Buyer's Guide \ Microwaves \ What is an Over-the-Range Microwave?

What is an Over-the-Range Microwave?

In any kitchen, space and practicality are important. That’s why modern appliances need to serve a function without detracting from the available space for prepping ingredients and cooking meals.

Over-the-range microwaves serve a few functions and they might work well for a kitchen with limited space or if you’re shopping for a new hood vent.

Let’s review the details about over-the-range microwaves to see if one makes sense for you.


Table of contents

What is an Over-the-Range Microwave?


Over-the-range microwaves are mounted over a range or cooktop. In addition to offering the cooking, heating, defrosting and reheating functions of a typical microwave, they also:

  • Provide ventilation for the smoke, odours and steam that’s often the result of cooking.
  • They provide overhead lighting for the top of your range so you can see what you’re cooking.

They typically come in several different models and offer a wide variety of features.

One model type offered by some manufacturers is the low profile microwave hood combination. This combo microwave and hood appliance also fits above a range normally occupied by a vent or range hood but, as the name suggests, it is designed with a lower profile. Some of these models feature a sleek design complete with hidden control panels and touch open buttons.

The typical dimensions of an over-the-range microwave are:
  • Widths will commonly be around 30″ (76 cm) to match the standard width of the below range and the standard cabinet width where it will be installed.
    • The standard width of over-the-range microwaves ensures that the swing-out radius is similar across all models. 
  • Normally, interior space ranges from 0.8 cu. ft. for compact microwaves to 2.1 cu. ft. for full-sized models. 
  • Most standard over-the-range units are about 17″ (43 cm) tall.
    • Low profile over-the-range units are about 10″ (25.5cm) tall.

Looking for a compact solution? Save on space with a low profile microwave hood from Whirlpool brand.

Pros of an Over-the-Range Microwave


The biggest benefit to an over-the-range microwave is that it’s a space-saver, freeing up valuable counter space. For kitchens that are especially small, an over-the-range microwave might be a necessity.

Another benefit is that it also acts as a vent, removing the need for a separate one located above your range.

This type of microwave is considered by many to be a good choice for the average home cook whereas professional chefs might require a more powerful vent hood.

Cons of an Over-the-Range Microwave


One con of over-the-range microwaves is that they are more difficult to install than countertop microwaves. They often involve the help of a trained professional.

Another notable drawback is that getting food in and out of a microwave located above a range can be more challenging due to the height. Generally, they are less accessible than other types of microwaves.

Determining What Size You Need for an Over-the-Range Microwave


Most over-the-range microwaves come in standard dimensions.

When trying to determine if an over-the-range microwave is the right size for your kitchen or trying to find an appropriately sized microwave for your available space, consider the following:

  • The size of your household
  • How you typically use your microwave
  • How big is your kitchen

To learn more about microwave sizes, review our guide on Microwave Sizes: Finding the Right Fit.

Common Features Found on Over-the-Range Microwaves


If you’re shopping for an over-the-range microwave you should give thought to the features that could help with your cooking.

Most basic models come with the standard features but you’ll have to spend extra if you want more advanced options.

Here are some features available on select models:
  • Steam cooking
  • Convection cooking
  • CleanRelease® Non-Stick Interior
  • Sensor cooking
  • Tap touch controls
  • Proximity sensor
  • Touchscreen
  • Fingerprint resistant
  • Low profile design

Is it Time for an Over-the-Range Microwave?


Now that you have a better understanding of over-the-range microwaves, you can decide if it’s right for you and if one will fit seamlessly in your kitchen.

Ultimately, it should come down to your cooking needs and how you want to utilize your precious kitchen space.

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