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

Are you trying to decide a range hood or an over the range microwave?

Ventilation is a key consideration, as you don’t want to heat your kitchen – as well as a few other considerations. It’s also worth noting over the range microwaves are harder to clean and use, compared to a cheaper countertop model.

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

The easiest way to compare range hoods and over-the-range microwaves is by seeing their main differences and 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 instead 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. Microwave range hoods 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.

Over-the-range microwaves also represent limited space for cooking, as 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 frequently clean and replace the filters, as they’re not as efficient as range hoods. If not replaced or cleared on time, over-the-range microwaves won’t be as efficient at 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.

My usual advice is to install your microwave range hood 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 can’t 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 replace your range hood with an over-the-range microwave, I wouldn’t 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.

In my experience, it may take a few minutes to a good long hour. But it’ll make your range good as new, so it’s worth it.

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 hot and stuffy when cooking food.

Another reason for replacing an over-the-range microwave with a range hood is that a microwave doesn’t have the same efficient filtration system as a range hood.

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 necessarily have to 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 install an over-the-range microwave above your cooktop, but only if you don’t have a range hood. Otherwise, you won’t have any space for it.

Upper Shelf

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

Just ensure 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 remove a drawer or two 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, which is a good idea if you want all your cooking appliances in one place.

If you’re thinking of getting a new kitchen decor, I tend to find that choosing one that has a fixture for wall ovens and microwaves is a great idea.

In a Drawer

Believe it or not, you can also opt for a drawer-style microwave installation.

Drawer microwaves are 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.

Drawer microwaves are very practical but also super expensive!

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 ensure your electrician knows how to put in the wires properly while 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 with a mechanical fan installed inside a canopy.

A silver range hood

In restaurants and hotel kitchens, range hoods also include fire suppression methods to remove 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 and maintaining 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.

Over-the-range microwaves are different from the more common over-the-counter microwave.

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

In many ways, an over-the-range microwave is better than the counter variant because it takes up much less space and stays out of your way.

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

Microwave range hoods also help 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 range hoods and over-the-range microwaves.

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, an over-the-range microwave 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. You can go for an over-the-range microwave if you can’t install a range hood. Whatever you choose, remember the points we discussed here.

I hope you understand the difference between a range hood and an over-the-range microwave now. 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 and consider subscribing to our newsletter.

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 your filters once every 1–3 months. Changing your filters will help guarantee you’re getting the best possible ventilation and 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 cooktop area beneath it to ensure 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.

However, this number can vary greatly if you use the appliance for several hours daily.

What About Over-The-Range-Microwaves?

Over-the-range microwaves have a slightly lower lifespan, as they’re typically rated to last anywhere between 8–10 years.

Although it 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.

I've been helping homeowners with appliance repair since 2016. Starting out as an enthusiastic amateur, I've since worked with many Appliance, HVAC, and DIY experts over the last 7+ years. My mission is to help fix your appliances and prevent future issues - saving you stress, time, and money. Visit my author page to learn more! Read more