The kitchen is the heart of the home and perhaps everybody’s favorite place in the house. Several appliances, like the fridge and coffee maker make it that popular. However, the microwave is by far the most utilized and dare we say valuable team player in the kitchen.
From heating up food to even cooking and baking in some instances, this appliance makes food preparation quick and easy. As a result, more people are investing in over the range (OTR) microwaves replacing the regular countertop models. OTR microwaves are 2 in 1 units that incorporate a range hood onto the microwave oven.
Over the range microwaves have become popular as more people strive for a minimalist look in their kitchen. Since they have the ventilation unit built into them, they are installed on the cooktop in place of the range hood and can eliminate cooking odors, smoke and steam just like a range hood does, all while looking discreet.
1. Kenmore 80373 Elite
Specs at a glance
- Size -.29.9″ L x 16.6″ x W x 17.6″ H
- Sensor cook
- Interior capacity 1.8 Cu ft.
- Exhaust fan air flow CFM 400
- Weight – 69.5 pounds
- Door swing – left
This brand of range microwaves has a lot to offer. However, the Kenmore 80373 Elite comes highly recommended due to a host of reasons which we will explore in a bit. Best suited for families, you have little to worry over when the gang is hungry and you are just not feeling like standing over the stove to cook a meal.
The Kenmore Elite 80373 microwave is versatile with cooking abilities that give you the luxury of making creative dishes in a snap and with very little hassle.
Using the pre-set functions and sensor options, you can not only reheat leftovers, but also poach fish, roast meat, de-frost bulk foods and so much more.
The heating system in the Kenmore Elite 80373 is pretty powerful. If you previously had to de-frost frozen foods overnight in order to be able to cook in the morning, you can say goodbye to that extended process with this appliance. It comes equipped with a multi-stage cook option that enables you to get food from the freezer and on to the table in minutes.
This kind of heating efficiency is made possible by the appliance being able to distribute heat evenly thanks to the plate below the turn table that allows heat or microwave energy distribution from the bottom up thus ensuring that food is cooked evenly within record time.
You might wonder whether this appliance is safe and whether it will have your kitchen smelling fishy after cooking using its powerful heating power delivered by 1000 watts.
This is a valid concern but you can be rest assured that the power is complimented by 100-450 CFM venting system and circulating fan which makes this range microwave a mini convection oven. This gives it the ability to use generated heat efficiently for baking, poaching and roasting while getting rid of smoke and odors from the cooktop. This appliance helps you maintain a fresh kitchen and still have some delicious poached or roasted and so much more.
Power without control is of no use. This powerful microwave has a myriad of pre-set and sensory settings that are easy to use. The control panel allows you easy access to functions through one touch buttons ranging from heating pizza, roasting steak to de-frosting.
When buying a range microwave you will need to answer the question of what are your needs. Although there are other range microwaves that are larger in oven capacity, we overwhelmingly found the Kenmore Elite 80373 to be best for families as the features and versatility would suit almost all family needs. Beyond heating and whipping up popcorn, it is great to have an option that can actually bake roast and poach with great efficiency and ease while keeping your kitchen free from odors.
2. Samsung ME21F707MJT
Specs at a glance
- Size – 29″ L x 16″ W x 18.5″ H
- 1000 w power cooking
- Ceramic enamel interior
- 400 CFM vent power
- Sensor cooking
- Interior oven2.1 cu ft.
Samsung is well known for their quality products and they have certainly not disappointed when it comes to the Samsung ME21F707MJT over the range microwave.
What strikes you from the get go is the polished ceramic enamel interior that is easy to maintain. Naturally you can expect greases and food dirt in your surfaces after daily use. The ceramic interior in this product not only looks good but is also very practical as it is scratch proof and greases come off easily when wiping.
If you have a large household and you are looking for a microwave range with a bigger oven capacity, then your search ends here. This Samsung ME21F707MJT has an enviable 2.1 cu ft. capacity that can accommodate large platters and dishes which may not fit in other microwaves. This makes it an exceptional option if your needs are super-sized.
