Microwave Shelf Cabinet or Microwave Cabinet

aries61February 10, 2013

Originally was going to go with a otr microwave, but now having second thoughts. I don't want to install the microwave in a base cabinet at.
My two opens are a microwave shelf cabinet or bi microwave cabinet. Curious what have you chosen? or What are you thoughts on the two options?


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DO you want a sleek more built in look? Or do you prefer the convenience of going down to any box store and buying a replacement model off the shelf should the first one bite the dust? If you go the built in route, I'd suggest doing a model that has a long track record of re-using the same trim kit, like the smaller GE models. The actual model numbers have changed over the years, but they all have used that trim kit. And be sure you understand the space requirements for the cabinet that you will use for a built in. They are generally designed to go in oven cabinets, not slightly deeper uppers.

So, figure out what you want from a microwave and how much the look of the built in appeals to your vs it's more restrictive and costly installation and cabinetry requirements.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 10:36AM
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I did the hybrid version. I'm using a built-in cabinet with with an alteration so that I can use a standard microwave rather than a built in. It was an option on the cabinet where the bottom lip was 1/4" so that a regular mw door would clear the frame. I haven't gotten it installed yet. I didn't want to be tied into choosing only the built in models. I purchased an OTR microwave that died within months of purchase. I don't want to deal with the problems of replacing a built-in.

Good luck with the decision.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 11:46AM
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I used the Sharp over-the-counter microwave which didn't require a cabinet below to sit on. I love that it's easy to access and doesn't take up a lot of cabinet space. From Kitchen

View from underneath From Kitchen

Here is a link that might be useful: Sharp microwave

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 11:53AM
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If you're going for a built in look, that means you need a trim kit for the MW to breathe. Putting cabinets tight to a standard MW is a recipe for failure.

AK's "semi" built in is one alternative. Because as a hanging MW, it's designed to "breathe" from the bottom, so just putting the light rail across the bottom doesn't restrict that. And because it's also designed to be hung from an upper, it doesn't give you the depth problem when attempting to integrate it into a wall cabinet run. That's why you have the popularity of the base MW cabinets. Standard MW's are deeper than uppers and will stick out no matter if you choose a freestanding or built in unit. So, if you're going for the built in look, you need to have a KD who understands how to make sure that happens.

This post was edited by GreenDesigns on Sun, Feb 10, 13 at 14:59

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 1:52PM
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We did the semi-built-in hybrid similar to what I think cathy725 is describing. We backed into that by accident. Were planning on a built-in and the cabinet is made to the specs for a panasonic built-in, but a month prior to our reno -- per Murphy's law -- our microwave broke. So we got a $99 kenmore to tide us over.

Then when we realized this microwave would fit the space nicely and the cabinet has the required clearances for it (the microwave is smallish), we decided it would be better to do the semi built-in option. So we asked our cabinet maker to put a strip of molding at the top to give it the appearance of being more built in, but the interior dimensions are actually larger.

We figure this gives us the best of both worlds. Lower up front cost by reusing our existing micro, ease of replacement if it breaks, and the cabinet is still sized for a built in if we ever decide to change our minds on that. But given our experience so far in the 14 months we've had this, I don't see ever switching back to a built in now.

Here's what ours looks like. A bit hard to see the molding strip that makes it appear more fit-to-size, but the interior cavity goes up to the bottom of the frameless cabinet door above the cutout.

Please forgive this grainy pic that makes the mw look horrible, it's not a high enough photo resolution to be blown up that big, but hopefully it gets the point across:

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 2:55PM
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Aries61, I'm in exactly the same quandry so very happy you posted--changed my mind late re: OTR microwave. Some use a lift up door to completely conceal the microwave when not in use. A very nice look but more $$$$. These postings have been quite helpful so thanks to all who took the time to reply.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 3:38PM
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Here's mine on a shelf:

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 5:01PM
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Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I like Sharp over-the-counter microwave idea. Never seen that one before.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:30AM
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I'm also considering which MW option. Here is a Sharp over the counter I am considering as a hanging, non-built in, non $$ drawer (and open wait time) in 24". It would be next to the refrigerator out of main entry room sight, which I also like.

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

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 9:59AM
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It's a bit misleading for that Sharp to say it works with "standard" sized cabinets. I won't stick out too much IF you choose 15" deep cabinets. Standard upper depth is 12". It's a skosh over 15" deep. And the height doesn't work with standard cabinets either. 14 1/16" in height means that it's almost an inch shorter than a 15" cabinet. So, if you try to hang it under a 15" tall (standard sized) cabinet in a run of 30" tall cabinets, it will be almost an inch shorter than the adjacent cabinet bottoms. That means a filler in my book if you want it to look like it's built in. And that is in addition to the extra depth of the surrounding cabinets being upcharged to go to 15" deep. It looks great in their pics, but it sure ain't a "plug and play" solution.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sharp specs

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 10:40AM
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We used a 21" deep microwave shelf right beside our fridge and our Sharp 2 cuft microwave barely fits in it. One good thing about it sticking out further is that it is easier to reach into.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 10:46AM
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