The main difference between countertop and built-in microwaves is the installation. Countertop models are installed on your kitchen counters by simply plugging the appliance into a nearby outlet, while built-ins are installed directly into cabinets or walls in your kitchen.
There are a variety of countertop microwaves available; however, only select models can be installed in a cabinet for a built-in look. To convert a countertop microwave for use in a built-in application, there must be an optional built-in trim kit available for use with the specific model.
A microwave oven, designed exclusively for a kitchen countertop, has vents that are built into the back of the microwave. If installed into a cabinet, these vents will be blocked and unable to release steam from the microwave. Talk about a fire hazard for your kitchen.
Built-in microwave ovens are known for being slightly more expensive because of the installation cost, which should always be completed by a professional. Now that you have read about the advantages and disadvantages of built-in and freestanding microwaves which one will you choose?
Countertop microwaves do not require any venting hookups or special installation. However, you will need to have an open space above the microwave to allow the heat and steam to escape. If you do not have an open space above the microwave, you may need to purchase a venting kit.
There is no requirement that your Over The Range (OTR) Microwave be vented to the outdoors. All OTR microwave ovens can be set up to either allow the fan to recirculate the air back into the kitchen or be vented to the outdoors.
Built-in microwaves are a great space-saving solution for all kitchens, even if your kitchen is small. This is because the countertop is usually the most valuable area in the kitchen. After all, it's where all of the food prep work is done.
You will need to have a professional come to your home to service the appliance, replacing it if necessary. Despite their higher cost, built-in microwaves can give your kitchen a higher-end look and feel. They are typically better quality and will last longer than a less expensive countertop model.
It seems possible that Solid-State Radio Frequency (RF) transistors will one day replace magnetrons in consumer microwave ovens. These new ovens have the potential to be smaller and more energy efficient. Because they are closed loop systems, they can precisely cook food in ways that consumers have not seen before.
With normal usage for an average family and good maintenance, a microwave often lasts for 7 to 8 years. If the microwave is used less frequently by a single person or a couple and is well-maintained, the lifespan can increase to up to 10 years.
Countertop models can be tucked into a shelf or opening in the cabinetry for a built-in look that allows you to move the microwave off the work surface. For safety, it's best to find a location that offers landing space below. The more tightly the microwave fits into the space, the more streamlined it looks.
A Microwave Against a Wall Is a Bad Idea
“If you put [the microwave] against a wall, both the door of the microwave and your wall can get damaged over time,” Daniel says. A microwave oven planned in a restricted space can also make the appliance awkward to use.
DO I NEED A TRIM KIT FOR A BUILT-IN MICROWAVE? You do not need to use a trim kit when installing a built-in microwave. However, for countertop models, a trim kit will help you achieve the same seamless and integrated look as a built-in model.
Built-in microwave Dimensions
Capacity can range from 1.0 to 2.2 cubic feet, with most landing between 1.2 to 1.6 cubic feet. Widths align with standard cabinet widths, usually 24, 27 or 30 inches. Height typically ranges from 17 to 22 inches.
The microwaves will vibrate all particles, cool air prevents this from affecting the components and ensures it is just the food that is agitated and cooked. A well-designed microwave will need 3” of clearance at the top and the sides, with at least 1” at the rear.
Basically, your microwave is expending unnecessary effort to “heat up” the lingering remains of your past meals, which will eventually impact the components and shorten the lifespan of the appliance,” Bedford says. So wipe down your microwave after every use.
Just like any other household appliance the microwave will inevitably break down and need to be replaced. Thankfully, removing an old built-in microwave and installing a new one isn't a difficult task – most of the time you can do it yourself without needing to call a professional.
As a general guideline, consider choosing a microwave with around 1,000 watts as this is a standard power for most recipes. It's important to be selective about your microwave's functions and choose a model with wattage, shortcuts and functionality suited to how you use a microwave.
A built-in microwave costs $400 to $2,000 on average, depending on the type and size. Built-in microwaves are the best types for saving counter space and blending in with the cabinetry. However, they require professional installation by a carpenter. Either custom build into cabinets or with a trim kit.
If the microwave is not vented, the excess heat will have nowhere to go but inside your kitchen, and the metal inside the microwave will continue to get hotter.
Some over-the-range microwaves have exhaust fans that vent kitchen air out of the house through ductwork in the wall. Some don't and instead filter, then push it back out into the kitchen. Many will come with the ability to do either, so you must choose which one and set it up before installing.
Perhaps one of the most practical design solutions is placing a microwave above a wall oven in a tall cabinet. It works visually because cooking appliances are kept together. Aesthetically, that maintains consistent look. Positioning the microwave above a wall oven will also have your microwave at the perfect height.