Types of microwaves

Microwaves are a household staple for good reason: they offer a quick and convenient way to heat up a wide variety of foods. These appliances contain an electron tube that produces electromagnetic waves that cause water molecules in food to vibrate and create heat.


Modern microwaves have expanded on this foundational technology, leading to the invention of different types of microwaves, each providing unique benefits. 

If you’re looking to invest in a new microwave but aren’t sure which type is best suited to your needs, read on to see a comprehensive overview of the main types of microwaves on the market today. We’ve broken it down into three categories of microwaves so that you can learn more about basic microwaves, cutting-edge models, and everything in between. 

Category 1: If you want to keep it simple 

If you’re looking for a fast and easy solution that gets the job done, a simple microwave with an adequate set of basic features will serve you well. The first microwave option on our list is super budget-friendly while still being effective. 

Countertop microwaves

Just as the name suggests, this type of microwave sits on top of your kitchen counter. It’s one of the most common microwave types because it’s so easy to fit into an existing kitchen configuration. Its function is also straightforward—with a countertop microwave, you can simply unbox your appliance, plug it in, and start cooking microwave recipes in no time. 

The most budget-friendly option you can buy, countertop microwaves typically cost somewhere between $50-$500. The broad price range shows that this type of microwave comes in all shapes and sizes. You can also customize your purchase to fit your unique lifestyle by choosing a microwave option that offers all the features you plan on using regularly..

Countertop Microwaves: Pros and cons

There’s a lot to love about countertop microwaves, including the fact that they’re affordable and easy to set up, use, and relocate. 

However, if you’re considering a countertop model, keep these additional points in mind: 

● They take up counter space (which may not be ideal, depending on how much counter space you have) 

● They may not fit with your kitchen layout

Category 2: If you want something a little fancier 

If you’re investing in a microwave for long-term use, you may want an option that fits more intentionally into your home. The following appliances install into your kitchen more permanently, so it’s best to conduct extensive research before committing to one. 

Over-the-range microwave

In a kitchen, the range is the area consisting of a stovetop and oven. Thus, a regular microwave is considered over-the-range when it’s installed directly above your home’s cooktop.

This popular type of microwave can cost between $250-$300 on average, not including the price of installation. 

Over-the-range Microwave: Pros and cons

When deciding whether an over-the-range microwave oven is right for your home, it’s helpful to consider the following benefits:

● It frees up your counter space 

● It keeps cooking in a centralized location

● Many offer ventilation

However, over-the-range microwave oven also comes with some potential drawbacks. Many over-the-range microwaves require an upfront cost for installation and can accumulate grease 

Built-in microwaves

Building a microwave into a kitchen setup takes smart preparation, but it can be more than worth it. A built-in microwave is installed into the walls or cabinets of a room so that they blend in seamlessly and don’t take up counter space. 

It may be difficult to incorporate a built-in microwave into a kitchen layout that’s already been completed. However, if you’re completing a renovation or remodeling project, this type of microwave can be the perfect element to tie your space together, especially if you’re looking for a clean, minimalistic aesthetic.

You can expect this customized kitchen appliance to run you around $400-$2,000 depending on the professional you hire for installation.

Built-in microwaves: Pros and cons 

What makes built-in microwaves such a popular appliance? There are a few reasons. 

For one, built-in microwaves help you make the best use of your kitchen space, as they don’t take up any countertop space. They also provide a luxury aesthetic that keeps your space clean and sleek. Lastly, you can even personalize built-in microwaves to match your interior designs.

Despite these advantages, some buyers may be discouraged from choosing a built-in microwave as they often come at a high price point.

Category 3: If you want all the bells and whistles 

Maybe you’re an avid baker, or simply finding unique ways to cook delicious meals straight from your microwave.

The following microwave types are a cut above the crowd if your priorities are speed, efficiency, and user-friendly features. 

Convection microwave ovens

Convection technology is an innovative way to ensure that food gets cooked with an even distribution of heat. In convection microwave ovens, an internal fan helps to spread heat consistently around the open cavity. 

This allows these home appliances to excel at more sophisticated cooking methods than the three basic microwave functions of defrost, reheat, and cook

Compared to traditional ovens, convection microwave ovens cook food faster while using less energy. Ultimately, they provide a win-win situation for individuals who care about saving time, money, and energy all at once. 

