Sharp Carousel microwaves all have a rotating turntable, and they all feature more or less the same controls. If you're looking for generic Sharp Carousel microwave instructions, it's best to focus on a newer model, such as the R-651ZS. Recent models have features such as sensor cooking that you won't find on older ones.
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Understanding the control panel is probably the most important thing to do if you want to use your Sharp Carousel microwave properly, but it isn't the only thing. You should familiarize yourself with a list of do's and don'ts that apply to all microwaves. That list is easier to appreciate if you understand how a microwave oven works.
How Does a Microwave Cook Food?
You're probably aware that a microwave oven doesn't generate its own heat. A magnetron generates microwaves, which are electromagnetic waves with a wavelength of around 5 inches. They heat food from within by creating resonant vibrations in fat, oil, sugar and water molecules, especially water because of the polarity of the molecule.
It's the high-energy vibrations that provide the heat that does the cooking. A microwave oven won't heat anything that doesn't contain at least one of these vibrating ingredients. Dry salt and flour, for example, won't heat up in a microwave.
The Turntable Helps Cook Food Evenly
The microwaves generated by the magnetron bounce back and forth inside the sealed oven compartment, which has metal walls to prevent any of the radiation from escaping. The back-and-forth reflection creates standing waves inside the oven which in turn creates nodes of high-intensity radiation.
Food placed in one of these nodes cooks faster, which means a large stationary item such as a casserole may cook unevenly. The function of the turntable in Sharp Carousel models is to keep the food moving so this doesn't happen. It's important to center food on the turntable so all parts of it get the same amount of radiation.
Some Precautions and Best Practices for Nuking Food
Like any microwave, a Sharp Carousel cooks food in an idiosyncratic way that calls for particular techniques and precautions to ensure safety and good results.
- Open liquid containers and puncture food packaging. If foods or liquids heat up in a closed environment, the container or packaging can explode. Puncture eggshells and skins of potatoes, hot dogs, squash and the like to allow steam to escape.
- Cook soups and purees in stages, stirring between stages to ensure even heating.
- Place food in containers made of ceramic, stoneware, microwave-safe plastic or heat-resistant glass (Pyrex). Paper plates are OK, but brown paper bags, food storage bags and recycled paper products are not recommended. Do not use non-heat-resistant glass or anything made of metal.
- Cover food for reheating with paper towels, wax paper, plastic wrap or microwave-safe lids. You can use aluminum foil, but it must be completely flat and should never be closer than one inch to any of the compartment surfaces.
Can Metal Start Fires In a Microwave Oven?
While it may be safe to use aluminum foil in the microwave, you should do it only if the foil is completely flat. If it's crumpled, the microwaves will reflect back and forth on the metal, amplifying the radiation and possibly starting a fire. At the very least, you'll see a spark show, which is probably one of the reasons microwaving is known as "nuking."
Any metal container or utensil that can reflect the radiation will create the same effect. Here is a partial list of things you should never put in a microwave:
- Frying pans
- Sauce pans
- Metal lids
- Steel wool
- Twist ties
In addition, avoid putting containers with metal trim in the oven.
Sharp Carousel Microwave: Set the Clock and Use the Timer
Microwave cooking is even more time sensitive than conventional cooking, so the first thing you need to do after you plug in the oven is set the clock. Before you do this, the clock display will show "0."
- Touch the CLOCK pad to clear the display. If you want the time to show in a 24-hour system, touch the pad again.
- Set the time by keying in numbers in sequence on the number pad.
- Touch the CLOCK pad.
The timer overrides the clock setting as long as the timer is running.
Use the Timer as a Minute or Delay Timer
To use the timer as a minute timer:
- Touch the KITCHEN TIMER pad.
- Key in the amount of time you want using the number pads.
- Touch the START pad. The timer will start counting down. You'll hear three beeps when the time runs out.
You can also use the timer to delay the start of cooking. Follow steps one and two but use the number pad to set the power level and the cooking time before pressing the START pad.
Choosing Power Settings
The Sharp Carousel has 10 power settings. When you touch the POWER pad, the display will show P-1, which is the highest setting. If you want to reduce the power, touch the pad again. The display will read P-2. Touch again and the display will read P-3 and so on to P-10, which is the lowest setting. Touch it once more, and the power will be off.
According to the Sharp Carousel microwave manual, the power goes down by a factor of 10 percent every time you press the POWER pad.
