Can We Talk About Microwaves?

amck2March 29, 2014

Recently, the top story on my AOL news feed was that sales of MW's had plummeted in recent years. Partly because they were lasting longer than earlier models, people needed to replace them less often. But also because people were choosing other ways to cook/reheat food that resulted in better taste and texture than those done in a MW.

As part of our remodel, we're replacing our OTR MW w/ a venting hood. We're getting all new cabs and I'm not inclined to want any of them configured to house the MW. This is a change of heart for me because I'd originally planned to retrofit my current cabs to hold a MW.

But now that I'm getting nice new ones and this will likely be my last full remodel, I don't want to cut into them to house small appliances. My thoughts are that something will be on the horizon sooner than later that will take the place of current MW's.

I think of all the custom built-ins and large armoires that were made for TV's in the '90's - and now most TV's don't fit them or are hung directly on the wall. I look at the Bose Wave & CD changer we bought when we moved here 12 yrs. ago that was cutting edge, and now looks clunky compared to iPods & speakers.

I looked at MW drawers today for $900+ - for something that only microwaves! And that would be sacrificing drawer space AND what happens to that cab run when that appliance eventually dies & something newer/sleeker doesn't fit that space?

DH & I aren't on the same page with this. I do 95% of my prep on the island. Our new set-up will allow me more free counter space than I've ever had. So I'm proposing we buy a modest size counter MW, and put it on the counter. DH thinks it's nutty to not have it built into a designated space while we're developing a new layout.

He says this one is ultimately my call. Curious to know your thoughts.

This post was edited by amck on Sat, Mar 29, 14 at 20:42

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A number of us are replacing our MW's with Speed ovens, they microwave but can also be used as a smaller "Regular" or convection oven.

In rare cases, is there something that will not fit in my Electrolux Speed oven, and it preheats faster, uses less energy than our regular oven. We eat a lot of potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams, In the Speed oven, they are done in 14 minutes, (including preheat time), in regular oven, 45 minutes to an hour.

So some folks instead of buying a double oven and a microwave will buy a regular oven and a speed oven.

You are correct that they last. We had our Electrolux Speed oven, (which we do a lot of microwaving in too), and not a problem in over 7 years now.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:33PM
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We just redid our kitchen and got rid of a huge over the range microwave/vent (that didn't vent outdoors and was essentially useless as a vent)- so I agree getting rid of a huge microwave makes sense.

I may not be in tune with modern trends, but I can't imagine them going away altogether though. We had a microwave shelf put in next to the new range hood and purchased a small countertop microwave that now sits on the shelf above the counter. It works really well for us- the space above the range is opened up, (we now have a more functional range hood), and the smaller microwave is plenty big (and not taking up counter space- one of our goals was to get a lot of other stuff off the counter and it would have been unproductive to put the microwave on it).

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:43PM
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I really enjoy reading your posts. You think carefully and evaluate all sides. I loved the idea that today's MWs may be tomorrow's tv cabinets! It is going to be so much fun to watch your new kitchen evolve.

A side note: over 30, maybe as many as 35 or even 40, years ago I bought a big double oven GE range with the bottom oven a revolutionary NEW combination of microwave and regular heat. MWs of the time were huge and ugly. Really a very new technology at the time. My husband was sure I would suffer from radiation sickness! I loved it. Like the modern speed ovens, it allowed me to combine MW and thermal heating or use one or the other alone.

All of today's MW drawers are I think, made by Sharp. The Dacor and others cost more and have different drawer front details, but the innards are all Sharp--or were when I bought mine. Sharp is significantly cheaper, although still pricey. Shopping around, I bought mine for around $600. But that was maybe 3 years ago. I think you could find one for around $700. But yes, it would only microwave. And you can buy a small MW for much, much less.

I use mine constantly and have had no problems with it. Today my husband warmed his breakfast roll in it, I reheated my coffee. For dinner a neighbor gave us 2 bowls of French onion soup which were a bit too cool and went into the MW. The butter for dipping artichoke leaves was melted in the MW. And so on.

