What to Consider
A microwave oven is an essential part of a kitchen in a modern household. This appliance is used on a daily basis and requires careful choosing. A well-chosen microwave oven not only serves its initial purpose, but also perfectly fits into the design of the kitchen. And this will provide aesthetic pleasure to the users.
Location: The location of a microwave oven will be the starting point for choosing the size and even the type of the appliance.
Lifestyle: if the microwave oven is purchased for a household with many members, it will be heavily used. This will dictate the cleaning terms, since the oven will need to be cleaned rather frequently. Microwaves used just for heating up food will differ from ovens that are used for cooking.
Size and Power: Depending on the purpose the oven will be used for, the size and power should be chosen. For example, smaller ovens use less power and are perfect for offices, dorms and apartments. Larger ones are better for homes and small restaurants.
Features: Different ovens have different varieties of features. Microwave oven features are chosen in accordance to the needs of the user.
Types: There are several microwave oven types. The type of oven will be chosen depending on how complicated the user wants the cooking options to be.
Budget: There is a great variety of different microwave ovens out there. The cost will depend on many factors, including the size, the wattage and the functionality.
Countertop microwave ovens are placed anywhere on top of the kitchen work area or in any place they will be easy to reach and use. They are also called portable microwaves. They are usually compact in size and are perfect for heating up food, thawing frozen products and making popcorn. The main advantage is the “plug in and use” portable feature. The main disadvantage is the space it takes up.
Over the range (above range) is the second most popular way to install the appliance. The microwave oven is built into the cabinets on top of the workspace area or is placed on top of a special stand. The main advantage of such an oven is that it saves precious space. However, the main disadvantage it causes is that it might be hard to reach for use and cleaning.
Built-in microwave ovens rank third in the location popularity. They are the most innovative ones as well. The microwave is set into the kitchen drawers and is easy to reach. The main advantage it offers is saved space. But the main inconvenience is hard installation and advanced planning.
Compact microwave oven has an internal capacity of under 13 liters. This is a great microwave for a single person use. It will not take up too much space and will save electricity
Midsize oven's internal capacity varies from 17 to 20 liters. This is a good size for a small family of 2 -3.
Full size microwave oven will have an internal capacity of about 21- 25 liters . This oven will do a good job servicing a large family from 4 to 7 people. .
Extra large ovens with an internal capacity of over 25 liters will be good for such places as large offices or small restaurants.
Small: 600 – 800 watt provides slowest cooking
Midsize: 800 – 1000 watt provides average cooking speed, suitable for most users
Full size: 1000 – 1200 watt provides fast cooking
Extra large: over 1200 watt provides very fast cooking speed
Solo is the simplest type of a microwave oven. It doesn't have many functions and is great for heating and defrosting. This oven will be useful for people who don't need to do any cooking and will generally use the microwave for heating up ready food or cups of coffee. The main advantage of it is the low price. The main disadvantage is the limited functionality.
Convection oven is not as common as regular microwave. The technology used here is a little different. The convection oven is making the heat circulate around the food inside the oven instead of warming pieces of it. The cooking and heating is done quickly and evenly. Such oven is great for people who do a lot of microwave cooking, not just heating. The main advantage is the variety of cooking options. The main disadvantage is complicated operation.
Grill is an additional microwave feature included in a regular microwave. There is an internal grill inside the appliance. The heating element of the grill microwave oven allows to brown the food while cooking it. This gives the food a better look and feel. The grill can assist in making roasted foods. However, grill element is often less powerful. This leads to slower toasting and dry food. Usually grill and microwave can be used separately. The main advantage is crisp and brown food. The main disadvantage is slower cooking.
Combination oven offers microwaves, convection heating and a grill element. This option is perfect for people who want to save space, since such an oven allows to exclude a conventional oven from the kitchen. Most of combination ovens have an option to set up special programs to allow cooking by each of the methods at the right time. The main advantage is the variety of cooking options. The main disadvantage is the price.
Auto reheat features allows user to enter the weight of the food and then automatically calculates the time needed to cook the food safely. More advanced ovens offer an option to select the type of food as well.
Auto defrost features allows user to input the food's weight and the microwave calculates the time needed to defrost. There is also an option of setting the power level and the defrosting time manually.
Pizza function feature allows cooking or reheating pizzas. Usually such feature works best on the grill or combination microwaves since they allow the pizza to crisp.
Vegetable steamer features allows users to steam fish and vegetables to prepare the healthiest food possible. Such an additional feature might be tricky to get a hold of at first, but the results turn out to be very useful, especially for families with young children.
Delayed start feature allows the cooking to start at a certain preset time. This is very useful for having hot and ready meal at a set time of the day. It is also great for heating up meals for a party.
Multiple sequence cooking features change power levels during the cooking process in order to optimize the cooking time. For example, first defrosting and then cooking or heating.
Two level cooking microwave ovens allow cooking two dishes at once. Usually they have a special insert that allows to place two plates inside the appliance. This is a very useful feature for large families or special occasions.
Sensor cooking -this additional feature identifies the moisture and humidity levels and adjusts the power level and time of cooking to get the preferable results.
Drop down door is a great feature for built-in ovens. It makes the use more comfortable and creates space for placing hot dishes. However, this option is not recommended for over the range ovens.
Child lock feature will not allow small children to start up the oven. Usually two buttons will need to be pressed at the same time to activate and deactivate the lock.
Preset programs feature allows to start cooking, heating and defrosting the most popular foods. This prevents the user from guessing how much time which food takes to get ready in a microwave oven.
Defrosting rack is a very useful accessory, since it allows to raise the defrosting food about the floor level. This helps the food to defrost from the bottom as well. Without a defrosting rack the food will need to be turned over during the cycle.
Turntable – in order to ensure even cooking and heating, the food inside the microwave oven should be turned. Most of the ovens have the turntable included. This part will have to be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis.
Omelet maker – a silicone accessory allows to make an omelet in a microwave in no time without any cleaning hassles
Rice and grain cooker – a special pot for cooking rice and different grains in a microwave.
Bacon crisper grill – special accessory to help crisp the bacon in a grill or combination microwave.
Dish cover – prevents splattering onto the microwave walls and keeps food fresh after cooking.
Egg poacher – this accessory is designed to cook the white of the egg before the middle is cooked.
Stacker – this accessory allows the dishes to be lifted away from the turntable. It helps several dishes to be cooked at the same time.
Options that have an impact on the cost of a microwave are as follows:
• Installation method
• Quantity of features
• Quantity of accessories
Low – customers with a low budget can consider getting compact countertop microwave ovens with low to medium wattage and the least number of features. Most of such microwaves are very functional and can satisfy most of the basic requirements.
Medium – customers with a medium budget can consider purchasing a solo or a grill microwave oven, that requires simple installation. Only the important features, such as auto reheat, child lock and preset programs, can be included. More complicated features are not always convenient, since some of them are hard to operate.
High – customers with high budget can go for a combination microwave with a maximum number of useful features. The ideal microwave for a customer, who is ready to learn all the options, will be a combination oven with large wattage, sensor and multiple sequence cooking, auto reheat/cook/defrost option and preset programming.