This appliance is also incredibly easy to use with a clearly labeled control panel that comprises of one touch buttons. Half frozen meals and lukewarm soups will be a thing of the past. The heating system is amazing and powerful at 1000 w. You can enjoy even cooked meals by selecting the appropriate temperatures at the touch of button.
The Samsung range microwave boasts as the only in its class comprising unique power saving LED light bulbs to illuminate its cook top, providing soft, bright and superior lighting when cooking.
To illustrate the difference, halogen bulbs only save 2.4 W whereas the OTR standard Samsung LED are far more energy efficient at 40 W energy saving.
Whipping up a good meal is great, but the joy can at times be wiped out by the ever lingering food odors that can cling to kitchen air. The Samsung ME21F707MJT come with an inbuilt 400 CFM exhaust that is well capable of the sucking up all the smells, smoke and odor resulting from your cooktop to ensure much fresher kitchen air while cooking.
The filter is easy to access and can be quickly removed with a single touch when you need to clean it. For optimal performance, the recommended cleaning frequency of the OTR filter is once a month.
Big families are likely to find the Samsung ME21F707MJT as the go to over the range microwave owing to the oven space and cooking power at 1000w. We liked the practical interior of enamel ceramic that is easy to clean and scratch proof. Maintenance is easy as the OTR filter location is very accessible. The exterior look is elegant. If you have a specific built in spot for this range microwave, you might want to double check the dimensions as it is deceptively big.
3. Whirlpool WMH31017FS
Specs at a glance
- Power – 1000 w
- Oven size – 1.7 cu ft.
- Size – 30″ L x 16″ W x 17″ H
- CFM 300
The Whirlpool WMH31017FS slows down the pace in both price and performance. This is a simple, practical and functional over the range microwave that made it to our list because of those who care little for bells and whistles but instead are big on delivery and a reasonable budget.
The oven is spacious enough well beyond a normal microwave at 1.7 cu ft. and comes with 10 power levels as well as 3 presets that allow you to popcorn, pizza and potato. This appliance is also capable of defrosting, melting and reheating at the single touch of a button.
The cooking power can match the best of them at 1000w while the digital control and display is nothing out of this world. In fact, it is more or less similar to other normal microwaves you might have tried before but it works better.
The two way speed hood fan power stands at 300 CFM which is significantly less powerful than the two reviews mentioned above. The hood works very well and is sufficient for most users unless you’re cooking involves a lot burning, in which case you should opt for something with a stronger venting power. Having said that, you might find the venting system a little bit noisy.
This appliance is not overly big and would fit most slots allotted for it in any kitchen, however, when it comes to range microwaves, it is better to always re-check dimensions for a given slot in your kitchen to ensure that it will fit snugly to avoid any disappointment. Range microwaves can be deceptively bigger than estimated.
It has a turntable with adjustable lighting when cooking and it is fairly easy to clean and is dishwasher friendly as well. The exterior is made of stainless steel, looks sleek, easy to keep clean and maintain.
This range microwave is suitable for those looking for performance beyond a regular microwave without having to break the bank. We loved the fact that although the oven is not super-sized, it can accommodate above-average platters and dishes at 1.7 cu ft. At 300 CFM the hood gets the job done although a bit noisily. If you are on a budget and need the services of range microwave, you would be hard pressed to get better one than this.
4. Kitchen Aid KMHC319ESS
Specs at a glance
- Power – 1000 w
- Oven size – 1.9 cu ft.
- Dimensions – 30″ L x 17″ W x 17″ H
- Weight – 77 pounds
If you have any appliances from kitchen aid, you know that they are a marquee brand with quality products that enhance your kitchen and cooking experience. KitchenAid’s range microwave is built for durability and easy cleaning while still maintaining good looks that bring a sense of style to your kitchen.
The front glass is chrome faced and the handles are cross-hatched accentuations that boldly blend with your kitchen.
