Microwave drawer vs. microwave on a shelf

katie234July 7, 2014

I have to decide if I would like a nice 36 inch wood hood above my range that would go with my new cherry cabinets and have a microwave drawer in the island or have a 30 inch stainless hood with cabinets above it and a microwave on a 24 inch shelf nearby. Whatever I decide, will have to stay with my kitchen for the next 20 years and I will be stuck. No children in the home and it is just my husband and I. The first option with the wooden hood looks best and the ventilation would be excellent and the microwave drawer I am not sure about. The second option would look okay and ventilation will be just okay but I could replace the microwave so easily. Does anybody love or hate their microwave drawer and wish they choose the shelf variety? Any pros or cons that I missed would be appreciated.

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I just installed an existing microwave into a new island, on a shelf. I've loved it so far. It is a slight bend to look down into it, but for the ease of having it "hidden" it's so worth it. And I love that I can replace it easily if need be.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 5:16PM
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To me, for the most part, a microwave is a microwave is a microwave. That said, I do like the fact that you don't have to bend down or stand on tippy-toes to see what's in the drawer microwave, or to put things in or take things out. Also, it works well on sensor (used mostly for fresh and frozen vegetables). But I had a microwave on a shelf in my previous home and that was fine, too (but I had no place to put one this time). The only place I don't want mine is on the counter. It'll be easier to replace a microwave on a shelf when it [inevitably] breaks.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 5:22PM
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junco East Georgia zone 8a

Why can't you mix it up and have the nicer hood and then find a spot for the microwave on a shelf? Maybe in the island like Lauraeds?

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 5:43PM
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Go to a showroom that has a drawer mw to try out. I have a mw on open shelving. I like that but I never tried a drawer mw. I know I would not like one that I had to bend down to see the numbers or to reach into.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 5:51PM
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Lauraeds: Yours looks really nice. Do you have any trouble with steam and water condensation on your shelf when you open the door? How much room did you need to leave for ventilation? I do love the look of yours a lot.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 7:16PM
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I've used a MW in a lower cab under counter, and I now own a MW drawer. I'd go with a drawer under any circumstance. I did NOT like bending down to look at keypad or the food in the regular MW. My drawer's keypad is angled up for easy viewing and operating. The food is so easy to see when the drawer slides out. I'm 5' 7.5" tall. Maybe ergonomics are better for short people with the regular MWs.

As far as the hood goes, I prefer a hood 6" wider than cooking surface both for function and looks. Sounds like you have your heart set on a wood hood. I purchased my hood for the looks I fell in love and compromised a bit on the function. I love looking at the hood everyday. I'm so glad I didn't settle for the regular SS hood that was my alternative.

My vote would be to get the 36" hood you love and put a 24" MW drawer under counter.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 8:09PM
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My KD's original design included a microwave drawer in my island. I asked her to revise the plan after pricing them. I just couldn't bring myself to pay $900 for a microwave. So my plan now has a shelf for a regular microwave.

I have a similar setup at our lake home and it works out well for us. Yes, it does require bending and lifting, but for the way we use our MW it is not a big issue for us.

In addition to the high price tag for the MW drawer, I was also concerned about being able to get another with the same specs that would fit into the cabinetry should the first one fail in a couple years.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 9:28PM
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katie234, I've not had any condensation or overheating problems. I'd say there is an inch or 2 space on each side, and maybe 3 on the top. That said, I don't use the micro an awful lot - mostly reheating leftovers, making soups and the like, and heating frozen items. Maybe 1-2 x a day.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 9:49PM
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We have the same setup as lauraeds. It works well for us.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2014 at 10:23PM
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I didn't pay $900 for my Sharp MW drawer. I bought a refurb model on ebay for a huge, huge discount. It's worked great for 2.5 years, and I would recommend anyone check out refurb models.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 1:01AM
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I also didn't pay $900 for the Sharp MW drawer - I bought it online for a lot less. At first I was concerned about what to do if they went away but then realized that I thought the same thing the first time I saw one around 2003. Obviously they didn't disappear between 10 years ago and now.

It's actually a lot more convenient than I thought it would be. It was an excellent choice IMO.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 6:48AM
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Breezygirl, I'm leaning toward the 36 inch hood like you did, your reply help convince us to lean that way. My husband thinks like you do regarding the drawer and viewing the keypad at an angle but I have a tiny doubt about how long it will last. So, can you or anyone tell me how long you have had a microwave drawer with or without problems. Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 7:58AM
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Mine has been going strong without issue for more than 2.5 years. Buehl has had hers for double that, I think, without issue. I know others here have had theirs that long or longer. I just can't remember who at the moment.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 8:25AM
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I didn't want to see my microwave at all and I hardly even use it, but on the rare occasion I do, it's a convenience I like to have.

So, we put ours in our pantry area that has doors. It's a small microwave without any fancy settings. We had them put a plug in the back and there is enough room to vent. Just a thought.

