FIND PROFESSIONALS
SHOP BY DEPARTMENT
pmjnh

HELP-Will my over the range microwave be too low?

pmjnh
8 years ago
Kitchen remodel about to begin. We just ordered our new SS range and over the range microwave. There will be 16 inches of clearance from the bottom of the microwave unit to the cook top (smooth top,electric) . Hubby is worried there won't be enough clearance to work on the back burners of the stove.

If we raise our cabinets (already in place) by 2-3 inches...will this look bad? Or will it look ok? I have 12 inches between the top of the cabinets and the ceiling.This 1st photo attached is not my kitchen but it is the same design and will look just like this when our remodel is complete. The microwave with my cabinet set up will sit 1/2 inch below the cabinet . The 2nd photo is the "before" photo . Can you look at this and suggest whether this will work or not?

Thanks for any suggestions!

Comments (48)

  • goodknightwoman
    8 years ago
    Our SS microwave has 13 inches clearance from the stove top to the bottom of the microwave, and I can tell you that the back burners are almost unusable. Another 3 inches might do the trick.
    pmjnh thanked goodknightwoman
  • bluenan
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago
    I have 16" clearance and I've never had a problem. I have a double wall oven and a cooktop separate, but that shouldn't make a difference.
    pmjnh thanked bluenan
  • Related Discussions

    Putting an over-the-range microwave over a counter?

    Q

    Comments (26)
    We struggled with this decision and opted for a more modern look and powerful hood venting above the range. We are in the midst of our project and having installed a Jenn Air OTR nice unit with side recess to open door installed under a cabinet above the counter. My wife dislikes the push-button microwaves and only OTRs have handles or recesses like this. This unit also has convection on model JMV9196CS. https://jennair.com/appliances/details/JMV9196CS
    ...See More

    Over the range microwave... Help NO cabinets for easy install

    Q

    Comments (3)
    Depending on the style you're going for, I would just replace the current vent. If the vent is still working properly, I think you can just have a new cover built to go around it. OTR Microwaves are highly over-rated IMO. If at all possible, I'd find a pantry shelf for a stand alone microwave. Or convert the lower part of an upper cabinet. With an OTR microwave, the bottom of the microwave will be approximately where your current vent is. Think about moving hot full bowls and dishes from that height. Additionally, unless the current vent is really weak - and the OTR is really strong, you may be decreasing CFMs. And all that doesn't even address the logistics of HOW to install an OTR there. My best guess (ONLY a guess) is that you'd have to install a small cabinet there to hang the microwave from. As I recall, they're designed to hang that way and there really is no allowance to hang them from the wall.
    ...See More

    OVER-THE-RANGE MICROWAVE DOOR CRACKED

    Q

    Comments (18)
    I'm not a fan of the OTR microwaves in the slightest. Having to reach up to remove potentially very hot items from such a height doesn't make sense to me. Nor does having a ventilation system built around a big box. Take a straw and blow on your open hand, then bend the straw as if it were a box corner and see how much air you can then move. However, you are limited for space, and it's very unlikely that your tiled backsplash extends high enough with the OTR removed to maintain the esthetics of your kitchen. So I'd recommend a Panasonic Genius, if they're available where you live. You could also research and maybe find a convection OTR microwave, that would essentially give you a second oven. The best pointers I've ever heard were to buy an OTR based upon the brightness of the lights over the cooking area, and to turn the fan on just before the fridge or pantry door is opened, to create a breeze that will aid in the kitchen air exchange when the actual cooking begins. Good luck with your dilemma.
    ...See More

    Help! Over the range microwave space is too small!

    Q

    Comments (2)
    They are all in the 16''-17''H range. If you are referring to the depth, all OTRs are 15'' deep.
    ...See More
  • pmjnh
    Original Author
    8 years ago
    I just realized that my cabinets are 12 inches deep and the depth of this new microwave is 15.5 inches. This measurement will play into it as well. Not sure if this is going to work.
  • Denita
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago
    Why don't you find another location in the kitchen for the microwave rather than over the stove? That way you do get the full height above the stove. I can't imagine using a stove with an ill fitting microwave over it that is too low and sticks out a couple of inches further than the cabinets above. There is no good reason to mount the microwave over the stove. Although I am showing two examples below, there are many different better locations in the kitchen that will make the microwave fit seamlessly and actually help in your kitchens' function.

    If you use a microwave in another location, you don't need the venting option in the microwave, you can use a range hood.

