But I really wanted an OTR micowave!

joygreenwaldAugust 7, 2014

OK, I think I'm finally convinced that I have to give up my dream of not loosing any counter or cabinet space in my too small kitchen.

I was willing to go with the over the range microwave. I was nervous, but I HATE having the microwave on the little bit of counter I have. HOWEVER, I read one post and suddenly pictured by 6 year old deciding to make popcorn while a burner was on on my gas range. OK, yes. No OTR microwave.

So, now I need to choose a range hood that can go under counter because, if I tell my husband we are also loosing another cabinet, and one we've paid for, he'll be quite displeased with me. It will be vented up and through the roof. I read that I want baffles. (LOL because, for some reason, this is baffling me.) Some background, I have been living for eight years with an exhaust fan in the ceiling that we only recently found out vents into the attic! So it's clear we aren't generating massive smoke. However, I do set off my fire alarm periodically. And the cabinet about it is a bit greasy. I do cook some hamburgers inside and stir fry frequently, but I never deep fat fry, and we use minimal oil in most of our cooking. The hood will be over a 30" gas range, just a basic Frigidaire.

I also need to choose a microwave. I can't seem to hit on the right search terms to find the small one so many people have mentioned in other threads I read (when I was looking for something else of course.) I know I want something stainless and with a small footprint. My kids microwave almost daily, but it's mostly breakfast sausages, hot dogs, popcorn (the kind you air pop in a special bowl, not the boxed kind...so the bowl needs to fit) and oatmeal. Occasionally, we melt some butter or, even less frequently, make potatoes. Oh, and I also reheat a single servings of left overs or a Trader Joes meal from time to time. I do not cook in my microwave.

I'm sorry if this is repetitive. I really did try putting in the terms I need. But the demo starts Monday and venting is coming up fast. I don't have time for my usual extended research. I'm a stress case and barely sleeping. Please be kind.

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OTR microwaves are fine as long as your range isn't too powerful for one. Obviously hoods are better but OTR microwaves keep things cheap and simple and are a fine solution.

I'm not sure what microwave you're thinking of, but Sharp microwave drawers are a solution that don't require you to give up counter space, and in my opinion they are better quality than most over the range and countertop microwaves. They are more expensive than countertop and OTR microwaves but factoring in that they will probably last longer, I think they are worth the investment if you don't want to lose counter space.

Hoods are the simplest appliance available and they all function pretty much the same. I would not overthink them. In terms of under cabinet hoods, Broan is the leader in that space. They have all types of models, from sub $100 models to fancier stuff. I recently got an induction range so I decided to upgrade my hood to a better looking and more powerful model. I replaced a 33 year old Broan that still worked fine with a brand new Broan Elite prostyle. The controls are nice and simple. 2 light levels, variable speed fan control, all knobs. It has baffle filters and a 600 CFM blower. I'm very happy with it. It is more power than I need but my house does not need makeup air so I'm cool with that. Be sure to research makeup air if you go above 400 CFM because you may need it.

This post was edited by hvtech42 on Thu, Aug 7, 14 at 11:52

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 11:50AM
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I had an OTR microwave in my previous apartment, and there is no way I would have one if I had kids using it. It was hard enough to reach into it for my DD and me. I'd highly recommend the Sharp microwave drawer (which is what I have now) but I understand they're pricey and not everyone is willing to spend that kind of money on a microwave. My second choice would have been a shelf located near the refrigerator on which I would put a countertop microwave (install a plug behind the shelf). We did this in our previous home (and it was still a little high, but it could be lower). Here's a picture of the setup we had two kitchens ago.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:03PM
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It's too late for us to start adding shelves or switching to a drawer microwave. The cabinets shipped, and they were custom designed to take up every bit of available space. We were positive that we were going with an OTR, so we didn't really consider other options. Even now, I don't think there would have been a good place to have put it. I'd post the design, but I just tried to open it and I'm getting file corrupted warnings. (Great!) So I think it's OTR or on the counter. (I guess I could hang it under counter, but that's not really better than just putting it on the counter IMO.)

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 2:21PM
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What kind of range is this going over? Electric? Induction? Normal gas? Pro gas?

