Over the Range vs Countertop Microwaves: Which Is Worth It?


Got your eye on a snazzy new microwave?

I’m sure the kitchen is full of leftover dinners and microwave popcorn bags just ready to give it a whirl. But should you choose an over-the-range or a countertop microwave?

That’s the age-old question! Both appliances offer a wide range of options and features, and, from a general perspective, they seem to be exactly the same.

However, they’re not. At least not when you look at the specifics.

To make comparing them simpler, I’ve prepared the article below, where you’ll find the main advantages and areas of opportunity for each one based on key aspects like space, portability, pricing, and much more.

In a nutshell, over-the-range microwaves can help you save some space, whereas countertop ovens are more portable and affordable. Also, over-the-range products can be used as both a microwave and a range hood.

Keep reading to learn all about it!

Comparing Over the Range vs Countertop Microwaves

If you’re here in a rush or simply want to skip the reading, I’ve prepared a little table below for you. In it, you’ll find most of the answers you’ve been looking for, as well as some additional information you might find useful.

Over-the-Range Microwaves are…Countertop Microwaves are…
Great for space-saving
Possibly hard to reach
Not portable
Complicated to install
Less affordable
Available with a vent
Countertop space consuming
Easy to reach
Possibly inconvenient when cooking
Quick to install
More affordable  

I bet you found that little table was quite helpful, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. To learn the main differences between each microwave variant in depth, please keep reading.

Countertop microwave
Countertop microwaves are more affordable and portable
Over-the-Range microwave
Over-the-Range microwaves are convenient and great for saving space

Choosing between an over-the-range and countertop microwave can be tricky. Your ideal model may be different if you’re renting your home or if you are the homeowner. Is space an important factor in your decision? Then you may favor one microwave design over another.

Coming up, you’ll see a comparison of over-the-range and countertop microwaves. This list will give you the rundown of everything you need to know to make the best choice. Check it out!

Over-the-Range vs Countertop Microwaves

I’m sure you’d agree with me when I say that a microwave is your right-hand man in the kitchen. It defrosts, it reheats. And a high-end model will rotisserie, brown, and practically cook a meal for you.

Are you choosing a new microwave for the kitchen? If so, then you will need to decide between an over-the-range and countertop model. But that’s no eeny, meeny, miny, moe decision. So, what will help you to settle on a model that you’ll be happy with?

Let’s compare the two microwave types for each important factor.

Space and Accessibility

How big is your kitchen? Do you have extra space on your countertop?

Here are the pros and cons of over-the-range and countertop microwaves. They will explain how good they are at saving space.

Microwave TypeProsCons
Over-the-Range– They are installed under your cabinetry and save valuable countertop space.
– They declutter the kitchen.
– They may be hard for everyone in the home to reach.
– They could be dangerous when you’re handling hot food.
Countertop– They are easily accessible.– They take up valuable countertop space.
– They could make a small kitchen look cluttered.
Crowded kitchen worktop
Using an over-the-range microwave instead can save you valuable countertop space

Are you basing your decision on space-saving alone? Then you should opt for an over-the-range microwave. You can install it under your kitchen units. This will give you plenty of room to prepare meals on your work surfaces.

That being said, over-the-range microwaves are not convenient for every household. That could be the case if not everyone in the house can reach the microwave. It could be dangerous for someone to handle hot food in a microwave that they cannot reach properly.

Besides, a microwave is a little bit like your one-way ticket to freedom. If the kids can’t reach it and want to use it, they’ll be calling you back in the kitchen for tasks as simple as warming hot chocolate or reheating dinner. There’s no fun in that.

So, are you basing your decision on accessibility alone? Then you should opt for a countertop microwave.

Cooking Convenience and Portability

Are you looking for a microwave that is conveniently situated? Or how about one that you can easily move around the kitchen?

Take a look at the following list of pros and cons. It will show you how convenient and portable these microwaves are.

Microwave TypeProsCons
Over-the-Range– They are conveniently located for cooking– They are not portable
Countertop– They are portable– More likely to be small and awkward to use

Are you basing your decision on convenience alone? Then an over-the-range microwave might be the best for you. But this does depend on the setup of your kitchen. Most people find an over-the-range microwave more convenient. That’s because they can easily transfer food from the microwave to the hob just below.

Is your kitchen large? Could your microwave end up living on a work surface halfway across the room? Then you could find yourself spending more time pacing back and forth from the microwave to the hob than you do cooking. An over-the-range microwave will help you to keep everything in one place.

But what about portability? Well, are you basing your decision on portability alone? Then a countertop microwave might be best. That’s because you can plug in a countertop microwave anywhere you like in the room. So you can feel free to switch things around in the kitchen as often as you like. An over-the-range microwave won’t give you the same freedom.