I LOVE having it in the island, convenient to fridge and prep sink and table. I love reaching into the open drawer and removing plates to the counter instead of opening a door and sliding plates in and out. I personally am very happy NOT to have the thing on the counter or in wall cabs.

I will admit that, for our uses, it could be significantly smaller. I could reheat plated dinners one at a time instead of two at a time. But I would not choose to do so.

Anyway, after using it for three years, I would not change it. If something better comes out, though, I might be persuaded to replace it with the newer device. But it would still go into the same space. And you are listening to someone who is really, really picky about wasted storage space. I make every cubic inch count.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 10:37PM
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I will say that if you are looking at microwaves for $900, they do a lot more than "just microwave". They bake and have convection cooking and are really like another oven. Now, whether you will use all those features or not is your call. We tend to microwave hot dogs and popcorn, and we wonder if we will use our soon-to-be-delivered microwave with convection to its full potential, but ideally, that can be a huge benefit if you indeed need another "oven".

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 11:12PM
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We have had the microwave cabinet shelf and in the last house a built-in Miele microwave. In our newest build we decided we don't want to spend the money for expensive shelves or built-ins again or give up space in the kitchen. We are just going to be using a counter microwave in a shelf in the pantry.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 12:40AM
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In our current kitchen we have a convection microwave in our oven stack. I was talked into this rather than a double oven. Have used it as a convection oven only a few times, as I find it is too small a space. So what I have is a very expensive built in microwave.

In our new build kitchen I will have my double ovens and will get a small microwave that will sit on the counter above the dishwasher in a bookcase. I would prefer it be located closer to the fridge, but didn't want to give up upper cabinet space in that area. For our purposes, a small microwave is sufficient.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 9:43AM
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I put our MW on a shelf in the pantry. We are not frequent MW users. I bought a Sharp MW that cost about $125 and it has more bells and whistles than I ever use. I cannot imagine spending $900 for a MW. The MW in our pantry is out of the way, not taking up valuable kitchen counter or cabinet real estate, and is there when we need it. Also, I had the flexibility in the pantry to place it on a shelf at a height I chose - not too high, not too low.

Another thing to think about is that when you have a built-in appliance, whether it's a MW or any kitchen appliance, you will have trouble if it breaks and you need to have a new one fit in that same cabinet cut-out. I am not talking about your point about obsolescence. I am talking about the thing breaking, which happens. When a built-in appliance breaks it's a PITA to fit a new replacement in the cabinet cut-out, whether it's a MW, a wall oven, or a refrigerator. And cooktops too that fit into a countertop cutout have the same issue. That's why I would try to avoid built-in appliances if possible, and would choose either a range or rangetop rather than a cooktop (sorry to go a little OT, but it's somewhat related).

This post was edited by Sahmmy on Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 10:46

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:17AM
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So I'm proposing we buy a modest size counter MW, and put it on the counter.

That's exactly what I was going to suggest. Sounds like you have plenty of counter space. I don't mind things on my counter but mine's in a location that is harder to see unless you're standing right in front of it.

I wouldn't be without a MW.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 10:35AM
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We have a speed oven also but we needed more oven space than the two 27" wall ovens in our old kitchen. It is a great alternative if you need another oven but it is also another built-in expensive appliance.
Another idea for a countertop generic microwave is to enclose it in an appliance garage.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 11:12AM
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I don't use a microwave because I haven't had the space and I hate how they look and I find my gas range works great for heating/reheating. But resale is a consideration for my current kitchen reno so I want to have a designated spot for a microwave. I'm going to have it on a shelf, below-counter, in a 24" cabinet of the island facing in a direction where it really isn't visually prominent. That's a compromise that works for me. If you look in my clippings, you'll see my threads where I explored some options. The cutest countertop microwave I've seen is the Whirlpool 0.5 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave that looks like a little TV. Otherwise, I will pick an inexpensive microwave that fits in the space and ensure adequate ventilation around/behind/beside the enclosed area.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 1:40PM
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Ask yourself these questions: how often do you use your MW; what do you use it for; does it save you time and cleanup?? If it is not something you wish to give up and if you don't want to spend $900 for a drawer, go ahead and build the shelf. If I had the opportunity to do so, I would love to get mine off the counter (and I have decent counter space). I would also like it at low upper cabinet level vs lower cabinet drawer level...just my thoughts. I would just make sure that I had the most "common" size (not too big, not too little).

