Microwave over range - new industry standard?

dreamojeanAugust 15, 2013

Any suggestions for an over the range microwave that actually is level with the bottom of a 39" line of cabinets where the cabinet over the microwave is 24"? It seems that industry standard height these days is 17 or 17 1/4 and NOT the 16" of years past. I don't have a choice, I need a 39" cabinet. I suspect that my cabinets will be 20" clearance between countertop and cabinet start and do NOT want 18" of clearance and no more between stovetop and microwave.

So... do I need to try to find a used microwave with better dimensions? I noticed that the microwave we are leaving behind (for color reasons) is 16" high and fit really well, level with the bottom of the cabinets or certainly not obtrusive. I just checked and the clearance between stovetop now is 20" which hasn't been a problem.

Or maybe I'll just forget about losing that 1 1/2 inches of stovetop clearance when all is said and done?

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live_wire_oak

The standard bottom alignment height of wall cabinets is 54" above the floor. The over the MW cabinet should be planned so that the MW is no more than 51" from the floor. With 39" wall cabinets, you would use a 21" tall wall cabinet over the MW to have it align properly, not a 24".

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 11:51AM
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dreamojean

Thanks Livewireoak, unfortunately my cabinet choices are 18 or 24 above the microwave - not 21". I agree, 21 would be the best choice. But it is not to be.

I'm even finally toying with just going with a vent hood after all although that poses its own issues with a) where to put a countertop microwave in a kitchen very low on countertop space other than the island, b) how to vent to the outside, our chimney is in the way and we would probably need a new soffit etc. etc., I'll ask the contractor before ordering the microwave or hood etc.

PS - I'm doing an Ikea kitchen which I realize isn't the most popular thing on this board but in my area - Brooklyn in NYC - it's extremely popular and even fairly sanctioned by quite a few kitchen designers, architects and contractors, surprisingly - maybe due to the high cost of living and renovating... - I resisted for a year or two before getting to the point of, goodness look what we spent prior to picking cabinets and what we could save, look how good this or that person's IKEA kitchen looks, and most important for me, look what I can order today and have delivered tomorrow, plus pieces are returnable and exchangeable before being opened if we find we need something else - I love that we can go pick up random things if I'm willing to drive for a half hour and wait in a too-long line to do it But I digress - going with IKEA has solved a lot of design problems I had, and created an equal number of them - like this one.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 1:08PM
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ginny20

Would it be possible to put a Sharp MW drawer in the island? That's a really popular option. Alternatively, a friend of mine has a shelf in her island with a counter MW on it. Mine is on the counter, because my limited counter space was not as valuable as the limited lower cab space.

I understand the venting issues but did you read that article from the NY Times someone posted recently about indoor air pollution produced by kitchens? It made me appreciate my hood in a new way.

You don't have to apologize for choosing Ikea. Many GWers have beautiful, well made, affordable kitchens using Ikea products.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 1:35PM
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dreamojean

Anyone know if I can do a microwave drawer with an IKEA cabinet? I'll check as well.

Thing is, I was really really looking forward to having a 6 foot island with 2 3-foot drawers in the island to handle pots, pans, plasticware, silverware, utensils - even plates most likely. Our island will be a storage workhorse and I fear having a microwave drawer would kill that space too much. It looks as if microwave drawers are 24-30" wide so it would take up half our island space.

I also dislike the idea of bending down or looking down for the microwave. Our kitchen designer suggested this earlier this summer and after some research I nixed the idea. I feel the same way today.

I'd probably be happier with a smaller countertop model that we find a place for in the dining room somehow, or over the range, than in a drawer where we need all our drawer space and then some.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 3:14PM
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ginny20

I totally get it. That's why I have my small MW and toaster oven on the counter. We use both pretty much every day, often more than once each, and counter height is perfect, unfortunately. If there is any way you can fit a small one on a counter someplace and put in a hood vented outside, that would be the best function for both MW use and venting. But if you can't, you can't. Lots of small urban kitchens have OTR MW. Brooklyngalley's Brooklyn galley, for instance.

There's also the "space saver MW" that is mounted under the upper cab. I'm not sure how it helps, because it's not like you can really use the remaining few inches between it and the counter, but maybe it's a better compromise option.

I will also warn you not to get a Frigidaire counter MW. Mine died in 18 months, and the woman at Best Buy said she had heard that a lot before Best Buy stopped carrying Frigidaire MWs. Panasonic and Sharp seem to get the best reviews.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 4:47PM
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dreamojean

Ginny20, that is validating. It would be so much easier if I could just match the Frigidaire range with an OTR microwave. If not I won't get the Frigidaire model for anything else, it was just because it's like a package for the range.

I've even thought to get the IKEA Framtid which is a Whirlpool for $250 without bells and whistles but a bit smaller than some which I'd like. It's IKEA's kitchen sale so if buying a microwave via IKEA puts me over a threshold to get a 10% or 20% discount that's what I might just do... I have all my other appliances, the sink/faucet etc. already. I do also plan to go to a store in person to look at MW's now that I'm more focused on it.

