Should you get an Over The Range Microwave?
Q. Should you get an Over The Range Microwave?
Short answer: It depends. If you have limited kitchen space available and you want both a microwave and a range hood, then yes, definitely get an over the range microwave. However, if you have enough kitchen space for both in stand-alone form, definitely get both.
Long Answer: A lot of people want to have a microwave in their kitchen. And rightly so. However, some people will find themselves short on kitchen space, which means they will have to utilize the available space as efficiently as possible. Since both microwaves and range hoods take up lots of precious kitchen real estate, it often comes down to having to choose one or the other. Space wise, the gap above your stove is an ideal place to install a microwave. And yet, if you have to be economical with your kitchen space, it usually means that your kitchen isn't too large to begin with, which means that you cooking smells and pollutants will get trapped in this confined space. Well worry no longer. Well, it turns out you can have the best of both worlds: an over the range microwave!
What is an Over The Range Microwave?
If the term 'over the range microwave' doesn't ring a bell, you might have heard one of the following terms:
- microwave hood combination
- range hood microwave combo
- range hood microwave combination
- above-stove microwave
- vented microwave
So, what are they? However weird the combination might sound, it's a microwave and range hood in one, which is why they're also known as microwave hood combination and range hood microwave combo. Picture a regular microwave with a visible range hood filter(s) on the bottom side to capture cooking pollutants. That's it. When you think of it, it actually make sense to combine them. Let's say you live in an apartment. Since most of us aren't swimming around in cash like Scrooge McDuck, you most likely aren't living in a huge penthouse with loads of space. This means that you have to be economical with the space available. Since kitchens tend to take up a big chunk of your total available apartment space, and in turn, your range hood and microwave both hog a relatively sizeable portion of your kitchen space, it's very logical to combine them.
As the name implies, over the range microwaves are placed above your stove. While cooking, the resulting air pollutants (smells, airborne oil particles, smoke, etc.) will travel upwards, to be captured by the range hood part of your over the range microwave. Since a range hood microwave combo can either be ducted or ductless (depending on the brand and model), this air is either transported outside of your apartment or filtered and recirculated back into your kitchen.
Should you buy an Over The Range Microwave?
Well... it depends. They are good in the sense that when you have a limited amount of space available in your kitchen, you don't have to choose between getting either a microwave or a range hood. They aren't great in the sense that they won't be able to match the performance of a standalone range hood. Why is that?
First of all, since manufacturers have had to come up with a way to combine a range hood and a microwave, they've had to make some trade-offs when it came to options. Since nobody wants a ginormous range hood microwave combo hanging above their stove, manufacturers have had to walk a fine line between keeping things compact and trying to cram range hood capabilities into a microwave. This means that microwave hood combinations will neither have the power nor the amount of options of an average stand-alone range hood.
Secondly, for some reason we tend to have less problems with a range hood sticking out than we do with a microwave sticking out. Aesthetically, we want out microwaves to not pop out too much relative to the rest of our kitchen cabinets. We want to have our microwave integrated within our kitchen as seamlessly as possible. In practice, this will mean that over the range microwaves can't be too big. In turn, this means that the bottom side of our range hood microwave combo, which is where the smells, smoke and other cooking pollutants are captured, will have a limited capture surface. Comparatively, the capture zone of a microwave hood combination is way smaller than that of a stand-alone range hood. Luckily, there are some great solutions like a Microvisorhood (Amazon affiliate link) to increase this capture zone, but aesthetically, they're not for everyone.
So, to answer the question of whether or not it's worth buying an over the range microwave: it depends. If you don't have the kitchen space to have both a stand-alone range hood and a microwave and you kind of want both, get an over the range microwave. If you do have the space to get both, definitely get both!
How much CFM does your new range hood need?
Check out our FREE GUIDE to buying a new range hood to check how much CFM your range hood will need. (Includes a downloadable PDF on page 1).