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Microwave Oven Buying Guide

Built In and Freestanding Microwaves 

Quick, simple and compact, the microwave has become our new best friend. Almost every house has one which means at some point, every house must eventually need a new one.

There are many different types including free standing and built in models. Some have grills and others even become convection ovens! To help you find a model we've put together a really use Microwave Oven Buying Guide. It covers everything you need to know about microwaves!

How to Choose The Ideal Microwave Oven.

What do power levels on microwaves mean?


The higher the wattage the more powerful the microwave and the quicker the cooking times will be. Always check the product specification details as microwaves will be listed with their highest power level which can range from 650W up to 1100W.

Let’s say you have a 1000W microwave and you want to cook on full power; you would select 1000W which is 100% power. On this setting the microwave oven will produce ‘microwaves’ (cook the food) for the whole duration of your cooking time.

If you then choose to cook scrambled eggs for 2 minutes on medium power you would select the 500W power level. The microwave will now cook on half power; the appliance will operate for 2 minutes however, during this cooking period it is producing ‘micro-waves’ 50% of the time and is off the rest of the time. You will hear the microwave intermittently turning on and off. This less intense cooking programme will ensure your eggs stay light and fluffy.

Low power levels (10 to 30% of your microwave ovens max power) are great for defrosting frozen food, melting chocolate or softening butter. Using a mid power level (Around 60 to 40%) is ideal for cooking delicate items such as scrambled eggs or cream based soups. High power levels (80-100%) are good for general heating of food and beverages.

You’ll find most top of the range microwaves provide a wide variety of cooking levels. The lowest power levels can be as low as 90-160 Watts which are suitable for defrosting. If you opt for a microwave with a good range of power levels you will have every cooking task covered.

Heating categories on microwaves are rated from A to E. A = Least powerful. E = Most powerful.

What size microwave capacities are available?


The capacity of a microwave can vary from 17L up to 45L. Compact microwaves start around 17L which are popular for use in small kitchen or caravans where space limited. If you plan to cook recipes in your microwave looks for one with the biggest capacity possible, ideally in the 40L plus range. The bigger capacity microwaves offer more interior height and therefore you'll have more room for tall sided casserole dishes.

Always consider the size of the microwave turntable too. If it's too small for your plates you’ll have a problem! Compact microwaves tend to have smaller turntable plates, often around 29cm in diameter.

You’ll find some combination microwaves provide decent sized turntables up to 35cm wide. Ideal if you plan to cook with wide casserole dishes or heat food on larger plates. Also, if you want to make cleaning easy, look for turntables that are dishwasher safe.

Can I steam clean my microwave?


Yes! Internal microwave cavities are quite simplistic in design which makes them easy to wipe clean. Cavities are often ceramic or stainless steel. Some microwaves feature an anti bacterial coating or self cleaning liners which prevents grease building up inside the appliance.

Should any spillages occur during cooking try to wipe them clean before they dry. Dried on debris can be harder to clean however a good steam clean will loosen the dirt. If your microwave does not have a steam clean setting (some do!) you can perform a quick steam clean by simply adding water to a microwaveable bowl, heat it on high until steaming. Once cooled a little simply wipe clean with a non abrasive cloth.

Microwave turnable plates are easy to remove and can be cleaned using hot soapy water. Alternatively they can be placed in the dishwasher (Always check your user manual to see if the plate is dishwasher friendly)

Standard Microwave


Solo Microwave

Standard microwaves offer basic microwave functions. If you simply want to re-heat food and defrost the occasional item then a standard microwave is the best option for you. Standard microwaves are the cheapest option as they provide less functions. Capacity is generally smaller too but they’re a good, fuss free option.

Standard microwaves are also known as solo microwaves or a basic microwave.

Microwave With Grill


Grill microwaves provide standard microwave cooking and defrosting with the addition of a grill/heating element.

The heating element allows you to grill meat or fish and can be used to brown and crisp food too. Many grill microwaves come with a tall grilling rack to raise the food closer to the grill element.

Combination Microwave


Combination microwaves are by far the most popular choice as they can be used for a wide variety of cooking tasks.

