While microwaves and range hoods may occupy the same space in a kitchen, common sense would prevail in that their respective tasks are significantly different. They may compete for that coveted space that rests above the range, cooktop or oven so, in a nutshell, that is the primary focus of this discussion. As with other appliances which are integrated into a well-planned kitchen, the homeowner will have to scrutinize their own cooking behaviors and practices while weighing-in the value of saving a little extra counter space.
The microwave oven has become an indispensible appliance in the kitchen and is often the cooking appliance of choice for the younger, shorter members of the household; and this certainly influences the value and considerations associated with an over-the-range microwave. By contrast, the range hood simply provides a hygienic convenience while consuming a space that may be more aptly utilized by a more frequently used appliance such as the microwave. As stated before, such a decision is best achieved with self-examination of personal kitchen practices as they relate to convenience features.
Where to locate the microwave oven
The modern consumer has become extremely reliant upon the microwave oven. Whether defrosting a roast in a matter of minutes rather than hours, heating a snack for the kids in 90 seconds or less, or relying upon the cooking speed of the microwave to produce a component of a larger meal so that everything hits the table at the same time. It’s an appliance that translates the pace in which we live and forgives our ability, or lack thereof, to plan our meals accordingly.
This appliance was usually relegated to an open space on the countertop or upon its own dedicated kitchen cart. As consumers evolved into a species that held counter space at an utmost premium, these choices of location were then modified to the point where the new locale of choice became having the microwave mounted beneath one of the upper cabinets or on a shelf custom designed just for that purpose.
Upon engineering an exhaust fan feature beneath the microwave, a new mounting space was created: above the oven, range, or cooktop. Like many dual-service appliances, there tends to be a significant weakness in one of the features; and this is true with this appliance. The over-the-range microwaves have significantly less air movement capabilities than dedicated range hoods. Not only does this not satisfy those who desire a smoke and steam-free kitchen space but consumers also contend that the life expectancy of the microwave is compromised or diminished by the influx of additional heat and presence of contaminants that the fan is unable to exhaust properly. If, however, the household demand on such an exhaust appliance is minimal, then this option may be a workable solution to saving counter space and creating a linear service and visual above the range.
Range Hoods and exhaust ‘systems’
For the culinary aficionado, the integration of an appropriate range hood or exhaust handling system in an active kitchen area is a decision that confirms itself. The individuals who clearly take-up residence in their kitchen areas, appreciate the value of what a competent range hood and exhaust handling system offers them. Oftentimes these kitchens will be replete with two separate appliances: one dedicated range hood above the oven and one exhaust handling system suspended above an island that boasts a cooktop. This setup may exemplify an ‘over-the-top’ configuration for the average homeowner but it does illustrate the abject necessity of every homeowner understanding their true and honest need for these appliances.
It’s also imperative for a homeowner to communicate to their respective kitchen designer or contractor the truths about their kitchen aspirations in accord with how they actually practice in their kitchen. These systems, for example, have a wide price range from minimal to extensive. Understanding how you live and communicating that appropriately could provide some necessary savings in the overall kitchen appliance budget. In other words, there may be wiser dollars spent elsewhere; but only the homeowner knows this for sure!
Besides the question of necessity, the homeowner will need to take a hard look at the design and visual presence of some of the more formidable range hoods. Some of these units can visually conquer a kitchen and minimize the balance of the aesthetics of the new kitchen just by their sheer mass. Such units should be chosen with the capabilities of their features coupled with the amount of attention that they may consume within the new kitchen area. The general rule is to choose an appliance that is commensurate with your cooking habits and occupies the least amount of space and budget requirement—and that just makes good sense in your new kitchen!