A microwave oven is a household appliance that allows you to quickly heat up or cook food.
Allows you to heat water almost 3-4 times faster than a “traditional” gas stove.
So the use of a microwave oven also allows you to slightly save on utility bills.
But most consumers do not know what criteria should be used to choose such equipment.
At the same time, the range of microwave ovens offered by retail chains is very wide, which causes difficulties for the average buyer.
What size to choose
External dimensions are a secondary characteristic. It is necessary to pay attention to the volume of the internal chamber, where the heating or cooking is performed. Indicated in liters (or in dm3).
Freestanding or built-in
Conventionally, all microwaves are divided into 2 categories:
- Embedded. They do not have an external decorative case. They are installed directly in the kitchen set. Their advantage is the saving of free space. Also, this technique will elegantly fit into the already decorated interior of the kitchen. But you should select strictly according to the dimensions (there are several standardized sizes).
- Stand-alone. An option for those whose kitchen set is not designed for the installation of built-in appliances. The microwave has a decorative outer casing, most models are presented in different colors.
There are also ovens with a microwave function. But they cost an order of magnitude more expensive, take up a lot of space and are mainly used in the commercial sector (restaurants, catering establishments). For private kitchens, they are usually not purchased.
What volume to choose
According to this characteristic, microwave ovens are conditionally divided into 3 categories:
- Up to 19 liters. The best option for heating food or defrosting semi-finished products, meat at home. You can also dry your greens easily in a small microwave.
- From 20 to 25 liters. Microwaves with this internal chamber volume are the best-selling. A universal option, in 90% of cases it fully satisfies the needs of a family of 2-4 people. Suitable for both heating food and defrosting, cooking.
- From 26 liters and more. An option for those who prefer to cook dishes in the microwave. It is often equipped with a grill grate, a convection system, which allows you to evenly “bake” the meat.
What power to choose a microwave
Microwave power is indicated in Watts (W). Indicates the scattering coefficient of microwaves for the entire volume of the inner chamber of the oven.
REFERENCE! The larger the volume of the microwave oven, the higher the power required. In a microwave oven of 19 and 25 liters with a dissipation factor of 1500 W, water heating in the first will be much faster.
You can follow these guidelines:
- The basic minimum is 800 watts for a microwave oven of 19 liters, 1000 – up to 24 liters, 1500 – over 25 liters. This is enough for quick heating, and for cooking simple dishes.
- If you plan to cook meat (grill), then the power of the microwave oven should be about 25 – 30% higher than the base one.
And you need to take into account that some unscrupulous manufacturers indicate 2 values in the technical specifications. The power of the installed magnetron in the microwave oven (it is responsible for the generation of microwaves), as well as the consumed electric current (about 20% higher than the power of the magnetron). It is necessary to pay attention to the first value!
Main Functions of Microwave Ovens
Most modern microwave ovens have the following operating modes:
- Grill and convection.
- Fast start.
- Automatic defrosting.
- Automatic cooking.
- Manual settings.
- Multi-stage cooking (with programming mode).
Naturally, some modes are found only in microwave ovens of the highest price category. A detailed list is indicated, as a rule, on the packaging of the household appliance itself.
The key difference between such microwave ovens is the presence of a heating element. That is, an electric heater, which is installed mainly in the upper part of the inner chamber. Allows you to cook dishes with a crispy crust.
Grill and convection
It is a modification of the grill. In addition to the heating element, such microwave ovens have a built-in fan that ensures uniform distribution of hot air throughout the inner chamber.
Due to this, frying is carried out more evenly, a crispy crust is obtained from all sides. It is considered the best option for cooking meat dishes.
When this button is pressed, the microwave oven operates at medium power. The timer does not need to be set, automatic shutdown works after 1 – 2 minutes.
It is convenient when you just need to warm up food from the refrigerator.
It also automatically turns on the microwave at medium power. But in addition, the user is prompted to indicate the weight of the product to be defrosted – from this, the oven will automatically “calculate” how long it will take to defrost.
A wide range of microwave ovens has a pre-programmed set of popular recipes. For example, “pizza”, “chicken”, “potato stew” and so on.
It is enough to press only one button, and the microwave will automatically set the optimal heating mode and the auto-off timer.
In this mode, the user can independently specify both the heating power and the auto-off timer.
At any time, cooking (warming up) food can be paused with the Stop button (in some microwave ovens, you need to press the door opening button to do this).
Mostly found in “professional” microwave ovens.
The key difference is that during cooking, the modes change. For example, it starts at medium power, and before the end of the timer, the maximum heating and heating element are turned on (to get a crisp).
Suitable for experienced professional chefs who cook complex dishes using a microwave.
In most models, programming for multi-stage cooking is also available. That is, you can manually set each mode, specify the switching of their sequence.
