Under Cupboard Vs. on the Counter Microwave Oven

Written by ann johnson
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Under Cupboard Vs. on the Counter Microwave Oven
An overhead microwave frees up counter space. (Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

When shopping for a new microwave oven, you must decide between a countertop microwave and a built-in that is installed under an overhead cupboard. If you are a renter, then the choice is clear -- a portable countertop microwave. If you own your home, however, you have more options.


The stand alone, portable microwave oven is ready to use when you bring it home from the store. Simply take it from its box, discard the packaging, set it on the kitchen counter and plug it into the wall. When purchasing a microwave oven to install under a cupboard, you must arrange for installation, which typically means altering the existing kitchen cabinets in some way.


A countertop microwave has the ease of mobility lacking in a microwave installed under the cupboard. If you move, you can take the appliance with you. If the microwave oven breaks down or you decide you want a different model, replacing the countertop microwave oven is relatively easy.


An under-the-cupboard, built-in microwave conserves space in the kitchen, as it doesn't take up room on the counter. Instead, it hangs above the counter. Models designed for hanging under the cupboard over the stove typically do double duty by having a fan and light feature. A microwave installed over the stove replaces the hood vent, while providing additional lighting for cooking.


If size is a factor and you want the largest microwave oven available, the ultimate choice will probably be a countertop model. Microwave ovens for installation under cupboards are typically smaller that what is available in countertop models.


An overhead microwave oven is more visually appealing and it adds value to the kitchen. When shopping for a home, homebuyers typically want a microwave, and buyers normally perceive built-ins more favourably. A microwave oven installed in the kitchen wall is a home improvement and becomes part of the real estate, while a countertop microwave remains personal property, as opposed to real property.


For a family member confined to a wheel chair, the countertop microwave may be the better choice, as it is easier to reach than one placed higher in the kitchen under an overhead cupboard. Height might also be a factor to other members of the family. Ultimately, you need to consider the layout of the kitchen and decide which type of microwave oven works best with the kitchen's layout and your family's lifestyle.

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