Today we will be talking about the cost of a new microwave. Countertop microwaves usually cost less than the other types. Small models start as low as $50, and midsized models are typically in the $100 to $200 range. Over-the-range microwaves, or OTRs, can be had for as little as $200, but most we tested cost $400 and up. Models designed only to be built into cabinetry or a wall begin at $400 but can cost more than $1,000. Some countertop models are available with kits that give you a built-in look for less.
Space and Location
Think about where the microwave works best for you and about available space. Countertop models eat up counter space. For example, the top-rated midsized model is 22 inches wide and 18 inches deep. The best large microwave we tested is 22 inches wide and 19 inches deep. You’ll want to factor in height as well. Dimensions can be found on the model page for each microwave.
Countertop models are the most widely sold. Over-the-range models are just that: They’re installed over the range. The built-in category includes models designed only to be built in—surrounded by cabinetry or built into the wall. Microwave drawers fall in this group and can be placed under the countertop or below a wall oven. And then there are some countertop models that can be converted to built-ins with a kit.
Which Type Is Right for You?
Depending on your kitchen, you can choose from countertop, over-the-range, and built-in microwaves. Note that the size of the unit doesn’t always translate to usable cooking space. Our research shows that usable capacity for tested microwaves is about 50 percent of what manufacturers claim. We measure the amount of space you can actually use. More watts typically mean more cooking power, but differences of 100 watts or so don’t matter much. Watts are noted in the Features & Specs tab in our microwave ratings. The prices, usable capacity, and wattages presented below are based on our tested models.
Cost of a new microwave
Price and easy installation are appealing. Just plug into an ordinary outlet—use one dedicated to the microwave or it might trip the circuit breaker. Zero in on usable capacity in our ratings. Also note the microwave’s external dimensions, taking into consideration your available space. A stainless finish is common, and a convection feature is becoming available on more models.
$60 to $150 for small
$70 to $500 for midsized
$120 to $550 for large
Most of the tested models in this category have a usable capacity of about 50 to 60 percent of what manufacturers claim.
0.4 to 0.5 cubic feet for small
0.5 to 0.8 cubic feet for midsized
0.7 to 1.5 cubic feet for large
700 to 950 for small
800 to 1,200 for midsized
900 to 1,250 for large
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Countertop Microwave Ratings
Known as OTRs, these models free up counter space. But while they can be vented to the outside, don’t expect an OTR to vent as well as a range hood. Installation might require an electrician.
$130 to $1,200
Most of our tested OTR models have usable capacity of about 40 to 50 percent of what manufacturers claim.
0.6 to 1.5 cubic feet
850 to 1,100Over-The-Range Microwave Ratings
This category includes models designed only to be built in—surrounded by cabinetry or built into a wall. Microwave drawers, for example, can be placed under the countertop, removing them from sight lines, and glide out for easy access, or can be installed below a wall oven. The look is sleek and integrated. Some countertop microwaves can be built in with a kit. (We note that on model pages.) Information below is for models designed only to be built in, not for countertop models with optional built-in kits.
$380 to $1,440
We haven’t yet tested enough built-ins to determine percentage of usable capacity compared with manufacturers’ claims.
0.9 to 1.1 cubic feet
950 to 1,100
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Features to Focus on
As the price goes up, so does the number of features. One we find invaluable is the sensor, which measures the steam food emits and turns off the microwave at exactly the point when cooking is done. Here are other features to consider.
Turntables and Trays
They keep food moving for uniform heating. Most microwaves have a turntable that rotates food. Some instead have a rectangular tray that slides from side to side (which might work better for large casseroles or platters).
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