Additional functions. Do I need to pay
Technically, there are 4 types of microwave ovens:
- Ordinary. That is, heating is performed only due to the radiation of radio waves by the magnetron.
- With grill. The only difference is the presence of a heating element.
- with convection. They have both a grill and a built-in fan (in a special “capsule” that protects it from high temperature, as well as moisture, fat).
- With support for steam cooking. They, as a rule, have an additional “directional” magnetron that heats only water in a special container.
Suitable for defrosting and reheating food.
As practice shows, about 85% of all microwave ovens are bought specifically for these tasks, the rest of the functionality is not in demand.
Suitable for those who periodically want to cook meat dishes in the microwave.
REFERENCE! Experienced cooks say that if there is an oven, they should be preferred when cooking meat.
Buying such microwaves should be for those who often cook meat dishes, but do not have the opportunity (or do not want to) use a traditional oven.
A convection grill is not suitable for baking, but for other dishes it is quite enough.
Supports steam function
Such models are extremely popular among those who lead a healthy lifestyle.
But microwave ovens with support for this function are almost 2-3 times more expensive and take up more space (with a similar volume of the internal chamber).
There are 3 types of settings and modes in microwave ovens:
The advantage of this option is reliability.
Adjustment of timers, heating power, as well as a door lock – all these are mechanisms without electronics. The chance of breakage is minimal. But visually it looks “outdated”: 2 handles, as well as a massive door opening button.
Instead of mechanical handles – buttons, more often – with a rubberized base (protects against the ingress of water, grease, dirt inside). Also reliable, functional option.
It rarely fails. But if a breakdown occurs, then you have to change the entire control panel, and such a repair will cost about 30 – 40% of the cost of a new microwave oven of the same model.
As a rule, there is either an insert made of ABS plastic or heat-resistant glass on the case. A touch film and markings of “virtual” buttons are applied on top.
Outwardly, such microwave ovens look the most attractive. In terms of reliability, there are at least complaints, but if a breakdown occurs, the repair will be expensive. Because it is impossible to change the sensor base itself, you have to install a new control unit. And this is 50 – 60% of the cost of a household appliance.
Which interior coating to choose
Now manufacturers of microwave ovens use the following options for the internal coating of the heating chamber:
- Stainless steel.
- Enamelled steel.
- Ceramics (and also bioceramics).
Models where the inner chamber is simply made of steel are practically non-existent now (in 2022).
The cheapest option.
The main advantage: stainless steel easily tolerates even the highest temperatures. You can reheat food, defrost large pieces of meat, use the grill at maximum power.
The main disadvantage is that it is extremely difficult to achieve perfect cleanliness of the inner chamber. It has to be cleaned regularly using aggressive detergents. And if you do not remove the remnants of fat, then this will certainly lead to the formation of corrosion. And even with very careful care, the steel tarnishes over time, becomes covered with small scratches, that is, visually the microwave oven from the inside will look completely “unpresentable”.
Enamel collects less “stains”, easier to clean. Therefore, microwave ovens with this coating of the inner chamber are somewhat more expensive.
But it is forbidden to use detergents with the addition of abrasive components in them. That is, “delicate” care is required. Otherwise, micro-scratches are formed, under which the metal subsequently corrodes.
Also of the minuses, it should be mentioned that enamel spraying does not tolerate long-term exposure to high temperatures. So it is not recommended to buy a microwave oven with a grill, where the inner chamber has an enamel coating.
Ceramics and bioceramics
One of the best options, according to the buyers themselves.
Ceramic spraying does not contribute to the formation of stains, it is easy to wash using ordinary detergent. Easily withstands prolonged exposure to high temperatures.
But ceramic coating is quite fragile. So it is strictly forbidden to use detergents with abrasive components, as well as to clean the inner chamber with a “brush”. Of the additional features, it should be noted that bioceramics also has antiseptic properties. That is, it does not promote the growth of bacteria.
REFERENCE! Under “ceramics” and “bioceramics” manufacturers understand the same material variant. In fact, it is enamel interspersed with a ceramic component and a plasticizer.
Acrylic in the manufacture of microwave ovens is used relatively recently. Its advantage is very low cost.
Such a coating is found only in low-power microwave ovens, up to 1400 watts in total. But for a quick warm-up or defrosting, this is more than enough.
Acrylic does not become cloudy over time, it is not fragile, it is easier to clean than stainless steel. But in such ovens it is impossible to cook meat and other dishes.
Useful additional options
In a number of microwaves there is not only a wide range of operating modes, but also useful additional options:
- Child lock.
- Self cleaning.
- Removing unpleasant odors.
- Steam sensor function.
This feature is extremely useful for families with small children. Although the outside of the microwave oven practically does not heat up, the dish inside will be hot. And it’s hard to imagine what can happen if a child accidentally opens the microwave door.
