Can I Use Over-the-Range Microwave as a Countertop?

Over-the-range microwaves are a favorite to people with limited kitchen space as they help free up some counter space. The units are built above the range and function just like countertop microwaves.

The only difference is that over-the-range microwaves come with a built-in ventilation system that gets rid of smoke, steam, and cooking odors.

The fact that these units function just like countertop microwaves makes a lot of people curious. Can they use an over-the-range microwave as a countertop? The answer is a big no.

Over-the-range microwave ovens are not UL approved for use on a counter/shelf.

Listed herein are more reasons as to why you should never use an over-the-range microwave as a countertop. Dive deeper to learn more.

Reasons Why You Should not Use an Over-the-Range Microwave on the countertop

1. The Underside Bottom isn’t Flat

For a microwave to sit well on the counter, it must come with a flat underside bottom, and this is not the case with over-the-range microwaves.

And with an uneven bottom, the microwave won’t sit flush with the countertop. You don’t want to have a rough cooking experience, right?

Imagine placing and removing hot pans from such a microwave, risky, right? It can also be a safety concern, especially if you have kids who like using the unit frequently.

2. Undesirable Heating

Conventional over-the-range microwaves come with a functional venting apparatus installed at the unit’s underside. This apparatus can create undesirable heating if the microwave is kept with zero immediate clearance.

If not careful, the microwave can even scorch your countertop, something you’d rather not experience.

3. The Top and Sides May Not be Visually Appealing

For a countertop microwave, you need a model that will not only function properly, but also look great in your kitchen. This isn’t the case with over-the-range microwaves. Although these models work perfectly, manufacturers don’t put much effort into the way they look. The appearance of the top and sides of these microwaves is demanding.

How to Decide Between an Over-the-Range and a Countertop Microwave

Can I Use Over-the-Range Microwave as a Countertop

Most people want to use an over-the-range as countertop microwave because they made the wrong buying decision. That’s why before you step out for a shopping spree, you need to think about what will work for you and your family.

To get the best microwave for your home, consider the following factors:

Kitchen Size

If you have a small kitchen, you don’t have to do a lot of thinking. Countertop microwaves take a lot of space that you could use to prepare food, and you don’t want that.

Over-the-range microwaves are usually installed under the cabinetry, up off the countertop. And since you’d rather save every inch in a small kitchen, this unit makes the best choice.

Venting Power

One of the selling points of over-the-range microwaves is that they also double as a vent, hence function as 2 appliances in one. This sounds like the perfect solution for an average home cook.

However, if you do professional cooking, an over-the-range microwave might not be the best option. This is because although these models are great at siphoning out heat, steam smoke, and oil from your cooking surface, they are not nearly as powerful as a dedicated vent hood.

The average over-the-range microwave gets rid of air at a rate of 300 CFM, while dedicated range hoods can even reach rates above 450 CFM.

If planning to cook large quantities of food frequently, go for a countertop microwave and then install a range hood for proper ventilation.

Microwave Height

The main drawback of an over-the-range microwave is that it’s usually placed high above the cooktop, making it a little difficult for shorter adults and kids to get food in and out.

Countertop microwaves are easily accessible to everyone.

However, some people prefer not to lean over whenever they want to get food in and out of the microwave. In this case, having an over-the-range microwave that sits at head height may be preferable.

Ease of Installation

One advantage of countertop microwaves is that they require no installation, and all you need to do is plug the unit in, and you are good to go.

Therefore, a countertop model is the best option if you want to start using the microwave as soon as possible. A countertop microwave is also easy to take with you are one of those people that move around a lot.

Over-the-range microwaves require a professional to install. They are also a little bulky and thus not the best option for you if looking for a unit that you carry along when going for a vacation.


Is it a good idea to place your microwave over a stove?

Yes, it is. An over-the-range microwave (placed over a stove) is a classic choice for smaller kitchens. It is a fantastic space saver hence worth it.

Which is better, a range hood or an over-the-range microwave?

Although an over-the-range microwave helps to siphon out steam, smoke, and oil from your kitchen, a professional-range hood works more efficiently. A range hood is, therefore, better than an over-the-range microwave.

Do over-the-range microwave ovens come with exhaust fans?

Yes. Over-the-range microwave ovens come with built-in exhaust fans, which serve as a ventilation system to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and steam.


When installing a microwave oven, it is very important that you follow the instructions given by the manufacturer to the letter. And in most cases, the units come with a user manual and installation instructions that are easy to read and understand.

If unsure of the right way to mount your microwave, get a professional to do it for you. You should know that placing the unit in the wrong location could lead to serious fire hazards.

Never place an over-the-range microwave on a countertop or a cabinet. Always ensure that the unit’s bottom isn’t closed in. This way, the heat (which can cause serious safety concerns) gets to escape.

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