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 post I’ll compare range hoods with over-the-range microwaves. Choosing the better one for your kitchen will be a breeze!

If that sounds good, let’s dive in.

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.

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.

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 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 to 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 countersfor 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, 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.


Range hoods are quite popular, mainly due to their ability to quickly clean up the air in your kitchen and keeping 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 over-the-range microwave. And which one would be better in a certain scenario.

If you want to learn more about kitchen appliances, check out other articles on our site.

Thank you for reading, and have a fabulous day!