Best Microwave Oven – Buyers Guide

Best Microwave oven

An essential appliance in any kitchen is the Microwave Oven. This kitchen appliance is what we rely on when food gets cold, or we need to quickly defrost produce. Without an oven unit, any food not eaten immediately after being made becomes a hassle to reheat and enjoy later.

As such, we usually replace our microwaves quickly after they stop working. What we shouldn’t do though is buy any cheap unit. The new oven should be just as good, if not better than your last oven. Lastly, it should also fit in your kitchen aesthetics and not stick out like a sore thumb.

But, you may say, which Microwave Oven is the best for me? What’s the difference between the many available? Why shouldn’t I just get a simple and basic one?

Well, first let me introduce you to the Best Microwave Ovens I’ve picked out to review:

Microwave OvenGE Model #JVM3160RFSSWhirlpool Model #WMH31017FSFrigidaire Gallery Model #FGMV175QFSamsung Model #ME21H706MQGGe Profile Model #PEB7226SFSSWhirlpool Model #WMC30516ASLG Electronics Model #LCRT2010STPanasonic Model #NN-SN686SCuisinart Model #CMW-200
Model # JVM3160RFSS reviewWhirlpool Model # WMH31017FS ReviewGE Profile Model # PEB7226SFSS reviewPanasonic Model # NN-SN686S reviewCuisinart Model # CMW-200 review
Watts100010001000100011001200120012001000
PlacementOver the RangeOver the RangeOver the RangeOver the RangeCountertopCountertopCountertopCountertopCountertop
Oven TypeConventionalConventionalConventionalConventionalConventionalConventionalConventionalConventionalConvection/Conventional
CFM2 Speed 300-CFM max2 speed 300-CFM max2 Speed 180/300-CFM3 speed 400-CFM maxN/AN/AN/AN/AN/A
Dimensions
W x H x D
29.875″ x 16.5″ x 15.25″29.88″ x 17.13″ x 16.75″29.937″ x 16.375″ x 15.031″29.9″ x 18.2″ x 16.9″24.125″ x 14″ x 19.75″21.75″ x 13″ x 17.25″23.87″ x 13.56″ x 19.81″20.7″ x 12.25″ x 15.8″20.5″ x 12.5″ x 13.75″
Internal Size1.6 cu. Ft.1.7 cu. Ft.1.7 cu. Ft.2.1 cu. Ft.2.2 cu. Ft.1.6 cu. Ft.2.0 cu. Ft.1.2 cu ft.1.2 cu. ft.

Best Microwave Oven Reviews

GE Model # JVM3160RFSS

Model # JVM3160RFSS review

GE reigns king in their massive selection of microwaves. In specific, the GE Model # JVM3160RFSS is their best over the range unit. With all the features it comes with, along with its simple yet nice look, it’s no wonder why many buy this model.

This microwave oven comes in choices of bisque, black, slate, stainless steel, and white. Sadly, the stainless steel isn’t brushed so it will be prone to grime just like any other choice. As such, there’s no going wrong with any available option.

On to the menu, we have a glossy surface which is not exactly great at keeping dirt off, but manageable. On the interface itself, GE kept the menu simple with basic options on top. However, the interface design below is unusual, as the timer, add 30 seconds, and turntable are vertical and next to the express cook. Usually, they’re the last buttons on the bottom with the start and cancel buttons for easy access. Because of this quirky design, it may take some time to get used to.

Key Features:

1.6 cu. Ft. internal capacity. Not exactly efficient in its space usage, considering its size.

Area Dimensions: 29.875″ x 16.5″ x 15.25″.

Venting: 2 Speed fan; 300 CFM at Max setting

Convertible Venting: Can vent air from the top and back. Ductless venting compatible.

1000 Watts of Power: The standard in the industry, any less is not enough.

Whirlpool Model # WMH31017FS

Whirlpool Model # WMH31017FS Review

Next is a unit from Whirlpool, which is well known for their house appliances. This microwave is no exception in their quality. Coming in a range of colors from Black, Silver Stainless Steel, and white, we would say to get the stainless steel option. Why? well, Stainless steel requires less cleaning maintenance as material doesn’t stick to it that often. In the end, however, it’s your choice and as the microwave should match the kitchen style, get your preferred color.

