How Far Away is your Microwave from Sink/Prep Area?

emilynewhomeMarch 2, 2010

New dilemma! According to builder only places for MW is on other side of the kitchen in the oven cabinet, OR in a cabinet directly above the dishwasher (which is next to the sink)!

We don't want to carry hot dishes across the kitchen, neither do we want to eliminate prep area next to sink, by having jutting out MW cabinet.

DH suggests just using portable model in the corner of the counter on the sink/dishwasher run!

What do others think? Should we still have one built in w/oven for resale?

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johnliu_gw

I think it depends on how you use the microwave. How much do you use it during food prep? Or do you mostly use it to heat up food taken from the refrigerator (heat leftovers, thaw frozen stuff, melt butter, etc). If the latter, then perhaps closer to the refrigerator might be helpful?

Where-ever the microwave is, I do think it is nice to have a ''landing place'', to set the leftover container down and pull off the lid, or remove the hot container and let it cool before carrying, etc.

Perhaps you could use a drawer-style microwave (which, I have heard, functions as its own landing place), or have a pull-out shelf under the microwave location, or some other solution?

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 8:08PM
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flseadog

Could you post a diagram or describe your kitchen layout? It's hard to give an opinion without knowing where everything is in your kitchen. Just offhand though, I don't think there are only one or two solutions to a problem so I'm skeptical of your builder's statement.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 8:51PM
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sue36

Please post your kitchen layout. Also, is the layout settled? Why is the builder telling you this? Do you have a KD?

To answer your question, my microwave is about 16' from my sink, but it is a further walk than that because the island is between them. The microwave is in the butler's pantry (the hallway between the kitchen and dining room). We rarely use it for food, I use it for tea more than anything else.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 9:10PM
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buehl

I have a MW drawer...is that an option for you?

Without a layout we cannot give you real advice...

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 12:28AM
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gizmonike

You don't need a built-in MW for resale, IMO. Some avoid a built-in because MW ovens break more frequently than other appliances and they don't want to be restricted to a specific size for the replacement. If you really want a built-in, a drawer MW might solve your location problem.

A MW should be near the source of what you are going to heat (the refrigerator, freezer, or pantry) OR be in the hot zone. Being in the dishwasher area would be most inconvenient and take up needed space there.

Countertop MW ovens come in all sizes these days, and can fit nicely in a pantry if you have power there.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 12:58AM
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susie1010

We have a small U shaped kitchen. Our KD recommended building the MW in to the top cabinet next to the refrigerator, but I didn't like seeing it from the FR. We moved it to what has become the main prep area. I would not put it there again, not because the MW sticks out, but because the MW takes up important lower shelf space in the top cabinet. If a 2nd person is prepping or using the MW, we are in each other's way. Also, I am short and it's sometimes a trick lifting hot stuff out. I use the MW a lot, and wherever we would have put it, it would be a walk across the kitchen with hot stuff. Be sure you have a landing spot.

If I knew then what I know now, I would have had a drawer MW, even if it meant giving up some of my limited lower cabinet space. I also could have considered a small MW on the 28" deep counter next to the refrigerator.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 1:22AM
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idrive65

What do others think? Should we still have one built in w/oven for resale?

I don't think a built-in microwave does anything for resale. Potential buyers may come in and say the same thing -- "Why is the microwave here, it's so inconvenient!" no matter which side you pick.

I put a small microwave in the corner of my L-shaped run of counters. There is an angled corner base so there is plenty of drop-zone space in front of it. I did the same thing in my previous home and when it was time to sell I took my microwave out, and the corner looked cavernous. It could be a traffic jam if someone wanted to use it while I'm working between range and sink but typically the family isn't zapping snacks when I'm making dinner.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 8:46AM
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sw_in_austin

One of my main goals with our new kitchen was to clear off the counters. That said, we still planned to have our micro on the counter, but out of the main prep zone. Then, during the reno, when the micro was relocated to a shelf in a bookcase in the living room, I had a brainstorm: I could put the micro on a shelf in my newly rebuilt pantry. It's not a walk-in, just a former shallow closet removed and rebuilt into a floor-to-ceiling pantry.

