Range Hoods vs Over-The-Range Microwave: A Comparison

Choosing the right appliances for your kitchen takes a lot of thought. From colors and sizes to finishing and location – you need to decide a lot of things.

Ventilation is a key consideration as you don’t want to heat up your kitchen. When it comes to choosing a microwave, you have two options. Either go for a range hood or an over-the-range microwave.

In this article, I’ll compare range hoods with over-the-range microwaves, so that you have all the information you need about them before you set out to buy either one.

Sounds good? Let’s go!

Comparing Range Hoods vs Over-The-Range-Microwaves

Sometimes, the toughest comparisons appear when you’re trying to put one appliance against another that, for all intents and purposes, appears to do the exact same thing. The easiest way to set the two apart in cases like that is by seeing their main differences, as well as exploring the advantages each one provides.

Below, you’ll find a ton of useful information explaining which appliance is better at ventilation, whether one can replace the other, and much more.

Are Microwave Range Hoods Any Good?

Microwave range hoods, or over-the-range microwaves can be used in place of range hoods.

If you’re building a new kitchen and haven’t chosen one of the two, you can go for an over-the-range microwave, as it prevents smoke and heat buildup that occurs due to the cooktop.

Don’t get me wrong. Even your microwave will release a significant amount of heat. However, a microwave range hood comes with its own ventilation system. These microwaves are typically installed above the cooktop, so they also have a nice look and save space in your kitchen.

The downside to using an over-the-range microwave is that its filter isn’t as efficient as that of the range hood. Its fan speed is also lower.

It also provides you with limited space for cooking; you can’t use larger pots. It can also be difficult for shorter people to “see what’s cooking” in the microwave, and it can be a hassle to use compared to a countertop or drawer microwave.

With an over-the-range microwave, you’ll also need to clean and replace the filters frequently, as they’re not as efficient as range hoods. If not replaced or cleared on time, they won’t be as efficient in cleaning up the air in your kitchen.

How High Should A Microwave Range Hood Be?

Whether you have an electric or gas-powered cooktop, you can still place an over-the-range microwave above it.

It needs to be between 28 and 36 inches above your cooking range, which is the same clearance height for a range hood.

You can lower the height if you won’t be able to see your pots. A suitable height is also a safe height. Because you can spill hot food all over yourself while taking the pot out if the microwave is too high.

Can You Replace a Range Hood with Over-The-Range Microwave?

While you can certainly replace your range hood with an over-the-range microwave, I wouldn’t really recommend it.

That’s because a range hood provides you with more versatility and several benefits that microwaves don’t. You also get a range of cooking options with a range hood.

If you still want to incorporate a microwave in your kitchen decor, you can go for a countertop microwave. Or fit your microwave in a cabinet or cupboard.

If you’re replacing your range hood because it isn’t working properly, replacing it is not the only solution.

Try removing and cleaning the filters. If you’ve been using it for a few years without cleaning it, it will be clogged with grease and other contaminants.

It may take you a good few hours to clean it. But it’ll make your range good as new.

You may also be thinking, “Can I replace an over-the-range microwave with a range hood?” The answer is, yes you can.

It’s a good idea, especially if your kitchen becomes very hot and stuffy when you’re cooking food.

Another reason for doing this is that a microwave doesn’t have the same efficient filtration system that a range hood does.

Range hoods contain powerful motors that pull in contaminated air much faster than over-the-range microwaves.

Other Space-Saving Microwave Options

Maybe you have a range hood but are still looking for a microwave for quick cooking. You don’t have to necessarily remove your range hood for that.

You can easily put your microwave on the countertop. But if you’re short on space, there are several ways in which you can install your microwave efficiently without taking up any counter space:

Microwave in a shelf above sink
Placing your microwave on a shelf above your sink will save you space.


As I said earlier, over-the-range microwaves are great space savers, freeing up your counters for your cooking and baking.

You can also mount it over your cooktop, but only if you don’t have a range hood. Otherwise, you won’t have any space for it. They also don’t have the same ventilation as a range hood.

Upper Shelf

If you have a smaller microwave, you can install it on the upper shelves of your kitchen.