Installation and Price

Are you looking for a microwave that is easy to install? How about one that is economically priced?

Take a look at the pros and cons of over-the-range and countertop microwaves. See how they measure up on installation ease and affordability.

Microwave TypeProsCons
Over-the-Range– You will probably need a professional for the installation.
– They are generally more expensive than countertop microwaves. – Their starting prices are roughly $180.
Countertop– They are easy to install.
– They are generally cheaper than over-the-range microwaves. Their starting prices are roughly $50.
– Although they are cheaper, you may not have access to as many features.

Are you basing your decision on ease of installation or price? Then you should choose a countertop oven. Countertop ovens are super simple to install. First, remove the microwave from the box, plug it in, and voilá! You’ll be sipping on a mug of piping hot chocolate in no time.

Over-the-range microwaves tend to be a bit more fiddly. You might even need to call for outside help to install one.

Countertop microwaves also tend to be cheaper than over-the-range microwaves. This is because of their easy installation. Although they are cheaper, countertop microwaves don’t come with a handy feature. You can find out what that feature is below.

Over-the-Range Microwaves With an Exhaust Vent

Are you looking for a microwave that will also double as an oven hood? Then check out some of the pros and cons for over-the-range microwaves below.

Microwave TypeConsMicrowave Type
Over-the-Range– The vent feature helps to remove steam from the atmosphere in the kitchen.
– This is a great option for kitchens with no ventilation.
– The vent incorporated into the microwave is often not as powerful as a dedicated hood.
– The vent in the microwave may also be noisier than the average exhaust vent.

Do you want a microwave that also comes with an exhaust vent? Then you should opt for an over-the-range microwave. The exhaust vent will help to clear the air in the kitchen. It will keep it free from a build-up of water vapor.

While the vent is a great feature for the microwave, it may not be as powerful as your normal exhaust vent. Why do I say that? Well, the average dedicated exhaust vent vents air at a rate of 450 cubic feet per minute (or CFM). But, the average over-the-range microwave vent vents air at a rate of 300 CFM. That means it will take the microwave vent longer to clear the air of smells and steam.

The over-the-range vent may also be noisier than a dedicated exhaust vent. But it is still a great option for kitchens with limited ventilation.

Which Should You Buy?

Your choice of microwave could depend on a few factors. Are you:

  • Buying on a budget?
  • Renting a house?
  • Designing the setup of your own home?

What kind of microwave would be best suited for you if you’re renting, buying, or shopping on a budget? Take a look below to find out.

Budget Buys

Are price tags swaying your decision? Then you should opt for a countertop microwave. There are so many different countertop microwaves to choose from with many features. With smaller microwaves starting at just $50, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something that suits your budget.

Renting a Home

Are you renting your home? Then the chances are that you are not too keen on spending an arm and a leg installing fancy appliances. That’s why the best microwave choice for you might be a countertop microwave. You can choose from a variety of models that are long-lasting and that you can take with you wherever you go.


Do you own your own home? Are you designing a new layout for your kitchen? Then you might want to consider an over-the-range microwave for your home. It will help you free up space in the kitchen and will be more convenient for cooking.


Choosing between an over-the-range and countertop microwave can be hard. Both have great but distinct features and pros and cons. I hope this article has helped you to see which microwave model could be the best for you.

If this article has helped you, then why not take a look at some of our other articles and free guides? You could even sign up for our email list.

Have a great day!


Frequently Asked Questions

What Size Over-The-Range Microwave Do I Need?

The answer to that question will greatly depend on your particular situation.

Ideally, you’ll want to get an over-the-range microwave that covers the entirety of your cooktop both in width and length. This way, you’ll ensure that all the smoke released while you cook is caught by the appliance.

Now, make no mistake, as great as over-the-range microwaves work, they’ll never be as good as an actual range hood, so if you want the best smoke control solution, these microwaves might not be it.

What’s the Average Price Range of an Over-The-Range Microwave?

This varies depending on several factors, such as brand quality, features, size, and more. However, the average price range for a decently-equipped over-the-range microwave is between $200-500.

What’s the Average Lifespan of a Countertop Microwave?

There’s no cookie-cutter answer to this, as the lifespan of this appliance will be greatly determined by user habits, maintenance rate, and overall timely repairs.

Under good conditions, and if you stick to your manufacturer’s recommendations, your countertop microwave should last up to 10 years.

How Much Power Does a Microwave Consume?

Depending on the size and cooking program you select, you could be looking at anywhere between 600-1,200 watts, so about 900 watts on average.

Hi there! I’m Craig, and I’m the founder of Appliance Analysts. When it comes to appliances and anything electrical, I’ve always loved opening things up, figuring out how they work, and fixing them. This website is where I share free advice from myself and our experts to help our readers solve their appliance/HVAC problems and save money. Read more