In a kitchen full of cooking tools and appliances, finding the free space to prepare a meal can be a challenge unto itself. Space-saving appliances and storage solutions increase your available counter space and may also make your kitchen look less cluttered. Built-in microwaves, which integrate into your kitchen cabinets or walls, are one way to increase the amount of workable area on your kitchen counters.

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Built-in microwaves can virtually disappear in a kitchen.

Design

Built-in microwaves are similar to countertop microwave ovens. However, instead of occupying a space on the counter, they are part of a kitchen's overall design, like other large appliances. Built-in microwaves include popular over-the-range models, which are mounted above a stovetop range and include elements of the stove's ventilation mechanism. Built-in microwaves can also mount on the wall by slotting in between storage cabinets. With a matching door overlay, cabinet-mounted microwaves blend into the cabinet design. Another built-in microwave option is a model that hangs from a cabinet, leaving free counter space below it for storage or working.

Advantages

Built-in microwaves have many of the same advantages as countertop models but also give you additional space in your kitchen. This may mean that you can install a microwave with a larger interior capacity even if your counters are too narrow or you refuse to give up counter space for a larger model. When finished with matching materials, built-in microwaves give a kitchen a more finished look. Like other microwaves, built-in models are an efficient, convenient way to cook and reheat food. There are no open flames and no need to install a natural gas line as with a gas stove.

Installation

Built-in microwaves require a more complex installation process than countertop models. This makes them inappropriate for some settings such as dorm rooms, office kitchens and rented spaces. The cost of installation may make a built-in microwave cost-prohibitive. The best time to install a built-in microwave is during a kitchen remodel or when the home is first built.

Drawbacks

Besides the cost and difficulty of installation, built-in microwaves have many of the same drawbacks as other types of microwave ovens. Even larger built-in microwaves may not have enough internal space to heat more than one or two small plates, even with a rack that expands the usable space. Because microwaves heat the water content in food, they aren't an effective means of heating or cooking dry foods, and they may cause other foods to change textures. Finally, built-in microwaves represent an added cost in the kitchen despite the fact that appliances such as an oven and stovetop can perform many of the same functions.