    Here are some examples:
    Kitchen · More Info

    Cooking Center · More Info
  • PRO
    Signature Kitchen & Bath Design Inc.
    8 years ago
    The height setting for ventilation is dependent on 2 things. Look at the range manufacturers specifications for minimum clearance and cfm of air movement requirements. Next, look at the microwave specifications to be sure it can do what you need it to do and their minimum height. The range manufacturer trumps the microwave manufacturer as they are trying to protect for fire safety. Don't dismiss the range specs, in our area, an inspector may look at them if you are below what they feel is a minimum clearance.
    pmjnh thanked Signature Kitchen & Bath Design Inc.
  • pmjnh
    Original Author
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago
    The only option is to have all the cabinets raised by 3 inches. I don't think it would look good to raised just the 2 cabinets above the microwave. IIt might be best for us to find an alternative spot for a counter microwave. Because we are not replacing the cabinets, finding a cabinet spot will be impossible. Can't tell you how disappointed I am...will probably end up with a generic SS range hood.
  • bluenan
    8 years ago
    Sorry, I'm sure you'll love your new kitchen though. Good luck with the remodel!
    pmjnh thanked bluenan
  • condomary
    8 years ago
    Could you have a spot built into your island for the microwave?
    pmjnh thanked condomary
  • pmjnh
    Original Author
    8 years ago
    Great idea, condomary , but unfortunately, because our kitchen work area is small, the island will only be 48 inches. There is no spot available for the microwave :( . The only solution is to replace and redesign the cabinetry, which is not in the budget this year!
  • condomary
    8 years ago
    I am a fan of the microwave above the range, if it vents directly outside. Too bad an appliance that is so helpful takes up so much counter space.
  • Patricia Kent
    8 years ago
    I took out my cabinet over the microwave and put in open shelves higher up , gaining a few inches of clearance. I display some antique pottery there. Kind of opens up the whole bank of doors, too. The microwave hangs from the shelf..... It is a substantially strong board! Problem solved
  • condomary
    8 years ago
    In two homes, my contractor removed the cabinets above the microwave and had a cabinetmaker resize them.
  • PRO
    eagledzines / Linda Mayo
    8 years ago
    last modified: 8 years ago
    The back is sometimes lower than the front of the microwave. You might want to check which measurement you are using if you haven't already done so.

    If you decide you need to make the cabinets over the stove higher, here are some examples of staggered height cabinets. They look fine and can give it visual interest. If you are using moldings on the top, even better. The cabinets over the microwave can be bumped out as in the second photo by using a spacer on the back on each side as long as it doesn't interfere with the any part of the microwave. If you are using moldings, the cabinet would be bumped out at least as far as the moldings on either side bump into them (so the molding won't stick out beyond the stove cabinet). Thus, the smaller the molding, the less the cabinet would be bumped out and vice/versa.

    Traditional Kitchen · More Info

    Traditional Kitchen · More Info
  • suzanne_m
    8 years ago
    I agree with bluenan. It should not be a problem. Mine has 17 in. clearance. I don't have any problem. The worst that can happen is that for the tall and big pots, you might need to use the front burner.
    If you can, tape a card box 16 in. above the stove and check if you feel comfortable or not when using a wood spoon in a pot. Make sure that the box is 15 in deep.
  • janicedonato
    8 years ago
    I've heard that the optimum height of the bottom of the microwave should be between 24" and 48" from the floor.
  • pmjnh
    Original Author
    8 years ago
    Thanks for all the suggestions. We decided to go with a range hood instead.
  • walkerhurt
    7 years ago
    where can I purchase an overcounter microwave for 15 or 15.5 inches?
  • cubby325
    7 years ago
    Walkerhurt, I have the same problem. My cabinet over the range is 15" deep. Our current 6 year old microwave (ductless) just died, but it vented out of the top, and the vents were always partially blocked. I would like one that allows the vents to be exposed.
  • ksimsii
    7 years ago
    I have the same range w microwave above w a cabinet. Check your areas building code for required distance from range to bottom of micro. This may vary from community to community. If your micro vents out the top, you will need to have a hole drilled in your upper cabinet so the micro can vent. Consider a direct vent microwave.