This oven unit also has some nice little features as an extra. First, it’s got a night light for those of you not wanting to turn on the kitchen light when grabbing a quick late snack.

Inside the unit, we have the usual look of metal with white enamel. This protects it from any rusting and makes it easier to clean. Something different, however, is the unusually small disk platter inside. While it’s fine for simple dishes, don’t count on this to keep somewhat larger plates even inside.

Keeping with simplicity like GE, Whirlpool decided to put only the most basic of options on this microwave. While this may be seen as a negative, if you’re looking for a modern looking unit with simple settings, this is the one. Also, unlike some other units here with glossy interfaces, this one is matte making it quite resistant to grime and smudges.

Key Features:

1.7 cu. ft. internal capacity.

Area Dimensions: 29.88″ x 17.13″ x 16.75″. This unit is somewhat taller than others here despite no increase in internal space, so keep this in mind.

Venting: 2 Speed Fan, 300 CFM at Max. If the unit heats up due to the stove usage below, venting will automatically start, so don’t freak out!

Convertible Venting: As usual, front, back and top venting available.

1000 Watts of Power: Standard in most units.

Frigidaire Gallery Model # FGMV175QF

Frigidaire Gallery Model # FGMV175QF Review

Up next is a microwave from Frigidaire’s Gallery line. This is another over the range unit, with a more shinier tone but still just as nice looking as the last. This oven comes in a choice of 3 colors: black, white and stainless steel. Sadly, however, the stainless steel version is not brushed like other units. As such, expect this unit to get dirty somewhat quickly.

Inside is the usual white enamel covering, and a medium sized disk platter. Now while it is lacking in size, this unit also comes with a metal rack. This rack is placeable halfway, making it extremely space efficient should your meals not be too tall.

A nice extra feature this microwave has that some others don’t is the possibility to use the kitchen time while the unit is running. Some units don’t allow this, and ‘forget’ that you’re running a timer. This one doesn’t forget, however, and will remember your timer while microwaving your food.

Key Features:

1.7 cu. ft. internal capacity. While not a lot, you get even more when using the rack.

Area Dimensions: 29.937″ x 16.375″ x 15.031″. Similar in size to the GE.

Venting: 2 Speed Fan, 300 CFM at Max.

Convertible Venting: top or back venting compatible. Ductless venting compatible.

1000 watts of power: Standard power in a unit.

Washable Filter: No need for a replacement! just pop it off, wash it, and back on it goes!

Samsung Model # ME21H706MQG

Samsung Model # ME21H706MQG review

This Model from Samsung has a nice sleek design that’ll fit perfectly into any modern kitchen. This microwave has a brushed stainless steel and simple stainless steel design, making it quite resistant to smears. Sadly, however, the see through window is a different matter as it can get dirty quite easily. Inside the oven, it’s a little different from your usual unit. Instead of the usual metal interior, the Samsung microwave sports a ceramic interior for quick cooling after using the Convection setting. This quick cooling will help others not burn themselves. Topping it off, it’s just as easy to clean as stainless steel. Lastly, like the Frigidaire it also comes with a rack, making it very space efficient.

Another nice aspect of this microwave is the menu’s placement below. This allows you to open the door completely and allows the bigger than average internal capacity. The highest fan speed will make the unit have a total CFM of 400, so it’s quite decent at getting air out.

For sensor options, there’s the typical popcorn, pizza reheat etc, so you’re getting basics on those. However, this microwave also has a smart sensor installed, with it being the main reason for it’s higher than usual price. This sensor will detect the moisture in the air and determine how long it will need to be cooked, so there’s no guessing on your part!

*This unit has no trim kit options, so only buy it after making sure it will fit.

Key Features:

2.1 cu. ft. Internal Capacity: This will fit quite a bit more food than the others, and doesn’t take much more space! If you know you’ll be stuffing lots of food in your unit, this is something worth considering.

