Buying Guide: Best Microwaves For The Money (2017)

microwave

Remember the days when we considered the oven our best kitchen friend? Those were the years before the  introduction of the microwave oven into our homes in the mid 1970’s. Since then, this must have kitchen appliance has reinvented itself many times over. With so many options on the market, how does one chose the right microwave for their home and family?

Our Microwave Ratings At-A-Glance

microwave ratings

Top 10 Best Microwave Ovens Rated (2017)

our rating is based on value and quality
MODELOUR RATING
Farberware Professional FMO13AHTBKE 1.3 Cubic Foot 1000-Watt Microwave Oven
Farberware Professional FMO13AHTBKE 1.3 Cubic Foot 1000-Watt Microwave Oven
(8.7 / 10)
Panasonic NN-SN966S Countertop/Built-In Microwave with Inverter Technology, 2.2 cu. ft.
Panasonic NN-SN966S Countertop/Built-In Microwave with Inverter Technology, 2.2 cu. ft.
(9.1 / 10)
Panasonic NN-SN936B Countertop Microwave with Inverter Technology, 2.2 cu. ft.
Panasonic NN-SN936B Countertop Microwave with Inverter Technology, 2.2 cu. ft.
(9.3 / 10)
Panasonic NN-SD945S Countertop/Built-In Microwave with Inverter Technology, 2.2 cu. ft.
Panasonic NN-SD945S Countertop/Built-In Microwave with Inverter Technology, 2.2 cu. ft.
(9 / 10)
Panasonic NN-SN736B Black 1.6 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave Oven with Inverter Technology
Panasonic NN-SN736B Black 1.6 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave Oven with Inverter Technology
(9.3 / 10)
Sharp Electronics R-21LCF Microwave Oven, 1000 watts
Sharp Electronics R-21LCF Microwave Oven, 1000 watts
(9.3 / 10)
Panasonic NN-SN736W White 1.6 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave Oven with Inverter Technology
Panasonic NN-SN736W White 1.6 Cu. Ft. Countertop Microwave Oven with Inverter Technology
(9.3 / 10)
Bella BMO07ABTBKB 700W Compact Digital Microwave Oven, 0.7 cu. ft.
Bella BMO07ABTBKB 700W Compact Digital Microwave Oven, 0.7 cu. ft.
(8.7 / 10)
Magic Chef 1.6 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave in Stainless Steel
Magic Chef 1.6 cu. ft. Countertop Microwave in Stainless Steel
(9.7 / 10)
Panasonic NN-SN766S Countertop/Built-In Microwave with Inverter Technology, 1.6 cu. ft.
Panasonic NN-SN766S Countertop/Built-In Microwave with Inverter Technology, 1.6 cu. ft.
(9.3 / 10)

Why You Need a Microwave

Experts state that as many as 90 percent of American homes own a microwave. There are many reasons why most homes consider a microwave a necessity.

  • Microwaves cut down cooking time, providing for quicker meals and on the go nutritious food.  Why spend precious time cooking when time can be spent on hobbies or with family and friends.?
  • Vast array of microwavable food.  Simply walk through the frozen food department and the microwave selections astound. In addition, many other food items can be micro waved or now come with directions for the microwave.
  • More energy efficient than a traditional stove. Although the overall saving doesn’t amount to much in the long run, every  cut back in electricity adds up.
  • Produces less heat, creating a cooler home and possible saving on cooling costs.
  • Reduces carbon footprint. Using only electricity, rather than other energy forms used by traditional ovens, microwaves eliminate pollution used in traditional cooking methods.

Types of Microwaves

  • Over-the-range. These models are generally installed over the stove where others are built into the cabinetry or wall.
  • Other build in microwave types. Although less common, some are placed under the countertop in microwave drawers.
  • Countertop models. These generally come in three sizes – compact, mid-size or full-size. Compact microwaves are great for small spaces with a .9 or less cubic feet capacity. Mid-size units range from 1.0 to 1.4 cubic feet.  Full-size models  have a capacity of 1.5 cubit feet and up. These are best for large families or those who cook a lot.
  • Conventional versus Convection microwaves. Decide if you want a standard microwave that cooks by microwaves alone or one that uses microwave technology with radiant heat and circulating hot air. The later are often better at cooking meats and browning foods.

Common Features 

  • Basic programs or multiple pre programmed menu cooking list.  Some units come with basic time cooking features while others have multiple pre set cooking options.
  • Turntables. Almost all microwaves come with turn tables to ensure food cooks more evenly. Decide if yours should have a removable one, which most do or if it should slide in and out, as with the more expensive models.
  • Variable Power Controls.  This options allows a user to change the setting power and level. Food can be programmed to simmer at slower rates or defrost for a longer period of time. Some foods cook better with longer cooking times.
  • Automatic Sensors. This feature often costs more. With automatic sensors, it is not necessary to set a time. The microwave senses when food is fully cooked by measuring the amount of steam in the oven. More units are being built with this feature.

What to Consider Before Buying

  • How large a unit is needed? Is the microwave for a dorm room or a large family? Also consider the space the microwave takes up.
  • Consider wattage, which typically runs from 600 to 1200 watts. The more wattage, the faster and more evenly food cooks. However, most smaller units are only sold in smaller wattage sizes.
  • Expected cost. Microwaves typically cost between 100 to 600 dollars. Above range and built in ovens often cost more. Cheaper models generally are smaller with less features.
  • Best model for your family or home. This entails looking at many of the above mentioned features and options. Do you cook often for a big family? A larger model with greater wattage may be needed. Is easy access important for busy mornings? A counter top model may be best.

With these buying tips, the next trip for a microwave  should be a breeze. Print a copy of this handy buying guide to take with you when shopping to make your purchase that much easier.

image: Pixabay CC0 Public Domain

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