Choosing the right microwave involves understanding the different types, features, and price ranges. This guide will help you make an informed decision.

Types of Microwaves

1. Countertop Microwaves

Countertop microwaves are the most common and versatile. They are easy to install and move around, making them suitable for various kitchen layouts. These microwaves range in price from $50 to $300, depending on features and brand. For example, the Panasonic NN-SN65KB, a popular model, costs around $150 and offers 1200 watts of power and inverter technology for even cooking.

2. Over-the-Range Microwaves

Over-the-range (OTR) microwaves combine a microwave with a range hood. They save counter space and provide ventilation for your stove. These microwaves usually cost between $200 and $600. The GE JVM3160RFSS, priced at approximately $250, is a well-known model with 1000 watts of power and a 1.6 cubic feet capacity.

3. Built-In Microwaves

Built-in microwaves are integrated into your kitchen cabinetry for a seamless look. They are often more expensive, ranging from $400 to $1,500. The Bosch HMB50152UC, for instance, is priced around $1,000 and offers a sleek design, 950 watts of power, and multiple sensor cooking options.

4. Microwave Drawers

Microwave drawers are installed below the countertop and can be pulled out like a drawer. They offer easy access and a modern look. Prices range from $700 to $1,500. The Sharp SMD2470AS, costing about $1,200, features 950 watts of power and an auto-touch control panel.

Key Features to Consider

1. Wattage

Wattage determines the microwave’s cooking power. Higher wattage means faster cooking times. Most microwaves range from 600 to 1200 watts. For everyday use, a microwave with 800 to 1000 watts is sufficient.

2. Capacity

Microwave capacity is measured in cubic feet. Smaller models have less than 1 cubic foot, while larger ones can have over 2 cubic feet. Consider your cooking needs and kitchen space when choosing the capacity. A 1.2 to 1.6 cubic feet microwave is suitable for most households.

3. Inverter Technology

Inverter technology provides consistent power levels for even cooking and defrosting. This feature is available in mid to high-end models and is beneficial for delicate foods. The Panasonic NN-SN966S, with inverter technology, costs around $200 and offers excellent performance.

4. Sensor Cooking

Sensor cooking adjusts the cooking time and power based on the food’s humidity levels. This feature ensures optimal cooking results without guesswork. The LG LMV2031ST, priced at about $300, includes sensor cooking and other advanced features.

5. Turntables and Trays

Turntables rotate food for even cooking, while some models have flat trays with stirrers. Turntables are common in most microwaves, but higher-end models may offer more advanced tray systems. The Samsung MS14K6000AS, costing around $180, features a large turntable and ceramic enamel interior.

6. Preset Programs

Preset programs simplify cooking common foods like popcorn, pizza, and vegetables. These one-touch settings are convenient for quick meals. The Toshiba EM131A5C-BS, priced at about $120, offers multiple preset programs and a user-friendly interface.

Price Examples

To give you a better idea of what to expect, here are some examples of popular microwaves across different price ranges:

  • Budget ($50-$100): The Black+Decker EM720CB7 costs around $70 and offers 700 watts of power, 0.7 cubic feet capacity, and preset programs.
  • Mid-Range ($100-$300): The Panasonic NN-SN686S, priced at about $160, features 1200 watts, inverter technology, and a 1.2 cubic feet capacity.
  • High-End ($300-$600): The GE Profile PVM9005SJSS, costing around $500, is an over-the-range microwave with 1050 watts, sensor cooking, and a 2.1 cubic feet capacity.
  • Premium ($600 and above): The Wolf MDD30CM/B, a microwave drawer, costs approximately $1,700 and offers 950 watts, multiple cooking modes, and a sleek design.

Tips for Choosing the Right Microwave

  1. Assess Your Needs: Consider your cooking habits, kitchen space, and budget. Determine which type and size of microwave better fit your needs.
  2. Compare Features: Look for features that match your cooking style. Inverter technology, sensor cooking, and preset programs can enhance convenience and performance.
  3. Read Reviews: Online reviews and ratings provide insights into the reliability and performance of different models. Look for consistent feedback on key features and durability.
  4. Check Warranties: Ensure the microwave comes with a good warranty. Most microwaves offer a one-year warranty, but some brands provide extended coverage for certain parts.
  5. Measure Space: Measure the available space in your kitchen to ensure the microwave fits perfectly. Consider ventilation requirements for over-the-range and built-in models.

Conclusion

Choosing the right microwave involves understanding the different types, features, and price ranges. By considering your needs, comparing features, and reading reviews, you can find a microwave that suits your kitchen and cooking habits. Whether you opt for a budget-friendly countertop model or a high-end built-in microwave, the key is to balance functionality, quality, and cost to ensure you get the btter6 value for your investment.