Area Dimensions: 29.9″ x 18.2″ x 16.9″: slightly taller than some here, but not too bad.

Venting: 3 Speed Fan, 400 CFM at Max. An extra speed for those of you wanting something in between low and fast.

Convertible Venting: Can vent air from the top and back. Ductless venting compatible.

1000 watts of power: Standard in a unit.

Smart Sensor: Take the guessing out of new food, convenience at its finest.

Ge Profile Model # PEB7226SFSS

GE Profile Model # PEB7226SFSS review

First up on countertop units is GE and their well-loved microwaves. This unit, in particular, is shaped quite differently than one would expect. It’s much smaller in height and width but takes up more space in depth. Because of its peculiar design, this unit is suited for cramped spaces which can spare the extra depth. Lastly, This oven comes in 4 color choices: Black, White, Slate Door/ Dark Gray Case and Stainless Steel.

For the most part, the interface is simple and clutter-less. It comes with the basic cooking options, so it’s not difficult to use. A smart sensor is installed and can be used via the options regarding vegetables etc. What’s different, however, is the addition of a ‘Myplate’ and ‘help’ buttons. The Myplate is based off of the U.S Government ‘Myplate.gov’ program and allows for selection of time for food, while the help button has no real use. A waste of space, in my opinion, of two valuable buttons.

*As an extra, this unit comes with an optional trim kit and is why this unit is quite pricey. So if you’re looking for a built in microwave for your kitchen, and don’t want to deal with looking for a suitable kit, this GE profile unit is for you.

Key Features:

2.2 cu. ft. of internal space. Despite the difference in dimensions, this unit provides a great amount of space internally. one of the few here with over 2 cu. ft. of space.

Area Dimensions: 24.125″ x 14″ x 19.75″. Smaller in width and height than most other units here, but deeper than them as well.

1100 watts of power: 100 more than the usual seen in microwaves. Because of this increase food will heat up faster, so don’t put the same time as a 1000 unit.

16″ Turntable: Despite its small size, this microwave has quite the large turntable. Useful for those of you who dislike small turntables.

Smart Sensor: Let the machine cook what you want to perfection.

Trim kit included with the unit.

Whirlpool Model # WMC30516AS

Whirlpool Model # WMC30516AS review

Another from Whirlpool, this time a microwave for the countertop. As a countertop unit, this oven takes less space than the GE unit above. So for those of you looking for a good quality microwave with great space efficiency, then this will take the cake. This unit comes in options of black, white and stainless steel. As you can tell, however, the front of the unit is not steel, but a plastic screen. This screen, unlike the metal around it, is far more prone to grime and is a shame it covers the front.

On to the menu, Whirlpool decided to add quite a bit of options compared to the other on this list. While some of it is useful, a few options can be ignored due to their extremely obscure use. On top of this, it looks like a cluttered mess, mostly due to the lack space around buttons. Thankfully, however, this menu is matte on the surface, making it quite resistant to grime. This also means that fingerprints won’t be seen often.

*A trim kit is available for this unit but is sold separately.

Key Features:

1.6 cu. ft. of internal space. Small, but efficient for its already small design.

Area Dimensions: 21.75″ x 13″ x 17.25″. The Smallest unit here, but just as capable as the others.

1200 watts of power: 200 more watts than the usual, making it able to heat food up faster. This also means it can burn food faster if you don’t adjust the time.

13.5″ turntable: smaller than the GE, but utilizes the most space possible for the small internal size of the unit.

Trim kit compatible: Doesn’t come with a trim kit, but is compatible with one of the correct size.

LG Electronics Model # LCRT2010ST

LG Electronics Model # LCRT2010ST review

A surprise in the industry, LG’s microwave is great for its price. Coming in only two color options: regular stainless steel and black stainless steel. Compared to some modern, sleek looking units here, this microwave is like a blast to the past of pre-2000 era units.

