Microwave Drawer Guide: Pros, Cons, & Are They Worth It?

Researched & Written by Craig

Microwave drawers can be pretty controversial.

Many think that microwaves have no right to cost that much. Others can’t get over their giddy child-like joy of having a microwave which glides out and comes with so many cool features.

There’s a lot that can be misunderstood about microwave drawers. As someone who’s spent hours working with them, I thought I’d put together this quick guide to answer a few common questions. Including:

  • What are the pros and cons of microwave drawers?
  • Why are microwave drawers so expensive?
  • Are microwave drawers worth it?
  • What about compared to other microwaves?

Hopefully it helps you decide whether or not one of the world’s most expensive microwaves would be right for you or not!

“Wow! What is that? Is that a microwave?!” – A common occurance for any microwave drawer owner showing their friends around.

If you’re in the market for a microwave drawer, be sure to check out our detailed guide for the best microwave drawers. Or for the latest and greatest, my review of the Sharp SMD2480CS Microwave Drawer.

Microwave Drawer Pros & Cons

Pros Cons
Frees up a TON of counter space. More room, less stress.High price tag. These aren't for budget shoppers.
Much easier to place and lift hot/heavy objects.Heating functionality same as a normal microwave. Can't turn a frozen dinner into a gourmet meal.
Super easy to access, and to clean. No swinging doors - gentle & controlled open/closing.The installation and removal is a few hours work, or worth calling an expert.
Control panels are lockable to prevent kids from trying to microwave the dog.Models don't come with convection options (lack of ventilation)
Looks are showstopper. Totally unique and high-end.Sizes are limited to 24" and 30" widths only.
No turntable issues. Heating element rotates instead.
You don't have to mount under counter. Can be placed above a built-in oven.
HUGE space! A 24" model can fit a whole 4-quart casserole dish in width, and up to a whole 20oz coffee cup (7") in height.
You can season and stir dishes without removing them. Just open, stir the food, and close again. Simple.

Why Are Microwave Drawers So Expensive?

It’s crazy, right? Over $1,000… for a microwave??

Microwave drawers are so expensive for 3 main reasons. First, the technology is patented to SHARP – which means they can charge an expensive price without competition. Second, the parts are very unique and expensive. Especially since microwave drawers are the only type of microwave without a turntable. And third, because they use very high-quality parts. At this price range, you expect the best in material quality, and in the latest in modern controls and features.

So much more space than a conventional microwave.

Put all of that together, and you have a recipe for a very expensive microwave! Unfortunately, the price will almost always stay high. Why? Mainly because of the patent. Since SHARP are in charge, they have a monopoly on the market and can demand high prices. Even though other companies can buy a ‘base’ microwave and customize it in their own way (like Bosch do), they still need to pay a high price for that base part.

With such a high starting price, it only makes sense to keep using the best parts. There’s no point paying $900 for the microwave then attaching 90’s-era controls to save $40. Once we’re already at this price tag, you’re only looking at maybe a 10% jump in price to get the latest and greatest in materials and features. And just like cooking with a microwave, that’s a no-brainer.

Considering all of this, there’s only one question in our minds…

Are Microwave Drawers Worth It?

Can something so expensive really be worth that price tag? Well, let’s discuss.

Let’s cover the obvious first.

If all you need is a microwave on a budget, then microwave drawers are absolutely not worth it. At the end of the day, they will heat up your microwave dinner the same way that a $60 microwave from Walmart will. It’s like for a person on a small budget, a sports car isn’t even remotely a consideration when all they need is to get from Point A to Point B.

In fact, that’s a bit of an apt comparison. A microwave drawer to a sports car (stick with me here).

For a massive increase in price, you’re getting many ‘luxury’ benefits without changing the base function. The car still drives. The microwave still cooks. What we’re paying for is added functionality, and world class quality.

By functionality, we’re talking a much larger microwave space. Combined with no turntable, and we can suddenly fit large casserole dishes without issue. We’re talking high power, getting the cooking done faster and doing it better. We’re talking extra functions – pre-set timers and wave-open access. Yes, it’s still a microwave.. just like a Ferrari is still a car.

So, back to the question.

Microwave drawers are worth it for the right kind of shopper. One who has the budget, and appreciates the greater quality, design, and functionality of a microwave drawer. Particularly in the higher power, larger space, no turntable, and much easier access. However, microwave drawers are not worth it for a budget shopper. At the end of the day, a microwave is a microwave. If all you need is a heated microwave dinner, there’s no advantage for paying over 10x the price.

Image of Sharp SMD2470AS Drawer Microwave Control Pad

Plus, you can’t beat amazing features like these pop-out controls.

Microwave Drawers vs Built-In Microwaves

The closest sibling to a microwave drawer is the built-in microwave. These are similar in so many respects – so which is better?

With price tags of $100-$250, built in microwaves are much cheaper than microwave drawers – which can cost over $1,000. Both of these types offer the same amazing benefit of not taking up counterspace. As well as sitting flush with your cabinets. And, in most cases, their designs and looks are similar. Though microwave drawers will tend to have that added ‘wow!’ factor.

The real difference between microwave drawers and built in microwaves lies in their functionality. Microwave drawers are typically installed below waist height, and glide out smoothly at the touch of a button. On the other hand, built in microwaves are installed at chest height or above. They are also much smaller, and they open via a big button push causing their door to swing open.

This causes a lot of difficulties. When working with a large, hot, heavy dish – getting it in and out of a built in microwave can be a nightmare. Especially for an older person. You need oven gloves, need to open the door, life the dish up to your chest, and somehow slide it in to the small microwave.

A microwave drawer, on the other hand? Just tap the ‘open’ button, place the heavy dish in your large drawer, and hit close. Easy. A real game-changer for folks who have trouble lifting heavy, hot dishes.

The use of the large drawer space extends further. Combined with the lack of a turntable, and we’ve unlocked the ability to use almost any size of dish. Square, rectangular… it doesn’t matter. They all work with a microwave drawer without issue.

In summary, while a microwave drawer is more expensive than a built in microwave, it does offer much more in terms of functionality. Especially for folks who have trouble with smaller, harder to reach microwaves. That said, the price is extremely high, and both are still fantastic space-saving microwaves at the end of the day.

Microwave Drawers vs Countertop Microwaves

Comparing a microwave drawer to a countertop microwave is like comparing an old Ford with a Ferrari.

At the end of the day, both get you to your goal. Whether that’s cooking food or a new destination. But they both offer very different things.

Microwave drawers offer much more by:

  • Having a larger space (can fit bigger dishes)
  • Not having a turntable (can fit rectangular dishes)
  • Offering modern features (timers, push-to-open, more options)
  • Saving counter space
  • Amazing modern design; flush with cabinets

However, all this comes with a huge price tag. Often up to 20x that of a countertop microwave.

Honestly, there isn’t really too much further we can discuss! If you need a simple appliance to cook, defrost, or reheat your food – then get a countertop. If you have the budget, and put value on looks, functionality, and want to microwave larger dishes – consider a microwave drawer. Especially if you (or a regular user) will have issue fighting with the small space and awkward opening of a smaller countertop model.

Conclusion

Microwave drawers are an amazing invention. While they will never will be the majority of homes, I personally love them.

They’re the personification of an ‘ultimate’ in something. They really have taken microwaves to the next level.

Between the amazing design, unrivaled functionality, and top quality parts – there’s not many other appliances so guaranteed to give you that ‘wow’ factor.

I hope this quick guide to these microwaves has helped dispell any confusion you’ve had around them. If it’s helped you, please consider supporting us by checking out some more of our articles.

Thank you for reading! And have a great day.

-Craig