Unless the range is too powerful you can just get the OTR microwave. There are plenty of households that have both children and OTR microwaves with no accidents. Many here bash them but IMO they are not as bad as they are made out to be. Also keep in mind many of the OTR bashers have only had experience with the recirculating ones. Vented out will be much better.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 3:27PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

Mine is a Kitchen Aid Micro Hood OTR. Been in for a year. No problems. In my case OTR is over the induction cook top.

There are space restrictions for installation. There has to be so many inches between the range top and the bottom of the micro. Be sure you know what that is.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 3:32PM
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If I knew about this, I might have opted for it. It's an over the COUNTER microwave, not over the range. I kept asking if I could mount an OTR one not OTR but OTC and told no or maybe or I wouldn't but..

Anyway, I remember someone here showing this one off in a breakfast bar kind of setting. It would get it off your counter and not be over the range if that's a fear with your kids. You could still tuck some things along the back edge of the counter. And I think the stainless one is quite nice looking.

I currently have a Panasonic. Mine is black because most of our old appliances were black, but I also like the looks of their stainless ones, and if I was looking for a counter top one I probably would have opted for one. I'd go with either Sharp or Panasonic.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sharp OTC microwave

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 3:34PM
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You do not need a special "over the counter" microwave to mount it like that. Other brands including GE sell mounting brackets that can be used on their regular countertop microwaves for that purpose. That's what I did before I redid my kitchen and put in a microwave/walloven combo. Makes it tough to put tall stuff underneath the microwave, but it does free up space to put those things elsewhere.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 4:06PM
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We've had an OTR microwave in a previous home, and are doing it again in our new home. Ours vented out. It was great - we got a microwave and saved the space at the same time.

After reading everything here, I briefly began agonizing about just installing a range hood in my new kitchen instead, but then came to my senses when I looked again at how small my space was. OTR microwave to the rescue again.

And how young do some people have children using the microwave??? I would never let a six-year-old just decide to make popcorn in the microwave while my burners were on. lol But my children did use the microwave frequently when they were pre-teens/teens. We never had any problems with our OTR microwave, either in use or how high it was.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 7:28PM
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I wouldn't let a small child use the microwave EVER if it's OTR. Kids take chances bending the rules because they don't know the consequences, and the stove can stay hot long after the pots have been removed. I had an OTR MW in an apartment once. I'm on the tall side. It was still an issue. It's easier to enforce mom has to get the popcorn for you than this is when you can use the MW and this is when you can't. I'd be careful of letting a little kid open the bag of MW popcorn, too. They've been known to scald kids' faces with steam.

This may be repeating things, but, yes, you can get an undercabinet hood that will fit where you had planned the OTR microwave.

A carpenter might be able to rejigger a cabinet to put in an over the counter microwave, if you want to do that.

You can mount a small microwave under your full height upper cabinets to have a half useable bit of counter space underneath. Not a good work area, but a spot to put a cooling tray or finished dish.

You might also consider putting a shelf unit outside of the cooking area since your kitchen is so small. You can put cookbooks, potted herbs (if there's sun), etc., on it, or whatever else you might like to store near, but not in, the kitchen, and put the microwave there. My aunt did that when freestanding microwaves first came out, and had it in the dining room, just outside the kitchen door, for forty years. Done with a little flair, the microwave doesn't obtrude and look like it's in the wrong room. It's just there.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 8:06PM
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Do you mean to say that there are children out there who don't see mom's trip to the bathroom as an opportunity to make popcorn while the pasta is boiling? ;)

I just remind myself that independence is a GOOD trait, even when it should dinner.

Thanks for the added thought about not knowing when things have completely cooled. That's a good point. And, fwiw, e don't use bagged microwave popcorn. We prefer a bowl designed to pop putdown in the microwave. We let it rest to cool before taking it out.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 8:24PM
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We have both over the range and on the counter microwaves. The counter model can be as temporary as you wish.
We got the counter model for my wife's Mother who was too short to use the higher one.
About 3 months before she died, she apparently programmed in 20 minutes thinking she had selected 2 minutes. I came in to a house full of smoke, the interior of the microwave with visible flames and still running. She was standing in front of it, looking at it. I got things under control and her explanation was that she was waiting for it to shut off. Multiple simultaneous cognitive failures that were almost disastrous.
So be sure that operators know exactly how to do it and that they stay right there for the duration of the timed cycle.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 8:37PM
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Unfortunately, when I was very young (many decades ago), a 5-year old around the corner died when her pajamas caught on fire (her parents were still sleeping). I was 12 at the time and it freaks me out to this day.

