The Problems With the Depth in Over-the-Range Microwaves

Microwaves situated over ranges are convenient because they clear up counter space and make it possible for you to have your stove and microwave centrally located. While they are convenient, the depth of these over-the-range microwaves can pose problems for some homeowners.

Steel oven with microwave in kitchen
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Microwaves installed over the range are up and out of the way.

Cabinet Depth

Over-the-range microwaves will typically be about 15 to 16 inches in depth, while upper kitchen cabinets in which they are installed are generally about 12 inches in depth, according to Runmyhouse Services Inc. So, unless you have deeper-than-normal cabinets, chances are that the microwave will stick out from the cabinet somewhat rather than lining up flush with the front. This is normal for most of these microwaves. The smaller the cabinet depth, the more difficult it will be to keep the microwave from sticking out. Runmyhouse Services suggests using a microwave with a shallow depth closer to the 12-inch mark, but these are atypical and might be hard to find.


Installation of the microwave is a related problem for those with cabinets that are not as deep as the microwave itself. Some protrusion from the cabinets is normal, but the real issue occurs where the holes that are used to attach the microwave to the cabinet are located. Because these holes are usually pre-drilled, if they stick out farther than the cabinet itself, installation will not be possible without significant modifications in the cabinet.


Another potential concern that will arise when the microwave sticks out from the cabinet is whether cabinet doors will be able to swing open all the way. Most microwaves open from the left-hand side. Cabinets, on the other hand, tend to be both right- and left-handed. Cabinet doors that open toward, rather than away from a protruding microwave, will not be able to open all the way because they will strike the microwave.


The primary advantage of the over-the-range microwave, in spite of any issues related to its depth, is that it frees up space on kitchen counters. Space above the range is lost, making the cooking area seem smaller, but this is usually not an issue if the microwave is installed high enough above the range. Above all, the over-the-range microwave provides the convenience of both a vent hood and a microwave all built into one.