Oven Shopper

Reviews and General Buying Information on
Microwaves, Toaster Ovens and Convection Ovens

Microwave Buying Guide

As you may know by now, this website is in front of you because my own microwave broke down recently. It had been some years since I needed to replace one, but once I started researching for a new one I was amazed at the amount of things you have to think about before making a purchase (not to mention the amount of technology and options that’s around these days).

So, if you’re in the process of buying a microwave, and you’re a little confused over where to start I thought this page might help you.

Ask Yourself What You Cook

typical microwave mealThis is the most important question for me because there is no point in spending lots of money on an appliance like this if you’re not going to use all the features. Perhaps you only use a microwave to melt butter or chocolate? Or, you just reheat leftovers or cook the odd “meal for one”. In which case, you will only need a very basic microwave.

Of course, there are microwaves that will allow you to treat them like a second oven (or even your only source for cooking food) so if you want to do things like roast or broil these are features you should look for.

Where Will It Go?

Yet another highly important question to ask yourself.
Think about the amount of space you have and always make sure you “measure before you buy”. And with “measure” I don’t just mean the outside dimensions of your microwave, you also have to think about the clearance you need for ventilation.
The amount of clearance you require varies, but in general you need about 2.5 inches of space on the sides and 1.5 inches on top of the microwave for sufficient air flow.

Of course, there are all sorts of places you can put a microwave. For instance I have reviews here that deal with units that will sit on your countertop, there are over the range microwaves and even those that can be built into a cabinet.

Cooking Technology

Now this is where it can get complicated. One of the biggest complaints about microwave technology is that some models don’t heat evenly, burn toast or your soup ends up boiling over and leaving a huge mess behind.

Manufacturers are working very hard to make sure this doesn’t happen and there is a plethora of technology on the market, much more than I ever expected. I have models on my website that use steam to heat and even infrared, but personally I’m a big fan of microwaves that use convection technology because it helps to make sure the heat is evenly distributed (so you don’t get any of the problems mentioned above).

Capacity and Power

This is something I’ve included in all of my reviews because it’s just as important as understanding how much space you have, or what you cook. Of course, the more wattage you have the quicker you can cook or reheat food. Most microwaves will have at least 800 watts which is what many recipes recommend however, you can get as much as 1200 watt units.

inside dimensionsAlso be careful to check the amount of space you need inside, because some manufacturers will tell you the dimensions of their appliance but don’t mention the amount of cubic feet you have inside. This is really important if you want to be able to use over-sized dishes or bake that family size pizza, so I have tried to include this piece of information in all my reviews (and the comparison page).

Finally – Features!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this guide, features are there to help make life easier when you cook. However, you do need to make sure you’re not going over the top before you decide which model to buy.

Now, I will deal with features in detail on this page of my website, but if your needs are quite basic, perhaps a microwave that only has a one-touch popcorn or pizza button will do. If your needs are more complex, consider looking at models that allow you to crisp, bake, broil, toast and just about anything else you need.

In short, make sure you only get the features you’re going to need!

I hope this guide has been useful to you and that it helps you to navigate better around the various microwaves I have for you – enjoy!

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