This high powered 1000W over the range microwave allows you to make meals at the snap of a finger. With a sensor-monitor cooking cycle and an innovative container, it allows you the luxury of steaming and simmering.
If you are very particular about how you like your food done or steamed, you will find this appliance to be the perfect microwave for you. To help achieve the best cooking results, this model is also equipped with a microwave sensor that is responsible for triggering a cycle that steams your food based on selected food types.
It features an oven size of 1.9 cu ft. that can accommodate large platters and dishes with ease for your convenience when cooking re-heating, defrosting or simmering for a big family or large groups.
The oven size for this range microwave would suit you well if you are looking for a big oven capacity. The general build looks great and will definitely add value to your kitchen. Most consumers have found it to be very user friendly and powerful when it comes to de-frosting, re-heating and cooking.
The only drawback is that in case you have any mechanical issue within the warranty period, KitchenAid’s process for a replacement can be frustrating.
5. LG LMV2031ST
Specs at a glance
- Dimension – 30″L x 16″W x 16″ H
- Weight – 63 pounds
- Power – 1000w
- Oven size – 2.0 cu ft.
The LG LMV2031ST has a nice sleek look that would look great on your kitchen cooktop. If you love to mount your range micro- wave, it best to take actual dimensions so as to customize the mount for the range microwave to fit properly.
The exterior of this range microwave is stainless steel for easy cleaning and good durability. If you are looking for a spacious oven, you will love this as it comes with a 2.0 cu ft. which can accommodate some super-sized platters and dishes for your convenience when you have to whip up a dish for a large party.
The cooking power is also very good at 1000w and provides the required versatility to cook and prepare a variety of foods.
The venting system is equally powerful at 400 CFM ensuring all the smell and odors from your cooktop are taken care of for a fresher kitchen.
If you use LG branded kitchen appliances, you will agree that they do have exceptional quality kitchen electronic items. This LG range microwave is a lovely and handy piece of equipment that makes for effective de-frosting, re-heating, and cooking.
Humidity sensing technology provides you with 8 options to ensure that cooking or re-heating is done to your preference at the touch of a button. Sensors work to guarantee that a meal is not over or under-cooked.
The control panel is very easy to use and serves to help you make popcorn in snap while the EZ button allows you to add 30 seconds more to the cook time when you need to.
We loved the spacious oven, if you are one for super-sized platters, you will fall in love with just the oven size alone. Ease of use rates very highly as well as ease of cleaning which makes for easy maintenance. Although most consumers are satisfied by this product, complaint from those who were unsatisfied hinged on LG customer service lengthy procedures before replacing a faulty part or the appliance during the warranty period.
Factors to consider when buying an over the range microwave
This goes without saying that the microwave should be sturdy and made from hardy material. This is because it functions as a microwave and provides ventilation as well. There are many excellent options that are made from stainless steel which tends to last long.
Look for an OTR microwave that will move the air fast. The whole point of the ventilator is to ensure the kitchen remains smoke free and odorless just like it would if you had a range. Microwaves that come with automatic venting are the best because they are continuously working.
Despite being a kitchen appliance your over the range microwave should gel with the decor you are going for in your kitchen. They come in various sizes, shelving considerations and colors so you are spoilt for choice. Features like night lights actually increase the aesthetic even as they remain functional just make sure you settle for bulbs that are energy saving.
By design over the range microwaves are made for convenience. However, some go the extra mile allowing you to bake and simmer on top of the usual roasting. While it may cost you more the convenience such a model offers will definitely be felt in your daily life especially considering that the microwave is meant to be faster than a regular stove in food preparation.
A microwave that can cook a lot of food at one go is without a doubt ideal. Purchase a unit that can cook more food at a reasonable wattage. When shopping, evaluate the cooking features to see which ones you need and then buy the microwave that fits your daily needs. No need to buy one that can bake and leave one that roasts when you barely bake but live to roast.
Merits of having an OTR microwave?
