Microwave ovens were considered a luxury item in kitchens 20 years ago, but today a microwave is considered as important to your kitchen's cooking and heating requirements as an oven or stove.
However, with the continued developments in microwave technology it's harder than ever to choose the best one to suit your cooking and heating needs. In this guide we will take a look at the different styles of microwave ovens, the different manners in which you can store your microwave and some of the basic and most important features to look for.
Microwave ovens use a special component called a magnetron to convert electricity into microwaves, a type of radio wave that vibrates and excites the molecules inside food, heating it up from the inside-out. They're an essential part of modern kitchens as they allow you to heat things rapidly without the hassle of preheating an oven. Some foods are even designed specifically for microwave cooking.
It's important to consider how you will be using the microwave oven in your kitchen. Work out how many people you will be using it to cook for; are you a large family or do you use it for single meals. Will the microwave be used as the primary appliance for cooking, or just as a cooking aid? Where will the appliance be located in the kitchen - in a custom cabinet space, or on the bench top? It's also important to consider what cookware you're going to use with the microwave and whether it will fit in the oven.
Microwave oven types
There are a couple of basic microwave types, conventional and convection. A conventional microwave oven is generally the cheapest microwave oven available. They come in a variety of sizes from as small as 20 litres to large 44-litre options and can be installed anywhere, from the benchtop to a cabinet. Microwaves require ventilation and the amount required will vary from model to model; however, a minimum of 5cm is recommended - even for smaller models. They may include many of the basic features detailed below, depending on the model. A conventional microwave won't include grill or convection fan features that allow it to be used as an alternative to a conventional oven, such as for roasts or grills.
A convection microwave oven works in the same way as a conventional microwave oven, but they include a heating element that allows it to cook like a conventional convection oven does. Conventional convection ovens use an element and fan to heat the air, circulating it around the food and subsequently cooking it - a convection microwave does this too. It can be preheated and hot air is circulated around with a fan to cook the food evenly, but it also uses microwaves to cook the food at a faster rate.