MICROWAVE OVEN BUYING GUIDE
Microwave oven initially gained popularity for reheating frozen foods. But now, it has evolved to become one of the most important kitchen appliances that can cook a variety of dishes within minutes. The new-age microwave ovens feature many auto-cook settings so that even a first time user can operate those efficiently. As you get along with your microwave, you will see that a large number of delicacies can be conveniently prepared with this device, saving both time and effort.
This buying guide will familiarize you with the general features of microwave ovens; categorize them as per their overall design and targeted end-users, thus helping you to choose the right oven to meet your requirements. You will also get to know about a few indispensable accessories that you should buy along with a microwave.
Who is this buying guide written for?
-Those who want to prepare food fast and fuss-free
-Those needing to reheat food on a regular basis
- Working parents as well as singletons
What is a microwave oven?
A microwave oven is an electrical kitchen appliance that can heat or reheat food items instantly without employing any heating element or fire. New-age microwaves have features and functions to cook, grill and bake a variety of dishes easily.
Microwave ovens work using a high frequency radio wave of about 2.45GHz, which vibrates the water and other liquid molecules within any food item. These liquid molecules are vibrated at such a speed (unnoticeable with naked eyes) that it generates tremendous heat. The generated heat cooks the food within a very short span of time.
Any convection type microwave oven features a fan and a heating element to create air flow patterns inside the oven. The continuous hot air flow ensures optimum browning of the food evenly from all sides. Convection modes are suitable for baking and can be used to make food crispier from both inside and outside.
- Features a fan with a heating element to create air flow inside the oven
- Circulated air browns food evenly from all sides
- Circulated hot air prevents high speed cooking and ensures even heating up of the entire oven cavity
- Ideal for baking and making food crispier from inside as well as outside
Grill type microwave ovens are more focused on cooking foods like a conventional grilling, which browns food items, making them crispier from outside and juicer from inside. Many ovens feature grilling as a mode and this is ideal for making kebabs, tikkas and even parathas. Microwaves in grill mode can operate for a long period up to 99 minutes to prepare crunchy foods.
- Works like a conventional griller using microwave radiation
- A metal wire rack comes for this type of cooking
- Browns food items to make them crispier from outside and juicer from inside
- Features up to 99 minute long grilling time for preparation of a variety of food items
Oven (solo) type
This type of microwave oven is the basic type that offers uniform heat distribution ideal for baking, reheating, cooking as well as defrosting food items. Solo ovens are sufficient for you if you don’t plan to use or combine grilling and convection modes in order to prepare lavish dishes.
- Works like a basic oven using microwave radiation
- Reheats and defrosts in seconds unlike conventional ovens
- Offers uniform heat distribution, thanks to the turntable
- Suitable for baking, reheating, cooking and defrosting food items
Classification as per placement
These types of microwave ovens are designed to be placed on your kitchen platform. You may choose to place it on the top of any other stable platform including other appliances. However, care must be taken to ensure free air circulation around this appliance.
- Can be placed on your kitchen platform
- Can be rearranged as per the space available in your kitchen
You can integrate these types of microwave ovens in to a modular kitchen cabinetry or even with a compatible cooktop. Also referred as over-the-counter ovens, these will keep the stylish decor of your kitchen intact without looking like an add-on.
- Integrated into modular kitchen cabinetry
- Maintains the decor of your kitchen
Categorization By usage
If you are a singleton or even a couple, solo (oven) up to 23 litre would suffice you. As solo units can heat, reheat and defrost food items within minutes, they can easily meet your requirement when you are late for work or want to reheat that pizza for dinner.
- Solo (oven) up to 23 litre would suffice
- Instantly cooks, reheats and defrosts your food
- Check for one-touch auto options for reheating food items
A medium size family of 4-5 members will find a convection microwave with up to 30 litre very useful. While it will do all the basic jobs like a solo within minutes, the chef within you may use extensive cooking options to make restaurant-like delicacies once in a while.
- A 30 litre convection model will suffice a 5-member family
- Instant cooking, reheating and auto cook options will save time, whether for breakfast or dinner
- Combination cooking modes can be used to prepare a variety of delicious dishes
- Look for availability of various power level settings
Small bakery shop
Bakery outlets can use convection-type microwave ovens with up to 37 litre to reheat patties, pizzas and similar food items within seconds. They can also bake cakes and biscuits to meet special orders taken. Check for one-touch reheat option that would meet your basic purpose.
- A 37 litre convection model is suitable
- You can instantly reheat burgers and patties for customers
- Bake cakes and biscuits for special orders
- Look for one-touch reheating option
Small kebab outlet
If you run a small kebab outlet, you should consider owing a grill-type microwave oven with about 37 litre capacity. This will help you prepare kebabs without running for smoky charcoal grills that might repel customer as well. A microwave oven with double layer grilling racks will enable you to grill more kebabs at a time.
