No one knew that a melted candy bar in someone’s pocket could result in the invention of the microwave. Yes, a candy bar that melted accidentally in a scientist named Percy Spencer’s pocket!
The ray that turned the sweet chocolate into a gooey, sticky mush was named a microwave. It resulted in the experimental invention of the kitchen appliance “microwave,” which was later used to make popcorn and an egg that got blasted in the experiment.
Nowadays, microwaves are not just used for melting chocolate, nor are they only used for popcorns or eggs.
Modern microwaves can pretty much cook anything that we can cook in an oven. However, when you are out to buy a microwave for your home, you must determine the type of dishes you want to make in it.
Another consideration before buying the best microwave for home is its placement, as some kitchens don’t have enough space to keep large appliances.
Microwave ovens are categorized by what they cook, their features, and the places where you can install them. Understanding each of these types will help you decide on the microwave for your home. If you want to know our recommendations for the microwave, you can check our top picks for the best 700 watts microwave and best stainless steel microwave.
Types of Microwave Oven
Microwave ovens are categorized into two types.
- Conventional Ovens
- Convection oven
Conventional microwave ovens are further branched into two types.
- Solo Microwave
- Grill Microwave
Solo Microwave Oven
Solo microwave ovens are entry-level microwaves that don’t have all the bells and whistles. If you have a small family with limited microwave usage, then a solo microwave is your best bet.
Uses, Price & Features
Solo microwaves are mostly used for
- Simple dishes
- Warming liquids or beverages
They are the cheapest among all microwave options with limited functionality. Their price range depends on their make and wattage but most of microwave available under $100.
The higher wattage means the higher price, and if the solo microwave oven is made of stainless steel rather than plastic or aluminum, it would have a higher cost.
Their wattage is correlated with internal capacity. For example, most 700 watts microwave ovens have 0.7 cubic ft. to give an optimum heating result. Since solo microwaves perform basic functions, they don’t require higher wattage.
Most solo microwaves have defrosting and pre-programmed buttons for instant cooking. Due to simple features, these are most intuitive in usage.
Solo microwaves have a smaller footprint so they can be placed anywhere near the wall socket. These countertop microwaves don’t require any special installation either.
While you can cook simple food in it, you can’t roast or bake the food. You can’t get a crisp brown top layer on foods in a solo microwave.
These aren’t versatile in cooking and have a lower internal capacity, so you can’t cook food in large quantities.
Grill microwaves use a bit more advanced and different technology than solo microwaves. In addition to “magnetron,” which radiates microwaves to cook food, they have a heating element, coil, or grill at the top or bottom of the container.
These coils absorb energy from the microwaves, and when the coils heat up, they cook the food from outside in, giving it crispiness and brown color that is essential for the grilling effect.
Uses, Price, and Features
Grill microwaves unlock next-level dishes besides cooking the basic dishes like solo microwaves. The specialty of grill microwaves is the grill or barbeque effect of the food.
So, if your family likes to eat grilled chicken or fish, you should invest in a grill microwave rather than a solo microwave. The biggest perk is it cooks faster than an outdoor grill without compromising the grilled taste.
These are more expensive than solo microwaves and come with additional racks and accessories.
Grill microwaves feature an additional metal rack to raise the food near the top grilling element that helps in searing, browning and crisping the food.
These microwaves usually have a feature of “power grill” or “combination mode” where grill mode can be selected only for the grilling effect, and “combination mode” is for using microwave and grilling function at the same time.
The power grill takes more time to cook but gives beautiful sear marks on your steak.
They have an interior capacity of 26-32 liters of food. That’s why they have a larger footprint than solo microwaves.
If you are confuse between choosing a grill microwave oven and toaster oven, you must read our detailed comparison Microwave Vs. Toaster Oven to learn which one is better for you.
Countertop: These microwaves can be placed on the countertop.
Over the Range: Some varieties of grill microwaves that come with additional vent, light, and range hood can be placed over the cooking range in your kitchen.
Under Cabinets: You can also install them in cabinets, leaving enough space around the microwave for ventilation.
Grill microwave ovens can’t bake the food and are not as common as solo and convection ovens. Grilling also requires high wattage that consumes more energy.
The metal rack takes more space in the microwave oven and needs extra effort in cleaning those additional racks.
Convection Microwave Oven
Convection microwave ovens are the most “versatile” of all of them. If you are looking for baking items in the microwave at home, then you need a convection oven.
A convection microwave oven has an integrated fan that circulates the air within the microwave chamber to distribute heat evenly. The hot air circulation maintains the temperature and helps in baking and roasting too.
Uses, Price, and Features
Convection microwave oven simulates normal oven cooking and can bake a cake, brownie, make a pizza or bread. It can be used to cook almost all delicious dishes.
They are the most expensive microwave ovens, but people usually prefer them due to their versatility in cooking.
They have all the flashy features included that justify their price. Some of the features include inverter technology, sensor heating, auto shutoff, smart technology, keep warm, etc.
Their wattage requirements may not be as high as grill microwaves due to hot air circulation. However, commercial convection ovens have higher wattages of up to 2200 watts.
Convection ovens for home saves a lot of energy due to low wattage requirements.
Also, they tend to have more internal capacity and can hold 20 to 38 liters of food.
Countertop: Convection microwaves can be used as standstill countertop microwaves at home.
Over The Range: You can also find models that can be installed over the range. It may need the additional cost of installation by the electrician.
Built-In: Depending on your kitchen space and setting, you can neatly fit your convection microwave oven into cabinetry. They save a lot of space and give a cleaner look than other models.
It’s more expensive and consumes more space. It may take time to fully understand all the advanced features of a convection microwave, so no-tech or elderly people may be underutilizing all their features and capabilities.
Types of Food Microwave Oven Cook
|Food||Solo Microwave||Grill Microwave||Convection Microwave|
|Roast meat & vegetables||❌||✅||✅|
|Grilled Fish & chicken, steak||❌||✅||✅|
|Bake cake, brownies||❌||❌||✅|
Microwave Features at a Glance
|Power||600-1500 watts||900-1700 watts||1200-2200|
|Price||Cheap||Mid-range in price||Expensive|
|Temperature||Power level setting gives you control over temperature.||Temperature may need monitoring due to high wattage and steel rack.||Inverter technology cooks evenly and temperature remains sustained throughout.|
|Capacity||0.5-2.5 cubic ft||1-2.5 cubic ft||1 – 2.5 cubic ft|
|Footprint||Small||Bigger than solo microwaves||Consumes more space|
If you think using microwave is hazardous, we have a covered a popular topic related to the safety of oven. You can also read it clear all the confusions Do Microwave Ovens Cause Cancer?
You can use any microwave at home, be it solo, grill, or convection microwave. It depends on the type of food you will cook in the microwave, your kitchen space, installation, budget, and internal capacity. Keeping these features in mind, you can buy the best microwave oven for your home. We have tried to clear the difference between these microwaves and hope that it helped you choose the microwave for home.