Convection microwave ovens tend to start at a price of around $100 and go up from there, but keep in mind that this technology can save you money on your electric bill in the long run.

Convection microwave ovens: Pros and cons 

Let's look at the pros and cons of convection microwave ovens to gain more clarity on how this kitchen appliance might serve your lifestyle. 

In terms of pros, a convection microwave oven heats food evenly, saves cooking time and energy, and offers more features than traditional microwaves.  

When it comes to cons, a convection microwave oven, it’s typically more expensive than traditional microwaves.

Smart microwaves 

As the technology behind our computers and mobile devices continues to reach new heights, so too does the technology behind our microwaves. 

In fact, the advancements in smart microwaves are continuing to evolve every day. Common heating element types you can find in these appliances are: 

● Remote control capabilities

● Voice controls

● Recipe downloading capabilities 

● Cooking instructions

Although these machines require a slightly higher upfront investment when compared to their more traditional counterparts, smart microwaves truly offer a whole new world of luxury.

Smart microwaves: Pros and cons 

If you’re excited about the idea of owning a smart microwave, it provides better heating precision, sophisticated cooking capabilities, and Wi-Fi capabilities. 

However, keep in mind that you will have to pay a higher price for these premium features. Smart microwaves are typically available for about $400-$1,800 on average.

Which type of microwave is right for you?

The type of microwave you should choose will depend on three main factors: 

1. How often you want to cook

2. How many people you need to feed

3. What kind of meals you want to prepare

Although we’ve highlighted the most common types of microwaves, keep in mind that these categories sometimes crossover. 

For instance, you can find convection microwave ovens that come equipped with smart technology. Or, you can snag countertop microwaves that include a convection fan. Modern microwaves mix-and-match different features so that you can find a kitchen appliance that perfectly fits your wants, needs, and lifestyle. To preserve the longevity of your machine, be sure to learn how to clean a microwave

Our recommendations 

Now that you’ve taken a look at the categories detailed above, you may have a better idea of which microwave oven type is right for you. Based on the goals you have for your potential new microwave, here are our top suggestions for devices you can trust: 

● For simple needs and a small budget – The Breville Compact Wave™ Soft Close offers a world of convenience with easy shortcuts and even a food menu. Compact yet robust, this microwave is ideal for popcorn, beverages, pizza, vegetables, potatoes, and more. An 80% quieter soft close door rounds out the premium engineering of this microwave. 

● For cooking power without extensive features – The Breville Smooth Wave™ is a practical but impressive kitchen appliance with 15 smart presets and a stunning LCD display. Sensor iQ technology automatically adjusts power to make reheating, cooking, and defrosting a breeze. Leftover pizza, soup, lasagna, and more can be revived in no time without fear of overheating or drying out. 

● For cooking connoisseurs or large families – The Combi Wave™ 3 in 1 is an air fryer, convection oven, and inverter microwave. Clever shortcuts and convenient presets make it easy to cook a delicious feast for family and friends, crisp up savory snacks, or indulge in delectable desserts—this device can do it all.

Discover your ideal microwave with Breville 

No matter what type of microwave you end up choosing for your kitchen, the most important element to prioritize is quality. With the right microwave at your side, you can always put delicious, hot, nourishing food on the table, no matter how busy your schedule may be. 

Here at Breville, we’ve engineered a line of microwaves that provide peak performance to fulfill your cooking needs. Browse our wide selection of microwaves today to find your perfect match. 


1. FDA. Microwave Ovens. https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/resources-you-radiation-emitting-products/microwave-ovens

2. Angi. How Much Does a New Microwave Cost https://www.angi.com/articles/how-much-does-microwave-cost.htm

3. Costimates. How Much Does an Above Stove Microwave Cost https://www.costimates.com/costs/kitchens/above-stove-microwave/

4. OvenSpot. Convection Microwave vs Toaster Oven: Which is Best https://ovenspot.com/convection-microwave-vs-toaster-oven/

5. Smart Cooking Technology. The Smart Microwave – All the Features & Benefits Explained. https://smartcookingtechnology.com/blog/smart-microwave-key-features/

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