Where to Put a Microwave – Kitchen Designers Speak Out

You should put a microwave close to the fridge since most foods for microwaving are stored in the fridge or freezer. It is best to install the microwave in a cabinet, close the fridge so that you do not use up your counter space.

According to the design team at CRD Design Build in Seattle, Washington, incorporating a microwave into a kitchen should not be an afterthought. You need to plan so that space is not wasted. Here are some options and my evaluation of each.

  1. Countertop Microwave placement – This placement is not costly, and it is a quite solution. If you wish to plan for it while designing your kitchen, you can create a nook for it. Nevertheless, the smaller type of microwave would be preferable so that you can keep as much counter space free as possible.
  2. Microwave placed over the counter – You can bolt your microwave into a cabinet that is over your counter. This placement is OK since you will not have to bend down to use the microwave and you will the extra counter space. Nevertheless, if your cabinets are high, you will have problems accessing your microwave. This option is not cost prohibitive if you are installing new cabinets but adding in the microwave to existing cabinets is a chore.
  3. Using an Appliance Range for your microwave – A microwave that is smaller and that is rarely used, can be placed in an appliance garage. The entry method is not set up for constant use of an appliance. For instance, you can have an application garage that has swing-out doors, or the type that has a roll up door that ressembles the functioning of an actual garage door.
  4. Microwaves that are built in – If you want to make your microwave blend into kitchen, having it professionally built in is a clear option. Its surrounding cabinetry will match the rest of the cabinetry. Nevertheless, this method is the one that will cost the most and you will be limited into the future to the size of microwave that will fit. Also, you need to ensure that you are placing it at the right height. If it is installed at the drawer level, your back will not be pleased if you are tall.

Table that Represents Where Microwave Owners Placed their Microwaves:

Where did you place your microwave?Percentage of total responses
under the counter7%
in a cabinet20%
in the kitchen Island13%
on the counter27%
within a drawer33%
data derived from various appliance forums

Positioning your microwave in the average sized kitchen can be difficult, if you have a small kitchen, you have even more limitations.

Where to Put your Microwave in a Tiny Kitchen?

You should put your microwave in a tiny kitchen above the range. This microwave placement will conserve space and it will be easy to access it without the need to bend down. There are microwaves that are designed to be mounted above ranges that are easy to install.

ABT Electronics, a company in Chicago that was established in 1936 employs fully trained kitchen designers. The designers at ABT state that you will be saving space with an over the range microwave, yet you will be compromising the filtering ability that is provided by range hoods.

Over the Range Microwave Filter Air

I was concerned when researching this option, that this microwave placement would cause problems with fumes that are created when using a range just below a microwave, but there is no reason to be concerned. These microwaves have a filtering system that purifies the air that can be compromised by grease, smoke, and cooking odors.

Space that is Saved by Installing Microwave Above Stovetop

A tiny microwave will take up counter space in a small kitchen. Counter space is necessary when chopping vegetables and for performing mise en place. Space for a cutting board is crucial in a small kitchen. Also, some of us would rather keep space for a coffee maker or a blender if we tend to have a lot of smoothies.

Convection Type of Over the Range Microwave – Great for Tiny Kitchens

If you love to bake and you tend to wait until the oven is free to do so, you could save yourself time in a small kitchen by installing over your stovetop a microwave that is also a convection oven.

Perhaps you are cooking your main course in your regular oven, and you wish to bake cookies at the same time. A convection microwave comes with a fan system and a heating element that will allow you to cook the best cookies.

Convenience for Cooking While Saving Space

If you are the type of cook that keeps a lot of meat frozen, having your microwave over a range is perfect since it saves space and it is convenient when defrosting food. You just place the frozen item in the microwave, set the settings to defrost. After defrosting, you have ready access to the stove top or the oven to finish the cooking steps.

You could be concerned that the ventilation will be inadequate if you were to install your microwave above the range or within a cabinet. I will explain the amount of space that is needed to have around a microwave so that heat and humidity do not build up.

Do Microwaves Need Space around them?

Microwaves need to have 3 inches of clearance at the sides and the top, and 1 inch of clearance in the rear. This space will allow the hot and humid air to flow out of the microwave without getting trapped.

If you have a countertop microwave that you keep on the counter, you still need to ensure the correct level of ventilation. According to experts at GE Appliances, you need to have clearance of 3 inches on the sides, top and an inch in the rear. This will allow adequate ventilation.

Most countertop microwaves have feet. Do not remove the feet because they are there to keep a certain distance on the bottom of the microwave for ventilation. I recommend a Toshiba Microwave Oven that is available on Amazon. Click here to have it delivered to your front door.

