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Microwave shelf, how high?

Posted by rogerv (My Page) on
Sat, Apr 27, 13 at 15:42

We have a combination microwave wall oven unit where the microwave part has died and cannot be replaced or repaired. So we need to replace the whole thing. I'm thinking of using a single wall oven and an open shelf for a microwave this time.

My question is how high should the microwave shelf itself be to accommodate a reasonable selection of microwave ovens (one at a time, of course *smile*). The width and depth of the shelf are dictated by the space (27 inches wide, and deep enough, I'm sure), but I would really like to get suggestions for how tall the shelf should be to accommodate a reasonable microwave oven and the air space that it requires.

Any help from someone with some experience with this?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Microwave shelf, how high?

My mw shelf is at the same level as the bottom of my upper cabinets, which are 18" above the counter. 54" from floor.

"As far as the microwave, the NKBA recommends the microwave be placed no higher than 3” below the users shoulder height. This will allow the user to safely remove a microwave dish without spilling the contents since they can see inside the container. If your microwave bottom is at 62” AFF (above finished floor) it is about 2” short of the height of the average American female. This is a very unsafe height and should be lowered. As you mentioned, the NKBA recommends the bottom of the microwave be no higher than 54”. Until the microwave is lowered, be very careful when removing hot liquids from the microwave."

RE: Microwave shelf, how high?

Thanks very much, but I guess I should have been clearer. I wasn't asking how high the shelf should be off the floor, I was asking how high the shelf itself should be. Like 12 inches, 18 inches, 24 inches, etc. to accommodate the height of a reasonable microwave oven with space for air flow.

I guess I could as well have asked, "how tall is the typical microwave oven plus the required air flow space", but my question seemed easier somehow *smile*. Like if you had a microwave shelf that worked well for you, you could measure it *smile*.

Hopefully that's clearer.

Thanks for your response, though, interesting *smile*.

RE: Microwave shelf, how high?

Well, ours is just under 12".
If you visit a site like, they let you sort microwaves by height. All but one are under 18". Here's the rest:
10" - 10.9" (11)
11" - 11.9" (12)
12" - 12.9" (17)
13" - 13.9" (26)
14" - 14.9" (15)
15" - 15.9" (1)
17" - 17.9" (1)

So if you left 14" of space you could fit (barely) 66 of the 84 countertop microwaves they sell.

Here is a link that might be useful: AJ Madison, microwaves under 18

RE: Microwave shelf, how high?

I picked a microwave at random (a LG) and opened the manual. It specifies four inches of air space above, on both sides, and behind.

I opened the manual for a GE and couldn't find any spec for air space.

I think I'd feel comfortable with quite a bit less space then 4", except maybe at the back.

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