Do all OTR units contain a fan/vent and light? Are they required,
specifically the fan/vent?
If I want to clear space on my counter, what's wrong with mounting a
shelf on the wall over my range and putting my counter top unit on it?
What's wrong is: it is not fashionable to do it that way. Restaurants
use microwaves on shelves, but then, a restaurant kitchen only makes
money if it is efficient and practical. Equally practical in any
kitchen, commercial or home. is a decent range hood vented to the
outside. I may be wrong, but the microwave vent doesn't seem to be the
equal of a good range hood. You may be best served with a good range
hood and shelf mounted microwave nearby, exactly what SWMBO in our
house has decreed.
I'd say the problem with just a shelf and no vent/fan/hood
is that you have nothing to deal with smoke from the range.
As noted in another thread, any hood above the range
without an outside vent is very marginal, so it's probably
only a small additional step down to having nothing if
you can't vent it.
My first priority would be a vented hood over the range.
As far as countertop microwaves, I think they are fine
as long as you have the countertop or shelf space for it.
IMO, one of the stupidest things going on are all the
folks buying expensive combo oven and microwaves,
where you get a built-in microwave with a conventional
oven below it.
They typically cost $3000 and you wind up with a
microwave that is smaller and less powerful than the
$100 one you can buy at Walmart. I recently replaced
my old oven/microwave with a new dual oven unit and
put a $100 microwave on the counter. Looks a hell of
a lot better and the microwave is big and powerful.
And if it fails, I get a new one for $100.
We started with a microwave on the counter, moved it to a shelf to
gain some space and then eventually put a new one over the range. The
problem with a shelf is cleaning under the microwave. It easily
gathers dust and the occasional food spill underneath and is more
difficult to clean. With the shelf at about eye-level the dust and
dirt is very visible.
You'll want a light and a fan with any over-the-range model even if
the fan only exhausts to the room. Our new one even turns on
automatically to dissipate the heat when we clean the oven in the
summer. It is very functional placed over the range. The only problems
are keeping the two clocks in sync (oven and micro) and re-positioning
the cabinet above.
We've over-the-stove microwaves in the last couple of houses. Even though
they're substantially more expensive, we like them a lot. Less wasted space
and they're in a convenient location (eye level). I've seen some in
under-counter drawers that look nice but the selection is even more limiting.
I've never seen an OTR Microwave without a vent fan. Since you have to
have a vent anyway, what would be the point? Unless you have an electric
range with downdraft ventilation. I'm sure for a gas range you have to
have ventilation to the outside.
When selecting an OTR microwave remember that there is a big difference
in the vent fans. You can get one with a 600 cfm fan or as little as a
220 cfm fan. I read that you don't want to go over 600cfm anyway since
the duct work isn't designed for higher air volumes than that. 400cfm
should be sufficient unless you're doing a lot of high heat stir frying,
i.e. kitchens in Asian households will usually have a very powerful vent
If you have an electric range with downdraft ventilation then mounting
the microwave on a shelf over the range would be okay, and no worse than
a built in one with a vent fan.
I saw I difference in two models I used. The first I ran the vent to the
I next I installed a combo turbo oven/ microwave again hooking up external
The first installation, if you run the microwave it vents outside.
On the second, if you run the microwave, it does NOT vent it to outside.
But in both cases turning on the vent, always vents outside. I think it's
because I have a combo unit, I don't think I can change it.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.