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Microwave Buying Guide

Stainless Steel Over-the-Range Convection Microwave White countertop microwave

Microwaves come in various types, power levels, cooking capacities, and designs. There are several additional features that may be of interest that you can consider when shopping. It is important to determine what exactly you are looking for and need in your household before making any decisions. Please use this handy buyer’s guide from Goedeker's to better educate yourself on all the factors that affect your decision when buying a new microwave.

Types of Microwaves:


The countertop microwave is placed directly on your kitchen countertop and is the most common variety. These come in a variety of sizes, power levels and designs to match your needs and the style of your kitchen.


The built-in microwave mounts underneath a cabinet or countertop for a custom look. This also helps save counter space. These models are often included as part of a kitchen package, but they can be purchased independently.


The over-the-range microwave is similar to the built-in microwave but is placed directly above the range. As a bonus feature, they act as the ventilation for the range.


The drawer microwave is a built-in microwave that allows easy access to your cooking area. These are the newest design in microwaves and can actually keep your food warm for extended periods of time.

Main Features of Microwaves:

Capacity and Power

  • Compact - less than 0.8 cubic feet - between 500 and 800 watts
  • Mid size - between 0.8 and 1.2 cubic feet - between 800 and 1000 watts
  • Full size - more than 1.2 cubic feet - more than 1000 watts

Venting Type

  • External – A microwave with an external venting system vents to the outside of your home.
  • Convertible – These microwaves vent externally. Convertible microwaves can be changed to a recirculating venting system if the right components are installed.
  • Recirculating – This means that the microwave vents internally, or back into your kitchen. This is a good option if your kitchen has no form of outside exhaust available.
  • Ducted – Ducts are installed to redirect the venting of your microwave externally.
  • Non-ducted – Any cooking byproducts of a microwave with a non-ducted, or duct free, venting system are vented internally.

Preset Cooking Times

Microwaves generally have three basic power levels. There is high (or 100% power), medium, (50% power) or low (10%-30% power). They also may include a variety of setting or preset cooking times. Here are some commonly seen examples:

  • Quick minute
  • Auto reheat
  • Auto defrost
  • Delayed start
  • Keep warm or warming
  • Beverage
  • Popcorn
  • Melt or soften
  • Add 30 seconds or minute-plus

More precise settings may also be available. Some microwaves include settings for specific foods such as baked potatoes, chicken nuggets, or pizza slices. Many reheating settings or recipes may come preprogrammed in microwaves. Some models will even allow the entering of customized recipes.

Other Features to Consider When Shopping:

  • Convection - Convection microwaves are like a combination of a standard microwave and a convection oven. They have electric baking, browning, or crisping elements and a larger cooking capacity.
  • SpeedCook - SpeedCook microwaves combine light waves with microwaves for fast cooking. They also brown, broil, grill and more with no preheating. Often convection cooking and warming drawer features are built in.
  • Color – The most common colors available for microwaves are white, black, and stainless steel. Colors such as bisque, slate, silver, and red are also available but are less common.
  • Sensors - Advanced models now have sensor technology that is able to automatically adjust the cook time and power level of your microwave. It can also turn the microwave off when it senses that your food is too hot. This helps to prevent over-cooking.
  • Doors – The two main types of microwave doors open by pushing a button or pulling a handle.
  • Child Safety Locks – These prevent children from accessing the microwave and are a worthwhile safety feature.
  • Turntables - These make sure that food heats evenly and properly so there is no need to reposition food during cook time.
  • Non-stick Interiors - Advanced models now offer non-stick interiors to make cleaning a snap.
  • Cleaning - Removable turntables, nonstick interiors, and grease filters are available on select new models to make cleaning easy.
  • Racks - Some models come with cooking racks to maximize capacity of the microwave and heat two items at once.
  • Trim Kits – Optional trim kits can be purchased separately. These can make your countertop and free standing microwave look built-in and custom designed.
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