Best Built In Microwave Ovens

Best Built In Microwave Ovens

In selecting our best built-in microwave ovens, we have excluded microwave drawers and over-the-range microwaves. Both of these are considered built-in but are very different from the standard built-in microwave that we are discussing here.  Please see these related posts:

But before we get further into the discussion, here are our top picks for built-in microwave ovens.


4.5/5

Panasonic NNsd945s built in microwave

  • Built-in capability with trim kit
  • Powerful and capacious family unit
  • Inverter technology for even cooking


Click for Price


4/5

Summit built in microwave

  • Purpose designed built in microwave oven
  • Great value for money
  • Quiet operation


Click for Price


4/5

Frigidaire 30 inch built in micrwave convection oven

  • Easy-use under counter location
  • Tilted display for easy reading
  • Useful towel rail handle


Click for Price

Since pictures speak louder than words. Let’s introduce the built-in microwave with this installation video, courtesy of Samsung. 

Where to install a built-in microwave

I don’t want my microwave cluttering up the counter and looking ugly. I want my kitchen to look and function better. So where should I put it?

Before we get too creative about this, let’s start with the basics.

Kitchen work triangles and work zones

Don’t forget the time tested kitchen work triangle. This places the kitchen sink, range and refrigerator in an easy to use relationship. The theory was developed in the 1940s around a single cook. The principle still applies but has been expanded into work zones. This is because the modern kitchen has evolved into a bigger space with multiple people using it at the same time.  

The lesson is that a frequently used appliance, such as the microwave should also be easy to access. 

Ease of access doesn’t just apply to the placement of the microwave in the floor plan of the kitchen. You also have to consider its height above the floor. 

Ergonomic and safety criteria for built-in microwaves

  • For ease of use, the height of the floor of the microwave should be between approximately 10 inches above and 2 inches below the elbow of the primary user.
  • For safety, the microwave should be no higher than the shoulder of the primary user

The ADA (Americians with Disabilities Act) has different requirements. These are that the bottom of the microwave cutout should be no less than 15 inches and  no more than 37 inches above the floor. By the way, this is part of what makes the microwave drawer such a good option for a built-in microwave.

So it’s not smart to get too cute in thinking about places to put your microwave.

That said, there are a bunch of built-in microwave location options – some good, some not so good.

A not so good option option is to hide it away in a pantry. But that totally goes against the kitchen work triangle or work zone principle.

So let’s take a look at locations where we can apply the principle .

Over the range microwave

Over the range microwave

The over the range microwave is a great space saving option. However, you need a special type of microwave oven that incorporates a built-in range hood for venting the range itself. 

The downside of this is that the venting capability of this type of microwave is very limited and you should not use it over a high BTU range. 

A further downside is that this is not a great location for short people or people lacking upper body strength. From a Universal Design standpoint, nobody should be lifting anything hot and heavy above shoulder height.

Under the counter microwave

Placing a microwave under the counter, including island and peninsula counters, is a great location but not, in our opinion, for a standard front opening microwave oven. This is because you have to stoop to read the display and see what is going on inside. 

For this location you are much better off with a purpose made microwave drawer. We have covered this in detail. See our post on the best drawer microwave ovens. However, these are quite expensive.

Microwave in the upper kitchen cabinetry

convection microwave upper cabinetry

The microwave can either be exposed by itself on a shelf, or behind a cabinet door, or associated with other kitchen appliances as part of an “appliance wall,” or just in combination with a wall oven. Here are a couple of things to bear in mind.

Think twice before putting it behind a cabinet door. It just makes it harder to access.  

Besides, you should not put a regular countertop microwave in a cabinet. You may see this contradicted elsewhere by people recommending 3 inch clearances all around but it is a very bad idea. Here’s why:

  • A countertop microwave has vents that are built into its back. If you stick it in a cabinet without a trim kit, the vents can get obstructed and won’t be able to release heat and steam. This is a potential hazard. 
  • Besides, even if you take into account all the air clearances other people may recommend, it will damage your cabinetry over time. This arrangement looks ugly and unfinished too..

So, if you do get a countertop microwave make sure it has a trim kit, so that you know it is fit for the built-in  purpose.

By the way, do not get a wall oven and microwave combination unit. The microwave component is guaranteed to “die” before the wall oven and this causes an  expensive problem. If this location is your preference, get separate but complementary wall oven and microwave.

