Best place to buy a microwave

Many of the big manufacturers of kitchen appliances include microwaves in their portfolio, and several less familiar names offer high-quality products as well. We looked at some of the reviews out there of some of the biggest brands in the microwave industry to help get a picture of the overall performance of each brand and the best place to buy a microwave, best place to buy a small microwave and best place to buy a cheap microwave as well.

best place to buy a cheap microwave

best place to buy a microwave

You can buy from the following brands:

1. Avanti

Avanti is a brand with solid reviews throughout the web for producing simple microwaves that fully live up to their purpose. Their black rotary control microwave gets special points from reviewers for providing a rare rotary display that many users – particularly those that are older or deal with certain types of disabilities – find easier to use than the digital touchscreens found on most microwaves.

2. Cuisinart

Cuisinart is a brand name familiar to anybody who buys kitchen appliances with any regularity. They offer a variety of microwave models that earn mixed reviews from users based on the particular model type and expectations of the buyer. If you’re considering a Cuisinart microwave, take a few minutes to look at the different reviews online to see if any of the criticisms speak to what you’re looking for.

3. Danby

Danby offers a range of affordable countertop microwaves with similar functionality in different aesthetics and sizes. Reviews of Danby microwaves are mostly positive across the board, especially for customers looking for quiet, compact microwaves that can fit into relatively small kitchen spaces. If you’re looking for a small microwave with simple functionality, this is a great brand to look at.

4. EdgeStar

If you’re looking for a microwave and fridge combo, EdgeStar has a couple of models worth checking out. This brand has a strong reputation for manufacturing wine coolers, beverages refrigerators and mini fridges, so it is only natural that they combine a microwave. While the reviews online are more scarce than other microwaves, the ones out there are very positive. Many customers recommend the combo as a convenient solution for college students who want the functionality of both products, but have limited space to work with.

5. GE

GE is another familiar and trusted brand for home appliances. They have many different microwave models available, many of which are available in different colors and sizes. While many of the reviews are positive, there is a noticeable trend of customers expressing disappointment in the durability of some of the more expensive higher-end models, as well as the cost that comes with fixing the issues that do arise. While this sentiment is not widespread, it does serve as a good reminder to consider the warranty that comes with the microwave you buy.

6. Kenmore

Kenmore is another popular brand making home appliances. They have a number of affordable microwave options avaialble. Reviews of their microwaves are fairly inconsistent, with a good number of happy customers mixed in amongst those disappointed in the quality and durability of their products. Since they do have a lot of different microwaves to choose from, it is wise to research the reviews of the particular model you have your eye on before making a buying decision.

7. Magic Chef

Magic Chef sells a few stylish and affordable microwaves that earn pretty solid reviews from customers on the whole. Reviewers especially seem to praise the company’s models for their convenient size, attractive appearance and durable build. This is definitely a brand that you should consider while buying a new microwave.

8. Nostalgia Electrics

Nostalgia Electrics makes microwaves with a neat retro design that customers pretty much uniformly love. However, the reviews are a bit mixed when it comes to the performance, leaning more toward the positive on the whole, but still enough to warrant hesitation when buying a microwave. The design, however, gets enthusiastic praise across the board. This may be the ideal brand for somebody looking for a cute unit, but one that they don’t plan on using much.

9. Oster

Oster is another popular brand, especially for small kitchen appliances. Perhaps best known for their blenders, Oster sells a number of countertop microwaves that are both affordable and effective at cooking your food. Like many other well-known brands listed here, the reviews are mostly positive with a few complaints mixed in. If you want to buy a microwave that works and doesn’t cost too much, Oster is a solid choice to look into.

10. Panasonic

Panasonic is another well-known brand that sells a wide range of microwave models. Their units earn mostly strong reviews from customers, with some complaints about their lack of durability thrown in. Since there’s so much variety in the models they offer, it would be wise for you to dive deep into the reviews left on the particular model you’re interested in before making a decision.

11. Sharp

Sharp is another brand that offers an extensive selection of microwaves. You can find a lot of variety in their offerings to match a number of different needs and price points. While mostly positive, the reviews follow the usual trend of highs and lows per each model. Since there are so many models to choose from, it is recommended that you hone in on the particular model you’re considering, and seek out reviews on each.

12. Smeg

Smeg is a fairly well-trusted international brand name that makes a wide variety of retro appliances. This includes a number of luxurious built-in microwaves with a sleek and elegant design. When it comes to customer reviews, they seem to vary quite a bit based on the particular model and the expectations of the reviewer. If a built-in microwave is what you’re looking for, you should absolutely look into this brand.

13. Summit

Summit has a wide range of microwave options on the market, all of which garner pretty strong reviews across several sites online. Customers praise the microwaves for being well made and having sleek designs. With a lot of models to choose from, this is definitely another brand that you’d benefit from focusing on the particular microwave you have in mind in your research.

How to buy a 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.


Final Thoughts

As far as appliances go, microwaves are a relatively minor financial investment. That leaves most consumers with a little more room to be picky and really go with the microwave that best fits their needs, preferences and overall lifestyle. Take some time to browse and do the proper research, but don’t agonize too much over it. If you see something you want that fits in the space you have available, go for it.

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