Just make sure that the shelf is wide enough to accommodate your microwave properly. You’ll also need your electrician to install an electrical outlet on the wall behind the proposed location of the microwave.

Lower Shelf

Another interesting idea would be installing your microwave inside a lower shelf or cabinet in your kitchen.

You can even have a drawer or two removed from your setup to make room for your microwave. Not only will it look neat, but it’ll also be easily accessible.

Above the Wall Oven

You may have seen many kitchens where the microwave is installed just above the wall oven. You can also go for this concept.

If you’re thinking of getting a new kitchen decor, you can choose one that has a fixture for wall ovens and microwaves.

In a Drawer

This may sound unbelievable, but now you can get a drawer-style microwave installation.

They’re usually found in the lower cabinets and work just like a normal drawer. Except for the fact that you put your food in them instead of your belongings.

Inside the Cabinet

Another interesting way you can install your microwave in your kitchen is by “hiding” it inside one of your cabinets.

It can be hidden from plain sight by the cabinet door, visible only when you need to use it. Just make sure your electrician knows how to put in the wires properly, while also following the safety codes.

What is a Range Hood?

A range hood, also called a kitchen hood or exhaust hood, is a kitchen ventilation device that features a mechanical fan installed inside a canopy.

A silver range hood

In restaurants and hotel kitchens, these range hoods also include fire suppression methods to put away fumes and fires.

Range hoods also contain filtration systems that remove grease and other particles released by smoke and steam caused by cooking.

A fan or blower runs in the opposite direction, trapping all contaminants in the air. This maintains your kitchen’s air quality.

What is an Over-The-Range Microwave?

If your kitchen doesn’t have the space you need for a range hood, you can consider an over-the-range microwave.

This is different from the more common over-the-counter microwave.

Microwave Range hood
Microwave Range Hood takes up less space and has it own ventilation

In many ways, it’s better than the counter variant because it takes up much less space and stays out of your way. Unless you need it, of course.

Also called a microwave range hood, it comes with its own installed ventilation, which cleans up the contaminated air, removing toxins from your kitchen.

It also helps you save big on energy costs as you don’t need (or need less) air conditioning to keep your kitchen cool.


If you read all the way through here, then you likely already know everything there is to know about both these appliances and how they might satisfy your needs.

To make sure everything was crystal clear, here’s a quick recap:

Range Hoods

Many ventilation featuresTypically more expensive than over-the-range microwaves
Fewer filter replacements required over time
Allows for taller pots when cooking
If you want tons of options and cooking space a range hood will make you very happy


Kitchen space-saverLess efficient at ventilation
Slower fan speeds
Can be an issue with taller pots
Not ideal for shorter people
If you’re short on space and don’t plan on cooking with huge pots, this appliance will do the job just fine


Range hoods are quite popular, mainly due to their ability to quickly clean up the air in your kitchen and keep the heat down.

But in smaller kitchens, you may not have the option of getting them installed. In that case, you can go for an over-the-range microwave. Whatever you choose, remember the points we discussed here.

I hope now you better understand the difference between a range hood and an over-the-range microwave. And which one would be better in a certain scenario.

If you want to learn more about kitchen appliances or simply loved this article, please check out other resources below.

Thank you for reading, and have a fabulous day!

— Craig.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Often Should I Clean My Range Hood Filters?

Depending on how often you cook, it’s recommended that you change them once every 1–3 months. This will help guarantee that you’re getting the best possible ventilation and also allow your appliance to work without overtaxing itself.

How Do I Choose the Right-Sized Range Hood?

Ideally, you should pick a range hood that covers the entire area of the cooktop beneath it. This way, you’ll ensure that all the smoke is caught and blown outside your home.

How Long Do Range Hoods Last?

When well maintained, often cleaned, and used properly, range hoods are expected to last an average of 13 years.

That being said, this number can vary greatly if you use the appliance for several hours every day.

What About Over-The-Range-Microwaves?

These appliances have a slightly lower lifespan, as they’re typically rated to last anywhere between 8–10 years.

Again, this greatly depends on how you use and maintain it, but under normal circumstances, you should have a trusty decade-old appliance before needing a replacement.

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