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Microwave Buying Guide

Published by: Chef Matty Riedel • Updated: January 12, 2024

Imagine a world without the convenience of a microwave – where reheating leftovers, defrosting frozen food, and popping popcorn would take ages. Luckily, we live in a time where microwaves are ubiquitous and make our lives significantly easier. However, selecting the perfect microwave for your needs can be overwhelming. Fret not, dear reader, as we’ve compiled a comprehensive microwave buying guide to help you easily navigate the world of microwaves.

12 Key Features To Consider When Buying A Microwave

setting the dials on a wall-mounted microwave (microwave buying guide)

Several factors must be considered when purchasing a microwave to ensure it meets your needs. These factors include:

1. Size & Capacity

Choosing a microwave with the right size and capacity is pivotal in ensuring it fits your domestic and culinary needs. A microwave with a 21 to 30 litres capacity is recommended for a household of two to four persons. However, a compact microwave with approximately 20 litres of cooking capacity might be better if you have limited kitchen space.

Remember, the size of a microwave can vary based on its type and features. Therefore, measuring your kitchen space and assessing your cooking needs before deciding is vital. If you have a big family or frequently cook large meals, you might opt for a microwave with more room and advanced features.

2. Power & Efficiency

A microwave’s wattage significantly influences its cooking efficiency and microwave energy. Higher wattages lead to quicker cooking times, so choosing a microwave with at least 1,000 watts is recommended. Microwaves typically range from 800W to 1100W, though a 750W model may be available.

If you opt for a microwave with lower wattage, focus on purchasing from a reputable brand and review its feedback to ascertain product quality. In any case, a powerful microwave will guarantee quicker and more effective cooking, making your life easier in the long run.

3. Features & Settings

Microwaves come with a wide array of microwave features and settings, such as:

  • Sensor cooking
  • Convection capabilities
  • Preset programs
  • Safety components like child locks and easy-to-clean interiors

Understanding these features can help you choose a microwave tailored to your needs.

Some advanced features found in microwaves include:

  • Inverter technology, which provides more even cooking at a consistently lower temperature

  • Auto-cook menus, which offer preloaded settings that adjust the microwave to the appropriate time and power level according to the item being cooked

  • Defrost feature, which facilitates the expeditious thawing of frozen food

These features make cooking food more convenient and improve the overall cooking experience.

4. Type

Microwaves come in a variety of types, including:

  • Standard microwaves: basic models suitable for tasks such as reheating food, making popcorn, or defrosting meals.

  • Convection microwaves: equipped with a fan and heating element to provide even cooking and browning.

  • Grill microwave: equipped with grilling capabilities, allowing you to grill food like a traditional oven.

  • Combination microwaves offer the functionality of both a microwave and a convection oven.

Convection microwaves provide versatility in cooking capabilities, and a convection microwave is perfect for:

  • Baking
  • Roasting
  • Broiling
  • Crisping

They are available in various types and can serve as an all-purpose cooking device. Understanding the different types of microwaves and their respective features will help you make an informed decision that best suits your cooking needs.

5. Ease Of Use

When choosing a microwave, looking for user-friendly controls and interfaces is vital. A microwave should possess features such as:

  • A clear and straightforward interface design

  • A simple method of entering the desired cooking duration

  • Automated cooking functions

  • A child safety lock

Some examples of compact microwaves with user-friendly interfaces, including countertop microwaves and freestanding microwaves, are suitable for most microwave users:

A user-friendly microwave makes it easier for everyone in the household to use and saves time and effort when using microwave ovens.

6. Turntable

microwave with door open, revealing a bowl of spaghetti on the turntable

A turntable, which ensures uniform cooking and reheating, is a key feature to look for in a microwave. It operates by rotating the food as the microwaves are emitted, guaranteeing that all sides of the food are exposed to the heat.

Having a microwave with a turntable presents several advantages, such as:

  • Even heating
  • Reduced interference
  • Prevention of splattering
  • East cleanup

In conclusion, a turntable in a microwave improves the cooking experience by guaranteeing even heating, preventing splattering, and making cleanup more convenient.

7. Reliability & Warranty

When buying a microwave, it’s important to consider the brand’s reliability and the availability of warranty options. Brands like Magic Chef and EdgeStar are known for their reliability and quality products.

Microwaves typically have a lifespan of up to 10 years. To ensure that you’re getting a reliable and long-lasting product, it’s essential to read reviews and consult expert recommendations before making a purchase. Additionally, check the warranty information of each microwave model to guarantee that you’re getting the best coverage possible.