- A 37 litre grill-type model is suitable
- You can grill evenly-cooked kebab within a short time
- No smoky atmosphere
- Look for double or triple layer grill racks that can prepare more kebabs at a time
Why do you need a microwave oven?
Due to their inherent characteristics, microwave ovens cook and reheat food very fast. Almost all the microwave ovens feature auto cook menus so that even a person new to this appliance can use it to prepare food. Besides, advanced users can combine different modes to cook a variety of dishes without manually intervening with the process frequently. This electrical kitchen appliance has a lot of fool-proof safety features, making it suitable for household use.
|Comparative features||Microwave||OTG||Cooking gas|
|Energy source||Electricity||Electricity||LPG or Natural Gas|
|Heating element||Microwave radiation||Conventional heating coil||Fire|
|Speed of cooking||Quite fast heating/reheating||Slow||Fast|
|Auto cook options||Many auto cook menus are available for one-touch cooking||None||None|
|Chances of uneven cooking||Almost none, if the right mode is used||Without motorized rotisserie, OTG can’t cook evenly||Constant manual intervention is required for evenly cooked food|
|Safety factor||Auto cook menus and child lock options make it safe||Preset timer prevents food burning but OTG stays hot long after a cooking||Working with flame has high risk factors|
|Cookware||Requires special microwave safe utensils||Works with conventional metal utensils||Works with conventional metal utensils|
Parts & Components
Magnetron is the heart of any microwave and it generates the high frequency microwaves that agitate and heat up the water molecules in any food. As it is the main component of a microwave oven, many manufacturers offer warranty on it.
- Heart of the microwave oven
- Generates high frequency radio waves
- Many magnetrons of ovens carry manufacturer warranty
It is the interior of a microwave oven where you place your food or container. The volume of this cavity defines the oven’s capacity in litres. Microwave ovens for household usage generally feature up to 32 litre capacity. Some ovens have a stainless steel cavity to retain heat for a long time even after you turn it off. Some other ovens boast of a ceramic enamel cavity that is highly resistant to temperature and scratches, offering enhanced durability.
- It’s the interior of the oven that defines the capacity in litres
- Household microwave ovens are available with up to 32 litres capacity
- Stainless steel cavity retains heat for a long time even after you turn the oven off
- Ceramic cavity is highly resistant to temperature and scratches
All microwave ovens feature semi-transparent doors so that you can have a look at the food while preparing it. The oven doors are reinforced with metal wire-mesh to contain the microwave radiation. Besides, the door lock is designed in such a way that the radiation process ceases at once if you open the door. Thus, you are always assured of a risk-free electrical kitchen appliance.
- Semi-transparent doors allow you to see the food while preparing it
- Integrated metal wire mesh contains the radiation
- Safety door lock prevents accidental leakage of radiation
Menu & control buttons
The control panel features the control buttons and menu options that you can use to select a variety of cooking modes as per food types. Many microwave ovens feature a host of auto-cook options that let you cook or reheat foods with a single touch. Advanced users can use combination of modes like microwave with convection or grilling with convection to cook a wide range of food types. Many microwave ovens also let you to defrost frozen foods and deodorize the oven interior.
- Control panel enables you to select a variety of cooking modes as per food types
- Auto-cook menus are available for beginners
- You can combine different cooking modes for different dish types
- One-touch button for auto deodorization
The display screen of a basic microwave oven displays time, mode and temperature. For example, it will help you to select how long you will cook a certain dish or if you will use the microwave or convection mode. Some advanced microwave ovens use their displays to guide you step-by-step, to help prepare dishes.
- Displays time, mode and temperature
- Helps you select cooking time or to use any specific modes
- Advanced ovens may guide you step-by-step, to help prepare dishes
Usually a toughened round glass plate, the turntable of a microwave works as the base on which you place food and containers/bowls. When the oven starts to cook, the turntable rotates and allows for even cooking of the food on it. The turntable is a removable component so that you can wash it in case you spill something.
- Works as the base on which you place food and containers
- Rotates to enable even cooking of the food on it
- Removable and washable
Modern microwave ovens feature air vents to let out the hot air while heating up food. While this ensures safety of the electric appliance, the process is also useful when you deodorize the oven cavity for an odour-free interior.
- Let escape smokes
- Ensure enhanced safety
- Help for an odour-free oven interior
Capacity:The capacity of a microwave oven refers to the interior volume of it.
Magnetron: It’s the heart of any microwave oven that produces and radiates the high frequency microwaves to generate heat.
Convection:A fan system within an oven circulates air and heat to ensure even distribution of the heat around food. This process is known as convection.
Defrosting:This function of a microwave oven enable you to bring the temperature of frozen meat or fruits from refrigerator to room temperature.
Ceramic: Most of the modern microwave ovens feature a cavity with a lining of an inorganic, non-metallic ceramic solid that can withstand high temperature fluctuation.