Our concern was that it was too far from the sink and that there would be no landing spot near it. But we did it anyway, since we really only use the micro for reheating, and sometimes things like melting butter or chocolate. Not much actual cooking.

It's worked great, definitely worth it for the increase in open counter space. And the lack of landing spot and distance from the sink and prep areas hasn't been a problem for anyone, even my teenage son who probably uses it more than anyone.

Here's what it looks like (the micro is the black blob on the shelf at right):

And I'm also in the camp that you don't need a micro for resale.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 10:18AM
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emilynewhome

Thanks so much, it's a relief to know that others still use their counter for the microwave!
Yes, we had considered the microwave drawer, but it seems that AristoKraft (whom the builder uses) does not make a cabinet for a microwave drawer, instead they have a base cabinet to use with a regular door microwave! It would have required us to squat down to see control the panel, and remove hot dishes.
We really appreciate the feedback! We will put ours on the counter.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 11:19AM
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buehl

General guidelines for MW placement...

Best location...MWs (and refrigerators) should be on the periphery of the kitchen so they are (1) easily accessed by those working inside the kitchen and (2) easily accessed by those from outside the kitchen who may be looking for a snack or other use without interfering with those working in the kitchen.

Second best location...Inside or just outside the Prep and/or Cooking Zone b/c that's where it's used the most.

Less desirable location...In the Cleanup Zone, especially over the DW or anywhere taking up needed cleanup work space. You don't want to be tripping over an open DW or getting in the way of someone cleaning up while trying to use the MW.

Bad location...Over the range b/c you have to reach over a hot stove and hot food (think steam from boiling water wafting up or greasy smoke from browning meat or frying as you try to use the MW or even check the food that's in the MW; if you have gas, you're reaching over a flame. Additionally, it is too high for the majority of people to truly use safely...i.e., they're above the head & neck level. Oh, and OTR MWs are notoriously bad vent/range hoods b/c of inadequate venting as well as inadequate coverage of the cooking surface (you need coverage that extends past the front burners by about 3 inches to capture the steam/smoke/grease/odors/etc.). [These MWs are also more expensive and shorter than other MWs...countertop or built-in. On OTR MW may also lock you into a specific brand in the future b/c of sizing and installation procedure.]

Ideal installation height...Between your waist and chest, inclusive for "regular" MWs with a door (i.e., above your hip and below your neck).

With a regular MW, you have to reach inside and pull food out to check/remove so you don't want it so high that you're in danger of spilling it on you as you reach up and in and you don't want it so low you have to squat to get to the food inside.

MW Drawers can be below your waist b/c the drawer comes out from under the counter when open and you can simply reach down & stir or place/remove food.

Ideally, the MW should also be near a water source as many items that are MW'd need water added to them (leftovers, veggies, etc.) However, the periphery location is more important as it's easier to bring water to the MW or take the dish to the sink than it is to work around someone else using the MW.

Our MW Drawer is in the Prep Zone. Unfortunately, we did not have a periphery location so we had to settle for the "second best" location. But, it is near a sink and it is out of the way of people working at the cooktop. We also have two primary Prep Zones, so it hasn't been much of an issue...only very occasionally.

Even if you decide to go the route of the MW over the wall oven, I would consider having your builder put it in a MW alcove (with finished sides/top/bottom on the inside) instead of building it in so you can place the MW inside the alcove but not build it in. As others have said, most MWs do not last as long as other appliances and will need to be replaced. It is much easier and less expensive to remove & replace a MW sitting in an alcove than one built-in. You also will not need a Trim Kit if you place the MW in an alcove instead of building it in.

Just remember to make the alcove big enough for a full-size MW + air clearances on all sides, top, and back + plug. If you're putting it in a cabinet for a 27" or 30" oven, width & depth should not be a problem (a 24" wide x 23"D opening should be plenty of width/depth). Don't forget about height as well. You will also need an outlet inside the alcove to plug the MW in.

And, be sure the inside of the alcove is finished to, preferably, match your cabinets. This may require "skins" to put on the inside (if so, be sure to include the thickness of the skins in your calculation of the inside space).

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 11:31AM
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