8. Price

Establishing your budget is an important step when shopping for a microwave. The average cost of a microwave oven varies depending on the brand, features, and size, but one can find a satisfactory microwave for approximately £50 to £150.

When considering microwaves with advanced features, the cost range can differ significantly, with certain models ranging from £99 to £400 or higher. It’s essential to compare the prices of different microwave models and choose one that fits your budget without compromising on quality and features.

9. Design & Aesthetics

Ensure your microwave’s colour, finish, and design harmonize with your kitchen decor. Stainless steel exteriors are favoured for their strength and ease of cleaning, while non-stick or ceramic interiors are advantageous for cleaning up spills and splatters.

Contemporary kitchen decor would benefit from built-in microwave drawers and integrated microwaves, which are popular due to their space-saving and streamlined look. Ultimately, selecting a microwave with a design that matches your kitchen’s aesthetic will enhance the overall appearance of your cooking space and optimize counter space.

10. Safety Features

Safety is paramount when dealing with microwaves. It is important to consider the built-in safety features when choosing one. Child lock and sensor cooking are two features that can help prevent accidents and damage. A child lockout feature is a safety measure that requires the input of a code before the microwave can be operated.

Sensor cooking in an integrated microwave:

  • Uses integrated sensors that detect moisture, temperature, and humidity levels in the food

  • Automatically adjusts the cooking time and power level

  • Ensures that the food is cooked evenly

  • Reduces the likelihood of foodborne illnesses.

11. Smart Features

black and white microwave sitting on a timber coloured bench

Innovative features like sensor cooking and auto-cook menus can significantly enhance your microwave cooking experience. Sensor cooking utilizes moisture detection to adjust power levels and cooking time, avoiding dehydration.

Auto-cook menus enable you to select a pre-programmed setting for a particular type of food, and the microwave will accordingly adjust the cooking time and power level. These smart features make cooking more convenient and improve the overall cooking experience by providing more accurate results.

12. Reviews & Recommendations

Ensure you read customer reviews and seek expert advice before making a purchase. This can help you make an informed decision and get the best microwave.

Different brands and models have varying reviews, so focusing on the particular microwave you’re considering when conducting research is crucial. This will give you a better understanding of the product’s performance, reliability, and overall satisfaction from other customers who have purchased the same model.

Microwave Buying Guide: Summing Up

In conclusion, selecting the perfect microwave can be daunting, but with the right knowledge and guidance, it doesn’t have to be. By considering factors such as size, power, features, type, ease of use, turntable, reliability, warranty, price, design, safety features, smart features, and reviews, you’ll find the best microwave for your needs.

My Favourite Microwave

Russell Hobbs RHM2076B Microwave Russell Hobbs RHM2076B Microwave
  • This microwave has a mirror finish on the door and comes with a useful digital clock and pre-set function that lets you know when the food will be ready and keep track of the time.
  • This Russell Hobbs appliance also has 800 watts of microwave power, providing quick and convenient cooking.
  • The RHM2076B model has a child safety lock option that prevents young children from opening the microwave door, providing peace of mind regarding safety.
  • The Russell Hobbs RHM2076B has a 20-litre cavity that comfortably accommodates a standard dinner plate.
  • Additionally, the dishwasher-safe glass turntable can be removed for easy cleaning.
  • The RHM2076B Russell Hobbs microwave also has pre-programmed auto-cook menus for popcorn, pizza, and fish that let you cook at the push of a button.
  • You can ensure that all food is cooked to the right temperature with the five different power levels available in the microwave.
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Microwave Buying Guide: FAQ

What Specs Should I Look For In A Microwave?

When shopping for a microwave, look for a higher wattage, as these will cook food faster and more evenly. Aim for a minimum of 700 watts, though most domestic microwaves offer power up to 1,200 watts. Additionally, look for a defrost setting that reduces the power to 20-30 percent.

Is A 1000W Microwave Better Than 800W?

A 1,000-watt microwave is more powerful and faster at cooking than an 800-watt one, making it the better choice.

What Is The Recommended Capacity For A Microwave Oven For A Household Of Two To Four Persons?

A microwave oven with a capacity of 21 to 30 litres is recommended for a household of two to four persons.

What Are Some Examples Of Advanced Features In Microwave?

Advanced features in microwaves include inverter technology, sensor cooking, and auto-cook menus, providing greater control over your microwave cooking.

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Microwave With A Turntable?

Having a microwave with a turntable allows for even heating, prevents interference and splattering, and makes cleanup easier.

Chef and Restaurant Owner Matty Riedel
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