cyberakuma

Trying to decide on a new countertop 2.2CF Microwave

cyberakuma
April 12, 2019

Ok, so our old 25-or-so year old Microwave is really performing pretty poorly, parts of food aver overcooked while others are still partially frozen. Time for it to go.

The old microwave was a Sharp 700@att 1.6 Cubit Feet countertop with dimensions of roughly 18L x 24W x 14.5H on the outside.

I have been trying to find a decent countertop (most of them these days seem to be "Above the Range" type) and have been having issues trying to find a good reliable one.

Originally I wanted a convection microwave, but there are almost no countertop ones, and the ones that do exist max out at around 1.2CF and cost more than double most of the top-of-the-line countertop ones... and are generally an afterthought lacking features that the over-the-range models have.

So I guess I am just going to go with a non-convection countertop, preferably a model that is 1200+ Watts and has 2.2 cubic feet of interior room. After reading many reviews and guides, including this one: https://www.bestbuy.com/site/buying-guides/microwaves-buying-guide/pcmcat324600050002.c?id=pcmcat324600050002 

Seemed like my only choices for ones with an inverter were Panasonic and Samsung, and I hated some of the newer models that instead of a number-pad have a dial you need to turn or other silly method to enter the time other than just a dialpad.

So my first choice was the Panasonic NN-SN736B. I ordered one, and wasn't too happy. The front screen of the door actually fell off it's holder while putting it up, I don't know if this was a fault of the microwave design or that particular model since the box was a little banged up when it arrived, I returned it. It was apparently being sold by a third party and was their last one.... so I wouldn't be surprised if that one was a little sketchy. I was considered getting another one from somewhere else, but also was looking into other models.

I was looking at the Panasonic NN-SN966S, which seemed to be better than the previous one in just about every way.... but then I saw this review: https://kitchenlola.com/panasonic-nn-sn966s-countertop-microwave-review/ 

The part where they mentioned "According to some customers, this microwave has a very short “life expectancy” as it tends to develop mechanical issues from 5 to 9 months of consistent use." I don't know how true this is, which is why I am asking. Consumer Reports also claimed the "Predicted reliability" of all the Panasonic models I looked at was just "good"... which is pretty much a low score for that site.

And then many recommend the Panasonic NN-SE985S, but on top of it costing significantly more than the other two, it's display is a mess. It doesn't seem to have numbers OR a dial, just odd characters, I hate that. There is also the issue of reliability.

So can anybody give me any hints or suggestions? Are Panasonic and Samsung really the only ones with Inverters? Are Panasonic really not reliable? Do I basically have no good options if I want a countertop convection that's not smaller than my old 1.6CF microwave? Any suggestions for a good one that has an inverter, is 2.2Cubic Feet, 1200 watts, and uses a numberpad to enter the time?

Comments (7)

  • Anne Duke
    LG has them in a number of different sizes. I have a .9 cf @ 1000 watts. I’ve only had it a few months so can’t speak to longevity. Don’t expect even 10 years out of a microwave oven these days.
  • M

    I have had higher-end Panasonic microwaves (i.e. ~$200-$300) for the last ~15 years. I am generally happy with them. The inverter technology helps a lot. And I actually think the dial is easier to use than a keypad.


    But I agree on issues with longevity. The first Panasonic that I bought had a really flimsy piece of sheet metal that held the lock-out door switch. Not surprisingly, after a few years, the metal bent just enough that the switch no longer registered when the door was closed ... and the microwave subsequently stopped working. I reinforced the mounting mechanism, and I got another couple of years of use out of it. With my fix, I think it lasted eight or nine years total. That's pretty good for a countertop microwave. But it's sad that intentional weaknesses are built into the design.


    The other two Panasonic microwaves that I bought in this timeframe are still working today. But from the general impression that they give, I don't think build-quality has improved. In fact, it probably went downhill.


    Of course the upside is that all these models are pretty cheap compared to other types of appliances. So, if it fails, you aren't suffering big financial losses. I'd suggest using a good credit card that has extended warranty benefits and maybe buying from a place such as Costco which has great customer service and a generous return policy.

  • wdccruise

    Farberware was the only brand that received an Excellent rating in Consumer Reports reviews. The Farberware FMO16AHTBSA is a bit smaller than you want but meets all the other criteria. It has good user reviews at Home Depot, Lowes, and Amazon. It appears to be phasing out but is on Amazon for $150 and you can jack up the warranty to 4 years for $30.

  • cyberakuma

    Yeah, I saw that about Faberware. Issue is that while their had good reliability, they didn't score that well in features and general customer satisfaction. Panasonic seems to be the opposite, high-scoring in features and customer satisfaction, but just ok reliability. Seems like an annoying balancing act, do you want a so-so microwave to last, or a good microwave that would not last...


    I also heard that Faberware have issues with even heating, which is the main reason I want to ditch our old microwave, as I would get food that is overcooked on one end and still partially frozen on the other.

  • mainenell
    I love my Panasonic with inverter technology. We’ve had it about 8 years. LG also has inverter technology. Honestly, I don’t think there is one that has long longevity. I’m a bit surprised mine has lasted this long.
  • wdccruise

    How about this Sharp SMC2242DS? I don't know whether it has an inverter but it would seem to meet your other criteria, people like it, and it's only $170. Info also at sharpusa.com.

  • M

    According to information commonly given in Houzz forums, the vast majority of microwave ovens are made by either Sharp or Panasonic and other manufacturers simply slap their labels on.

    Panasonic models can have inverters, but I think Sharp only cycles power on and off. That results in more uneven heating.

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