If you’re looking to replace or buy a new microwave, you’ll want to make sure you choose the microwave type that works best for your kitchen and cooking needs. A traditional countertop microwave is a freestanding unit that is usually placed directly on the kitchen counter. However, microwave ovens also come in a built-in, over-the-range style that is mounted above a cooktop or range and offers venting and overhead lighting. Not sure whether to choose a built-in vs. a countertop microwave? Our microwave buying guide below can help.

Maytag® countertop microwave
Maytag® over-the-range microwave

MICROWAVE TYPES

Microwave ovens are generally available in countertop and built-in, over-the-range configurations. Each style offers different advantages based on your kitchen and cooking style.

WHAT IS A COUNTERTOP MICROWAVE?

Countertop microwaves are freestanding units that usually sit on your kitchen counter. They do not require any venting hookups or special installation.

WHAT IS AN OVER-THE-RANGE MICROWAVE?

Over-the-range microwaves, also called built-in microwaves, are installed above a range or cooktop. They provide kitchen venting and air circulation, as well as overhead lighting.

WHAT IS A BUILT-IN MICROWAVE?

Built-in microwaves, as opposed to over-the-range microwaves, are usually installed in a wall or among cabinets for a more flush look. They can also be installed in other places in the kitchen, including below a countertop. However, they do require professional installation—so consider that when you’re evaluating microwave options.

Maytag® over-the-range microwave in a kitchen

WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN SHOPPING FOR A MICROWAVE

Knowing what to look for in a microwave will help you narrow down your options. Keep the following things in mind when choosing between a built-in vs. countertop microwave.

1. VENTING NEEDS

If your kitchen already has a vent hood installed, you can replace it with an over-the-range microwave as a space-saving solution. Over-the-range models feature built-in exhaust venting and charcoal filtering to help take odors and fumes out of your kitchen air. If your kitchen is not equipped with a vent, an over-the-range microwave can also recirculate the air.

2. AVAILABLE COUNTER SPACE

Installing a built-in vs. countertop microwave leaves more kitchen space for your coffee pot, bread maker, toaster oven or other freestanding countertop appliances.

3. YOUR COOKING STYLE

If your microwave oven is fully integrated into your cooking “flow,” you’ll likely benefit from an over-the-range model. With the microwave and the range both in one place, you can defrost in the microwave while cooking on the range top without having to cross the kitchen to check on either one.

4. CLEANUP

Some microwaves feature a non-stick interior to easily resist stains and splatters. These interiors tend to be easier to clean, usually requiring only a simple wipe down.

5. ACCESSIBILITY

Some countertop microwaves are ADA compliant and are recommended for use in households with special needs, providing better access to features and other one-touch settings.

6. COOKING CONVENIENCE FEATURES

Beneficial features can help you decide which microwave is right for you. Sensor cooking microwaves measure moisture released from food as it cooks and adjust for the ideal time and power settings automatically.

With the Dual Crisp feature from Maytag, you can handle crisping, baking and browning without using a range. Sound too good to be true? Watch it in action.

Dual Crisp feature with fries crisping in a microwave

WEIGH YOUR OPTIONS BEFORE DECIDING WHICH MICROWAVE TO BUY

A good understanding of your kitchen layout and cooking needs will help you decide whether an over-the-range or countertop microwave is right for you. No matter which style you choose, you are sure to find plenty of capacity and powerful cooking in the Maytag® microwave lineup.

 

Shop Maytag® countertop microwaves

 

Shop Maytag® over-the-range microwaves

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