Over-the-range microwaves are a popular addition to many kitchens, thanks in part to their substantial capacities and conservation of counter space. Depending on how much room you have available, you might choose an over-the-range microwave in one of several sizes. It's important to measure the space you plan to fill and consider your microwave oven needs before you purchase a new appliance.
Microwave Size Comparison
According to Lowe's, most over-the-range microwaves are about or just under 30 inches wide, but there are plenty of other sizes available. Since most ranges are of similar size, it stands to reason that many kitchens have the same available space for the microwave if it is installed above. You can also choose a low-profile microwave oven, designed to fit in a smaller space over your range. Every unit is slightly different, so read the carton of an appliance you plan to purchase (or research online before buying) to get exact measures to test in your space
Microwave dimensions may be confusing since there are two sets for each unit: interior and exterior dimensions. When it comes to over-the-range units, the exterior dimensions are particularly important. Keep in mind that microwave depth will determine how far the appliance sticks out from the wall. If you are very tall, a microwave with too great a depth might hinder your ability to easily access your range. If you are shorter, you could hit your head on the bottom of the microwave while leaning over to access the back of the range.
Keep in mind, too, that "capacity" numbers for a microwave tell you about the interior cooking area. These range from as little as 0.7 cubic feet to 2 cubic feet or larger.
Over-the-Range Microwave Dimensions
When you are planning to purchase an over-the-range microwave, be sure to allow at least 66 inches between the floor and the bottom of the unit as well as 30 inches from the top of the range to the bottom of the microwave. You'll also need to allow for additional clearance above or to the sides of the microwave as outlined by the manufacturer.
Typical Microwave Dimensions
The following dimensions are typical for over-the-range microwaves based on a study of popular models available from major manufacturers. Note that they are organized by capacity.
- 1.4 cubic feet: These units range in width from 21 to 29 inches. Their heights range from 12 to 16 inches. Microwave depths vary from 15 to 17 inches.
- 1.5 cubic feet: 23 to 29 inches wide, 14 to 17 inches tall and 15 to 16 inches deep.
- 1.7 cubic feet: Widths around 27 inches are typical with this microwave capacity, with heights between 16 and 17 inches and depths of 15 to 17 inches.
- 1.8 cubic feet: At this capacity, widths are around 29 inches. Microwave height is about 16 inches, and depths are about 15 inches at this size.
- 2 cubic feet: You'll find units between 24 and 29 inches wide, 13 to 16 inches tall and 15 to 19 inches deep at this capacity.
Other Considerations for Microwave Purchases
According to Maytag, there are other considerations when choosing an over-the-range microwave oven. For instance, if your microwave is an important part of your meal-prep process, you'll likely benefit from having an over-the-range model, since it is more easily integrated into your cooking routine.
Furthermore, an over-the-range microwave can circumvent the need for a vent hood over your range. Microwaves of this type already have built-in exhaust venting and a charcoal filter to help remove odors, dust, debris and grease. This means you don't lose the space that comes with a sizable vent hood, but you will reap all the benefits.
When you're buying an over-the-range microwave, you should be familiar with the cubic feet per minute, or CFM, which indicates the venting power of the appliance. The higher the number, the more venting power the unit has. You also need to know whether the unit you're considering can be plugged in or whether it needs to be hard wired. You'll have to buy a unit that works for the power source you have, whether that be an outlet or a junction box. If you do not have the appropriate power source, you'll need an electrician to help you set up your new microwave.
Danielle Smyth is a writer and content marketer from upstate New York. She holds a Master of Science in Publishing from Pace University. She owns her own content marketing agency, Wordsmyth Creative Content Marketing (www.wordsmythcontent.com), and she enjoys writing home and DIY articles and blogs for clients in a variety of related industries. She also runs her own lifestyle blog, Sweet Frivolity (www.sweetfrivolity.com).