1. To save space
An OTR microwave is a space saver because it does not take up any room on your kitchen counter. This makes it ideal for a small kitchens where clutter can be a huge problem.
2. It provides a dual function
Instead of having the traditional range hood to eliminate smoke and other kitchen odors, an OTR microwave can eliminate the smells through its inbuilt fans even as it continues to function as a microwave.
Flip side of owning an OTR microwave
1. Additional installation of out bound air ducts needed
To ensure the air is removed out of the house you need to install out bound ducts to transport the odors out. This may cost you more so be prepared to budget for that. If you don’t install the ducts the microwave will just re-circulate the air within the kitchen.
Mistakes to avoid when buying an over the range microwave
Buying a complicated microwave
It may be feature packed and look fancy but if you do not understand what those features and controls are for steer clear of it. Your microwave choice should bring convenience to your life so settle for something that you and your family members can use with ease.
Underestimating your ventilation needs
If you have a huge kitchen do not invest in a small OTR microwave with almost negligible venting to cater for your huge space. It is best to ask a professional to give you the right measurements of a range that you need and use that information when shopping.
Going big for a smaller space
Do not buy a big microwave that does not fit your microwave slot. Once again measurements are key so ensure you measure the microwave slot and get the right sized microwave. Over the range microwaves need to be the correct fit for their slot.
Choosing a small microwave
We are talking interior dimensions here. Since you know the size of your crockery make sure your microwave can accommodate the pieces. If you have a large family chances are you use large platters in food preparation so get a microwave that can accommodate such platters.
The top 5 features to check
These five are an absolute must have for any OTR microwave
Power level options
The power levels make it easy to cook various foods expertly and properly. They should specify what each power level does so that you are able to use each option correctly.
This feature enables your over the range microwave to turn on and off automatically depending on the weight of the food you are preparing.
Automated on/off switch
This switch will automatically come on to the right setting when it recognizes the heat or the type of food. This impressive feature is the epitome of convenience. It is facilitated by sensor cooking options within the microwave.
Child friendly settings
This is especially important if you have children who can operate your microwave. Child oriented features are geared towards keeping children safe as they use the appliance. Apart from that it should include the ability to lock features that are deemed unsafe for children.
Support and warranty
While this is not a physical feature it is an imperative need that should always come with your OTR microwave. You should be able to call the support team when you are experiencing any difficulty with the microwave. You should also be able to count on your warranty should your purchase malfunction because of issues from the manufacturer.
For the Kenmore Elite 80373, do I have to bore a hole into the wall in order to exhaust the vented air outside?
Not necessarily, but It will work both ways, with an exhaust pipe leading outside or without. It will blow the air to the front of the unit.
What size vent is required to vent the Samsung ME21F707MJT, 4″ or 6″?
6″ is the best option.
What side does the door swing to on the Whirlpool WMH31017AS?
Door Swings to the left while the control panel is on the right
What are the dimensions for the KitchenAid KMHC319ESS?
The dimensions are 30 L x 17 W x 17 H inches. This are perfect dimensions for a microwave catering to a big family or someone who loves to entertain.
Can the vent for the LG LMV2031ST act as a hood for the stove below?
Yes! Because the vent can be conveniently configured to vent above it or behind it. The three way fan is capable of moving a large volume of air even at the lowest setting.
Over the range microwaves are pretty spectacular and convenient appliances to have around the house especially for a household that has more cooking, re-heating and de-frosting needs than a regular microwave can handle. Although they may cost a pretty penny, the convenience and versatility make up for the cost.
Over the range microwaves as you may have seen come with different abilities and budgets. So it is only prudent to identify your actual cooking needs in order to match them against your selection so as to settle the appropriate range microwave that is suitable to your needs and budget. We selected the top five in the market with varying oven sizes and capabilities and prices in a bid to help you navigate with more ease and make an informed decision on your purchase.
Remember to consider the features in an OTR microwave if you regularly entertain. Small things like a cooking rack that offers you more cooking room or its ability to keep food warm come in handy when you have people over.