    Now wish we had eliminated the cabinet above. Need a step stool to reach it. Great place to keep things out of kids' reach .
  • cubby325
    7 years ago
    ksimsii, It is a ductless recirculating microwave. It vents out of the front of the top, back into the room. Unfortunately, by putting it under a 15" deep cabinet, the vents are mostly blocked by the front edge of the cabinet. I don't know what to do other than to have the cabinet depth cut down by a cabinet maker and then mount a hood. The 15" cabinet depth is the problem.
  • PRO
    ReMax - Lisa
    7 years ago
    Pmjnh, good call. It's the safer route to go. Most over the range microwaves are installed too close to the range and are fire hazards. Also, I've found the fans in them aren't nearly as strong as the regular range hoods and ultimately that's what you need there
  • PRO
    eagledzines / Linda Mayo
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago
    Personally I wouldn't cut the cabinet down. Instead I would pull the microwave to the front of the cabinet and put a filler, bottom wrapped with stainless, behind it.
  • cubby325
    7 years ago
    Eagledzines, Thanks for that suggestion. That may be a possibility. I'd love a hood, but I'd have to vent to the outside of a townhome, not an easy task and not cheap. It would probably have to go down to the basement, then another 22' through the front of the foundation. All the homes in my community have the same microwave set up.

    I've searched endlessly to find out if any of the recirculating hoods are better than the OTR microwave. I know that venting to the outside is the best solution, but if that isn't possible, is the recirculating hood vent a better option than the microwave venting. I don't do a lot of heavy cooking, but I still set off the smoke detectors too often. And they are interconnected, and all go off at once - very annoying.
  • sunnydrew
    7 years ago
    I just had a new microwave put in over a new gas range. I shopped at Sears and they came to the house and measured carefully before I bought. There are municipal codes that state a required distance between top of burner and bottom of microwave. I think it was 18" where I live. If you fudge that it could come up later should your home be inspected for a re- sale.
    The ideas mentioned of just taking out the short cabinet above and altering it to make it shorter is good or open shelves, gives you some ideas. It was finding one short enough to fit, but just do some research and compare what is out there.
  • PRO
    eagledzines / Linda Mayo
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago
    Sorry to hear about the smoke detector problem. I don't know that an OTR micro is any better / worse than a recirculating hood. They are both recirculating. I would suggest making sure that you have a CFM rating for your fan that matches the BTU output of your stove. Here is a formula: Total BTU output of your stove divided by 100 equals the CFM you should have of your fan. Also, make sure your carbon filters are changed as directed.
  • PRO
    eagledzines / Linda Mayo
    7 years ago
    last modified: 7 years ago
    Some towns/cities will defer to the manufacturer recommendations when it comes to distance from the stove stop.
  • PRO
    Interior Affairs -- Vickie Daeley
    7 years ago
    Putting the microwave over the stove is an old idea...now we are putting in drawer microwaves so they are in line our lower cabinets...it is the best solution and works perfectly well. I have had one personally for over 10 years and all of my client's kitchens have them too!
  • diyher
    7 years ago
    pmjnh, you don't want your microwave to be flat up to the end of your 12" deep cabinets. My old 20yo one never was, neither was the one we have now, or neither is the brand new one we are about to install. Do you have room to move your cabinet above the microwave up a couple inches? I'm very surprised you only have 16". All cabinets to the countertops are supposed to be 18" minimum.
  • cubby325
    7 years ago
    Vickie, You say the OTR microwave is an old idea. When I did a custom remodel 20 yrs ago, after my internet research back then, I knew I didn't want that arrangement, but it was a new idea then and continued to flourish even though it makes no sense whatsoever.

    Moving into a new 55+ community of town homes six years ago, all of the kitchens were set up that way, and no customization was permitted. The home has devalued probably 100k since then, and I've already spent quite a bit on getting it the way I wanted it (laundry room cabinets and a real sink, additional electrical and insulation, etc.) so now I try to spend mostly on things I can take with me. My children live in other states, as we did for many years, so I don't have the connection to my geographical location or my home that some others have, and I really don't know if I'll be here in 5 years. So if I can save $1,000 by not venting to the outside, that is a good thing. Right now my choices are cutting the cabinet back and installing a recirculating hood or another OTR microwave. The way my current MW is installed, you can't even get to the charcoal filter without lowering it from the cabinet, so that has never even been changed. As seniors, it becomes more difficult to do those kinds of things each year.

    Also, we are in the northeast, on a hill in an open area, kitchen faces west, and we get a wicked wind in the winter. I'm wondering if that vent would allow cold air into a kitchen that is already the farthest room from the furnace. In my last house in upstate NY, cold air through the vent was problem on the east side with a vent directly out the back wall.

    Sorry to write a book here, just trying to explain the dilemma and get some ideas.
  • diyher
    7 years ago
    pmjnh, sure you can have one cabinet higher than the other. I'm doing it to 2 of my wall cabinets, the corner wall cabinet, and the cabinet that goes over the range. Here is one I quickly found that has the center cabinet higher. I wish I had a wall long enough to do this on the opposite side of my kitchen [houzz=
    by Kitchen & Bath, Etc. · More Info
    ]
  • Margaret Sellers
    6 years ago

    This post looks old but my advice is don't do it. Even though we have recommended clearance, the microwave heats up and the loud exhaust fan runs too much. Very noisy and intrusive as I have an open floor plan.

