Deciding on what microwave is best for you depends on your personal needs. There are many brands, types, sizes, colours, power outputs and even shapes to choose from when buying your microwave oven. We’ve written the following step buy step buying guide to help you make up your mind.
Choose what microwave oven type you want.
- You can choose from a standard microwave oven, a combi-microwave oven or microwave with grill.
- If you already have a good conventional or fan assisted oven with a grill and a you have gas or electric cooker then go for a standard microwave oven. You won’t need a combi-oven with the built in grill and convection oven as you’ve got those already.
- If you don’t have space for a conventional oven then get a combi-oven. This will allow you to use one appliance for cooking, defrosting and reheating food using the microwave. You’ll also be able to roast, bake or grill food using the built in electric elements and fan. The other benefit of the combi-oven is it’s ability to microwave and roast or grill at the same time. The microwaves cook the food through quickly while the electric element gives the food that crispy, roasty effect.
- If you think in addition to microwave cooking and reheating, you’ll need to cook a lot of small greasy meat items like bacon or sausages, or cheese topped foods like pizzas, then get a microwave with grill. This will save you from having to start the main oven just to cook a couple of sausages for yourself in the morning.
Decide how big you need your microwave to be.
- Simply put, large family = multiple mouths = buy a big microwave. Single person = one mouth = buy a small microwave. Microwave sizes are measured by the space inside the oven which is given in litres. Sizes range from around 0.7 cubit feet to 2.2 cubit feet in the U.S. or 17 litres to 32 litres in metric speaking countries. A single person therefore should buy a 2.2 cubit foot / 17 ltr microwave whereas if you have a family of four or more, buy at least a 27ltr microwave.
- Make sure you have enough space for the microwave you choose. Some of the larger, combi-microwaves are quite deep so check that your kitchen worktop has enough distance from the wall to the front edge so that the microwave doesn’t stick out. Also make sure that there is enough height above your microwave to allow for some ventilation space on the top of it.
What microwave power do you want?
- Microwave power is measured in Watts and range from 700 to 1100 Watts. A higher power microwave will cook food more quickly. For example, a 1000 Watt microwave has 20% more power than an 800 Watt microwave. At full power, the 1000 Watt oven would cook a chicken 20% quicker than than the 800 Watt microwave. Comparing the same two ovens, but this time with two different legs of lamb, if an 600 g leg of lamb takes 40 minutes to cook in the 800 Watt microwave then in the same 40 minutes you’d be able to cook a 900 g (20% larger) leg of lamb in the 1000 Watt oven.
- I’d suggest then that if you have a large family and plan to cook larger dishes, then you should buy a more powerful microwave.
- If you want speed then get a more powerful microwave
- If you want to save money and think you’ll only cook or reheat small tit-bits then buy yourself a low power 700 Watt microwave.
Get the right colour.
- Microwaves nowadays come in all kinds of colours so pick a colour that goes well with your kitchen. White, black or silver usually go with any colour scheme but don’t be afraid to consider buying one of the louder colors microwaves on the market.
Free-standing or built-in?
- Most microwaves are designed to sit on the kitchen worktop. You can however get built-in microwave that fit into standard tall kitchen units. These are often designed to match built-in ovens making them blend in well with the theme of the kitchen. For some microwaves, you can buy optional adaptors to allow you to fix a free standing model into a kitchen cabinet.
- If you don’t have a tall kitchen unit then just get a free standing microwave. You’ll have loads of choice as this is the most common microwave format.
How funky are you?
- If you like to live on the edge and perhaps would like something that goes against the status quo, then there are microwaves for you! You can find rounded backed microwaves, domed topped microwaves or shutter door microwaves. Do a search on google for designer microwaves to get some ideas.
How much do you want to spend on your microwave?
- How much you want to spend is up to you but generally the more features the microwave has, the more expensive it’s going to be. The cheapest would be a low wattage standard, unbranded model for around £40 / $70. The most expensive I’ve seen away from the commercial jobbies you’d find in a restaurant kitchen, is a built in, integrated, multi-function, Miele branded microwave going for around £1500 / $2000. General advice here is get what you need, get what you can afford and get what makes you feel happiest.