With so many microwaves to choose from, one of the main things which sets them apart is their features. Gain an understanding of which ones you want here.
Side Opening vs Drop Down Door – Consider your kitchen layout before choosing an opening type – you’ll want to avoid clashes with obstacles (and people!). While most microwaves have doors with a side hinge, a drop-down door opens downwards. This gives a high-end feel and is practical since it won’t be in the way as you’re trying to remove a hot dish.
If you’re happier with a side opening door, you’ll find yourself with a wider selection to choose from. Most have the hinge on the left, although right opening versions are available.
If you’re happier with a side opening door, you’ll find yourself with a wider selection to choose from.
Turntable vs Flatbed
The majority of microwaves use a turntable to rotate your food while it’s cooking, encouraging even heat distribution. The round glass plate is removable for cleaning.
A flatbed microwave is even easier to clean since the base is completely flat. They’re less restrictive with which dishes you can fit inside, so you can use a big square one or lots of small bowls at once. However, they don’t rotate your dishes, so you’ll need to stir food more often to ensure it’s cooked evenly.
Some turntable models have a programme which allows you to switch off the rotating feature. This gives you the flexibility to make the most of the available space.
All modern microwaves have interior lights. These let you see the food while it’s cooking – perfect for making sure nothing boils over.
Have full control over your cooking with a combination of buttons, dials and/or touch controls. Look for a model which you feel comfortable with, so take into consideration the number of controls, layout and type.
State-of-the-art touchscreen controls are available on the most expensive built-in designs.
If you have little ones in the house, it’s well worth looking out for a child lock feature. You’ll need to press a sequence of buttons before you can start cooking anything, providing peace of mind that only adults can use it.
An LED display screen helps you see your programmed modes and the length of time remaining. Most display the time too, acting as a handy kitchen clock when the microwave isn’t in use.
Some basic microwaves don’t have a display. With these models, you can see how long is left by looking at the numbers around the dial itself.
Microwaves work using a programmable timer. This means, unlike your oven, it can’t be left on for too long accidentally (providing you programme it correctly). Extra programmes for pre-set foods are also available – find out more in our guide to programmes.
Microwaves are smarter than ever before, and sensors are a great example. They can detect humidity within the cavity and automatically adjust the cooking time to suit. You’ll never need to eat dried out, overcooked food ever again.
When shopping around for your new microwave, you’ll see retailers advertising painted, stainless steel and ceramic cavities.
Ceramic benefits from being smooth and easy to clean, while stainless steel is more effective at heating your food. A painted interior is available on budget models. It’s easy to clean but less durable.
It’s important your microwave matches your kitchen. You’ll be able to choose from coloured coatings and exposed stainless steel finishes, or even a mirror finish. Top-of-the-range models are nearly always stainless steel – a mark resistant coating can be a welcome addition.
The best microwave ovens have self-cleaning liners. They mean you won’t ever have to scrub away a layer of built-up grease.
Catalytic and Pyrolytic Liners
The best microwave ovens have self-cleaning liners. This means you won’t ever have to scrub away a layer of built-up grease again.
A steam cleaning function helps break down any food spillages inside the cavity. Some models have auto dry too, so the microwave is ready to use straight away afterwards.