Microwave Oven Buying Guide

Consumer Reports

The major brands are adding more automation of various cooking chores to their microwaves. They're also increasing capacity without increasing overall size by using recessed turntables and smaller electronic components and by moving controls to the door. As you'll learn in this microwave oven guide, some manufacturers are exaggerating capacity by counting wasted space in the corners. Usable space may be 50 to 60 percent less than claimed, so bring a large platter to the store to see whether it fits inside an oven you're considering.

Pick a type and size
Countertop models cost the least and are best for kitchens with lots of counter space. Compact models can cost very little. Midsized and large models add capacity and features, but they typically eat up 2.8 to 3.2 square feet of space. You can hang some countertop models below a cabinet, though that often leaves little working space below the oven. Over-the-range models are often bought as replacements or when remodeling a kitchen. But venting isn't very good, and installation might require an electrician.

Be realistic about extras
Decide whether you'll really use grilling and browning features, convection cooking, and other added functions before paying extra for them. None consistently provided the results you'd get in a regular oven. A sensor is a convenient feature, but think twice about shortcut and defrost settings for foods you don't eat. Use this microwave oven guide to help with your purchase.

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