Shopping for a microwave oven? The good news is that the latest models offer more and more each year with added capabilities. Most of us use microwave ovens to heat up food, make popcorn, defrost frozen foods, or cook meals. The most popular countertop microwaves cost $75 to $300 depending on the features you desire. You should be able to walk out of a store with a good quality microwave for around $120. When comparing microwaves you need to consider size, cooking features, and cost. The over the range (OTR) microwaves are great at saving space in your kitchen but will require a professional installation in most cases. Convection microwave ovens are another option but don't think they will outperform the more basic countertop models that cost much less.
The first thing you need to consider when looking for a new microwave is how much counter space you have for the unit. Some of the larger countertop models like the GE Profile JES2251SJ have large capacities (1.5 cubic feet) and the stainless steel look fit into most modern kitchens. If you prefer the smaller to mid-range sized microwaves, then perhaps the Kenmore 6325 (Sears) or the Daewoo WM1010CC would do. Keep in mind that what the manufacturers claim for capacity and what is actually usuable are 2 different things. The Daewoo model listed above is a convection microwave oven and it scored well in the Consumer Reports tests on microwaves. Many experts point out that the convection microwave ovens work well as a second oven if you are cooking foods, but don't perform any better on the day to day tasks like reheating or popping popcorn. Microwaves with preset buttons for basics are great. Many offer settings which make it almost too easy to cook potatoes or cook a chicken. We found some great reviews in Good Housekeeping and Consumer Reports magazines as well as online in the customer feedback section of Amazon.com. Epinions is another source of microwave ratings from the consumer point of view and About.com lists some of their picks for best microwave ovens in the cooking section. All in all we were able to compare microwave ovens based on the findings of multiple sources and come up with a quick list down below of the top selections. The top brands are Kenmore, Sharp, Whirlpool, GE, LG, Panasonic, Daewoo, Amana, Haier, Oster, Emerson, Sunbeam, Jenn-Air, Sanyo, Samsung, KitchenAid, and Bosch. You can find microwave ovens in almost all types of department stores like Sears, Target, or Wal-Mart. We also saw some listed at Lowes and Home Depot. Of course shopping online at Amazon.com is another excellent way to buy without the hassle of going to the store.
Best Microwave Oven:
The GE Profile JES2251SJ ($220) got "very good" ratings for heating food evenly which is what most microwaves had trouble with. With a claimed capacity of 2.2 cu. ft (usable space is 1.5 cubic feet) the JES2251SJ is one of the larger microwaves for countertop use. It handles defrosting better than most and can fit a 9x15 inch dish on the rotating turntable. We like this model as well since it's offered in stainless steel making it the perfect appliance in your kitchen. You can find this particular model (or more recent updates) in Sears stores or online. Buy it HERE
Over Range Microwave:
A streamlined kitchen means you don't have a countertop microwave sitting on your counters. The over the range microwaves are how modern kitchens are being designed to keep clutter to a minimum and take advantage of otherwise unused space over the range. Range hoods are what homeowners have chosen for years to put above the kitchen range, but now microwaves are replacing those. Be forewarned that the OTR microwaves don't vent smoke or steam nearly as well as range hoods do. Consumer Reports notes that the repair history of these OTR's shows Sharp as having the worst reputation with nearly 1/4 (25%) needing repairs. Amana and Frigidaire were top rated for reliability with GE and Maytag not too far behind. The over the range microwaves are quite a bit more expensive than the countertop models and performance was no better, so you are essentially paying a high premium for convenience. The top rated LG LMV2053 ($300) is considered a "best buy" from CR for it's superior value compared to the competition which is often twice as much. LG also hasn't been producing these OTRs for very long so their long term repair history is unknown at this time. .
Convection Microwave Oven:
You might think that buying a convection microwave will surely cost you an arm and a leg but don't get down on the idea just yet. Daewoo has come out with a solid convection unit that performs quite well in most areas. The Daewoo WM1010CC ($150) heats up evenly and defrosts just fine. The one drawback to this microwave is that it doesn't come with sensor controlled cooking functions which can mean the convenience factor is not up to par. For the price, though, you can't beat having a convection oven available to compliment your regular oven. There are more expensive options like the Kenmore Elite (Sears) for $250 or the even higher priced Jenn-Air ($500) and GE Profile Convection JE1590 for $420.
Not everyone needs a large microwave for creating meals. Many singles and college students want the convenience of a microwave but not something that takes up counter space. The Kenmore 6325 ($110) is offered in Sears stores and scores well in several tests. It's capacity is less than 1 cubic foot (.9 to be exact) but in terms of being able to defrost or heat up food it does just fine. Even the GE JE1460 ($130) is another excellent choice for a small microwave. These "space-efficient" models heat up food, pop popcorn, and even cook larger meals when desired. I have personally owned both a Sharp and Panasonic microwave over the years and they performed admirably without any problems for less than $100 each. You can find smaller models in stores like Sears, Target or Wal-Mart. Buy the GE HERE