave – Gives you Flexibility
The one must-have appliance which gives you some flexibility is the microwave oven. It may be a pain and somewhat expensive to install your microwave over the range, but that simple kitchen redesign can free up tons of space that you can use for an ice cream maker, spice rack – or even for food preparation.
Many countertop microwaves come complete with kits which let you move them to a spot above the stove; others are designed solely for permanent installation. Both provide the same ability to cook, reheat, defrost, melt and pop, some add baking and roasting to the list, but over-the-range ones have the added benefit of a vent hood for the stove.
The price you’ll pay for one of the latter units can be a bargain or bust a budget, depending on the features you want. Almost all will cost at least a couple of hundred dollars, while some can approach or even exceed the thousand dollar level. But they’ll be a permanent part of your kitchen and will almost always cost a lot less than the other fixtures of a kitchen like refrigerators, ovens, and stoves.
The Best Over the Range Microwave – Buying Considerations
While evaluating these microwaves, the Groom+Style review team have taken into consideration their overall functionality, size, ease of installation and performance.
We’ve also looked at whether their appearance will let them blend in with most existing kitchen decors – and naturally we evaluate their performance both as microwave ovens (number of presets, ease of programming and sensor cooking are all factors in addition to food quality) and range hoods (air flow and fan speed come into play here).
Combination microwave/convection models will naturally cost more, but provide a functionality which will be welcomed by cooks who use their oven for more than reheating pizza or making Hot Pockets.
The ultimate convenience in a modern kitchen comes from built-in appliances, and you are likely to find that the best over the range microwave takes the pleasure of cooking in a well-appointed kitchen to an entirely new level.
Here’s what Groom+Style found.
1. GE JVM3160DFCC Over-The-Range Microwave Oven
In almost all cases, you know what you’re getting when you buy a GE kitchen appliance: a well-designed, well-built machine that will perform well and last for years. It may not be the absolute top-of-the-line, but it will come close for most home cooks. The company’s Monogram line is greatly respected, with price tags to match.
But GE manufactures other product lines as well, which are well worth their more reasonable prices. The JVM3160DFCC microwave oven is a great example.
This oven isn’t enormous, but most over-the-range models aren’t since they’re built to fit into the standard space over a 30-inch stove. The Profile’s 1.6 cubic foot interior fits most large dishes or casseroles and the 13.5 inch turntable can be shut off so very large dishes won’t keep smacking into the sides of the oven. The 1000 watt high power setting is what you would expect from a quality microwave.
The microwave has ten selectable power levels and performs just about as well as any countertop model G+S has reviewed. There isn’t a convection function or the huge selection of presets you may be used to (there are a few for popcorn, beverage, defrost and reheat). But let’s be honest, that’s all that most people use, anyway; the majority of people just put something in the oven and select a cooking time, and the JVM3160DFCC cooks or reheats food very well.
There is an Express Cook function,a two-speed vent fan (which vents to the top of the unit by default, but can be converted to vent outdoors or operate without venting), and bright/night/off settings for the inside light. Installation isn’t difficult if you have someone to provide a second set of hands, but this model doesn’t necessarily fit older GE trim kits so you may need to purchase a new one if the included bracket doesn’t fit your kitchen.
The oven is manufactured in five colors, but one of them is bisque – a color that’s not easy to find and a real find if it fits into your decor. We wish that there were a few extra convenience functions, like a delay timer to set the oven to start at a later time, but that’s nitpicking.
|For well under half the cost of a full-featured microwave/convection oven with all the bells and whistles, the GE JVM3160DFCC is a meat-and-potatoes microwave that will do a solid job for a long, long time.More on the GE JVM3160DFCC Over-The-Range Microwave Oven:Power: 1000 wattsOven capacity: 1.6 cubic feetTurntable: 13.5 inchesPower levels: 10Convection cooking: NoSensor system: NoChild lock: YesSize: 30 x 15 x 16.5 inchesWeight: 60 poundsWarranty: One year, limitedCheck GE JVM3160DFCC Over the Range Microwave Price On Amazon|
2. Sharp R1874T Over-the-Range Convection Microwave
This Sharp model isn’t quite up to the level of the GE microwave we’ve just reviewed, but it has another feature that makes up for the difference in size and power: convection cooking.
Many people have discovered the benefits of a convection oven, and this combined convection/microwave unit lets you cook with the even temperatures, shorter cooking times and energy efficiency of a convection model, without requiring extra space in the kitchen.
We mentioned size and power, so let’s go there first. 850 watts is a bit low for a microwave’s highest power level, but it’s fairly easy to compensate by cooking food a little longer. And while 1.1 cubic feet is definitely a small capacity, the R1874T is still large enough to contain a 13-inch ceramic turntable, accommodate a 13×9 pan, and nuke most of the foods you’d commonly put into a microwave. The upside? This unit requires less space over the range. That’s why you’ll see this oven as standard equipment in so many RVs.
Most importantly, this Sharp is quite versatile and cooks very well. There are 11 microwave power settings, 10 microwave pre-sets and 12 convection CompuCook programs which make use of a sensor system for broiling, baking and roasting.
All are controlled via a robust interactive display panel. One other great feature that the review team loved was the “custom help” key, which lets you figure out this microwave/convection oven quickly and conveniently.
