With its fast cooking ability, timer facility and auto cook settings, a microwave oven is what any working woman trying to juggle a job and a home will love to own. It also makes cooking simple and easy for bachelors! No wonder, a microwave oven is a must-have in all households today. A Microwave (MW) Oven is an electronic device that produces high frequency radio waves to heat and cook food. The mechanism is of using high frequency radio waves produces a high amount of heat that eventually cooks the food in a short span of time. Initially the function of heating frozen food had popularised ovens. Today, though, the new age ovens offer much more – they cook, defrost, bake and also grill, and all this in a jiffy. With the numerous models available in the market, you may find it difficult to pick the right one that matches your needs and requirements. This buying guide will give you a bird’s eye view of everything about microwaves to help you make an informed decision.
The first thing you should think of, when you’re going home appliance shopping is the budget. Decide whether you’re going for a new one, used microwave oven or opt for a rental option. A new one will be a good choice if you’re planning to use the microwave oven pretty often. If you dine out often and use your home kitchen only on rare occasions, a used microwave or a lower end model may be a good option to go for. Commercial establishments may find it profitable to go for rentals. So, in case the product is damaged, they can call up the rental agency and ask for an immediate replacement, and don’t have to wait for repair or servicing.
The value of the product greatly depends on the brand. Manufacturers use innovative techniques and technologies to set their products apart from the rest available in the market. The top selling brands of microwaves are LG, Morphy, Richards, Panasonic, Samsung, Havells, and Onida.
Types of MW Ovens (Based on Function)
Solo Microwave Oven
The basic function of this oven is to toast bread, make pizza or prepare other similar recipes. It can also be used to defrost food and reheat food items.
- Simple and easy to operate
- Let you defrost or reheat food
- Is not suitable for elaborate cooking
- Baking cakes will not be possible
Grill Microwave Oven
Similar to Solo MW ovens, Grill MW ovens are differentiated in that they have heating coils arranged to roast or toast food. You need a metal rack or a grilling plate to bring the food closer to the grill. This oven helps you to grill any food in minutes, whether chicken or fish.
- Suitable for grilling foods
- Can also be used as a solo microwave oven
- Suitable for barbeques
- Does not allow you to bake
- Convection Microwave Oven
This MW oven has a convection system, and is specially designed for baking. You can bake cakes, muffins, cookies and make pizzas in this oven. The difference between a Convection MW oven and a Solo or Grill MW oven is that the former uses a fan to uniformly distribute the heat generated by the microwaves. This effect makes the food crispier and brown unlike Solo microwave ovens.
- Evenly distributes heat using a fan
- The food comes out crispier and brown
- Requires more practice for operation
OTG: (Oven Toaster Grill)
Using a totally different form of heating, an OTG is sometimes confused as a MW oven. It isn’t one. It uses heating coils placed on the ceiling and the roof that helps grill, cook food, barbeque and bake food items. The heating coil converts electrical energy into heat and cooks food. For grilling, only one coil needs to be heated, but for baking both the coils are required. Hence, this switching option in an OTG makes it easier for you to cook a variety of dishes. In this toaster oven buying guide, we have listed the pros and cons for your reference:
- All the functions like baking, grilling and toasting can be easily done
- Not ideal for home use as it doesn’t cook basic Indian food
- It takes more time to cook food
Barbeque Microwave Oven
Microwave ovens that can barbeque are known as Barbeque MW Ovens. They use Charcoal Lighting Heater technology to barbeque the food in an easy manner. You can barbeque chicken, fish, bacon and more in these MW ovens.
Here is a comparison between the different types of MW ovens and an OTG.
Types of MW Ovens (Based on Placement)
There are two types of MW ovens that are differentiated according to the placement in your kitchen:
This type of oven can be placed anywhere in the kitchen or on the dining table as it requires very little space. It is ideal for a small sized family or a small food outlet where heating and cooking small dishes is necessary.
Over the range
It is a big sized oven where large quantities of food can be cooked in minutes. It is ideal for large families or big restaurants that need several functions of cooking, baking, heating, roasting, toasting and more. If you are still not sure about the size; take a plate or a bowl in which you usually cook and place it in the oven cavity. If it fits in correctly then it is of your required size.
Types of MV Ovens (Based on Body Construction)
The inner cavity of the MW oven is made of steel, and can retain the heat for long time, even if the oven is turned off. But the downside is that steel does not have the heat resistance of ceramic cavities, and is prone to scratches.
Ceramic Enamel Cavity
It is a new trend in the market where the inner cavity of the MW oven is made of ceramic enamel. It is highly resistant to heat and can be easily cleaned. Moreover ceramic enamel cavity microwaves look elegant and stylish.
Here is a table of recommended MW oven capacity according to family size:
The wattage of the oven ranges from 600 to 1200 watts. For faster preparation of food the oven must have higher wattage. Most of the recipes that are cooked in the oven need a minimum power of 800 watts. Hence it is ideal to buy an oven with 800 watts.
Service and Maintenance
Any home appliance should be regularly serviced to ensure optimum performance. The manufacturer generally provides free maintenance and services for a set period of time as the warranty describes. Once the warranty period is completed, you will have to look for reliable servicing agencies. You can also sign up on AMC with the manufacturer after the warranty period, if it is a viable option.
Sensors: Sensors sense the humidity present in the food and checks whether the food is cooked or not. This feature helps you to save energy as it turns the oven off once the food is cooked.
Auto Defrost: The auto-defrost option lets you defrost your frozen food without cooking it. All you have to do is enter the type of food and its weight and turn the knob to the cooking of your choice and your food ready to cook.
Child safety lock: This feature enables you to lock the appliance with a pin number preventing it from being used by children.
Shortcut keys:Short cut keys are a part of auto settings for some common recipes like oatmeal, pizza, soup, chicken, pasta and more. Do not go for this feature unless you are sure that you will be using most of the short cuts.
Removable metal racks: These metal racks are used in grill microwave ovens. Look for removable metal racks that can be cleaned in case of spillage of food.
Parts & Components
Magnetron: It is the vital component of a microwave oven as it is responsible for creating high frequency microwaves that vibrates the water particles of food. As it is the most important part, manufacturers offer warranty on this.
Door: The door of a MW oven is important as it protects the radiation from escaping to the surrounding. Usually the doors are made of a semi-transparent material that enables you to see the food while it is getting cooked. A metal wire mesh contains the radiation and keeps it in the oven itself. So it is a safe to have an oven in your kitchen.
Menu & Control buttons: The menu and control buttons help you to manage the settings while you want to cook your favourite dishes in the oven. Auto cook options or presents like make pizza, defrost meat, make soup, and more are more helpful as they let you cook food with just a click. Also, the manual settings will be helpful to heat food or make an omelette in the time you set.
Display Screen: The screen displays the cooking mode, time and temperature of the oven. It will be helpful to keep in track of the food that is being cooked.
Turntable: There is a round thick bodied glass plate on which food can be kept on the table. The plate rotates while the food is being cooked, so that the heat is distributed evenly on the food and every bit of it is well cooked. Turntable sizes are determined by the size of the MW oven.
Air vents: The smoke released from the cooked food will be ventilated through these air vents. They are also useful when you deodorise the oven.