February 23

What is Over the Range Microwave Oven? Learn Here


Author: Gisele Perez
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As far as a simple answer goes, an over-the-range microwave oven, as the name suggests, is a type of microwave oven that fits directly above your cooking range. It is a more specialized appliance in the sense that it combines both the microwave oven as well as range hood for ventilation.

It is an excellent choice choice if you are building or designing your kitchen and want to give it a neat and modern look.

The only caveat is that they are rather expensive as compared to regular countertop models.

In this article, we will discuss what is over the range microwave oven and how it can be the right choice for your kitchen.

We will also discuss its advantages and disadvantages that would help you decide what type of microwave suits your kitchen the best.

Also Read: What size microwave do i need?

What is Over the Range Microwave?

What is Over the Range Microwave Oven
Over-the-range microwave fit right above the cooktop and have ventilation system underneath like a range hood.

Selecting a microwave is an important decision while setting up your kitchen. This appliance does more than mere defrost or reheat and that makes it quite useful in any busy household.

But throwing everything on your kitchen counter is not something we all want.

Urban houses have small kitchens with cabinets that allow you to arrange everything nicely without making it look too congested. Covering the countertop may restrict your workplace, so that is where over the range microwaves become useful.

Over the range microwave is installed right over your stove, cooking range, or cooktop.

It may also be called a built-in microwave that is fixed above your countertop as well. However, one essential factor that differentiates built-in microwaves from over-the-range microwaves is the ventilation system.

Over-the-range microwave ovens have a ventilation system underneath so that all the steam from the foods being prepared on the cooktop gets dispersed.

Vented Position for Over-The-Range Microwaves

There are different types of venting position that you can get for an OTR microwave oven.

Most OTR microwave ovens offer BOTH external as well as internal venting options.

External venting allows the hot air to blow out such as vertically through the roof like a range hood.

Internal venting microwaves generally have blower located on top-front.

Non Vented
An internally vented OTR Microwave Oven exhausts the smoke from the cook top from top-front vents

Also Read: What is a Built-in Microwave


The width of the OTR ovens is generally standard at 30″.

The main consideration is the height. You must make sure the height is suitable with your kitchen design.

Difference Between an Over the range vs Built-in vs and Countertop Microwave Oven

These are the three types of modern microwaves that function the same but differ in placements.

Countertop Microwaves

microwave electromagnetic Radiation
Countertop models are among the cheapest and they come in several sizes. Source: Amazon.com

A countertop microwave is a simple appliance that you can put on your kitchen counter or any other place of your choice.

It does not need to be installed in a fixed place. Countertop microwaves have more variety in terms of size, price, or features.

There are no installation charges that makes countertop microwaves all the more cost-effective.

However, if you are concerned about your interior decor or if you have limited countertop space then they are not the ideal option.

Built-in Microwave

Built In Microwave
Built in Microwave Ovens fit into cabinetry and walls and have exhausts appropriately designed. Source: Panasonic NN-SN686S

These microwaves become a part of your kitchen’s interior. They are fixed in a kitchen wall or cabinet and need professional installation.

Notice that their exhausts are appropriately designed to vent the the hot air outside the cabinetry or the wall.

You must also note that most built-in models are also suitable as counter top microwave ovens. You can transform them into built-in microwaves using trim kits or ventilation kits.

Over the Range Microwave

Over the range microwave, as we said earlier, are mounted above your cooktop. Like built-in microwaves that need special installation. But it leaves your kitchen counter free.

The significant feature here is that it offers the features of a cooking range hood. As such it has ventilation underneath.

Advantages of Over the Range Microwave

Here are a few benefits of Over The Range Microwaves.

Saves Space

One of the biggest advantages of having an over the range microwave is that it saves space. It leaves the counters free for other things and gives a very tidy effect.

Quality Product

Over the range, microwaves are a one-time investment. They are not cheap and you end up investing a good amount on a quality product.

Modern and Trim Look

Over the range microwaves are for smart and modern kitchens. They are tucked in nicely and are a part of your kitchen interior design.