By the way, after doing research I ended up with a Maytag Maxima full size stacked washer/dryer, the Frigidaire stove and fridge and a Frigidaire smaller fridge for another room. I toyed with Kitchen-Aid for the fridge and GE Cafe or Profile for the range but Frigidaire offers a lot of bells and whistles for a good value (assuming it performs) and I like the look, and the fridge fit a tight space against a right wall so for me it was about a side by side fridge with a door that I could make work at only a 90 degree angle when open, no more. Frigidaire allowed for that and a lot of models didn't.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 4:57PM
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ginny20

I have a basic Frigidaire 30" top freezer fridge because it's the only one that would fit in the space in my pre-remodel kitchen. It's 6 years old now, and other than the plastic rails that hold the bottles on the door shelves (which have cracked under the strain of our condiments), I have no complaints with it. It works just fine, knock on wood. If they make a fridge that doesn't need to open past 90 degrees, woohoo! Getting the fridge that fits the space seems like a no-brainer to me. We don't all have 300 sq ft kitchens.

Hope you find a good resolution to the MW dilemma!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2013 at 6:36PM
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foodonastump

Are you by chance using cabinets with flat slab doors? If so, I don't think it would be too big of a deal to customize a longer cabinet down to whatever length you need. The cut edge of the door would have to be addressed, but if cut on top it wouldn't be very visible (if visible at all) so "close enough" would be fine.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 8:54AM
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dreamojean

Foodonastump (great name!), thanks, no I'm using flat panel cabinets, not flat slab, so that won't work. I'm going to IKEA today and will ask what they suggest and will hope I get lucky with someone helpful...

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 8:58AM
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Fori is not pleased

A hood doesn't have to vent out any more than an OTR microwave does-- Both can be had as recirculating models. I bet you wouldn't mind having more storage up there, even if it's a pain to find a new spot for the microwave.

Have you gone to the ikeafans.com forum? I bet people there can help you fit in ANYthing you want. Including a modern OTR microwave.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2013 at 1:28PM
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dreamojean

OK so I got mixed advice from IKEA as to 18 vs. 24 cabinet and my contractor (who I trust and usually agree with) installed something I can wave up at but not USE. See photo. (sigh) 18" does NOT work in my situation but he doesn't want me to get the 24" since it will hang about 1-2" below the cabinet line. But goodness below could only be better than 4" above.

The problem in my kitchen is that the contractor gave us 23" of clearance from the countertop (it'll be 21" once the skirt for under cabinet lights is installed, and I'm fine with 20-21" of clearance and prefer it, but I'm 5'3" and my husband is 5'7" or 5'8" and we have a grade school child and I think 23" for reaching up to cabs is too high! I want to lower the cabs 1-2" overall but they are installed (IKEA isn't that hard to lower the rail on which they are all installed but still).

Right now the microwave clearance is 26.5" from stovetop to bottom of microwave. Crazy! If we switch to a 24" cab over the microwave the clearance will still be 20.5" which I think is fine. Means our microwave will be the most accessible, vs. 23" for the cabinets. This is frustrating, if I lower the cabinets more than 1" I can't lower the microwave because it will be really too low (I wouldn't go below 19 or so clearance for microwave which we would get at 21.5 clearance for cabinets).

Part of the driver for the high clearance was a 16.5" faucet (gorgeous but perhaps the wrong choice for a sink under cabinets...) and a soffit that the cabinets come to at 23" clearance.

I still think we need to lower the microwave 6" and/or the cabinets 1" or 1.5".

Help!!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 8:11AM
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dreamojean

OK so I got mixed advice from IKEA as to 18 vs. 24 cabinet and my contractor (who I trust and usually agree with) installed something I can wave up at but not USE. See photo. (sigh) 18" does NOT work in my situation but he doesn't want me to get the 24" since it will hang about 1-2" below the cabinet line. But goodness below could only be better than 4" above.

The problem in my kitchen is that the contractor gave us 23" of clearance from the countertop (it'll be 21" once the skirt for under cabinet lights is installed, and I'm fine with 20-21" of clearance and prefer it, but I'm 5'3" and my husband is 5'7" or 5'8" and we have a grade school child and I think 23" for reaching up to cabs is too high! I want to lower the cabs 1-2" overall but they are installed (IKEA isn't that hard to lower the rail on which they are all installed but still).

Right now the microwave clearance is 26.5" from stovetop to bottom of microwave. Crazy! If we switch to a 24" cab over the microwave the clearance will still be 20.5" which I think is fine. Means our microwave will be the most accessible, vs. 23" for the cabinets. This is frustrating, if I lower the cabinets more than 1" I can't lower the microwave because it will be really too low (I wouldn't go below 19 or so clearance for microwave which we would get at 21.5 clearance for cabinets).

Part of the driver for the high clearance was a 16.5" faucet (gorgeous but perhaps the wrong choice for a sink under cabinets...) and a soffit that the cabinets come to at 23" clearance.

I still think we need to lower the microwave 6" and/or the cabinets 1" or 1.5".

Help!!

    Bookmark   August 24, 2013 at 8:13AM
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dreamojean

Follow-up - we lowered the cabinets 2" and turns out with the "skirt" under the cabinets the microwave is level with the cabinets and it looks good and is functional - thank you all again!

    Bookmark   November 26, 2013 at 7:53AM
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