There is a built-in exhaust system which lets you vent horizontally, vertically or duct-free, and a two-speed fan.
|Facts and figures for the Sharp R1874T Over-the-Range Convection Microwave:Power: 850 wattsOven capacity: 1.1 cubic feetTurntable: 13 inchesPower levels: 11Convection cooking: YesConvection programs: 12Sensor system: YesChild lock: YesSize: 30 x 15.5 x 17 inchesWeight: 71 poundsWarranty: One year, limitedCheck Sharp R1874T Over-The-Range Microwave Price On Amazon|
3. LG LMV2031ST Over-The-Range Microwave Oven
Don’t need a fancy convection/microwave combination to go over your stove? This LG model is just what you need. It’s a large (2.0 cubic feet, 14-inch turntable) model that has a powerful three-speed exhaust fan, and does a great job of microwaving at an easier-to-take price.
This is another 1000-watt microwave that utilizes a sensor system to cook, defrost, heat and melt to exact power levels.
Surprisingly, however, it still only has five presets (popcorn, kids’ meal, soften/melt, reheat and defrost); we would have expected more on a higher-end dedicated microwave oven.
Even so, the eight sensor cook functions, along with custom cook and normal cook selections (with ten power levels) are everything you need for proper preparation of whatever you’d normally put into a microwave. Food comes out delicious – often more delicious than you’d get from most competitors. Like the GE Profile, this unit has a two-level rack to increase the usable cooking space inside.
The exhaust fan is among the strongest and quietest we’ve seen, the interior is designed to be cleaned in a flash, and it’s a good looking appliance. A bracket comes with the oven, but we do have to mention that not only is this a tough appliance to install yourself, the manual recommends you call an installer. We do, too.
|The LMV2031ST is a terrific microwave-only oven to go over your range.Looking deeper at the LG LMV2031ST Over-The-Range Microwave Oven:Power: 1000 wattsOven capacity: 2.0 cubic feetTurntable: 14 inchesPower levels: 10Convection cooking: NoSensor system: YesDelayed start: YesChild lock: YesSize: 30 x 16 x 16 inchesWeight: 63 poundsWarranty: One year limited, 10 years limited on magnetronCheck LG LMV2031ST Over The Range Microwave Oven Price On Amazon|
4. Whirlpool WMH31017AS Microwave
We move a notch down in both price and performance with this Whirlpool microwave-only model, which might fit your budget better than the LG unit just above it on our best over the range microwave oven top 5 list.
The WMH31017AS isn’t eye-popping or loaded with bells and whistles, but it’s functional and worth its price. There are 1000 watts of power to cook inside the 1.7 cubic foot oven, with ten power levels and three presets (pizza, potato, popcorn) along with defrosting, reheat and soften/melt buttons.
The other controls and digital time display are what you’ve probably had on most of your microwaves: there’s nothing fancy but they work fine. As for food quality, it’s not the best we’ve ever seen from a microwave oven, but it’s good.
The two-speed hood fan is less powerful than the ovens we’ve looked at so far and noisier than it should be. It does the job, though, unless you plan on burning lots of stuff. Those who are handy shouldn’t have much problem with installation, as long as they have a few hours to spare.
The stainless steel exterior is relatively attractive, although a personal objection we had was the size and prominence of the Whirlpool logo at the top which we thought detracted from the overall look.
|Not bad at all, for the price.Specifications for the Whirlpool WMH31017AS Microwave:Power: 1000 wattsOven capacity: 1.7 cubic feetTurntable: 12 inchesPower levels: 10Convection cooking: NoSensor system: NoDelayed start: NoChild lock: YesSize: 30 x 17 x 16 inchesWeight: 65 poundsWarranty: One year, limitedCheck Whirlpool WMH31017AS Microwave Price On Amazon|
5. Frigidaire FFMV164LS Over-The-Range Microwave
If we’ve hit your sweet spot as far as price but you’d prefer more features rather than a larger oven, this Frigidaire model is one to look at.
It’s only 1.6 cubic feet in size but its multi-stage cooking option allows you to program a full range of cooking times and power in advance, something definitely missing from the other less-expensive choice on our list. (If you need a little extra space you can disable the turntable to fit a 9 x 13 casserole into the oven cavity.)
The Frigidaire is a 1000 watt oven with 10 power levels, the usual preset buttons, auto-reheat and defrost functions, quick time settings, and our favorite feature: the full programmability you usually don’t find on an installed microwave in this price range.
The auto-start hood fan is more powerful than the one on the Whirlpool (even though it only has two speeds) and installation is easier than with most over-the-range units. Our only real objections are that the “food is done” beep is incredibly loud and annoying, and the oven doesn’t seem as if it will last more than a few years.
|This isn’t a gorgeous microwave but it’s easy to use, it’s programmable – and the food comes out very good.Facts and figures for the Frigidaire FFMV164LS Over-The-Range Microwave:Power: 1000 wattsOven capacity: 1.6 cubic feetTurntable: 13 inchesPower levels: 10Convection cooking: NoSensor system: NoDelayed start: YesChild lock: YesSize: 30 x 16 x 15 inchesWeight: 63 poundsWarranty: One year, limitedCheck Frigidaire FFMV164LS Over-The-Range Microwave Price On Amazon|