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Home > Projects & DIY Toolkit > Buying Guides > Buying Guide: Microwave Ovens

Buying Guide: Microwave Ovens

Many people use microwave ovens only for preheating or thawing, but you can use today’s multi-featured units to cook entire meals. And these units do it quickly and efficiently. Since microwave ovens cook food from the inside to the outside, your food almost always comes out fast, hot, and, perhaps most important, not burned!

Another benefit: vegetables cooked by microwave oven retain vitamins and minerals as well as vegetables cooked by steaming. Also, microwave ovens are very efficient in their use of electricity—because they heat only the food and nothing else. Lowe's is happy to provide this microwave guide as a service to you.

Here's how it works:

Inside the oven, a magnetron tube produces microwaves, which are radio waves. The waves enter the oven through an opening in the oven cavity. Since microwaves move in a straight line, many ovens employ turntables to rotate food so that it cooks evenly.

When buying a microwave oven, consider:

  •   • The number of people for whom you normally cook and whether the microwave oven will be your primary cooking source. You will need a larger and more powerful unit for a family than you will for just one person.

  •   • The size of your cookware. Will it fit in the oven? And if you are planning more advanced cooking, do you need defrost, cook, and keep-warm options?

  •   • The room you have for a microwave. In addition to countertop models, you may buy ovens that can be fitted under or built into a cabinet.

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. As stated above, turntables rotate food for even cooking. And you even have the option of models with removable turntables for easy cleaning.

Convection Combined with microwaves’ speedy cooking properties, convection efficiently helps turn out delicious, crusty baked goods and juicy roasted meat.

Browning Acts like the broiler in a conventional oven.

Probes/Sensors Enable the oven to determine whether the dish is thoroughly cooked. Also help prevent overcooking.

Timers Most models have timers that are used just like those on a conventional oven. They also take the form of buttons that are really preset timers for certain foods, like popcorn.


Tools, products, materials, techniques, building codes and local regulations change; therefore, Lowe's assumes no liability for omissions, errors or the outcome of any project. The reader must always exercise reasonable caution, follow current codes and regulations that may apply, and is urged to consult with a licensed professional if in doubt about any procedures. Please visit our terms of use.

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