comparing over the range microwave vs vent hood

Hi. I was wondering if anyone can help me in determining the how effective the OTR microwave is in taking away smoke/odor/grease compared to the vent hood. I know that that hood is far superior to the microwave in all respects. We will have a vent that leads outside of the house. We are leaning towards the microwave only because it saves us a lot of space. We are wondering what is the maximum amount of burners used for the over the range microwave to work at its Maximum effectiveness to remove the smoke/smell/grease.
Thank you so very much for your time.
Happy New Year!
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If I were looking I would go to Broan and find the CFM specs of the different models
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AFAIK, most over the range microwaves are 300CFM's. Most standard vent hoods are also 300 CFM's but the higher end ones can be 400CFM's and higher. I just did renovated my kitchen and my new GE microwave hood does a good job taking out smoke and smell. Keep in mind a hood is only as good as the ductwork it's connected to, so make sure the runs are short with not a lot of bends.
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Mikepier wrote:

You can now buy 400 CFM microwave/hood combinations. I just put one in a rental unit that had a 25 year old combo with a weak fan. The new one cost about $250 on sale during a "friends and family sale," see: "http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_12605_02280082000P"
You can buy standalone hoods that are well over 800 CFM, but the "standard" cheap hoods are very weak, often 200-300 CFM.

They work well as long as you're not doing a lot of high heat stir fry that generates a lot of greasy smoke. However as others have pointed out, they do get the outside of the microwave dirty, requiring more frequent cleaning. The filters keep the vent work behind the microwave from getting clogged up.
We replaced the old built-in double oven, that was in the house when we bought it, with a microwave on top, oven on the bottom. This saved space versus a standalone microwave, and since we rarely used two ovens at once anyway, was not much of a sacrifice.
Unless the original poster have a really small kitchen, he should avoid the combination unit, unless he doesn't do a lot of high temperature, high fat cooking.
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We have a GE microwave/convection oven above the stove, vented to the outside. Venting is ok but not ideal. Gradually a grease film builds up on the front of the microwave. We don't so any deep fat frying or much grilling on the stove. If you do, I would recommend a regular vent.

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Putting a powerful electronic device in a plume caused from smoke, atomized grease, and steam has never seemed like a good idea to me. Neither does sticking your face into that plume reaching over boiling liquids or hot oils to take superhot food out of a chest high microwave.
I've had them, and I will NEVER, repeat NEVER put a microwave over a stove again. All you end up with is a scungy microwave that's impossible to clean around. And expose yourself time after time after time to hot surfaces, liquids, and foods.
Putting a stove vent in combo with a microwave was a good marketing idea. If you cook much, you know how bad a practical idea it is. 99% of the microwave/hood combos I have seen weren't even vented to the outside. Sucks out the smoke from the stove and spews it right back into the room, less a few percent that sticks to the inside of the ducts and turns to glop. Commercial restaurants have to shut down their entire kitchen occasionally to have their ductwork cleaned over the stoves. With a microwave/hood combo, you have ductwork that CAN NOT BE CLEANED.
Get a good vent hood. And a good microwave. And keep them separated. That is what I do.
Steve
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Get one with a high CFM rating. I have one with 6 speeds on it. Use the "2" setting for regular cooking and 6 will clear the entire kitchen in a few minutes (with lots of noise). The microwave above the stove is very convenient and easy on the spinal column.
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You already know the answer. The OTR is acceptable, but will never equal or better a good hood. It is a compromise, one that we are willing to make because we don't have enough counterspace for a MW. Ours is a GE convection oven MW and is very handy to have.
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LPLZ wrote:

The CFM varies on the combination units, with some newer models rated at 400 CFM, while older models were as little as 200 CFM. I bought one for a rental unit last year that was rated at 400 CFM, and it wasn't all that much more than the 300 CFM model.
By comparison, the good standalone range hoods (Asian models such as San Yang Pai, "http://www.sanyangpai.com/RangeHoods.asp "), are up to 850 CFM. There was one of these in the house we bought, and it's very effective. Every Chinese home seems to have a similar unit.
If you do a lot of high temperature stir frying then don't get an integrated microwave/hood. The usual arrangement in Asian households is a gas range, adjusted for the highest heat output, and a high power hood of 750-850 CFM.
If you are just doing "normal" cooking, a combo unit with a 400 CFM exhaust fan is no worse than many of the standalone hoods. I.e. the Bosch stainless steel 36" range hood sold by Sears for around $400 is only 400 CFM as well, and there are standalone hoods that are even lower.
If you are getting a standalone powerful hood, eschew the expensive ones from the U.S. companies, which can cost $2000. For $800-1000 you can get a much better unit from an Asian building supply store.
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Suitability depends entirely on your cooking habits. As I have gotten older, fried foods have been eliminated from my menu. Meats get grilled or barbecued outside, roasted, or occasionally oven fried. The last time I turned on the hood fan was during the self-cleaning cycle on a very dirty oven. I can't remember the last time I got a pan hot enough to smoke.
If you are an Iron Chef type who likes to saute in flaming oil, you need a high volume hood and a CO2 fire extinguishing system. Don't forget to wrap the ductwork in type X gyp board, and get started on Lipitor before you turn 30.
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LPLZ wrote:

moved in it had a problem. I repaired the problem ok myself, but if I hadn't been able to I would have cost $100 to $200 to have it repaired. I can buy a really good countertop model for less than $100. So I figure it doesn't pay to have the combo. The cost of the unit is a lot higher, and repair costs are a lot more than you can buy a new counter top unit for.
Bill Gill
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It really depends on the quality of the existing hood, and the quality of the microwave. Most low end range hoods do little more than make noise, whereas most OTR microwaves have better fans. On the other hand, an OTR micro probably can't compete with a good quality range hood.
However, there are other factors you may want to consider as well.
1. A downdraft venting range will usually be more effective than a range hood, since it's closer to the range top and the blowers are usually larger and more powerful.
2. The fan in a range hood (or OTR Micro) can be very noisy. If it's too loud, you may be less likely to use it, in which case the effectiveness is irrelevent. We bought a Braun "quiet" model hood for our house. On "low" it's practically silent and works fine for venting most odors. It makes more noise when I use "high" for boiling water and whatnot, but is still quieter than the low setting of most hoods.
3. Over the range microwaves are in a direct path for the steam and grease coming from the range below. I was a microwave tech for six years and would frequently see the insides of OTR microwaves caked with grease inside the working parts (behind the control panels for instance).
4. It's a lot harder (and more expensive) to service an OTR micro than a countertop model. If you need to replace it, you have fewer options available, and it's a lot more work.
5. The length of the ductwork will affect ALL venting options (hood, OTR micro, or downdraft). Venting directly out the back wall is best if possible. Otherwise, the longer your duct and the more bends it has, the less effective it will be.
My recommendation. Use a normal range hood. If you need the space, maybe you could sacrifice some cabinet space to set up a shelf for a countertop micro. You may be able to find a built-in kit if you want it to appear more integrated with the cabinetry.
As a final thought, you may be able to install a larger blower remotely in the attic to reduce noise and increase efficiency.
Anthony
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