Honestly, though, I didn't like the OTR microwave for a different reason - I'm 5'2-1/2 and my dd is barely 5' and we found it to be too high to take hot things out of easily.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 10:46PM
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This GE microwave is designed to be mounted underneath a cabinet. It is only 10 or `11 inches tall. A bit pricey, but not too bad, and with fairly decent ratings.
It is small, but would handle snacks and such.

Search Amazon for "under the counter microwave" to find several more.

Here is a link that might be useful: GE under the counter MW

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 9:41AM
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My mom really likes the Whirlpool corner MW in her tiny kitchen. It's big enough to fit a dinner plate, and she says she never misses her big MW. (They use the MW a lot for reheating.) It really takes up very little space in the corner.

Here is a link that might be useful: Corner countertop MW

This post was edited by northcarolina on Fri, Aug 8, 14 at 14:48

    Bookmark   August 8, 2014 at 2:47PM
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Well, I ordered the hood. I went for a Windster WS-38U30SS. It was on good sale, and I just couldn't come close price to function wise with any of the brands I hear more about. I was totally ready to get the Broan at my local appliance store, but I can't stand the idea of a hood that I can't turn off when I want to.

DH and I just decided that we will keep our 20 year old Panasonic countertop microwave for the moment. Yes, I want something smaller. Yes, I want stainless. But that thing is in perfect working condition. Never had a single problem with it. Find a microwave for sale today with the same user comments. It's killing me a little to leave it in my beautiful new kitchen, but at some point, one must stop spending, right?

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 9:07PM
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"but I can't stand the idea of a hood that I can't turn off when I want to"

I can turn off my Broan when I want to. If you're talking about the Heat Sentry, that is more a safety feature than anything. It will only activate if you are producing EXTREMELY high heat and forgot to turn on your hood for some reason (which should never happen). I have never had it activate on me because whenever I do high heat cooking, my hood is on before I start.

BTW, all OTR microwaves will do exactly the same thing to protect themselves, high heat underneath can cook the microwave electronics if the fan is off.

When you buy no name Asian import brands like Windster you are taking more of a risk, luckily, there is very little to go wrong in a hood so most likely it will be fine.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 9:40PM
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I read a lot of reviews for the Broan QP330 SS that read like this one: "Horrible - there is no good reason to have a fan that the user can't turn off at will. I hate this unit because it won't shut off; I frequently want to tear it from the wall and toss it out the window. The idiot engineers who decided there shouldn't be an override on the fan shut-off, along with the idiots who produced the design, should never be allowed to design and produce anything ever again. I wish I didn't own this thing."

I wanted to ignore them all, but our only table is right there. It will drive me INSANE if I can't choose to shut the fan off or down, even if I really shouldn't yet.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2014 at 9:55PM
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As Hvtech said, hoods are simple, and your new one should be fine. Congratulations on the purchase! And on the good sense of keeping the MW that you are totally satisfied with except for the color/size. Microwaves do lose power over time, so you might decide you want a new one at some point down the line, but you could get a smaller, steelier Panasonic that will do you just fine, and not when you have a whole new kitchen to pay for. :)

All the best wishes for your new kitchen.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2014 at 7:20PM
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Hold on to your microwave as long as possible. The new ones don't last very long. I have a pricey stainless GE OTR microwave that was installed by the builder 6 yrs ago. The entire community has the same arrangement. Last week it died. There are only two of us using it for reheats, popcorn and a daily cup of tea. Last month, my neighbor's died, a GE profile stainless model, also bit the dust. My original GE purchased in 1984 lasted 22 years with our family of four. So once you get that lovely stainless MW you've been wanting, it could be a disappointment after only a few years.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2014 at 9:18PM
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