4 Reasons Not to Install Your Microwave above the Stove


4 Reasons Not to Install Your Microwave above the Stove

 We design one kitchen per week here at KTJ Design Co, and we try to NOT put the microwave over the range (also known as an over-the-range microwave or OTR) in any of them.

There are many reasons why we try to avoid this design:

  1. It’s ugly. It became the popular location for the microwave in the 1980’s as a way to remove it from the counter top. It seemed liked an efficient use of space, but with today’s large kitchens that is not an issue anymore.

  2. It must double as your primary ventilation for your range or cooktop. OTR’s aren’t that good at venting grease, smoke, and smells. Since the kitchen creates the most air pollution in your home, it needs a vent that does its job well.  With today’s more robust ranges and cooktops, OTR’s don’t provide the proper CFM (cubes of air exhausted per minute).

  3. It isn’t safe. Lifting a hot boiling item up and over your head for obvious reasons isn’t a good idea. This is especially dangerous for the elderly and for children.

  4. It limits the type of cooking you CAN do on the top of your stove. Because they are specified to be about 24” above the range, this eliminates cooking with any large pots.

Now that I’ve got you convinced to reconsider an OTR in your kitchen remodel, what should you do?

4 Appliance Alternatives to Putting a Microwave above the Stove

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Microwave Drawer

Microwave drawers are tucked under the counter and slid out with a push button. You then can easily set your food inside and lift out. Microwave drawers look great in islands and peninsulas, increasing the functionality and workflow of your kitchen when placed in your food preparation area. Some people think they will not like it because they will have to bend down, but because it opens like a drawer and not a door, it is generally not a problem.

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In-Cabinet Microwave

A more affordable option is to place a countertop microwave and in a cabinet, either at the end of an island or in an upper cabinet.

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Wall Microwave

A wall microwave will give your kitchen that built-in, seamless look. You can install the microwave in your cabinetry or above a wall oven.

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Speed Oven

This is the best appliance I’ve ever purchased.

When I remodeled my own modern kitchen several years ago, I installed a GE Advantium Speed Oven. The speed oven cooks similarly to both an oven and a microwave (and can be used as both), ensuring that your food is warmed evenly. Speed ovens can be placed anywhere because the door folds down (like an oven) and does not slide out (like a drawer) or open out (like a microwave).  However, the more powerful 220 volt models can only be installed in a wall cabinet.

I love my speed oven because I can cook a whole chicken in 20 minutes, rendering the chicken crispy brown on the outside and tender and moist on the inside. While the chicken cooks, I prepare vegetables for roasting. While the fully cooked chicken rests, I roast the vegetables in the speed oven in only 10 minutes.  Viola, a healthy dinner is prepared in 30 minutes!

Also, I can bake other things, like cookies, without preheating the big oven. This is great in the summer because I don’t heat up the whole house with a hot oven.


When Should You Use an Over-the-Range Microwave?

There are occasions where the OTR is a good solution, such as if there is limited space in a tiny kitchen or you don’t cook often. However, if you want an attractive kitchen, remember that you have other options. If you plan on getting a professional range that boasts high BTU’s (measure of heat output), an OTR is not an option. 

Call us today for help with your microwave decisions (and the other 59 kitchen design decisions you have to make); we’re experts at designing a kitchen that works for you.