Built-in Ventilation

As mentioned earlier, over the range models are installed right up on top of your cooktop, so they are equipped with air filtration or ventilation system.

They have built-in fans for proper ventilation that keep the steam and smoke away from the cooking range.

The ventilation options can be internal, external, or both.

Disadvantages of an Over the Range Microwave

While over the range microwave seems very nice and elegant, they are not without disadvantages.

Here are a few of the disadvantages of an over-the-range microwave.


Over the range microwaves are fairly more expensive. There are no smaller size with fewer features.

Costly Installation

Unlike countertop options, you can’t just buy any microwave for your cooktop. The appliance needs to be installed properly above your cooking area.

It means you need a licensed contractor to install the unit properly with correct measurement.

Difficult to Retrofit

It is easy to install an over the range microwave when you are building or designing your kitchen. It becomes difficult to retrofit.

You would need to dislocate a few cabinets or the ventilation area to fix in the microwave if it happens to have a different dimension.

Fortunately, the standard width of an OTR microwave is 30 inch so the chances of renovating your kitchen is low.

Above the Head

The placement of over the range microwave may not suit everyone. They are installed up above your cooking range that may not suit people with shorter heights.

If your kitchen cabinets are not installed at a comfortable height, working with above the range microwave can become difficult and even uncomfortable.

Difficult to Work

It will be difficult to put in pots and plates that are too high as there is more chance of things tipping over while taking out or putting in.

You won’t be able to monitor food while it is cooking inside comfortably if you cant comfortably reach the viewing height.

There is also more chance of accidental burns if you are using the stove under it.

So Working in an above the range microwave is not as easy as in with built-in or countertop microwaves.

Less Effective Fan for Ventilation

Over-the-range microwaves come with their own ventilation system. But most of these designs have less powerful fans for ventilation when you compare with a dedicated range hood.

A typical kitchen ventilation fan has 1000 CFM capacity. On the other hand, over the range microwaves have fans 300 CFM capacity that may not work well in a very busy kitchen.


In this article we learned about what is over the range microwave oven.

Over the range microwaves are specialized kitchen appliances that are designed to fit on to your cooktop. While they have their advantages, the cons should not be overlooked.

However, if you are short on space, or if you need a specific interior decor, then an over-the-range microwave make sense.


1. What is the difference between over the range and countertop microwave?

A countertop microwave is a great option if you have limited space in your kitchen. They can be placed on the counter or mounted to the wall. Over the range microwaves are mounted above the stove and have a ventilation system that pulls cooking fumes and smells out of the kitchen.

The main difference between over the range and countertop microwaves is size. Over the range microwaves are larger because they include the range hood. Countertop microwaves are smaller and typically have more features than over the range microwaves.

Over the range microwaves typically cost more than countertop microwaves. Over the range microwaves also tend to have better performance ratings because they include a venting system. If you are looking for a microwave with simple features, a countertop microwave is a good option.

2. Can countertop microwave be used over the range?

Microwaves cannot be mounted over a range unless they are expressly designed to do so and have a vent. If the countertop microwave is positioned near a range, a clearance of two feet is required on the side adjacent to the range.

3. Are built in microwaves better than countertop?

In general, we recommend built in microwaves over countertop microwaves. They take up less space on the countertop, and they're often more powerful. However, there are a few exceptions: if you have a small kitchen, or if you need a microwave that can double as a convection oven, then a countertop microwave may be a better option.

4. What does the Range Microwave mean?

A microwave oven and a range hood are combined in an Over The Range Microwave or OTR Microwave. This two-in-one appliance is designed to be installed over a range or cooktop and comes complete with the necessary mounting hardware for a quick and simple installation.

5. Is over the range microwave good?

Yes, over the range microwaves are a good option for small kitchens where there is not enough counter space to install a traditional microwave. They are also good for people who like to cook and bake, as they offer a convenient way to heat up food without having to use the oven.

About the author

Gisele Perez

When not giving in-home, hands-on cooking classes, or developing recipes, Gisele "cooks" wonderful posts for us. She writes about various topics related to cooking appliances and cooking methods.


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