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!
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
For email, replace firstnamelastinitial
with my first name and last initial.
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
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.
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