How to Defrost Food
You have your choice of defrosting food by using the timer or defrosting automatically by weight. To use the timer, press the TIME DEFROST pad, enter the time using the number keys and press START. To defrost by weight:
- Note that the AUTO DEFROST pad offers three choices: MEAT, POULTRY and FISH. Touch the appropriate pad. The "lb." indicator lights and "1.0" appears on the display.
- Touch the pad repeatedly to increase the weight up to a maximum of 2 pounds for fish, 2.5 pounds for meat and 3 pounds for poultry.
- Touch the START pad to begin defrosting.
How to Soften Food and Keep It Warm
The Sharp Carousel model R-651ZS and others like it also have a soften feature. Touch the SOFTEN pad once for butter. S-1 will show on the display. Touch it twice for chocolate (S-2), three times for ice cream (S-3) and four times for cream cheese (S-4).
The R-651ZS will also keep food warm for up to 30 minutes. To use this feature, touch the KEEP WARM pad and then touch START.
Cooking in Stages
You can cook many food items in a single stage, but some items such as meat or fish have to be defrosted first. You can program the Sharp Carousel model R-651ZS and others like it to defrost and cook in stages:
- Touch the TIME DEFROST pad. "0" shows on the display.
- Key in the defrost time using the number pad.
- Touch the POWER pad and choose the power level by repeatedly touching the pad.
- Key in the cooking time using the number pads.
- Touch the START pad.
While the unit operates in defrost mode, the DEF indicator will blink. When the blinking stops, it's a good idea to redistribute the food for better cooking.
Using the Sensor Function
The control panel on recent Sharp Carousel models features sensor cook functions for potatoes, frozen entrées and frozen vegetables. The sensor detects moisture given off from the cooking food, so you either leave the food uncovered or cover it according to the sensor cook chart in the Sharp Carousel microwave manual.
Because the sensor has to detect the vapor from the cooking food, it's important to make sure the inside of the oven is dry. Wipe down the sides with a dry cloth.
- Touch the appropriate sensor cook pad. If you choose POTATO, the display will show SCPO. If you choose FROZEN ENTREE, the display shows SCFE. For FROZEN VEGETABLES, it's SCFU.
- Touch the START pad. As soon as the sensor detects vapor from the cooking food, the display will show the remaining cooking time.
The oven also has a SENSOR REHEAT pad. When you touch it, "Sr" shows on the display. Use it to reheat any food item. Do not use the sensor function twice on the same food portion. This will result in overcooked or burnt food.
Other Handy Functions
You can use express cook to cook anything at full power from 1 to 6 minutes. The EXPRESS COOK pad is divided into six sections, each labeled with a number from one to six. Touch the number that corresponds to the amount of time you want the food to cook.
Use the child safety lock feature to prevent children from accidentally starting the oven. Press STOP/CLEAR and hold it for three seconds to lock the control panel. The lock indicator lamp will illuminate. To clear the lock, press and hold the STOP/CLEAR key for another three seconds.
To stop the oven while it is operating, press the STOP/CLEAR pad. If you want to restart the oven again, press the START pad. You can also touch the STOP/CLEAR pad if you want to erase any instructions you've programmed into the controls. The door doesn't have a lock, and you can open it at any stage of cooking. Doing so will shut off the microwave energy, but anything you've programmed will be preserved.
Care and Cleaning
Clean the outside of the unit periodically with soap and water and then rinse and dry with a soft cloth. Do not let the control panel get wet. If it does, dry it immediately with a soft cloth.
Ensure better-tasting food and prolong the life of the appliance by cleaning the inside periodically. When the door is open, avoid putting any downward pressure on it. If the door gets damaged and won't close properly, do not operate the oven until you get it fixed. Clean residue off the door seals periodically and wipe off excess moisture on the inside walls.
Remove the glass tray from the turntable periodically and wash it in the sink with soap and water. Dry it thoroughly before replacing it. While you have the tray removed, wipe down the roller guides with a clean cloth to remove any food residue. Failure to do this could cause rattling and slipping.
Use Your Microwave Oven Safely
Repairs should be accomplished only by a licensed appliance technician. You can get a severe or fatal shock even if the unit is unplugged if you remove the cover and try to make repairs yourself.
Although it probably won't damage the oven if you operate it with nothing inside, the Sharp household microwave oven manual does not recommend doing this.
If you see arcing inside the oven, press STOP/CLEAR to turn off the power and then open the door immediately and remove the metal objects that are causing it. It could be something small that you didn't notice, such as a twist tie or a poultry pin.
Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker and Family Handyman.