Appliance Roundup

Microwave Buying Guide

Microwaves have revolutionised modern cooking, allowing you to prepare a healthy meal in minutes. Most microwaves come with other time-saving features such as a food defrosting options or reheating options. Microwaves offer another key benefit - they occupy a fraction of the space of traditional ovens and stoves.

Types of microwaves

Traditional microwaves offer standard cooking, defrosting and reheating options. More modern microwaves offer convection cooking and grills, with the former usually called a combi microwave and the latter a grill microwave. Combi microwaves normally have convection (hot air heating) and grills built-in, giving you the flexibility to use either or both together. Grill Microwaves have an internal grill, again which can be used standalone or in conjunction with the microwave to brown and crisp your food. Built-in microwaves, which can come with any of the features mentioned above, allow you to hide your microwave and free up space in your kitchen (they are usually supplied with a fitting kit).

Tips on buying

Size is important - microwaves vary from around 17 litres to around 32 litres. A family-sized microwave of around 25 litres should give you the room to cook multiple dishes at the same time. Power is another factor to consider . an 1100 watt microwave will cook your food in a shorter time than an 800 watt microwave, however the time difference is not usually too drastic. Other features to consider on a microwave:

  • automatic cooking and defrosting, some microwaves weigh your food and adjust the time accordingly;
  • child lock, important if you have young children and want to restrict their usage;
  • drop-down door, handy for resting food and easier access;
  • microwave lining, the easiest to clean are microwaves lined with catalytic or pyrolytic material, which are mostly self-cleaning; and
  • multi-sequence cooking, varies the power levels during cooking.

Most importantly, consider your needs, if you do a lot of defrosting, look for a microwave with good defrosting abilities. Likewise, if you want to grill food, a grill or convection microwave will offer you the best choice.

How microwaves work

As the name suggests, microwaves use "micro waves", specifically radio waves, to heat food. As the food absorbs the radio waves, the waves are converted into atomic motion, or heat. Unlike other cooking devices, microwaves heat the food evenly throughout and because only the food is heated (unlike an oven where the air inside the whole oven is heated), microwaves are generally more efficient. One distinct disadvantage of a microwave is food such as pizza, where traditional ovens will create "crust", microwaves will not. However, as mentioned above, a range of microwaves called grill microwaves, now offer the advantages of a traditional oven and those of a microwave.

Useful links

Compare all microwaves
Convection Microwaves
Grill Microwaves
Combi Microwaves