Buying Guide: Microwave Ovens
Our buying guide to microwave ovens is a helpful resources to choose the best microwave for you rneeds. Many people use microwaves only for reheating or thawing, but today's multi-featured units can actually be used to cook meals! The faster speed of microwave cooking allows food to retain more vitamins and minerals than conventional cooking. In addition, buying a microwave because it does not create extra heat in the kitchen nor do they require preheating. With the same speed, convenience, and simplicity you have always associated with microwave cooking you can prepare something more elaborate than popcorn and a baked potato for dinner. Lowe's is happy to provide this microwave guide as a service to you.

Here's how it works:

The magnetron tube inside the oven produces microwaves. The waves enter the oven through an opening in the oven cavity. The microwaves move in a straight line — not a good recipe for evenly cooking food. Many ovens use turntables to rotate the food itself or stirrer fans to distribute the waves evenly. Food is cooked from the outside to the inside, as in regular cooking.

When buying a microwave, consider:

To determine the size and power of the oven, think of the number of people in your family and whether you plan to use the microwave for primary cooking. Selecting a microwave oven for cooking full meals for a family will require a larger, high-power unit.

Also consider the size of your cookware. Will it fit in the oven? How will you use the microwave? For more advanced cooking, look for defrost/cook/keep warm options.

How much room do you have for the microwave? Ovens are available as countertop, under-the-cabinet, over-the-range, or built-ins.
Capacity and Power


Compact (less than 0.8 cubic feet)
500 — 800 watts

Midsize (0.8 to 1.2 cubic feet)
800 — 1000 watts

Full-size (1.2 cubic feet and larger)
More than 1000 watts

Remember that cook times offered in recipes will vary based on the wattage of the microwave.

Additional Features

Turntables provide even cooking. Removable turntables won't limit the size of the cooking dish used as much as a fixed turntable.

Convection combines radiant heat with microwaves to speed up cooking and provide crusty baked goods and juicier roasted meat.

Browning units act as the broiler in a conventional oven would.

Probes or Sensors allow the oven to gauge whether the dish is cooked thoroughly and prevent overcooking.

Timers on some models can be used in the normal countdown function or come preset to certain types of foods (for example, popcorn).