Making yourself aware of the recommended distances between kitchen appliances can save you some costly repairs and replacements. This is especially important when it comes to safely spacing appliances from your stove or cooktop. If you've not had this conversation with a home remodeler, you might be surprised that even something as small as a microwave needs to be a certain number of inches from the heat of your range. But how far should these two appliances be separated? We studied numerous owner's manuals and kitchen remodeling resources on the web to get this answer for you.
Depending upon which type of microwave you have, there should be a minimum distance that ranges between 13 inches and 24 inches between it and the stove. The recommended minimum spacing difference is based on whether or not your microwave is a countertop model or if it's an over-the-range model.
Now that we know the range of distance recommended between a stove and a microwave, we'll go into more detail about both types of microwave ovens. You might also be curious if countertop microwaves need any ventilation or where is the best spot to place a countertop model. To see the answers to these questions and more, read ahead in this post.
How To Safely Distance Your Appliances
Before you can determine how much space you'll need between the stove and the microwave, you'll need to identify what type of microwave you will use. Is it a countertop model? Or is it meant to be installed directly above the cooktop?
An overwhelming majority of home remodeling experts will recommend that you should have a minimum of sixty-six inches from the floor of the kitchen to the bottom of the microwave if it’s installed above the cooktop. Installing the microwave at this height will make it easy to access for most people. If your microwave is installed above the range, the manufacturer will recommend that you keep a distance of at least thirteen inches between the base of the microwave and the top of the stove. But some manufacturers might call for this distance to be a minimum of eighteen inches. What is the reason for the difference between manufacturer recommendations?
The reality here is that some models of microwaves are built to be more durable than others. This is especially true for a particular model's ability to withstand the heat from the cooktop. You mustn't just assume the safe distance between the range and the microwave. To be sure, read both the stove and microwave owner's manuals for their recommended distance between these two appliances.
Countertop microwave models are going to need a little bit more room between them and the nearby stove. The level of heat resistance between the countertop microwaves and the over-the-range units is substantial. You don't want the gas flames or heated electric coils from the stove to damage your microwave, so it's essential to adhere to safe distance guidelines. Maintaining a minimum distance of twenty-four inches between the stove and this type of microwave is ideal.
What is the difference between over-the-range and built-in microwaves?
While both styles of microwaves are meant to save valuable countertop space, they have some differences.
Over-the-range microwaves are dual purpose. These appliances are not only microwave ovens, but they also serve as alternatives to ventilation hoods for the stove.
Built-in microwaves are essentially countertop models that have been safely secured inside a cabinet or installed in available wall space. While these do save you a lot of countertop space, they can be pretty tricky to install. It's recommended that you have a licensed professional tackle this task if you're a novice at electrical work.
Can steam (from the stovetop) damage a microwave?
Too much of anything can damage even the most durable appliance. What should we know about steam from the stovetop and what it can do to a microwave installed above it?
Generally, the steam that's emitted from your pots and pans won't be near enough to do damage to your over-the-range microwave. You might notice some steam causing the buildup of water droplets on the door of your microwave, but this can be easily remedied by wiping them off with a soft cloth.
In rare cases, steam can pass through the microwave door, causing the glass to fog. This is because air freely passes through the specially made glass doors of these appliances. If this happens to you, open the door to the microwave for five minutes or so. This will cause the moisture in the glass door to evaporate.
Does a countertop microwave need ventilation?
You might not have noticed it before, but there are areas on a countertop microwave that give it proper ventilation. The vents are almost always located on the sides or top of these units, and they serve a valuable purpose. These vents allow for the electronic components inside the casing to breathe so that they do not overheat.
Some homeowners may weigh concealing their countertop microwave inside a cabinet. Later in this post, we'll discuss whether or not this is advisable.
Where should you put a countertop microwave?
Countertop microwaves can be placed anywhere there is a counter, so long as it is set at least two feet from the cooktop of your stove. Ideally, you'll want it to be on a counter near where you would be prepping food. Placing a countertop microwave here would greatly help with your kitchen's flow, especially if you have more than one person in the room helping with dinner.
If you're unsure where this appliance would best help the flow of your kitchen, it's not a bad idea to try it in different locations to see which one works to your liking. These units are relatively lightweight and easy to carry around. Try out the counter space next to the landing area, see how it might function in a corner, place it on its own cart and evaluate how well it works. What you decide on might surprise you.
How can you hide a microwave?
Earlier in this post, we mentioned that some homeowners consider concealing their countertop microwaves. Is this safe to do so?
The interior of an unused cabinet is the most logical place to conceal this appliance. It would be behind a closed door when not in use and would reduce the clutter on a countertop. And doing so is safe so long as you are mindful of three factors.
We mentioned earlier that these countertop units need to breathe. So you will need to keep a recommended space between the outer shell of the microwave and the inside walls of any enclosure.
Your owner's manual should give you this information. The amount of room a countertop microwave needs for proper ventilation varies from model to model, so be sure to closely examine the manual that's given with your purchase.
The last thing you want to have is a fire in the kitchen when you're out of the room. And this could happen if you don't ensure that your countertop microwave doesn't have the proper electrical hookup when it's stowed away behind a cabinet door.
To have your countertop microwave inside a cabinet, you'll want to ideally have a power outlet inside the cabinet. Some already have this feature. And if your chosen cabinet doesn't, it doesn't cost much for a licensed electrician to install one safely.
Lastly, be sure your cabinets are rated for the amount of weight you're about to set inside of them. You also want to be sure that the cabinet is securely fastened to the wall. You don't want to be in the middle of reheating last night's dinner, only to have it all crash down onto the counter.
Maintaining the recommended minimum distance between appliances is critical for safety reasons and for allowing proper flow inside your working kitchen. Not following the recommended distances can result in damaged appliances and can also result in a fire. Before you install any appliance, be sure to read the owner's manual carefully.
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