We all can agree on how microwaves have come a long way to make our lives much easier and convenient.

Today, there are homeowners who are leaning towards over-the-range microwaves due to their:

  • Space-saving design
  • Convenient placement above the stove
  • Good venting system

So, If you are planning to get an over-the-range microwave and are wondering…how do over the range microwaves work? This article leads you through everything you need to know about the technology behind over-the-range microwaves. 

How do over-the-range microwaves work?

How over-the-range microwaves work is not different from how regular microwaves work. They both cook food alike; using electromagnetic waves produced by a core component known as the magnetron. 

 The only difference is that:

  1. An over-the-range microwave(OTR) is normally installed over your kitchen stove. These microwaves are designed to fit over your range/oven without obstructing access to the controls or heating elements. 
  2. An over-the-range microwave combines two features in a single appliance: cooking and venting. 

In addition to its general function of cooking, an over-the-range microwave is designed with exhaust fans to vent your kitchen air through a duct in the wall or by simply recycling and recirculating the air back into your kitchen.

Like all microwaves, an over-the-range microwave has a glass door that allows you to see inside the food chamber while cooking. It also has controls on either side of the door that can be operated independently. 

Some over-the-range microwaves also come with a convection setting. This setting allows even circulation of air inside the food compartment. This allows you to bake, grill and roast using your microwave.

Do over-the-range microwaves need to be vented?

There are no specific venting requirements when it comes to over-the-range microwaves.

However, ventilation is important. It not only allows you to make the most of your kitchen space but also helps in getting rid of the smoke, grease, steam, and odors that would otherwise contaminate the air making it difficult for you to work.

An over-the-range microwave can either be vented externally, where a duct in the wall allows the smoke and odors to escape outside your kitchen.

OR via mechanical ventilation where charcoal filters are used to trap steam and grease, recycle the air then recirculate it back into your kitchen.

So, if you’re wondering if OTR microwaves need to be vented, the answer is yes.

Over the stove microwave

Do over the range microwaves vent outside?

Some of them do, but others do not require external venting.

As mentioned earlier, over-the-range microwaves have 2 venting options;

One is the mechanical ventilation which involves the use of charcoal filters to trap steam and eliminate odors and smoke from your kitchen. The filter recycles the air then recirculates it back to your kitchen. These microwaves are ductless and they do not vent outside.

However, there are over-the-range microwaves that require a duct in the wall. The duct leads the hot air and moisture from your kitchen to the outside of your house.

Even though the ductless venting option may sound like the best option, external venting has been proven to be the best and the most effective method of removing airborne smoke, steam, and oil. 

What is the difference between an over-the-range microwave and a regular microwave?

As discussed earlier on, the only factor that distinguishes  an over-the-range microwave from a regular microwave is the placement area. An over-the-range microwaves are designed to be installed above your range. 

This not only saves on the counter space but also on a separate venting system since an OTR microwave doubles as a vent. These models are typically more expensive than standard microwaves, because they include  built-in exhaust fans and sensor cooking. 

On the other hand, regular microwaves are less expensive and can be built into your cabinets or placed on the counter. They don’t have venting options, so they’re not ideal if you do a lot of cooking that produces smoke and odors. 

However, a regular microwave will suffice if you don’t cook frequently or have good ventilation in your kitchen.

Pros and Cons of Over the range Microwaves

Before you go ahead to purchase an over-the-range microwave, it’s important to weigh the whys and why-nots to see if this type of microwave is the perfect fit for you. 


  • Saves on counter space: Over-the-range microwaves are a great option for small kitchens because they free up valuable countertop space. 
  • Easy installation: Most over-the-range microwaves can be easily installed by following the included instructions. No need to hire a professional! 
  • Built-in ventilation: Many over-the-range microwaves come with built-in ventilation systems that help remove cooking fumes and odors from your kitchen. 


  • Limited features: Because they’re designed to save space, over-the-range microwaves usually have fewer features than their countertop counterparts. For example, you might not be able to find an over-the-range microwave with a convection setting. 
  • More expensive: Over-the-range microwaves tend to be more expensive than countertop models, so you’ll need to factor that into your budget when making your decision.
  • Inconvenient for children and shorter users: over-the-range microwaves are normally mounted over your range, a minimum of 13 inches above. Shorter users and children may have a hard time trying to use an OTR microwave.

Are over-the-range microwaves outdated?

While over-the-range microwaves have been around for quite a while, their popularity has decreased in recent years. This is due in part to the fact that they can be difficult to install and are often much more expensive than countertop models. 

Additionally, many newer homes are being built with range hoods that make over-the-range microwaves unnecessary. However, some people still prefer this kind of microwave for convenience and style. 


Having learned how over-the-range microwaves work, it’s easy to see why(and probably why not) they are such a popular choice for many people. 

Their two-in-one feature saves on space and money.

If you are thinking about getting an over-the-range microwave, be sure to do your research to find the one that best suits your needs. With so many options on the market, you’re sure to find one that is perfect for your home.