Two types of built-in microwave oven

The two types of microwave that can be built in are:

  1. The true built-in: these are purpose made for a built-in application and are designed for standard cabinet widths of 24, 27 and 30 inches. They have unfinished sides, so they are not suited for your countertop.
  2. The countertop microwave with a trim kit. This is usually the least expensive of the two. The trim kit frame provides a built-in look and it is paired with a duct to provide necessary airflow. You have to order the trim kit separately. Here is an explanation of the trim kit.

Now that we have the built in microwave oven in context. let’s get into our top picks.

1

Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SD945S


Panasonic NNsd945s built in microwave


Click for Price

Built in capability

Panasonic 2.2 unit built inYou can build this unit into your new or existing wall cabinetry with an optional Panasonic stainless steel trim kit. This will greatly enhance the look of your kitchen and free up space on your countertop.

Panasonic advises that this unit is compatible with the 27 inch cabinet trim kit model NN-TK621SS.

Inverter technology

Inverter technology provides a steady stream of power at all temperature settings.  This contrasts with the “full on / full off” technology of older microwaves that reduce full  power simply by turning it on and off in sequence.

Inverter technology results in more even cooking.

Sensor cooking

The built-in sensor adjusts power and cooking times to suit different foods.

What We Like
  • Sensor cooking
  • Inverter technology for smooth power delivery
  • Built in capability
  • Compact design for relatively small footprint
  • Keep warm feature
  • Child safety lock
What We Don’t Like
  • Some reports of patchy customer service dealing with warranty issues
Key Specs
  • Power output: 1250W
  • Capacity: 2.2 cu ft
  • Dimensions: 23.88″ W x 14.0″ H x 19.94″ D
  • 120 Volts, 15 Amps, 60 Hz
  • 19 presets
Our Assessment

With all the quality of the great Panasonic brand, this is a powerful1250W family sized microwave with inverter technology for even cooking.

Versatile and accurate performance from 19 presets and food sensor control.

And it squeezes all this capability into a relatively small countertop footprint. No wonder it has such a high rating on Amazon.

How  Much We Like It

4.5/5

2

Summit OTR24 24 Inch Built In Microwave Oven


Summit built in microwave


Click for Price

This microwave oven is purpose made for a built-in application above or below the counter. It is front venting with easy read touch pad controls. Multiple power settings include popcorn, pizza, beverage, baked potato, frozen dinner, reheat and defrost. It has a safety lock. And,  with its mirror finish door, its look is cool modern industrial.Summit built in microwave installed

What We Like
  • Purpose designed built-in microwave oven
  • Quiet operation
  • Great value for money
  • Easy grab stainless steel handle
What We Don’t Like
  • On the small side for a microwave
  • A little underpowered at 900W
Key Specs
  • Power output: 900W
  • Capacity: 0.9 cu ft
  • Dimensions:19″ W x 15.25″ H x 16″ D
  • 115 Volts / 60 Hz
  • 12 power settings
Our Assessment

Although on the small side, this unit is well reviewed and rates highly.

Excellent value for money, since you don’t need to buy a separate trim kit.

How Much We Like It

4/5

3

FRIGIDAIRE FPMO3077TF Built-in Convection Microwave Oven


Frigidaire 30 inch built in micrwave convection oven


Click for Price

This is a full featured built-in combined two in one microwave and convection oven.

It will bake, broil and grill in its convection function. And it will defrost and auto sense cooking in its microwave function.

And then it will combine both functions for great tasting ultra-fast cooking.

What We Like
  • Combination microwave and convection oven
  • Drop down door for easy access
  • Good capacity
  • “Combi cook” settings use both microwave and convection capabilities
  • Plenty of power
  • LED interior lighting
  • Detailed display control panel
What We Don’t lIke
  • Reports of frustrating customer service experience
Key Specs
  • Power outtput: 1,750W
  • Capacity: 1.6 cu ft
  • Dimensions: 29-13/16.9″ W x 19-5/8″ H x 22-3/8″ D
  • 120V, 60Hz / 1.67kW, 14.5 Amps
  • PowerSense™ Cooking Technology
Our Assessment

There is a great deal to like about this combined microwave and convection oven. And we really like the accessibility provided by the drop down door.

Plus it is has a solid brand name behind it.