I also like Romy's MW storage.

MS's are not going anywhere :). And if for some reason they become obsolete, you could use the shelf for numerous other things - cookbook storage, pottery display, modify it by adding other shelves to display glassware/mugs, pretty bowls, etc. It's not like you are going to end up with a black hole that cannot be repurposed.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 2:24PM
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I am on the same page as you. This house is my forever house and I will live here for the next 50 years or so, god willing.

I didn't want to devote space to built ins. I know I will replace or get rid of appliances in the future so the only thing built in is my double wall ovens. Instead of going with a cook top, I went with a standard 30 inch free standing range. I did not enclose my refrigerator, in fact I purposefully had no cabinets built above it so if I want a taller fridge, I won't be limited, and my microwave sits on the counter. I bought it 7 years ago for 100 dollars at Walmart. It is starting to go out and needs to be replaced soon and I won't have to agonize over finding the right size to fit the space. Right now with 4 small children, I need a large microwave. When they have all moved out, I will probably buy a smaller one.

My kitchen won't be appearing in any magazines for being the latest and greatest with specialized built ins but it is functional and will be for a long time.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 2:27PM
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We toyed with the idea of a speed oven (my ideal) but could not fit it in correctly. So we went the other extreme and purchased a small under counter microwave. In my heart I wanted a speed oven, but I saved a ton of money buying a small utilitarian microwave. It is unobtrusive and will serve its purpose of reheating and warming. I couldn't see myself without something for reheating.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 2:32PM
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My parents have a small kitchen without much counter space. When they redid their kitchen, they mounted their microwave under a cabinet so it's not taking up counter space or cabinet space by being built in. I vaguely remember her saying they were limited in choices because there aren't many offered that can be mounted. It's not very big but large enough to hold a dinner plate and provide the few features for which she uses it. For them, it was the perfect solution.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 2:49PM
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We have a cabinet that holds a microwave now but could easily be reconfigured in the future to be a regular drawer stack. The microwave sits on a shelf in a 24" base cabinet and has two drawers below it. We bought the extra parts we would need to replace the microwave shelf with a third drawer.
It's an Ikea cabinet so this would be easy to do but other cabinet lines might have similar options. We don't mind bending a bit to use the microwave but might replace it with a microwave drawer down the road, especially if prices fall.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 8:12PM
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robo (z6a)

We put ours on a shelf below the counter. I figured if the next person doesn't want a micro, they can put whatever they want there, from small appliances to cookbooks. :) So far I really haven't minded the location, although if we ever have kids we're going to have to invest in a microwave with a lockout feature -- or one too small to hold the cats. Some people put theirs on a switch, which is another clever way to childproof. Well, child-resist.

This post was edited by robotropolis on Sun, Mar 30, 14 at 20:20

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 8:19PM
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Our mw cupboard sounds similar to yours, ILN. It has about 6 inches of counterspace in front of that drawer - works as a small landing space for both the MW and the fridge. It's attached to a deeper upper cupboard that holds bigger things and really fits in well, size wise, with the rest of the cupboards. If I ever wind up not needing that space for a MW, it can easily become a shelf for cookbooks or whatever.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 8:29PM
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If I were redoing my double wall ovens I would do the combo microwave/oven like the GE Advantium on top. I have double wall ovens plus a microwave and I just don't need the double wall ovens that often and would much rather have a combo oven on top to get rid of the extra appliance of the microwave. My sister went this route when she remodeled then added a warming drawer and she loves this combination. She often has as many as 70 people at her home for entertaining and it serves her very well.

IMO, something like the Advantium which touts itself as 4 ovens in one:
sensor microwave oven
true European convection oven
speed cook oven
warming/proofing oven

~all in one is the way to go. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2014 at 8:29PM
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