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Countertop vs. Over-the-Range Microwaves

Whether you're a college student, living on your own for the first time or a practiced homeowner, everyone can appreciate the ease and speed of a microwave oven. The most frequently purchased microwaves are countertop and over-the-range models. The debate of countertop vs. over-the-range microwaves offers benefits and drawbacks for both designs. Much of the decision is completely dependent on personal preferences as well as the size and configuration of your kitchen.

  Countertop Over-the-Range
Versatility Portable and compact Larger models not portable and are difficult to install
Maintenance Space* No installation necessary Installation required
Cost* Inexpensive More expensive

*Refer to the Microwave Buying Guide for more specific dimension, capacity and cost ranges.


Advantages of countertop microwaves

  • Compact Design – Countertop microwaves come in a variety of sizes and finishes, and compact styles are great for small kitchens or college dorm rooms.
  • Convenience – These models are portable, and since they don't require installation, you can move them from one space to another with ease.
  • Low Cost Countertop microwaves are much more cost-effective with some models being less than $100.
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Limitations of countertop microwaves

  • Design Dilemma – Though you can choose a smaller, compact model, countertop microwaves rest on your counter and take up valuable cooking space and storage.
  • Lack of Space – Likewise, if your kitchen doesn't have a lot of counter space to begin with, you probably won't be able to make room for a countertop model.

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Advantages of over-the-range microwaves

  • More Space – Over-the-range models are installed above your stovetop and into your cabinetry, freeing up counter space.
  • Larger Models – These microwaves are typically larger in size, allowing you to cook more food at once.

Limitations of over-the-range microwaves

  • Installation Needed  Over-the-range microwaves require professional installation, so you can't simply bring one home and expect to use your microwave right away.
  • Portability – Once they're installed, these microwaves are like a permanent fixture and are more difficult to remove
  • Height – Because they're installed above the stovetop, shorter people might find it difficult to use an over-the-range model and might need to use a stool in order to use.

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