There are three basic microwave styles: Countertop, built-in or over-the-range. A wide variety of features are available for all of these, but a significant distinction is that built-in and over-the-range microwaves tend to be larger, cost more and may require an electrician to install. Countertop microwaves are usually more compact, are less expensive, and only require an electrical outlet.
What should I do before buying a microwave?
When looking for a microwave, the first thing to do is to measure the area where you want to place the microwave. Make sure there's room to open the door, and that everyone in your household (who will be using the microwave) can reach it easily and comfortably. You don't want anyone to spill any hot liquids when reaching for a dish! It's also important to make sure that the vents on the microwave aren't covered. There should be an inch or two of space in front of each vent.
What should I look for when buying a microwave?
Once you've determined how big your microwave should be, think about what you want to get out of it. How often will you use it? What exactly will you be using it for? If you or your family doesn't use microwaves a lot — just for warming up basic dishes or occasionally defrosting — it's probably best to just purchase a simple microwave with basic functions. But if you're someone who uses the microwave for just about everything, you'll want to pay attention to the more advanced features that are available. Many microwaves have sensors that tell you when the food is done, automatic defrost settings, or convection options. Be aware of how much you'll actually use these functions, and how much they will add to the overall price. A convection microwave isn’t a necessity unless you plan on really preparing food in the microwave, and not just warming or defrosting. A convection microwave won’t provide the same results as a regular oven, and can be much more expensive.
Also, check how easy it is to clean. Any racks, dishes, or turntables should be easily removed (even better if they're dishwasher safe!). A carousel turntable is another nice addition. This ensures that food is cooked evenly, and you won't have to stop and rotate a dish while its warming up.
Find the microwave that’s right for your home by searching through different styles and sizes on Houzz.