A Guide to Buying The Best Over-The-Range Microwave

Over-the-range or OTR microwaves are an inspired solution to saving space in a kitchen and getting tons of features in a smaller package. But with the sheer volume of these microwaves on the market, it is difficult to choose one that best suits your needs.

But don’t worry, because we have put together a list of the top OTR microwaves on the market and included a shopping guide to help you buy the best over-the-range microwave.

** Below, you'll find more detailed reviews, but you can click links above to see current prices and read customer's review on Amazon

Why you need an OTR Microwave

Over-the-range microwaves, as the name suggests, are microwave units that are mounted over your cooking range, alongside your kitchen cabinets. These are usually held in place by using brackets and their height is kept at eye-level so that they are easy to operate. Here are some of the benefits of using OTRs instead of counter-tops:

  • You save a lot of space by using OTRs as they are mounted on top of the stove
  • You’re able to buy microwaves that have larger capacities because space isn’t an issue anymore
  • ​You get tons of extra features in OTRs and you can choose from a variety of designs that go with your kitchen
  • You get an added exhaust over your stove top making sure that all unwanted odors are wafted away from your kitchen

Types of OTR Microwaves

Most OTRs are basically normal counter tops that can be mounted on top of your stove, but some have extra features that make them more versatile. Here are the two types of OTRs you will find on the market:

  • Traditional OTRs: These are your run-of-the-mill microwaves that may come with some extra features but are basically used for cooking, heating, and defrosting. They come in different finishes, shapes, and sizes.
  • Convection OTRs: These microwaves are advanced appliances that allow you to broil, toast, and cook your food by using a convection heating system. They offer a lot more cooking options than traditional OTRs but are also more expensive.

Shopping Guide for OTR Microwaves

Now that you have an idea of the types of OTRs out there, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of what you should look for in the best over-the-range microwave.

Features


The first thing you need to ascertain before you head over to the market is what kind of features you are looking for in your microwave. Some microwaves offer just the basic features but are durable and reliable. Some of the newer models offer sensor cooking features, whereby the appliance senses the moisture level in your food and adjusts the cooking temperature accordingly.

However, the more features you ask for, the greater you have to pay for them. Also, technologically advanced microwaves may be difficult to use and glitch often. Some OTRs also have special features like delayed start times and child locks. So pick all the features you want in your microwave before you start browsing.


Specifications


Another important aspect of buying a good OTR is to understand what specs you are looking for. Some microwaves have a greater storage capacity and cooking power, but then they are larger in size as well. Smaller microwaves might not have that much power which means they would work slower.

Another very important specification is the vent system on the microwave. A good OTR needs to have a powerful vent system that has a strong airflow capacity and is also placed in the right spot.


Design


After deciding on all the technical features, you should consider the design and style of the OTR you want. Since it will be placed right above your stove and between your cabinets, it will act as a centerpiece for your stove area.

This means you need to choose a model that goes well with the overall design of your kitchen. Make sure you measure the dimensions above your stove before you make a purchase, especially if you’re going to be mounting the appliance yourself.


Budget


OTRs are generally not that expensive; the basic models range from $100 to -$200. But of course, if you’re looking for added features or models that are newer and have sensor cooking features, then you will have to pay more. Needless to say, you should have a budget in mind before you start browsing the market to help you narrow down your options.


Warranty and Support


OTRs are generally not that expensive; the basic models range from $100 to -$200. But of course, if you’re looking for added features or models that are newer and have sensor cooking features, then you will have to pay more. Needless to say, you should have a budget in mind before you start browsing the market to help you narrow down your options.

Top 5 Over-the-Range Microwaves

Over-the-range microwaves became popular because of their ease of use and ability to save space. The models we have chosen to review here are some of the best on the market, they offer amazing features and are affordable.

1. GE JVM3160RFSS Over-the-Range Microwave Oven

Via: Amazon.com

GE is a popular brand when it comes to kitchen appliances, and with good cause. Their appliances always combine the best technology with a robust machine that is easy to use. So, it’s no wonder they have such a large variety of over-the-range microwave ovens. These range from bigger models with over 1.9 cubic feet capacity and sensor cooking features to more compact models with less than 1.6 cubic feet capacity.

The JVM3160RFSS makes to our list of top OTR microwaves not because it is the biggest or the most technologically advanced (because it isn’t either), but because this model has the best performance record and offers great value for money.

Features

  • It has 1.6 cubic feet capacity and 1000 watts of power
  • It offers 10 power levels and 6 one-touch operation settings, including popcorn, potato, and beverage
  • It also houses a 300-CFM exhaust fan, which has two different speeds
  • It is designed with an on/off turntable that is easy to use

Pros

  • The microwave is simple to use and assembly requires no extra effort
  • It works quietly and comes equipped with separate settings for a kitchen timer
  • The interior has two incandescent lights that offer a nice view
  • It has good warranty coverage

Cons

  • This is a relatively “plainer” OTR microwave with no added features like sensors and racks
  • The buttons and digital clock segment are a bit hard to read/see

2. Whirlpool WMH31017AW Microwave

Via: Amazon.com

Whirlpool is, again, a very well-known brand for making household and kitchen appliances. This means their products always uphold a certain standard of quality and convenience. The WMH31017AW is no different. It is a simple, no-frills OTR microwave that does what is promised and doesn’t disappoint.


