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Can a Countertop Microwave Be Installed in a Cabinet?

Updated March 23, 2017

Countertop microwaves often have a smaller design, so they do not take up much space on a kitchen countertop. However, simply because the name indicates a countertop does not mean that the microwave cannot be installed in a kitchen cabinet,if you wish to hide it or store it away to gain more counter space. Follow specific steps when installing the microwave to ensure that it gets space to vent air and keep the microwave clean to get optimal performance.

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Installing Countertop Microwave

Inspect the cabinet before placing the microwave inside. The cabinet must provide a levelled surface, so the microwave has a sturdy and firm surface to rest on. Do not squeeze the microwave into the cabinet. Leave approximately 2 inches of space on both sides and the top of the microwave, so the vents can expel air and heat during operation. Avoid placing the microwave in a cabinet that is directly above a heating appliance, such as your oven or stove, according to the Westinghouse Microwave Oven guide.


You must follow installation instructions when placing the countertop microwave in your kitchen cabinet to avoid any dangerous or hazardous situations. You must plug the microwave into a grounded three-prong outlet, according to the Built-In Microwave Oven Installation Instructions Manual. Avoid using adaptors or extension cords to give the microwave power. The manual warns that improper use of the grounding plug may result in electric shock. Only use a grounded outlet close to the cabinet. Do not use an extension cord to connect the microwave in the cabinet to a grounded outlet.

Handling the Power Cord

When installing a microwave in a cabinet, the power cord must either be placed along the side of the microwave to reach the grounded outlet or be routed through a drilled hole in the cabinet as a means to hide the cord from exposure. If you choose to hide the cord, drill a hole in the side or bottom of the cabinet, so the cord can fit easily through. Pull the cord through the hole and insert the plug into the grounded outlet. Do not push the cord through if it does not fit. Drill a larger hole if this is the case.

Maintenance and Cleaning

Although the microwave is in a cabinet, it still collects dust, and requires cleaning and maintenance for optimal performance. The Westinghouse Microwave Oven guide provides cleaning instructions, such as wiping down the door and interior of the microwave with mild soap and water. Vents must be cleaned with a damp sponge with warm soapy water, so cooling and ventilation is optimal at all time.

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About the Author

Based in Toronto, Mary Jane has been writing for online magazines and databases since 2002. Her articles have appeared on the Simon & Schuster website and she received an editor's choice award in 2009. She holds a Master of Arts in psychology of language use from the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.

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