The interface looks like a cluttered mess, but not as much as the whirlpool above. One reason may be due to how the interface layout was made, with the buttons being grouped together by an overall border. This border makes the cluttered look that may turn some of you away. If you don’t mind the somewhat old style, however, then don’t worry.

A super nice feature of this microwave oven is the EasyClean. Whenever you’d like to clean inside your oven, simply spray water on the grime then press the EasyClean button. It will take a while, 20 minutes in fact, but once it’s done, simply wipe it all away with a towel and presto. Your microwave oven will be as clean as the day you bought it.

As a side note, the time will not stay displayed permanently like most units. After a short time, the led display will turn off, which is an inconvenience in itself.

*This microwave oven is compatible with a trim kit if you wish to convert it into a built in unit.

Key Features:

2.0 cu. ft. of internal space: A good amount of space, which is always a plus.

Area Dimensions: 23.87″ x 13.56″ x 19.81″. Pretty big for a unit, but it needs space for the internal space after all.

1200 Watts of Power: Higher than most, and faster than them at heating as well

16″ turntable: A good size for a basic microwave, covers all the space internally.

Trim kit compatible

EasyClean Tech: Makes cleaning an easy task.

Panasonic Model # NN-SN686S

Panasonic Model # NN-SN686S review

For those of you looking for an Inverter tech microwave oven, this is the one for you. It comes in two options: a modern version with a touch pad, or a more old school version with bulging buttons and dial. Now I don’t mean this in a bad way. In fact, I like both versions, and you should choose which version fits your kitchen the best.

The modern version looks sleek and amazing, especially the interface. The sharp and modern interface flows perfectly with the overall look. Like many modern units, this version has a large see through window with only the bottom and sides of the unit made of stainless steel. The interface itself is also a sleek beauty, as each button is separated not by a printed border, but by a physical one.

On the other hand, the old style look is also amazing. Despite the button design being super old school, with bulging buttons and a knob for setting time. This look is perfect for those of you who enjoy vintage looks as the oven works just as good compared to the modern version. Also, compared to the modern version, this one is full stainless steel, so you won’t have any issues keeping it clean (other than the see through screen, of course).

Key Features:

1.2 cu. ft. of internal space: One of smallest one here for those of you looking for compactness.

Area Dimensions: 20.7″ x 12.25″ x 15.8″. Definitely the smallest microwave oven here, and there’s nothing wrong with it. If you want a small unit to save space, then this is for you.

1200 watts of power: Will heat your food up faster than a 1000 watt unit.

13.4″ turntable: Manages a good size despite the small space inside.

Trim kit compatible: Is compatible with a trim kit, but it is sold separately.

Two different Designs: choose whichever you fancy, both look great!

Cuisinart Model # CMW-200

Cuisinart Model # CMW-200 review

The lowest priced convection microwave oven on the market, with amazon pricing it continuously at or below $250. What a steal, if I may say. Most Convection microwave ovens range in the $500+ dollars, but this one is the best for its low price.

This unit comes in two styles, a 1 cu. ft. version and the 1.2 cu. ft. version which is the one on this list. This unit is covered, inside and out, of stainless steel. The reason why is because of the internal heat that could damage any plastic parts. Due to this, it is quite a heavy unit despite its size, but that helps add to its sturdiness.

As this unit is a convection microwave oven, it is capable of both convection ovens and microwaving. Whichever you need, you can choose a mode of either simple microwaving, convection heating or a mixture of both!

Key Features:

1.2 cu. ft. of internal space: A small package for those looking for one.

Area Dimensions: 20.5″ x 12.5″ x 13.75″. The smallest oven here, and well worth the price if you don’t mind it.

1000 watts of power: Enough to microwave and still power the convection part is impressive.

Turntable size: 12″. The smallest here so don’t expect it to fit a full turkey, okay?

How to pick the Best Microwave Oven for you

What you want in your microwave oven is high wattage, regardless of the type of oven you want, and whether it’ll fit in your kitchen and the overall design.

