Over-the-range microwaves are a convenient way to save space on your countertop. But in order to safely install these appliances, it is important to ensure that the unit will have the proper support, adequate space, appropriate electrical hookups and venting (if required). With careful measuring and planning, you can feel confident when purchasing and installing your microwave.
Supporting an over-the-range microwave requires both a cabinet above the range, and a sturdy wall behind the installation site. Most over-the-range microwaves are installed using a U-shaped mounting bracket on the back and bolts placed through the bottom of the upper cabinet. The wall must be able to have screws inserted into it, for the bracket; therefore, anything that might impede the installation, such as ceramic tile, must be removed. The cabinet above the range must also be level and securely attached to the wall.
Most over-the-range microwaves are at least 15 inches tall and either 30 or 36 inches wide. If there are cabinets located adjacent to the microwave unit, you must measure to make sure the microwave door will fit between them, and the door will swing open without hitting or blocking any cabinet. The National Kitchen and Bath Association’s guidelines also state that you should have at least 15 inches, if not more, between the top of your range surface and the bottom of your microwave, to ensure no heat damage will occur.
Over-the-range microwaves are plugged into outlets, not hard-wired like most range hoods. Most manufacturers require a 120 volt, 15 amp grounded outlet placed above or behind the microwave to provide power to the unit. Check that you can run the cord to the receptacle safely, without stretching or bending, to ensure that the wiring stays intact.
Most over-the-range microwaves can either be vented out using ductwork or the air can be recirculated through a charcoal filter built into the unit. The ductwork required is usually 3" x 10" rectangular ducting. If you are replacing an old unit, ensure that the ductwork is clean and in good condition. If you are recirculating the air through a charcoal filter instead, make sure that the unit you have purchased comes with them, and that you know how to order replacements as prescribed by the manufacturer.