Microwave ovens are an essential part of most any kitchen these days. There's a huge range of choices on the market now, from simple set-ups to fast-cooking models that combine halogen lights with traditional heating methods. This article sets out the basic factors you should consider when choosing a microwave oven for your kitchen.
Where to Place Your Microwave
You'll generally choose between having a counter-top model or a built-in model, with over-the-range models being particularly popular.
An over-the-range model will give you more bench space and also eliminates the need for extra ventilation and lighting. They are fixed to a cabinet mounted above your kitchen range.
You can also buy microwaves mounted in a separate cabinet - this is generally the most expensive option but if you've got plenty of room and money to spend, it could be your best configuration.
Of course, counter-top models are versatile and remain very popular.
Types of Microwaves
The most basic microwaves are inexpensive and if you're merely looking to reheat food and cook vegetables, they're all you need. But if you frequently use your microwave to cook meals, it's a good idea to upgrade to a microwave that has extra features, such as sensors and multi-stage cooking.
A slightly more expensive option is a microwave with a built-in grilling and broiling features. Obviously this expands the range of cooking that you can do in the one unit.
Top-of-the-line these days are your speedcook / halogen microwave models. These combine heat produced by halogen globes with the normal microwave function, allowing food to be cooked much more quickly. Some foods can be cooked incredibly quickly in these types of ovens, making them ideal for people who want to get some serious cooking done.
Microwave-convection oven combinations are also popular these days. These combine a convection heating cycle with a microwave heating cycle, again cooking food very quickly, and are the ideal choice for microwave baking. A heating element within the microwave handles the convection heating cycle and there's also a fan circulating hot air around the oven.
Wattage is the amount of power a microwave uses to produce heat. Generally, more juice a microwave uses, the more powerful it will be. But keep in mind that smaller ovens need less wattage to produce the same amount of heat as larger ovens. While wattage used to be the primary driver behind choosing a microwave, these days factors such as sensors are just as important, if not more so.