Why you want Higher Wattage

Unlike conventional electronic standards where low wattage and high efficiency is king, microwaves are different. This is because wattage determines the heating power and time of the oven. The higher the wattage, the faster the oven heats up the food. If the wattage is low, then the microwave will take longer to heat up your food. As such, it is always preferred to get a high powered oven to lower the wait time.

As a note, this is how every microwave oven works, including Convection ovens. Efficiency is not something that is ever a factor in ovens, partly due to how microwave work. As such, don’t worry if a unit boasts 1200 watts, as that is actually a beneficial thing.

Types of Ovens

There are a few types of ovens, with the first two of which we’ll cover are Countertop ovens, and Over the Range ovens. The countertop units go on one’s countertop, while the over the range units should go over one’s stove. If you’re looking for countertop units, then don’t buy an over the range oven, and vice versa.This will help you filter which ovens are definitely not for you, and make it easier to shop around.

Next are the heating types: Conventional, Convection, and Inverter type ovens. Conventional ovens only use microwaves to heat food up, while Convection ovens use heated air to heat up food. Inverters are like Conventional ovens, but with the added capabilities of true power level control.

Conventional Microwave Oven

Not looking for any extra features? Keeping it simple and traditional is the Conventional Microwave Oven. As the name says, these units do one thing only – microwave your food. They all come with the basic features such as popcorn, pizza, and other quick food buttons so you’re getting the basics. There’s no foreign buttons or confusing settings. Conventional Microwaves themselves have not changed much since their initial introduction, with the only real change being in size and cost. Now, of course, this isn’t a bad thing, as they do what they’re made to do perfectly.

If this is what you want, the main spec of interest will be wattage. This is because wattage determines the power of the microwave capabilities. The more wattage, the faster the oven can heat up your food, and the less wattage, the longer it will take. The current standard in many units is 1000 watts, with more watts being mainly only for convenience’s sake, as it’ll shave a few seconds off the timer.

Smart Sensor

Some of these microwaves tout a smart sensor cooking option. What is a smart sensor, you ask? A smart sensor unit uses a special sensor to detect the humidity in the oven to properly cook your food.

*As the sensor relies on the humidity in the unit, do not seal your food in a container. This will confuse your oven sensor, making it overcook your food severely. You may cover your food, but there must be a small hole to allow the steam to rise and let the sensor do its magic

Convection Microwave Oven

Different from your conventional unit, these convection ovens boast not only microwave capabilities but convection capabilities. What does this mean? Well, a convection oven has a fan and venting system, which can be turned on in order to move the heat inside the oven around. This movement of hot air helps heat the food up faster and more evenly, making for a more efficient oven. Also, unlike conventional ovens which often have hot spots which are places where heat is more concentrated, convection ovens do not.

Convection Microwave Oven

Convection Ovens have ventilation inside, helping with the heating process.

As one could imagine, The Convection settings make your Microwave into a sort of true mini oven, capable of handling some baking and toasting. In a sense, the unit is no longer just a microwave, but an all in one oven unit. As a real mini oven, this unit is better suited for food with lower water quantities, or thick pieces of meat which would be ruined in a conventional microwave unit.

If you opt for an over the counter convection oven, however, please note that you will need a certain amount of open space all around the unit. This is because the oven requires venting space. Without this space, the microwave oven may overheat, which may cause damage and render it useless. As such, they’re best used as over-the-range units, as the venting duct will save you the possibly valuable counter space and will make sure it gets proper venting.

Inverter Technology

Best Microwave Oven

The Inverter logo, seen in front of all Inverter tech microwave ovens

A unique technology made by Panasonic, Inverter Technology is something that may interest you when looking for a new microwave unit. While it was initially exclusively on Panasonic units, it has since been featured on GE and a few other units. The best way, however, is to check for the Inverter Tech logo on the unit. If it’s there, then it supports it. If it does not have the logo, tread carefully.