  • Margaret Sellers
    6 years ago

    I'm actually on this site looking for advice on how to deal with this problem.

  • sunnydrew
    6 years ago
    Margaret, this is the best place to find advice. You can do different searches on placement etc.
  • displaygoddess212
    5 years ago

    I know this is way too old to help you- but it may help someone else- I had to have my microwave vented and above my stove (NYC space at a premium) so I had my cabinet shortened , basically cutting the bottom shelf off and shortening the door re aligning trim etc. The bottom "shelf "was only large enough to store aluminum foil rolls- perfect for over my stove anyways! Worked like a charm and no one was the wiser- cost of cabinet alteration was around 250$.

  • smakcanada
    5 years ago
    I like a european style exhaust hood but my new bungalow's kitchen is small & I like the convenience of the over-the-range microwave/hood combo. This is the 3rd one I've had. A couple of points: i) buy a HIGH QUALITY otr micro/fan combo. ii) it must be installed 30" above cookng surface and 66" from the floor. iii) if you can vent it to the exterior great, if not these combos can be used as exhaust filters with washable or replaceable charcoal filters by rotating the blower unit. iv) they are not designed to be set on a shelf, they have to be attached at the back AND the top.
  • Babette Lazarus
    5 years ago

    My designer mentioned the requirement of 30" clearance. Does that mean from the bottom of microwave to the cooktop? That seems so high as to be unusable.

  • Fred S
    5 years ago

    36" from floor to countertop + 30" to TOP of microwave = 66" from floor to TOP of microwave.

  • smakcanada
    5 years ago
    that's 30"
  • diyher
    5 years ago

    that's how I have mine smakcanada. The over the range microwave we had from 1995 until 2013 was a little loud but nothing we couldn't handle. The one we have now is quieter, it was a second-hand one that looked brand new about 5 years old. We now have a brand new OTR microwave August 2014 still in the box until we put up the new cabinets, and we are told it could be a little more quiet.


  • abb_ann
    5 years ago
    You have to go with what the manufacturer of the microwave recommends. However, it does look low. Just order a shorter cabinet that will go above the microwave.
  • smakcanada
    5 years ago
    we just raised the 2 door cabinet to accommodate the 30" clearance required by the manufacturer. it looked great
  • dugas27
    4 years ago

    I have the same problem my microwave is to low, when I cook it gets in the way for my large pots and it also sweats for the smaller pots. I can't move my cabinets because above the cabinets the wood goes to the ceiling. Could I just cut the bottom of the cabinet and doors off and make the cabinet height smaller to make more room?

  • PRO
    eagledzines / Linda Mayo
    4 years ago

    The microwave hangs from the bottom of the cabinet dugas27 so if you cut the bottom off you'd have to install a secured bottom on the shortened cabinet. The doors might be more difficult. How are they hinged? Some hinges are installed in a cup in the door. Some are not and you could just move the hinge up. If the door is a 5 piece door that would look awful if you cut it. If it's just a flat panel door that would work.

  • Jan Berry
    4 months ago

    I just do NOT understand putting a microwave above a stove. We’ve lived in 2 houses with the same issue: water condenses on the front and underside of the microwave and falls back into the pots on the stove. Gross!! I can’t WAIT to rip it out and put a new one somewhere else. BTW, it’s 15.4” from the stovetop to the bottom of the microwave. I have no idea if that’s standard or not.


  • Babette Lazarus
    4 months ago

    There are not always a lot of options when in an apartment, with a galley kitchen (in my case)

  • cubby325
    4 months ago

    I agree completely. I had a hood in my last house for 38 years, but in this house I have no choice. The oven is on a long side wall (shared with neighboring townhome), and the exhaust run for a hood would have to go down to the basement then about 20' out to the front of the house. I doubt a run that long would be very effective, not to mention the cost, $250 just for the permit, labor, etc.


    If I were doing a kitchen over, however, I would always have a separate hood and a microwave built into a wall at or close to countertop height with a pull out shelf beneath. That is what I did in my last house when we did a remodel, and it worked nicely.

  • smakcanada
    4 months ago

    Jan Berry: Your Over the Range Microwave is installed WAAAY to close to your stove top. If you read back through these posts you'll see photographs and find clearance heights that are required by building code, manufacturers, fire codes that show minimum requirements (even my old house is shown)! Currently my OTR mocrowave is 22" from my stovetop.