Dependant on the model selected a combination microwave can offer grilling, fan assisted cooking and baking, steaming, standard microwave cooking, defrosting and more! With so many cooking options you’ll find that combination microwaves have a larger than average capacity. You’ll have plenty of space to cook larger dishes for all the family.

With the option of fan assist you can crisp and brown dishes just like a conventional oven however, cooking times are significantly reduced. They make life easier and are a great choice for busy families!

The best features to look for on a microwave

    • Steam Function - Cooking with steam is fast and healthy. Some microwaves come with steamer accessory sets which enable you to create delicious steamed meals that are nutritional and perfectly cooked. Fish and vegetables cook particularly well in a microwave on a steam setting and take considerably less time to cook compared to boiling or oven baking. Broccoli takes around 3 minutes to cook and miniature potatoes less than 7 minutes.

    • Smart Microwave - Smart microwaves have WiFi connectivity and can be connected to your smart home network. Once you download the dedicated app and sync your devices together it is possible to control your microwave remotely using a smartphone, tablet or voice control systems like Alexa. Internal sensors take the guess work out of cooking. So, if you’re planning a movie night there’s no need to keep pausing the film to check cooking progress as your smart microwave will take care of it and you can check the progress and control your microwave via your smartphone, from the comfort of your couch!

    • Sensor Cooking And Defrosting - Intelligent built in sensors inside the microwave detect moisture and humidity. Microwaves featuring sensor cooking are able to adjust the power level and times automatically to ensure food does not dry out so you get perfect cooking results with every dish.

    • Auto Cook Function - Microwaves featuring auto cook are programmed with a collection of pre-set cooking modes for specific food groups. You can simply enter the weight and type of food and the auto cook setting will select the best programme and timing to cook your dish.

    • Crisp Plates - A crisp plate is a really handy feature to have in a microwave. Crips plates are especially good if you want tasty food, fast! They’re perfect for cooking pizzas with perfectly crisp bases and great for cooking bacon, sausages and even fried eggs, without oil! You do not need to use oil as crisp plates tend to have a non stick coating to prevent food from sticking.

    • Child Lock - Safety is important, especially if you have young children at home. It’s a good idea to choose a microwave with a child lock. A simple lock system (activation varies between models) will prevent young children changing the settings during cooking or accidentally turning the appliance on.

    • Chaos Defrost - If you want to defrost food fast and safely ‘chaos defrost’ is a handy feature to look for. Opposed to the uniform pulse of standard defrosting, chaos defrost generates irregular, high powered pulses to defrost items evenly. It is suitable for fast defrosting of bread and meat items.

    • Touch Control Or Dial - You can opt between a touch control microwave or a protruding dial. Smart microwave models can even be controlled via an app using your smartphone or tablet! Dials are easy to use but are less accurate at timings. Microwaves with dial operation are often cheaper to buy. Electronic touch control provides a more minimalist aesthetic and provide much more precise and accurate timings for cooking. You'll find touch control and dial/knob controls across all integrated and freestanding microwave models.

Built In Microwaves


Built In or integrated microwave ovens are built and designed to be integrated into your kitchen. They look smart and discreet within your kitchen design. Built in microwaves are most commonly built into a tall housing. A small selection of compact microwave models will fit in slightly smaller 500mm wide wall units. Always check the product dimensions before you commit to buy.

With these microwave ovens being integrated, they naturally free up worktop space giving you more room to cook and prepare food or even more room to put other kitchen accessories. Saving valuable worktop space is ideal if you have a small kitchen.

Integrated microwaves come with a wide range of features and are available in many style and size options

Freestanding Microwaves


Freestanding microwave ovens are presentable from all sides and provide greater installation flexibility so they can be placed pretty much anywhere.

Free standing microwaves come with a wide range of features and are available in many style and size options. You can find modern and retro freestanding microwaves with models to suit all budgets.


Why Shop With Us?


If you're struggling to find a microwave to suit your needs, call us on 0330 002 0229, we're happy to talk through the best options for you.

As well providing an excellent knowledgable and freindly service, we also offer various deals on our microwave ovens:

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