Do Microwaves Above a Stove Really Vent?

When updating or remodeling your kitchen, you'll want to take advantage of as much space as possible. One way that homeowners do this is by installing an over-the-stove microwave oven. Care should be taken when installing one of these microwaves, as not all of these appliances offer the same features, and certain models might not meet your needs or be appropriate for your kitchen.

Overhead digital microwave oven in kitchen
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Some microwaves can take the place of an oven vent.

Stove Venting

Many municipalities require the presence of a vent above a stove or oven range. The purpose of these vents is to carry away cooking odors, grease and other materials trapped in kitchen air out to the outside atmosphere. This keeps dangerous gases from building up in the kitchen area. The specific ventilation requirements will vary from area to area, but they generally require that the venting be under a specific length and have only a certain number of turns before reaching the exterior of the house.

About Microwaves

Microwaves are used in many American kitchens. Unlike conventional ovens, which use radiated heat, microwave ovens heat the water molecules in the food directly by beaming them with microwave energy. Microwaves are powered by electricity and don't produce cooking fumes (as long as the food inside is properly covered) during the cooking cycle. Because space is at a premium in so many kitchens, microwaves have been manufactured to be mounted underneath cabinets and above stoves.

Microwaves and Venting

If you're looking to install a microwave over a stove, you will have to purchase one that is made for venting. Many under-cabinet microwaves, for example, don't have built-in venting capacity. However, above-stove models are equipped with vents which either draw the kitchen air through a filter or blow the air into the ventilation system. In the case of a microwave that is filtering the air, but not connected to the ventilation system, for example, in the technical sense of the term, the microwave isn't really venting, but it is performing a similar task in that it is cleaning the air around the stove. Which model you choose will depend on both the amount of cooking you perform in your kitchen and the requirements for kitchen ventilation in your area.

Venting a Microwave

Most microwave oven vents connect to the HVAC (heating/venting/air-conditioning) system through an opening in the top of the microwave. When installing a venting microwave, first cut a hole in the cabinet bottom where the microwave will be mounted. Many microwave manufacturers will provide you with a paper template that you can place inside the cabinet to assist you in cutting the hole in the right location. Install the microwave from beneath the cabinet and secure it with screws. Connect the microwave to the ventilation system with either duct tape or duct clamps.