Home Appliances: Buying The Best Microwave

Consider features like convection, power ratings (measured in watts), and look for reliable brands when buying a new microwave.

Microwaves are easy to get cheaply, but cheap microwaves are frequently smaller or less reliable than a family would like. When considering a mid-priced microwave, it's time to look at the features you'll use and any requirements you have for the appliance.

Power: The power of the magnetron in a microwave determines how quickly food cooks, and is measured in watts. A wimpy compact microwave will run at around 600 watts; an industrial strength microwave will run at 1,350 watts. The difference between a 700 and 800 watt microwave is minor, but if you plan to cook entire meals in your microwave, you should consider models at 900+ watts. If your microwave is mostly for reheating leftovers and making popcorn, there's no reason to go over 1,000 watts.

Reliability: Microwaves are becoming infamous as the cheap appliance which works for 6 months then dies. When you're paying 35$ for a cheap model, then overworking it in a busy kitchen, microwave death is just a matter of time. For more expensive models, pay attention to the brand of your new microwave""look for brands you've had good experiences with in the past. Pay attention to warranty guarantees, and consider in-store warranty plans if you have your heart set on a brand that you've never heard of.

Sensors: Most mid-range microwave ovens come with sensors, which can detect when your chicken is defrosted or your leftovers are warm all the way through. Early attempts at sensor technology had unpredictable results, but in recent models this feature has made great strides and is wonderfully convenient.

Convection: Convection is the process of circulating hot air across the food as the microwave cooks it. Convection microwave ovens are able to give meat, pizza, and other complicated dishes the surface heat it needs to brown the dish or melt the cheese. If you have dreams of replacing your oven entirely, convection is a good place to start, but even with the most expensive of models there will still be dishes that don't cook quite right in the microwave. When just defrosting and reheating, convection is a wasted luxury.

Size: Most microwaves are designed to be placed on a counter top, and can take up considerable counter space. It is possible to mount countertop microwaves in brackets for mounting beneath a cabinet, but most cabinets don't have the height clearance to make this an effective use of space. Another option is the range mounted microwave; it sits over the range in the area usually occupied by a range hood.

Remember that compact models really are pretty compact. A square space can look large in the showroom, but when you start trying to put round dishes in the microwave you can be disappointed. If you really want to be sure a certain size bowl will fit in your new microwave, take measurements, or take the bowl to the store with you.

Cost: Microwaves can be very cheap at around 40$, or much more expensive. A full featured convection microwave from a designer brand can reach up to around 600$. Keep reliability and your needs in mind when purchasing your microwave, and know the expensive features you don't want (such as convection).

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