Manufacturers have provided this option. The child lock function will temporarily deactivate all buttons and knobs for setting operating modes.
It turns on, as a rule, by pressing the “Start” button for 3 – 5 seconds. To disable the lock, you will either need to hold this button again, or use a special combination (for example, the “Lock” and “Start” buttons). Random unlock – excluded.
It is believed that for the first time this function appeared in microwave ovens from Gorenje. Now found everywhere.
Works like this:
- Pour a small amount of water into the container, put it in the microwave.
- Press “Self-cleaning” (or “AutoClean”). Heating will start at maximum power.
- Due to the formation of a large volume of steam, most stains and streaks of grease on the inner wall will soften. It remains only to wipe them with a damp cloth or napkin.
This feature allows you to completely abandon the use of “aggressive” detergents, and also simplifies the care of equipment.
Removing bad odors
The function is mainly found in models with convection support. It will allow you to get rid of pungent odors after cooking dishes with a lot of spices.
When the corresponding button is pressed, the internal chamber is blown for 5-15 minutes.
Steam sensor function
Allows the microwave oven to “pick up” the cooking time more accurately.
The function uses an additional sensor that takes into account the temperature of the steam released from the food being cooked. As soon as it reaches 100 degrees, the power automatically decreases (or the microwave oven completely completes cooking).
Truths and myths about microwave ovens
The most common myths are:
- Microwave radiation is harmful. No that’s not true. For humans and animals, they are absolutely safe. Harmful food also does not become. But what technology can really damage is other household appliances. But only if the microwave is malfunctioning and radio waves propagate outside the inner chamber.
- The microwave does not isolate, that is, the radio waves “get” out. The myth is explained by the fact that if you put a working phone in it (without turning on the heating), the device still receives the operator’s signal. That’s just the internal coverage is focused on a frequency of 2.45 GHz. Checking this is easy – the WiFi signal does not really spread through a closed microwave.
- Cheap microwave ovens are not safe. And this is also a myth. Since this technique is certified by special supervisory authorities (for example, in the EU it is Rosstandart). If the technique was really unsafe, then it would not appear in retail outlets.
Which company to choose a microwave
The unequivocal answer is no. Each model has its own advantages and disadvantages.
But if you believe the statistics, then some of the most popular are (according to sales statistics, according to experts):
- Samsung ME83KRW-
- LG MS-20R42D.
- Gorenje MO17E1W.
- Hansa AMG20BFH.
- Candy CMS 20 W.
One of the advantages of the model is the increased volume of the internal chamber up to 23 liters. At the same time, its external dimensions are the same as those of other microwave ovens for 19 – 20 liters.
A great option for those who have a minimum of free space in the kitchen.
The main advantage of this model from Samsung is its low price. At the same time, the manufacturer gives a guarantee for 3 years, as well as an additional 10 years for the internal camera.
Of the shortcomings, only not the most attractive external design can be mentioned, the color of the enamel is black.
- modes – solo (without grill and convection);
- control type – using buttons;
- Has a digital display
- power – 800 W;
- coating – enamel.
Budget model from LG, chamber volume of 20 liters.
The coating is enamel, there is an energy saving function (at first, the maximum or average power is turned on, then it automatically decreases to the minimum). Power – 1000 watts.
Grill and convection are absent. There are over 10 integrated cooking programs.
Of the shortcomings mention:
- button labels are quickly “erased”;
- very short power cord.
One of the best-selling models of this manufacturer. The most technically simple microwave oven.
It is produced only in a single color – white (the inner coating is similar).
Of the shortcomings – only 12 months warranty, as well as a short power cord. And one of the key advantages is low cost. But there are no complaints about the quality of technology in the reviews.
- 800 W;
- coating – enamel;
- control – only mechanical (handles, door opening button).
It is a built-in model with a grill, the volume of the internal chamber is 20 liters. Power – only 700 W, but due to the internal coating (stainless steel), the distribution of microwaves is more uniform.
There are 2 color options: black and white. Management – touch. Grill – quartz (longer service life).
Among the shortcomings: low power, spots form quickly on the inner surface.
Candy CMS 20W
Model “solo” without grill and convection.
Management – mechanical (rotary knobs), power – 700 W, chamber volume – 20 liters. There is a quick defrost function.
The main advantage is low cost. Inner chamber material – heat-resistant enamel. If you believe the reviews, then it does not fade even after 3 – 4 years of active operation. But stains collect quickly, so you have to clean often.
Of the shortcomings, only a short power cord is mentioned, as well as a very simple design.
Manufacturer’s warranty – 12 months.
In total, when choosing a microwave oven for the home, you need to focus on: the volume of the inner chamber, the spray material, power, support for additional cooking modes (if necessary).
And even before going to the store, you should decide for what purposes you plan to use the equipment. This will allow you not to overpay for additional unused functionality.