Putting your microwave above your stove top saves space on your counters without eating up your cabinet space. It also means that you can't have a range hood above your stove top. This isn't a huge concern with a standard electric or induction oven, but it can cause problems with a gas stove top, especially if yours has more powerful pro-strength burners.
Proper Placement of Your Microwave
Most microwaves set above a stove top require a total clearance of 66 inches from the floor to the top of the microwave. This can leave as little as 13 inches from the top of the burners to the bottom of the microwave, depending on the size of the microwave. This is the same whether you're placing the microwave above an electric range, an induction cooker or a gas stove top.
Not all microwaves are designed to go above a stove top. Microwaves that are designed to fit beneath or between cabinets or over a wall oven don't have vents built into the bottom. A vent is absolutely necessary if you're going to install your microwave over your stove top, so read the specifications on a new microwave carefully before purchasing it.
Main Differences Between Stove Tops
The main difference between types of stove tops lies in how they heat your food. An electric stove has ring-shaped burners that are heated by electricity. The hotter they are, the more brightly they glow, with a red burner indicating that it's set on its highest setting. These burners don't cool down immediately. Some electric stove tops have a sheet of tempered glass on top of the burners.
Induction stove tops work with magnets, and they actually heat the pot or pan rather than a burner. You can only use metal cookware with an induction stove top.
Gas stoves are fueled by natural gas or propane that's mixed with air and ignited by a small spark when you turn the burners on. Most home gas ranges vary in power from about 12,000 to 50,000 British thermal units (BTUs), which measure how much heat the burners put out. It takes 1 BTU to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water by 1 degree, measured in Fahrenheit. The higher the BTU of your stove top, the more powerful a venting system is needed above it.
The Question of Venting
Venting is necessary to remove heat, smoke and cooking odors from your kitchen. A powerful vent also helps keep grease and oils from mixing with moisture and dust, which can coat the area around your cooktop with a thin layer of grime. Venting also removes nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide from the air, both of which are known pollutants.
Standard practice is to have a vent that can clean 100 cubic feet of air per minute for every 10,000 BTUs. The more cubic feet of air per minute you need to clean, the larger the surface area of the vent needs to be and the more powerful the fan.
Most microwaves are only about 15 inches deep and their fans aren't all that powerful as compared to a range hood, which is generally 18 to 24 inches deep with a fan designed to suck up the air and cooking particles and release them outside of your home.
Concerns About Safety
There are several safety concerns to consider before deciding whether having a microwave above your cooktop is best for you. The most obvious one is if you have to use the microwave and the stove top at the same time, you'll be reaching over open flames to get to the microwave. This is a definite hazard if you have long hair or tend to favor loose, flowing clothing.
Another is the issue of height. As with most home furnishings, stove tops are set at a more or less standard height of 3 feet. In order to leave enough room for tall pots, a microwave set above the stove will leave at least another 2 feet of clearance between the top of the stove and the bottom of the microwave. If you're shorter than 5 feet 5 inches tall, you may have a difficult time seeing into the microwave and will have to reach over the stove top to bring down hot food, which increases your chance of spilling things.
- GE Appliances: General List of Minimum Clearance Requirements
- Natural Handyman: Installing an Over-the-Range Microwave Oven
- Better Homes & Gardens: How to Integrate a Microwave
- Air King Ventilation: Over The Range Microwaves, Are They a Good Option?
- Fine Cooking: The Science of Cooktops
- Remodelista: Decoding BTUs - How Much Cooking Power Do You Really Need?
Brynne Chandler built her first bookcase at eight years old, which is also right around the time she started writing. An avid crafter, decorator and do-it-yourselfer, Brynne has remodeled several homes including one cantilevered on a cliff and one that belonged to Olympic swimmer and actor Buster Crabbe. Best known for her EMMY-nominated TV animation writing, she has been writing non-fiction content for almost a decade and has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle and the Houston Chronicle online, among other places.