Another tip is to avoid placing objects such as magazines, books, small appliances on top of the microwave. This will block the vents that are located on the top causing the microwave to overheat.

Also, make sure that your countertop microwave is at least 3 inches from the front edge of the counter. If not, then there is a chance that it will tip over once you open the microwave door.

Something else that is recommended by General Electric Appliances is that you should not install a countertop microwave in a cabinet. Nevertheless, some kitchen designers advise their clients to build an island in their kitchen to aid in cooking. They also suggest having the microwave incorporated into the island. Is this advisable?

Having a Microwave in an Island – Pros and Cons

Having a microwave in an island will save on kitchen space. Here are the pros and cons of installing a microwave into an island


  1. A microwave in the Island will ensure that the cabinet design is consistent instead of breaking it up by the site of an out of place appliance. I recommend the Sharp Microwave Drawer Oven that is available on Amazon. Click here to have yours delivered to your front door.
  2. Hiding the microwave in the Island is going to leave more space for prep work on the Island. Also, dinner guests like to sit around the Island and their view is not going to be hindered by the present of a large microwave.
  3. By having your microwave in the Island, you are not taking up the space above a range. The ventilation system will be intact.
  4. Since some kitchen cabinets are only twelve inches deep, having the microwave in the Island will ensure that it does intrude in your kitchen space.
  5. You can add a drawer microwave to your Island, this makes better use of your kitchen space and you do not have to worry about bending down to use your microwave.

Instead of placing your microwave into an Island, you could attempt to hang it from the bottom of kitchen cupboards. I will analyze if this is possible.

Can I Hang a Countertop Microwave?

You can hang a countertop microwave by using a mounting kit that is specific to your brand and model of microwave. Make sure to use a kit that has a mounting template since this will make it easier to mark where to add in the mounting hardware.

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Make that you use the mounting template that is for your model. Some kits come with multiply templates covering all their models.
  2. Cut the template so that there is one piece of it that matches the exact dimensions of your microwave. You will be using this piece within the cabinet.
  3. Place the portion of the template that you had created in the last step into the cabinet. Make sure to have the front screws as close to the front of the cabinet as possible. This is to ensure that the microwave will be aligned with the edge of the cabinet to provide you will easy access to the microwave door and controls.
  4. You will need: Phillips head, flathead screwdriver, measuring tape, drill.
  5. Following the directions that came with kit.

Using a kit to install a microwave under a cabinet does save space. Now I will highlight some other microwave integrations that will ensure that you have an efficient kitchen.

How to Integrate a Microwave for a more Efficient Kitchen

Here are several ways to integrate a Microwave into a kitchen:

  1. Microwave in a drawer – This option is great when you have a kitchen island, especially one where you have the stovetop integrated on top of the island. Make sure to install it on the side that is closest to the fridge since most foods that need to be microwaved are coming from the fridge.
  2. Trim Kit for a Microwave – This solution is fine for larger kitchens. If you have the extra counter space, simply trim the microwave to match your cabinets to provide it with a more integrated look. Again, position it as close to the fridge as possible. Great solution that does hurt your budget.
  3. Integrate the microwave among other appliances – I have not seen this solution used very often, but it is a neat concept. Just install it above your integrated range. It is best to ensure that you use the same brand as your range so that integration will work. This will make your cooking tasks super easy since you will not need to move around as much in the kitchen when cooking and warming foods.

Some of us wonder if a kitchen could be more efficient if we were to place the microwave above the fridge. Then you could easily move items that need to be defrosted from the freezer to the microwave.

Is it OK to Put a Microwave on top of a Refrigerator?

You can put a microwave on top of a refrigerator. Ensure that there is clearance of three inches on the sides and the top of the microwave and that there is at least one inch of clearance at the back of it.

According to the support services at Haier Appliances, a fridge can become warm to the touch on the sides and even on the top. If you notice that heat is rising above the fridge, having a microwave on top of it should be avoided. Since a fridge is usually integrated, condensation can form that will hinder the operation of your microwave.

To ensure that the heat does not build up creating condensation due to a microwave, you need to have at least an inch of space between the bottom of the microwave and the top of the fridge. Some microwaves have space between the surface of where the microwave is and the bottom of its case due to rubberized feet. Do not remove these feet or the amount of space will be too little.

Here is a list of my top microwave picks that are available at Walmart.com:

  1. Proctor Silex Red Microwave
  2. Hamilton Beach Black Digital Microwave
  3. General Electric Countertop Microwave

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Aron Blake

I am the lead copywriter on Homezesty and the Webmaster. I have a lot of experience in home renovations and the creation of style. I enjoy writing and sharing my tips on how to create the best living environment. My Linkedin Profile, My Twitter Account

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