How Much We Like It

4/5

4

Panasonic Microwave Countertop/Built-In Oven NN-SN686S




Click for Price

Built in capability

Panasonic 2.2 unit built inJust like the Panasonic in our Number 1 slot above, this unit is designed to be built into an existing or new wall cabinet.

To do this you will need a  Panasonic stainless steel trim kit, purchased separately. According to the Amazon listing, this is model NN-TK621SS.

This will greatly enhance the look of your kitchen and free up space on your countertop.

Inverter technology

Inverter technology provides a steady stream of power at all temperature settings.  This contrasts with the “full on / full off” technology of older microwaves that reduce full  power simply by turning it on and off in sequence.

Inverter technology results in more even cooking.

Sensor cooking

The built-in sensor adjusts power and cooking times to suit different foods.

What We LIke
  • Compact and powerful
  • Inverter technology for even cooking
  • Built in capability
  • Keep warm feature
  • Child safety lock
What We Don’t Like
  • Reported durability and customer service concerns
Key Specs
  • Power output: 1200W
  • Capacity: 1.2 cu ft
  • Dimensions: 9 15/16” H x 15 13/16” W x 14 3/8” D
  • 120V, 60Hz
  • Sensor cook and reheat
Our Assessment

This is a good buy. Customer reviews give high marks for easy of use, ease of cleaning, and noise level.

Plus it is backed by a very solid brand name. 

How Much We Like It

4.1/5

5

Frigidaire FGMO205KF Gallery Built-In Microwave Oven


Frigidaire Gallery built in microwave


Click for Price

frigidaire bult inThe stainless steel trim kit makes this unit look great when it is built in.

What We LIke
  • Built-in capable
  • Sensor cooking and sensor reheat
  • Plenty of power and capacity
  • 3 auto cook & 7 user preference options
  • Full 1,200 watts of power
What We Don’t Like
  • Some reports of duarbility, warranty and customer service issues
Key Specs
  • Power output: 1200W
  • Capacity: 2.0 cu ft
  • Dimensions: 13.4” H x 24” W x 19.1” D
  • 120V, 60Hz
  • 11 power levels
  • Sensor cooking
Our Assessment

This Frigidaire unit gets high marks for accuracy and being easy to use, easy to clean, easy to install and value for money.

We think this is a solid buy backed by a solid brand.

How Much We Like It

3.9/5

6

RecPro Convection Microwave


RecPro Built in microwave convection oven


Click for Price

This great value microwave convection oven combo can go in your kitchen as well as your RV.

What We LIke
  • Purpose made built-in unit
  • Good for RV as well as kitchen
  • 8 Express cook options
  • Child lock setting
  • Full 1,000 watts of power
  • Touch pad controls
What We Don’t Like
  • No sensor or inverter cooking
Key Specs
  • Power output: 1,000W
  • Capacity: 1.1 cu ft
  • Dimensions: 14.25” H x 20.4” W x 18′ D
  • 120V, 60Hz
  • 10 power levels
Our Assessment

Don’t be put off by the apparently mediocre Amazon rating. If you dig in, there are no actually negative ratings displayed.

This is not as full featured as the Frigidaore unit in our Number 3 spot. But it is nothing like the price either.

Very good value overall.

How Much We Like It

4/5

Some Built-In Microwave Oven FAQs

How do microwave ovens work anyway?

Here is a great explanatory video:

How much does it cost to install a built-in microwave?

It all depends. Here are the things you have to take into account:

  • The cost of the microwave unit itself
  • The cost of labor at between $50 and $100 per hour
  • Whether you will need an electrical circuit or outlet. This could add up to around $400 to the total cost.
  • Whether you need to do extensive modifications to your cabinetry or add a new cabinet

When you put all that in perspective, you don’t want to cheap out on the microwave itself. 

What are the pros and cons of convection microwaves?

 The Pros of Convection Microwaves

  • Convenience and space saving because they are combination of two appliances
  • Faster cooking
  • Very quick to preheat
  • Cheaper to run than a regular oven
  • Great for fast reheating and browning
  • Versatile cooking applications

The Cons of Convection Microwaves

  • Small cavity so cooking is more limited than with a regular conventional oven.
  • Can be difficult to clean and keep clean.
  • Unless you are careful, it can be easy to overcook food.
built in microwave oven/div>

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *