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Best Over-the-Range Microwaves From Consumer Reports' Tests

Save space on the counter with a cabinet-mounted model

Over-the-range microwave ovens are a good choice if you have limited counter space and/or prefer a built-in appliance that matches the rest of your kitchen suite.

And you can get a new OTR microwave for as little as $200, not including installation costs, which vary. Some retailers, like Home Depot, offer free installation if the purchase price exceeds a certain amount.

But there are some drawbacks to OTRs. Although they have a built-in exhaust fan, it won't vent as well as a range hood. And if you’re short, you might find it challenging to remove a piping-hot bowl of soup from an OTR microwave, because the bottom of the appliance is usually 18 inches or more above the range.

“Some newer over-the-range microwaves are very squat and might be difficult to reach when you open the door or press buttons,” says Ginny Lui, who oversees Consumer Reports’ microwave testing. “Make sure to consider the size and placement of the microwave in your kitchen before you buy one.”

How We Test Microwaves
We assess how fast and how evenly microwaves heat. The speed score in our over-the-range microwave ratings is based on how fast a microwave heats 1 liter of room-temperature water in a bowl. For evenness, we put a bowl of cold mashed potatoes in a microwave, heat it for 10 minutes, then take the temperature of the food in 20 different places.

There are more than 65 over-the-range microwave ovens in our ratings (and more than 80 countertop models). Here, listed in alphabetical order, are six OTR picks that deliver outstanding performance in our tests.

1

Frigidaire Professional FPBM3077RF
Frigidaire Professional FPBM3077RF

    Frigidaire Professional FPBM3077RF

    CR’s take: This Frigidaire Professional model receives Very Good ratings in our tests for speed of heating, noise, and venting. It’s one of the better models we've tested for ease of use, and we found it easy to program straight out of the box without consulting the owner’s manual. Its ability to heat things evenly is so-so; don't get this model if you tend to heat up large plates of food. Frigidaire is one of the more reliable brands of OTR microwaves, according to a survey of our members.

    2

    GE PVM9005SJSS
    GE PVM9005SJSS

      GE PVM9005SJSS

      CR’s take: This GE PVM9005SJSS is a good choice for a busy household. It earns an Excellent rating in our heating evenness test, in which we reheat a dish of cold mashed potatoes. Speed of heating is also top-notch, and this microwave operates quietly. Our testers found the GE easy to program, and it vents well, something not all OTRs can accomplish. GE ranks in the middle of the pack for predicted reliability, according to our member survey.

      3

      Kenmore Elite 83383
      Kenmore Elite 83383

        Kenmore Elite 83383

        CR's take: If you’re the type of cook who decides what’s for dinner at the last minute, the Kenmore Elite 83383 is a good candidate for your kitchen. It earns an Excellent rating in our defrosting evenness test, in which we defrost a pound of ground beef chuck using the automatic defrost feature. Heating evenness and speed of heating are also impressive, and our testers found it easy to program without consulting the manual. Kenmore is one of the more reliable brands of OTR microwaves, according to our member survey.

        4

        LG LMV2031ST
        LG LMV2031ST

          LG LMV2031ST

          CR’s take: The LG LMV2031ST is a good choice if you use your microwave to cook and not just for reheating and defrosting. It fits a 9x15-inch baking dish and has a wire rack, allowing you to cook two dishes at once. It’s equipped with a sensor that prevents you from overheating your food by turning the microwave off. This model earns Very Good ratings for both speed of heating and heating evenness, and it vents well although, like most OTRs, not as well as a dedicated range hood. LG ranks in the middle of the pack for predicted reliability in our member survey.

          5

          Whirlpool WMH53521H
          Whirlpool WMH53521H

            Whirlpool WMH53521H

            CR's take: A top performer from Whirlpool, the WMH53521H earns an Excellent rating in our heating evenness test, meaning a dish of cold mashed potatoes had few or no cold spots after microwaving. It has a cooking sensor that helps estimate how much time and power you'll need for each dish, and it fits a 9x15-inch dish should you want to cook a casserole. This microwave is very easy to use, and our testers noted that it has no discernible flaws. Whirlpool is one of the most reliable over-the-range microwave brands in our latest reliability survey, with few CR members reporting breakages before five years of use.

            6

            Whirlpool WMH75021HZ
            Whirlpool WMH75021HZ

              Whirlpool WMH75021HZ

              CR’s take: The stainless Whirlpool WMH75021HZ earns a rating of Excellent for defrosting evenness, though other models are more capable when it comes to venting and how fast they can heat food. It’s very quiet, and our testers found it easy to use without thumbing through the manual. It fits a 9x15-inch baking dish, and a sensor automatically adjusts cooking time. Whirlpool is one of the most reliable over-the-range microwave brands in our latest reliability survey.

               

              Haniya Rae contributed to this article.

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              Mary H.J. Farrell

              Knowing that I wanted to be a journalist from a young age, I decided to spiff up my byline by adding the middle initials "H.J." A veteran of online and print journalism, I've worked at People, MSNBC, Ladies’ Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and an online Consumer Reports wannabe. But the real thing is so much better. Follow me on Twitter.