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7 Things to Consider when Buying a Microwave Oven

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Some electrical appliances have become an essential part of a kitchen today, and a microwave oven is among them, especially in the cities where life moves at a breakneck speed. From baking cakes to defrosting meat, microwave ovens help us in several kitchen tasks.

And when it comes choosing, a buying guide for microwave oven is always handy. Let’s explore the critical factors to consider before you decide on a microwave oven.

1. Where will you set it up?

The first thing to consider while buying a microwave is where you are going to place the appliance. The choice will affect the size, features and price.

There are three options – countertop, over-the-range and built-in.

Countertop:

  • It is the most common model and generally costs less
  • All you need to do is find a spot on the kitchen counter, place it and plug it in
  • But you must keep the size also under consideration
  • Dimensions: Compact models are 10x18x14 inches 

                    Large models are 14x24x20 inches

Over-the-range:

  • These models will save you counter space
  • The models have vent systems that take up the space of the oven hood
  • Dimensions: 16x30x15 inches

Built-in:

  • These models are surrounded by the kitchen cabinetry or are built into a wall
  • They have a sleek and integrated look and are the most high-end
  • They are quite expensive
  • Dimension: 15x30x26 inches

2. What type?

There are three types of microwave ovens – solo, grill and convection.

Solo microwave ovens:

  • Are the most basic and entry-level options
  • Also the cheapest models available in the market
  • Only one magnetron produces the microwaves

Grill microwave ovens:

  • Comes with additional grilling accessories
  • Has heating coils which help in grilling, toasting and roasting
  • Grill functions can run simultaneously

Convection microwave oven:

  • Comes with a fan which circulates heat waves efficiently to ensure that food is cooked/baked faster and uniformly

3. Size:

  • Now its time to decide on the size
  • The size ranges from 10x18x14 inches to 14x24x20 inches
  • Check whether the model fits the space by measuring the sides of the microwave oven

4. Capacity:

The capacity of a  microwave oven depends on the size of your family. The general break up according to size is:

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  • A family of 2-3 people: 15-20 litres
  • A family of 3-5 people: 25-30 litres
  • A family of more than 5 people: 30 litres

5. Wattage:

  • This determines how fast the food will be cooked in the oven
  • Higher the wattage, more quickly the oven will prepare the food
  • Large capacity ovens usually come with higher wattage
  • Most models come with 600-1200 watts power
  • So, prize and size have a direct bearing on the power

6. Easy use:

  • This largely depends on the type of panel a microwave oven has. 
  • There are three types of panels – Mechanical, Feather Touch and Tactile Buttons.

Mechanical:

Are easy to use and have a long life

Feather Touch:

  • Comes with a touchscreen panel and have a stylish design
  • They are also easy to clean

Tactile Buttons:

  • Has jog-wheel controls
  • Setting timer and temperature is easy

7. Features to look for:

Most microwaves share common functions, but here are some of the essential features:

Defrost:

  • Mainly used to unfreeze food quickly
  • Just keep the food inside, and the oven will set the best mode
  • The settings can also be changed manually

Chaos defrost:

  • To reduce defrosting time, this feature uses random pulses of microwave energy

Timer:

  • Set the timer so that the heating/cooking/baking job ends automatically at the set time
  • Usually, a beep sound indicates the end of the process

Pre-heat:

  • This is done usually before baking cakes, cookies and other food items that require the grill function
  • The oven is kept at a set temperature before beginning the baking or grilling process

Auto-cook:

  • Just select the dish and the weight, and the oven will automatically set the power and timer
  • This simplifies the process of preparing a variety of dishes, e.g. popcorn

Multiple-sequence cooking:

  • Changes power levels automatically to ensure that the food is cooked perfectly
  • E.g. this feature helps you first to defrost and then cook automatically and continuously

Two-level cooking:

  • Some models can cook two dishes simultaneously using the two-level convection 

Auto-sensor:

  • Ovens shutdown automatically when the sensor feels the food is cooked
  • This prevents overheating

Delay start:

  • Switches on the microwave oven automatically at a set time of the day

Rotisserie:

  • Is useful for grilling and barbecue
  • It is a type of a grilling accessory

Child lock:

  • This is a safety feature and is handy if you have kids at home

Turntable:

  • Imagine stopping the microwave and turning your dish around for uniform cooking
  • A turntable saves you the headache by automatically turning the bowl while cooking

Defrosting rack:

  • Raises the food above the turntable so that its defrosted from below as well

Metal rack:

  • A metal rack will elevate the food
  • This ensures that the food is evenly warm
  • Otherwise, only the top layer of the food gets heated up

Flatbed:

  • Some models have flatbeds instead of a turntable to create a larger cooking area

Broil:

  • This is a great feature to finish cooking a dish with more direct heat

Inverter Technology:

  • This feature is usually available with high-end models
  • Microwaves mostly switch from 0% power to 100% power to average in at 50% power
  • This doesn’t work if you want to cook something at lower heat and evenly
  • So, some models use inverter technology to maintain a consistent 50% power

Drop-down door:

  • Very handy while putting and taking out dishes
  • You can place your hot meals on the door
  • Very useful in built-in models 

Energy efficiency:

  • Check for models with an energy-save mode to reduce the amount of energy consumed by the device even when on standby

Other high-end features:

  • You could also check for moisture sensors to detect how thoroughly the food is cooked, usually meat
  • Check for LED lights in the interior
  • Some over-the-top models can be connected to Bluetooth
  • There are several smart models which use facial recognition technology to identify food and cook it automatically
  • Some smart microwave ovens scan packaged meals for automatic cooking

What’s the budget:

  • Set a budget, check the various models for the features and your requirements

Good deals:

  • Check for good deals online or at retail outlets
  • During the festival season, most retailers and e-tailers dole out attractive deals

Warranty:

  • Most models come with a guarantee, but the period may vary
  • Check for what components are covered or is warranty available only for manufacturing defects

Review and compare:

  • And do not forget to read reviews and compare the models
  • E-tailer websites offer reviews for most products, and you can also compare them

With so much to choose from, this buying guide should help you narrow in on the one model that meets your requirements.

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Paschal Okafor is NaijaTechGuide Team Lead. The article 7 Things to Consider when Buying a Microwave Oven was written by NaijaTechGuide Team. The article was last modified: October 25th, 2019
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NaijaTechGuide Team
NaijaTechGuide Team
NaijaTechGuide Team is made up of Experienced Tech Enthusiasts and Professionals led my Paschal Okafor, a graduate of Electrical and Electronics Engineering with over 17 years of Experience writing about Technology. Some of us were writing about Mobile Phones before the first Android Phones and iPhones were launched.

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