Now, What exactly is Inverter Tech? Inverter Technology is what Panasonic calls their heating system. In a non-Inverter unit, when you set a power level below 100%, such as 50%, 40% etc the microwave will heat at full power for a set time before stopping for a set time. As you can tell, this means there is no true 50% power on these units, only 100 for a few seconds, then a cool down period before another 100% power. Inverter units, however, are capable of true sub 100% power. Using one of these and setting 50% actually makes the unit use half the power, as usual, making sure you don’t cook something you’re not trying to.

Countertop Microwave Oven

For those of you looking for a simple plug and use oven, then the Countertop unit is four you. As its name says it all, you simply pull your microwave oven out of the box, pop it on the countertop and plug it in. There’s no installation required. Just keep it away from your sink. The wattage will make the unit do it’s magic, warming or heating your food up to just the right temperatures.

Depending on your Microwave Oven, you may need to keep an amount of space around it open. This is because of some extra features such as Convection heat the unit up and requires open space to quickly cool down. If there is no open space for these ovens, do not place them in a cramped area. The unit may overheat, causing it to malfunction and require repairs or replacement. If you don’t have one of these, feel free to place it wherever.

In Cabinet Options

Another option that seems forgotten by many when shopping. While in cabinet microwaves still require dedicated space like regular countertop units, if you value countertop space more than cabinet space this side option is something worth considering. These can work with convection ovens but will require venting. As such, it is advised to get an over the range convection unit instead.

GE Microwave Oven

 

*Something to keep in mind is the need for a trim kit. All units need a trim kit for in cabinet installation and it will cost you quite a bit. It’s not unusual to have some even costing nearly half as the unit itself. As such, please remember this when considering this option.

Over the Range Microwave Oven

Not everyone likes the space hogging that Microwaves are known for. After all, some can be as wide as your real oven, so having them on your countertop is not always an ideal place. Thankfully, for those of you who want to conserve space in your kitchen, the Over the Range Microwave Oven is your best bet. Not only does it get to hang above your oven range, saving precious countertop space for toasters, blenders and such, but it can replace your venting fan as well. Therefore, an over the range microwave unit is, in a way, two essential things in one compact unit.

Best Microwave Oven

 

Over the Range units, unlike the countertop units, do not require space around it for venting heat. Instead, most require a vent duct in order to cool down after heating food up. A few however also come with hidden vents on the oven unit for those of you without a venting duct. Some also have automated systems to regulate the temperature inside and outside the microwave oven. Convenient, right?

* Please keep in mind that there seems to not be much reviews and purchases for Over the Range units on Amazon. As such, I turned to Lowe’s and The Home Depot for my searching. Because of this, please don’t immediately judge the microwave by only Amazon reviews. But of course, do keep in mind the critical reviews of them.

Carbon Filters & Maintenance

Something to keep in mind while shopping for over the range microwave units is carbon filters. You will need one in order to keep your unit and air clean. This is especially true if you’re running a ductless setup. The reason why is because the filter will do just that, filter your air and remove the oil and impurities. This helps a ton when it’s time for a cleaning day, making it easier on you as there’s less to clean on the range and microwave. Contrary to beliefs, a carbon filter will not remove odors, so don’t be disappointed if you smell the same thing you’re cooking. On the other hand, however, you shouldn’t smell something you’re not cooking, as that means the filter is no longer working and must be replaced.

*Please note: Not all microwaves will come with a filter pre-installed. you may need to purchase one along with the unit. Make sure that the filter fits your unit as well, as there may be differences in size

Afterword

Each one here looks amazing! I honestly think any here are great choices, and if they didn’t fancy you, it’s fine. So long as you understand what to expect of some microwaves from here on out. My favorite, if your wondering, has to be the Cuisinart. It’s such a handy multipurpose tool that does everything a both a microwave and oven do. On top of that, the cheap price is jaw dropping so that also makes it very appealing.

If anything though, I’m saddened by the lack of low priced convection microwave ovens. I would expect there to be a higher volume, but they’re either low-quality units or they cost an arm and a leg. Perhaps with time, there will be more in the market, and I would definitely be glad to see them. After all, sometimes you may want a little treat for yourself, and the microwave oven will make it easier on you.

Featured Image by Nancy Hugo, CKD

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