Edited to fix typo

This post was edited by FamCook on Tue, Jul 8, 14 at 10:28

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 10:26AM
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When we were in the process of gutting our kitchen, but had not yet settled on a cabinet plan, my husband put the microwave on a little shelf on the floor. It was about the same height as a microwave built into my island would be. I hated it. It was enough to convince me that the only convenient place for a microwave is counter height. On a different note, I have a GE Monogram Advantium oven that has a microwave built in. Because it is installed about 48 inches from the floor and the door pulls down, I had to go to Target and buy a cheap microwave oven so my kids didn't burn themselves trying to get stuff out of the advantium.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 11:04AM
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I don't have a microwave drawer but spent a week in a rental home that had one & loved it. So convenient & easy (fun) to use. Get the hood you love with the excellent ventilation. As you said, this is your kitchen for the next 20 years.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 11:25AM
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I suggest the Sharp Microwave Drawers to my clients all the time. And NO I don't sell appliances, so it's not for the profit. I suggest them because they are awesome! I have yet to have someone say they didn't like it....or wished they hadn't spent the money on one.

I have a somewhat vintage looking kitchen so I put my microwave in the butler's pantry. If I had room for one, I definitley would have gotten one. I still may put one in my butler's pantry someday when i can afford to re do that room.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 2:00PM
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Go with the microwave drawer. We've had one for nearly two years now and LOVE IT! We use our microwave many times each day(steaming veggies, oatmeal, kids reheating meals, warming up drinks, defrosting, etc.). The cost did concern me, but when I looked into a regular microwave with a trim kit, it wasn't much more. The other great thing about the drawer is that you can warm up items in 9x13 pans, since they are wide and there is no turntable.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 2:47PM
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I'll chime in here. I have had mine in use about 7 1/2 years. They were brand new when we started looking and planning and I had a hard time the the price tag. As it turned out, using the drawer solved a lot of layout issues so we paid the $6-700 it was then, realized it was our east expensive built-in appliance, Sharp makes the best microwave ovens, and we figured the cost should go down by the time we might have to replace it and worst case we could put a small shelf unit in the space. Well, the cost hasn't gone down, I'm sorry to say, but I am not looking to replace it either. When I do, it will be with another drawer. I was pleased with how well we liked using it, found it had settings I didn't know it had and they worked well for us, and the keep warm setting gives me a second warming drawer for the craziest of times (actually used both for Thanksgiving one year when one guest was over an hour late). The drawer opening is so much better than having to bend down to see the flat front of a shelf unit or to reach in under your counter. Not having to lift out a steaming dish, set it down, stir and lift it back is so much easier. I'm tall and have bad discs in my neck, so that matters to me more than our other family members, but I don't think they'd want to change either. I'm coming up on 8 years in and I'm not going back.

Point well taken about the cost of a micro plus trim kit of a built-in version that may not need the trim kit. And the only appliance you might get for less is a DW if you go basic. For a better, quieter model, you'll be in the same price range.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2014 at 4:00PM
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Thank you all so very much. This is the first time posting and everyone has been so helpful. We are planning to go with the nice hood above the range and the microwave drawer. I feel comfortable with this decision because of all of the comments I received. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2014 at 9:35AM
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We are starting a kitchen remodel and really the only place for a microwave will be in the peninsula. I know more people complain than compliment on the internet, but I was amazed at how many negative reviews there were for the Sharp drawers. This was on Amazon. Is the quality really questionable?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 11:18PM
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Sf_treat--here on the kitchen forum and over on the appliance forum, the drawers receive overwhelmingly positive reviews from owners. I have never reviewed my drawer on amazon, but have posted here on various threads about my drawer many, many times. IMHO, this site will give you much better reviews and discussions about various appliances than amazon will. Search around the forum here to read more discussions on the drawers.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 12:50AM
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I've had mine coming up on 8 years and love it. They didn't have the manual option-- only the power open. Don't know which way I'd go now, but that would be my only question in picking another one.

Read enough reviews and you will learn to take them with a grain of salt. There are always more people who will make an effort to complain than will go out of their way to say something nice. And that's just the beginning when talking about reviews on the internet.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 2:19AM
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Marc Johnson

We bought the Sharp drawer and have been using it for the last 2 months as we wait for the cabinets to be installed (it works on a table, you just have to make sure there is enough clearance for the drawer front to open & close).

I've fallen in love with it - it's a little more powerful as the KA countertop unit it replaced, and seems to do better at the "sensor" cooking functions. It works extremely well and is going to really look cool when we're all done.

For our small kitchen, it was MW hood or drawer - no counter space for a MW. I initially wanted the MW hood, husband wanted drawer, I lost that argument... but in the end I think we both won :)

They are pricey, but I found the Sharp unit at Overstock, on sale, with a coupon, and an additional 8% back with their card (and no shipping or sales tax), so in the end it came out to just over $700.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 2:34AM
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They currently have manual and power doors. Tug the door, it opens. Push it, it closes. Or use the open and close buttons.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 6:45AM
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We splurged on the drawer and very happy we did! I couldn't bend and it had to go in the island. It's also a lot larger than my old one because it doesn't rotate. I can fit a big 9x12 pan in it no problem. I don't use it heavily, but I do use it for reheating and defrosting.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 10:28AM
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I have the same setup as Lauraeds, but up higher (above my double ovens). It works well for us, as we are both tall. The micro we have in there is actually too small for the space, but I didn't see the point in spending on a larger once since we really don't use it that much.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 5:28PM
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