Types of Microwave and Which One to Buy

Types of Microwave and Which One to Buy

For most people, when they hear the word microwave, the first thing that comes to mind is the kitchen appliance used for reheating meals, popping packed buttered popcorn, and “cooking” instant noodles.

If you’re one of these people, you’re right. But that version of microwave is just ONE out of many types of microwave ovens in the market today.

To anyone thinking of buying one, check this guide first to decide which one to buy (based on your cooking preference, cuisine favorites, and expectations).

Types of Microwave by Placement

  • Countertop microwave: A countertop or benchtop microwave is a microwave designed to be positioned anywhere near a power outlet. There is no installation required – once you’ve found a spot to place this kitchen appliance, it’s pretty plug and play.

The countertop microwave is the cheapest, most widely available and most popular type of microwave, since they’re designed with basic functions like defrosting and reheating. If you wish to cook meals from scratch, you’d have to go with another type of microwave below.

  • Above-the-range microwave: As its name suggests, the above-the-range microwave ovens are positioned, well, above your range or cooktop. These models are often designed with ventilation and filters (for odor reduction and grease filtering).

Depending on the brand and model, above-the-range microwaves could be equipped with a non-stick interior. Others that work as range hoods mounted above the stove have fire-proof and anti-grease exterior.

  • Built-in microwave: These types of microwaves are professionally installed in a wall, inside customized cabinetry, or other spots in the kitchen or pantry. In most cases, the brand offers installation services for these ovens. But cabinetry-makers and builders could also custom-fit the space as long as the oven dimensions are provided.

Branded ones like Whirlpool even have trim kits available, so installation would end with a seamless look to match your kitchen theme.

Types of Microwave by Function

As you may have discovered above, the most basic microwave ovens only have two functions – reheating and defrosting. Other models are more advanced with two or more other cooking functions to fit your needs.

  • Convection microwave oven: Convection microwaves are equipped with conventional microwave heating elements with traditional oven functions, so you’re able to bake, grill and cook dishes from scratch beyond the reheating and defrosting. They may look like a typical countertop microwave, but convection microwaves use a heating element similar to ovens (a fan that circulates heat throughout the unit).

Convection ovens are more expensive, but the added price is worth it because of the expanded functionality that can accommodate most of your cooking needs. Advanced models even have auto-temperature, auto convection, and other features not found on standard microwaves.

  • Grill microwave oven: Microwave ovens are similar to other microwaves, except they are also designed to grill, sear and brown foods. The downside to this is that it isn’t suitable for baking, but can compete with other microwaves when it comes to cooking dishes from scratch.
  • Microwave oven with rotisserie: If you’re a fan of baked chickens or turkeys, rotisserie is the function you should watch out for. Not all microwave ovens have this feature, but if the model you buy does, you can cook exceptionally tender, evenly cooked meat that pulls off the bone effortlessly.

Microwave ovens with rotisserie features come with metal skewers, where you’d stuck the meat in. Once you set the meat up for cooking, the microwave will rotate the skewers automatically until fully cooked to your liking.

  • Steam microwaves: If you love veggies, cooking with steam ensures you get the most nutrients and enzymes into your diet. Steam microwaves cook with heat and water vapor, sealing in the healthy components while removing fats and oils from your dishes.

Types of Microwave Ovens by Technology

You can also find microwave ovens categorized by technology.

For example, some microwaves use energy-efficient inversion technology and are called aptly as “inverter microwaves.” These kinds of ovens can sustain lower temperatures for longer durations without the need to turn on/off regularly like traditional microwaves do.

Other microwave ovens are Wi-Fi enabled and fall under the “smart microwave” category. These types of ovens are pretty high-tech – they can be controlled remotely, usually connected to its own mobile app. Some are even voice-enabled, allowing you to control settings or turn off the oven with voice control.

Advanced smart microwave ovens, such as Whirlpool’s Scan-to-Cook tech, scans barcodes of frozen goods, then “tell” the oven the appropriate defrosting or cooking instructions involving heat, duration, and so on.

Both the inverter and smart technologies are found on all kinds of microwave ovens.

Types of microwave oven by size

You’ll be able to find “solo microwave” advertised for college dorms and single-person households. Dimensions could be a huge consideration for you, if you want it to fit the built-in microwave spot in your kitchen.

If standard-sized models cannot fit your household or food business, check out commercial microwaves for your larger need.

Which One Should You Buy?

When considering the microwave oven to buy, look for functions you’ll need for your day-to-day cooking first, then decide the size, power output, and technology. This should be able to filter your options down, before picking between brand names.