What Is the Difference Between Under-the-Cabinet and Over-the-Range Microwaves?

Depending on the configuration of your kitchen, you may benefit from a counter-top, under-the-cabinet or over-the-range microwave. Many counter-top microwaves are also under-the-cabinet models; however, there are drastic differences between under-the-cabinet models and over-the-range models. Before purchasing your next mounted microwave, understand the difference between the two types.

Over-the-range microwaves double as a hood and illuminate the surface below.

Under-The-Cabinet Microwaves

Under-the-cabinet microwaves are ovens designed to be mounted under the cabinet, freeing space on your counter top that would otherwise be consumed by the microwave. Often, under-the-cabinet microwaves double as counter top microwaves, making them versatile appliances and adaptable to any kitchen configuration.

Over-The-Range Microwaves

Over-the-range microwaves are two appliances in one: a microwave oven and a range hood. The hood is located below the microwave, and is designed to remove smoke, steam and odors from the cook-top below, either by venting the air outside of your home, or filtering it using a charcoal filter. There is also a light below the microwave, which illuminates the surface below. Because of the hood on the underside of the appliance, over-the-range microwaves cannot be used as counter-top microwaves.

Building Codes

Many local building codes require the installation of a range hood above your stove. Often, an over-the-range microwave is installed above the stove in an effort to conform with local building codes. Because of these laws, an under-the-counter microwave cannot be installed above a stove, as it does not provide the ventilation provided by an over-the-range model.

Choosing a Microwave

The first factor to consider when choosing a microwave is the installation location. If the microwave will be installed above the stove, you must purchase a unit designed to be installed over a stove to conform with local building codes. Both over-the-range microwaves and under-the-counter microwaves are available with varying capacities, measured in cubic feet, as well as a wide variety of features. Some additional features include a broiler used to brown food, variable power settings and multiple cooking modes that utilize radiant heat and convection technology.