What to look for in a built-in microwave oven when buying in the UK
The first thing you’ll need to consider is where you want to have your microwave. Most people have a free-standing one on a kitchen work surface. As an alternative they can be wall-mounted or kept on a shelf.
An alternative is to go for a built-in microwave. Ovens that are built-in will cost more and mean that you will need to think about your kitchen design in general. However, it can blend in quickly with other appliances and look very stylish. It also saves worktop space.
After that, think about what type of microwave oven you’d like.
In total there are three types of oven.
Basic microwaves – This type is the most prevalent. This type is perfect for smaller tasks including heating up meals, TV dinners or preparing a simple meal such as jacket potatoes. They are as light and portable as television and are in style with the elderly, students and household with families. Many basic microwaves provide a turntable so that the waves can cook all parts of the food evenly.
Combination ovens – These ones are now more widespread. They are able to use microwaves and ordinary heat convection at the same time and in the same place. The user can choose to use the microwave or conventional methods separately or combine them, as they wish. These are top-end appliances and usually have extras – such as having a grilling feature, a fan-assisted oven, or automatic sequencing of both types of cooking methods depending on the weight and nature of what is being cooked.
Grill ovens – These combine the advantages of a grill to brown the food being cooked – to ensure a more appealing look – with the speed and other advantages of microwave cooking. Grill-type microwaves include a rack that ensures that the food is grilled by the element.
When measuring any area that you intend to use for a microwave, make sure that you’ve allowed enough space that the vents (typically on top) aren’t covered and that the door can be fully opened. Do think carefully about the maximum number of people it will need to cater for. The smallest microwaves will not generally be suitable for a family. Another consideration is to think about the dimensions of serving dishes you’ll want to use in it. Do make sure that the size of the microwave oven will accommodate them.
The power of a microwave is measured in Watts. The higher the wattage your food will be cooked faster. The watts for each oven type can vary from about 500 to over 1550. Top of the range microwaves will permit you to vary this, depending on the power you need for any task. In Europe, energy ratings are applied – ranging from E down to A. Lots are rated E, roughly 741W to 800 W.
You are likely to be able to choose the one you like the look of as there is an enormous variety available. White, silver and black are the colours that are most in-demand. Ovens in most cases have doors that you push open. Another option is one with an ordinary handle. Some have doors that are top hinged – these occupy less room.
The majority have digital displays, with a keypad. These enable functions to be chosen quickly – typically with automatic settings for jacket potatoes, pizzas, etc.
A range of these may be included:
* Auto reheat – allowing you to enter the weight of the food – the oven will thus calculate how long it needs to operate for.
* Automatic defrost – the same idea, working out how long the microwave needs to be used for a given weight and type of food.
* Vegetable steamer – this can be a bit difficult to use initially, but, after a bit of practice it’s a healthy and fast way to cook vegetables.
* Crisper – this can often be combined with a grill for pizzas to crisp the base of the food. This can work well with bacon as quickly.