There are a lot of different types of microwave ovens sold these days. This useful appliance is mainly used for defrosting, reheating leftovers and things like popping popcorn or softening butter. But with the new variety of microwaves you can bake, broil, grill and more…
This article covers all the main types of microwave oven you’ll find in a kitchen, countertop microwaves, over-the-range microwaves, in-built microwaves, microwaves with convection oven and microwaves with built in grill.
We’ll look at the separate characteristics and features for each kind of microwave oven, look at the pros and cons and I’ll even throw in a recommendation for best microwave oven, too.
Then let’s dive in!
The countertop microwave oven is the original and still the most popular, accounting for the most sales across the country even today. It’s a standalone microwave that sits on your counter and plugs into an outlet. You can pick it up and move it around.
As this is the standard model, companies offer more versions than any other type of microwave which gives you more choice.
For example, if you want a smaller budget microwave or perhaps a larger microwave with higher wattage and more features.
Countertop microwaves are cheaper than their counterparts that offer separate features like baking or ones that need to be fitted in a fixed place in your kitchen.
- Cheapest option for a microwave oven.
- Portable, you can move it around easily.
- Lots of choice, there are far more countertop microwaves than any other type.
- Takes up valuable counter space.
- Features can be minimal in some microwaves.
The top brand right now for microwave ovens is Panasonic and this is their flagship countertop model. It’s powerful, cooks quickly and comes with tons of features including its patented “inverter technology”.
If you’re looking for something a touch cheaper, here’s my recommendation for best budget countertop microwave…
Over-the-range microwave ovens are fixed in a designated space above your range in the kitchen.
The microwave replaces the range hood, so the bottom of an over-the-range microwave has filters for ventilation to remove smoke, steam and cooking odors.
It’s a great space saving trick and has become super popular, now the 2nd most popular type of microwave oven.
Over-the-range microwaves cost a little more than countertop ones. Firstly, the cost of the microwave itself is more expensive as there’s a bunch of extra ventilation stuff to put in. On top of that, most folks are gonna want to hire someone to install it properly.
- Cheapest option for a microwave oven.
- Saves a bunch of space in your kitchen.
- The height it’s at can be useful for tall people who won’t have to bend over.
- These microwaves tend to be more expensive.
- Installation can be a lot of hassle and isn’t cheap.
The top brand to check out for over-the-range microwaves is LG. They offer the widest range of powers and sizes while also packing in a whole bunch of extra features. Check out their latest models here.
Our next category is a microwave oven that doubles as a convection oven. It’s the same size as a normal microwave with the same interface except a couple more buttons on the keypad to select the “convection oven” mode.
These microwaves let you squish two separate appliances into one, useful for small apartments or dorm rooms where you wouldn’t be able to fit both.
Convection microwave ovens are not as powerful as an in-built oven. They do not heat up as quickly and struggle to attain the high heat sometimes needed for cooking and baking. On the plus side, the microwave performs as usual.
- Microwave and traditional oven all in one.
- Excellent space saver.
- Saves money on having to buy two appliances.
- Convection oven will not heat as well as inbuilt ovens.
- No point if you already have an oven.
This solid microwave offers high performing convection function without breaking the bank. Produced by Toshiba who has a long history of reliable electronics (and a prime spot in my best microwave brands article), look no further for a quality convection microwave oven.
Another feature that can be added into countertop microwave ovens is a grill or broiler element.
This comes in the form of a heating element at the top of the microwave that can be selected using a keypad. One plus point is that it can (usually) be used while the microwave is in use.
Microwave ovens with grill elements have become very popular because they solve the biggest issues microwaves face: they don’t get hot enough to brown foods.
Reheat pizza in a microwave and it’ll come out soggy and doughy. But combine that with a couple of minutes of broiling and the crust becomes nice and crispy, and the cheese starts to get that melted goo that makes it taste so good.
- Grilling element works easily and quickly.
- Can use at same time as microwave heating.
- You do pay more for the privilege.
This top-of-the-line model from Panasonic offers a huge range of functionality including a 3-in-1 microwave with broiler element that will give you all the usefulness of having a grill in a separate countertop microwave appliance.
In built microwaves are fitted as a permanent fixture in your kitchen. They are usually offered as a component of a fully equipped kitchen set but sometimes as part of an oven/microwave set.
The idea is to have a microwave that seamlessly blends into the rest of your kitchen setup rather than having a clunky appliance sitting on your countertop taking room.
In built microwaves are the most difficult to install of all types listed here, and this is the reason why they are the most expensive and the least common. That said, when done well, they save loads of space in your kitchen while looking pretty awesome.
- Great aesthetics for your kitchen.
- Few reports of breakdowns and other issues
- A huge space saver.
- Difficult to buy, need to go to a specific store.
- You probably need to hire someone to install it for you.
Choosing an in built microwave and buying it is not so simple. The most common way to get one is to have it come with a preinstalled kitchen, in which case you need to find a store that offers that service.
You can also see them as part of a oven + microwave set but again, these are typically not offered for sale with a couple of clicks on a website given the difficulty in installing them.