This microwave is especially attractive because it is one of the more affordable models out there and is built to last. If you’re looking for a basic OTR microwave that functions well and will keep doing so for a very long while, then this is the machine for you.

Features

  • It has 1.7 cubic feet capacity and 1000 watts cooking power
  • It has 10 power levels and a 220 CFM vent system
  • It offers two-stage cooking
  • It has a two-speed fan and a blue LED light display

Pros

  • The microwave is easy to set up and use. It heats well
  • This is a pretty inexpensive product and performs all the basic functions of an OTR microwave
  • The fan and microwave aren’t noisy

Cons

  • The fan points upwards and basically has no cap so debris falls on it easily
  • Since this is a cheaper model some of the components of this microwave like the wire mesh filter seem of questionable quality
  • The appliance doesn’t come with any clear instructions and its warranty leaves a lot to be desired

3. Samsung ME16H702SEB Over-the-Range Microwave

Via: Amazon.com

While Samsung needs no introduction, it really has outdone itself by launching this OTR microwave. This microwave combines style and functionality and makes for a good purchase. The microwave has a bundle of amazing features and is affordable.


Our favorite feature on this model is its Eco-mode; you can use this mode to save power during longer cooking and heating cycles. This feature really is the cherry on top with all the other functions this microwave offers.

Features

  • It has 1.6 cubic feet capacity and 1000 watts cooking power
  • It has a 300 CFM vent system and an icy blue LED display
  • It also has a kitchen timer and a charcoal grease filter
  • It offers 10 power levels and 2-stage programmable cooking

Pros

  • The aluminum handle and black glass design of this model make it a stylish addition to your kitchen
  • It has a good vent system which is also easy to clean thanks to the charcoal grease filter
  • You can defrost, reheat, and cook food with its automatic features
  • It has an Eco-mode that helps you save power

Cons

  • The fan is a little noisy. It isn’t a big nuisance but annoying at times when it runs for longer periods
  • The buttons are hard to push

4. LG LMV2031ST Over-The-Range Microwave

Via: Amazon.com

This LG model is the first sensor cooking model on our list. We haven’t included many models with this technology because, in our experience, these models tend to have a learning curve plus they usually glitch more often so aren’t as reliable. This model has some of the same issues, but they aren’t as pronounced.

LG makes some of the better sensor cooking microwaves on the market and this one measures up to that reputation. This powerful, robust OTR microwave is easy to use and good to look at.

Features

  • It has 2 cubic feet capacity and 1000 watts cooking power
  • It has 10 power levels and an electronic touch control pad
  • It has sensor cooking and energy saving features
  • It has a 400 CFM vent system and a charcoal filter

Pros

  • This microwave is easy to use and the sensor features make for a more convenient cooking experience
  • It has a large capacity and is easy to clean
  • It comes in different colors so you can choose the one that goes with your kitchen

Cons

  • The fan on this microwave can get a bit noisy
  • We noticed that its touch pad kept getting unresponsive with time

5. Sharp R1874T Over-the-Range Convection Microwave

Via: Amazon.com

Sharp R1874T is the only convection microwave on our list, but that’s because this is a good one. Convection microwaves are tricky to work with because they usually end up being a jack of all trades and master of none. This means, that while you pay for double the features, you don’t really get the value of any.


However, this convection microwave is actually not that bad. It works great as a microwave and its convection features don’t disappoint either. Also, this microwave comes with a ton of amazing features that just cover every aspect of cooking and it has sensor cooking options.

Features

  • It has 1.1 cubic feet capacity and 850 watts cooking power
  • It comes with two racks and a 13 inch on/off turntable
  • It has 12 convection programs and 8 sensor cook settings
  • It has an auto-start button and a built-in exhaust system

Pros

  • This is one of the most versatile OTR microwaves on the market. With its sheer number of amazing features, there’s basically nothing you can’t cook in this appliance
  • The sensor cooking feature works well and cooks evenly

Cons

  • At only 240 CFM, the vent system leaves a lot to be desired
  • This microwave has a high price point considering its size and cooking power

Our Top Pick

We actually have two top picks that tie at the top spot for us. Our first pick is the Samsung ME16H702SEB. As basic microwaves go, this appliance is the best of the bunch. It offers a ton of cool features including an Eco mode that we are a fan of. Plus, this model is extremely stylish and looks perfect in every kitchen. Our second pick is LG LMV2031ST. We chose this microwave because it is the best sensor cooking OTR microwave we have ever used. It has a large capacity and is easy to use.


Do you agree with our choice? Let us know in the comments section below.

Chidinma
 

Hi, my name is Chidinma. I’ve been happily married for 4+ years (actually almost 6 years now), and my husband and I have been trying to have our own children for almost all the time we’ve been married, with no success…yet. We haven’t lost hope (far from it), and we believe it will happen very soon.

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