Ask the grumpies: What above-range microwave/hood should we get?

Ewan asks:

Your dishwasher-slash-grossness post prompted me to ask you to ask your (apparently well-informed on appliances!) readership: recommendations for an above-range microwave/hood? Our Kitchenaid just hit the ‘too old and expensive to be worth fixing’ point after 12 years; the kitchen really needs the microwave there even though we probably wouldn’t do it if starting over. External venting. Thanks!

Oooh, I hate the above range microwave.  We had one on our last sabbatical (that was also a convection oven) and it was so annoying.  I would pay a lot of money to just get a normal hood and then put a regular microwave on the counter.  But you may not have counter space, and it may not be worth the money to counteract those crazies who thinks countertop microwaves must be hidden from view.  (You may also be tall.)

Consumer reports talks about their choices here.

Good housekeeping favors the samsung (though tbh, good housekeeping doesn’t generally agree with other rating sites).  Bob Vila also plugs a Samsung.

The Spruce likes the GE.  The Chicago Tribune agrees.  So does the NYTimes.

So… it looks like most places think you should get a GE or a Samsung.  Probably the GE.  (Disclaimer:  We are not experts!  Do your own research or consult experts before making important life-changing decisions.)

If you want to get fancy, you can get one that doubles as a convection oven, but we never did use ours more than once or twice even though we cook a lot.  Maybe if you were more into convection baking?  But it’s still such a pain to have hot stuff so far up there.  I think we’d probably use a convection oven more if it were closer to the ground.

Grumpy Nation, what advice do you have for Ewan?

12 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: What above-range microwave/hood should we get?”

  1. First Gen American Says:

    I am tall and love the space savings of an over the stove microwave. We have a big kitchen and I still have one despite the fact that real fume hoods look cooler. I treasure every inch of my counter space.

    In my opinion, GE appliances have a great design but are very repair prone. I used to work at GE and qualified for an employee discount so I know a lot of people who had them and just about everyone who outfitted their kitchen with all Ge appliances had something go right at the end of the warranty period.

    The last 2 kitchens we did have whirlpool microvawes. I haven’t had a problem with them and they have pretty good air suction power. The fan is loud when it’s on full blast but it does move the air out. I’ve had my current one for 7 years with no issues. I think they were around $500. It’s been a while now but it was one of the cheaper options that had the CFMs I needed and looked good.

    Appliances in general are being designed for a shorter design life, so don’t expect anything that will last 20 years anymore. If you are not sure, always buy the item with the longest warranty period. If you are ever wondering why something breaks just after the warranty period, It’s because it’s designed that way. Predictive engineering tools are getting that good and it’s done on purpose. That’s why your grandmas mustard dishwasher from the 1970’s still running, because when you were designing things on graph paper with #2 pencils, engineers put in big fudge factors for safety so things wouldn’t break.

  2. Anonymath Says:

    I am short, but lacking in counter space, so when our above the range microwave went out at the beginning of the pandemic, we replaced it with another above the range microwave. We got a Whirlpool that was recommended by Consumer Reports. It does have external venting, although we did have to get an installer to put it in as it turned out to be more complicated than DH could handle. So far it is working well. The model is WMH53521HB.

  3. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Hey US citizens—check out Thursday’s post and call/fax/email/write/get the word out to save democracy.

  4. EB Says:

    Somewhat short of counterspace, and I’m tall. But, at the point when we were doing all of this, the kids were not, and they were learning to cook. Plus, I wanted a really powerful fan. Advice from appliance guy was also taken into account: replacing an over-the-stove microwave/fan is much more complicated than replacing a stand-alone microwave (the fan part doesn’t often break, but if it does, you still have to replace the whole shebang). Upshot: we got a really good exhaust fan (Broan) and a stand-alone microwave that sits on its own stand, and doesn’t take up counter space. The microwave has already been replaced twice, easily, and the fan goes along with no problem.

  5. omdg Says:

    I also dislike above the oven microwaves. I have this fear that I will light myself on fire or sustain a severe burn while trying to use it while cooking on the stove. Maybe this is irrational? Still.

  6. Mary Says:

    Take this with a grain of salt: but, maybe you don’t need a microwave at all? I don’t have one and can’t think of a situation when one would be useful. I boil water in a kettle, melt chocolate and butter in a pan on the stovetop, reheat leftovers in a pot or in the oven. Also, based on the microwave in my shared office kitchenette, microwaves seem to need constant cleaning.

    A few years ago, we rented a sabbatical apartment that had a microwave. I only ever used it to store potatoes (drawer space was limited).

  7. Lisa Says:

    Our old kitchenaid microwave died recently and we faced the same problem. Went with the GE and haven’t been disappointed. I don’t really have strong feelings about a microwave (it does what it’s supposed to do – that’s all I ask) but there’s not anything about the GE that bothers me nor any functions I wish it had but doesn’t. I do think it’s vent fan is slightly more powerful than the old kitchenaid, but I’m not convinced it’s vented appropriately to the outside and mostly use it to suck away the flour clouds that arise when we make cookies.

  8. L. Says:

    The adults in my house basically only use the microwave for reheating but the kids use it to make popcorn, heat up frozen dinners or warm milk for hot chocolate. I didn’t want them reaching up to get hot things out of the microwave so we had a nook built in below counter height on the island when we did our kitchen remodel. It was one of the best decisions we made. It’s out of the way, doesn’t take up counter space, and easy and safe for the kids.

    • Lisa Says:

      This seems to be the new trend, and something we’re considering for our upcoming kitchen remodel. At first I was put off by the idea, worrying that the kids might put random things in the microwave or play with it. I’m not sure why I worry about that because my kids are old enough to listen to me when I tell them not to do that. Glad to hear you’ve liked it – we may do the same!

  9. teresa Says:

    Aesthetically I’d much rather have a traditional hood and a microwave that that sits in a cabinet space somewhere above counter level but my kitchen is small and I don’t want to give up counter or cabinet space, so micro-hood it is.

    I have an LG (FWIW specifically the LMHM 2237). It had good reviews when we bought it but I don’t remember what else we looked at. It’s 3 years old, heats as expected, and vents well (to outside). No problems so far and no complaints.

    I had a microwave on the counter in the same kitchen for the prior 7ish years and the kitchen feels much more open and more efficient this way, so no regrets. Plus I’m tall-ish I guess so I don’t feel like I reach up to the microwave- it’s about shoulder height.

  10. Turia Says:

    We have an above the range microwave with external venting. Ours died about two years ago now and we replaced it with one of the small Whirlpool ones which are 1.1 cubic feet and we LOVE IT. It takes up so much less space, so the area under the stove feels less cluttered, and it’s easier to get things on and off the back burners. It was relatively fussy to install but DH managed it. We’ve never had issues with what fits in it – it fits big mixing bowls. Highly recommend!

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