hands removing tomato rice dish from microwave

Whether it’s popping buttery popcorn, reheating leftovers or reviving that cup of coffee (again!), a microwave makes life easier. So shouldn’t buying a new microwave also be easy? We think so. Learn everything you need to know right here.

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1What should you consider before buying a microwave?

You want your new appliance to suit your needs and space. Here are a few things to think about before hitting the start button.

  • Location: Where will your microwave live? Do you plan to put it on the counter, or does it need to be built into a new or pre-existing mounted space? Does it need to fit your range? Definitely measure ahead of time and know what space you have to work with.
  • Wattage: Microwaves typically come between 600-1400 watts, a.k.a. units of power. The higher the wattage, the higher the power level. If you’re looking for something that will cook food consistently and evenly, 1000 watts is a good baseline. Units with lower wattages are perfectly fine when it comes to reheating drinks and cooking basic instant meals, but they make take longer and result in more cold spots, especially when heating larger items.[1]
  • Finish: Modern microwaves typically come with either a stainless steel or a ceramic enamel finish. Both are easy to clean, although ceramic may fit with a wider range of kitchen aesthetics.
  • Features: Today’s microwaves come with all kinds of features—turntables, convection air, shortcut keys, express cook, air-fryers, racks, steam sensor cook and even child locks are all possible. Make a list of the features that matter to you, and find a model that checks those boxes.
  • Cleaning: In general, ceramic microwaves have a non-sticky surface that may be easier to clean. However, many newer ceramic and stainless steel models are scratch and fingerprint resistant. Read the specs carefully so you know what you’re getting.

2What are the different types of microwaves?

There are three types of microwave ovens to choose from: countertop, over-the-range, and built-ins. There are pros and cons to each, but the most important factor is how they fit with your current kitchen layout and aesthetic.

Countertop Microwaves

compact countertop microwave next to toaster

Countertop microwaves come in a range of sizes to fit all kinds of spaces. Walmart Canada’s selection ranges between 0.7 and 1.6 cubic feet. If you’re low on counter space, a compact unit might be the way to go.

Pros Cons
Typically less expensive than other models. They take up counter space and can make a small kitchen look cluttered.
Quick to install. They can be difficult to mount depending on how handy you are.
Can be mounted with special kits.
Easy to bring to your next home if you move.

Shop Countertop Microwaves

Over-the-Range Microwaves

stainless steel over-the-range microwave over the range microwave in kitchen setting

Over-the-range microwaves are designed to fit over your oven, thus freeing up space while also acting as an exhaust hood for your range. For those reasons they tend to be bigger (units typically span between 1.5 and 2.2 cubic feet), but they also leave your counters clear.

Pros Cons
These units save space, especially in smaller kitchens. They’re more expensive than countertop units.
They’re easy to access and as centrally located as your oven is. They may require professional installation.
They double as a vent for your stove. Over-the-range microwaves typically stay with the house when you move.

Shop Over-the-Range Microwaves

Built-in Microwaves

stainless steel built-in microwave

If you’re planning a renovation and want a seamless look between cabinetry and appliances, a built-in microwave or microwave drawer unit may be for you. They save on precious countertop real estate and create a clean look, but because they’re custom they’re typically a lot less universal.

Pros Cons
Create a pleasant, seamless aesthetic. Built-in units are harder to find in stores.
Save counter space. Because they’re customized, built-in units are usually more expensive than other styles.
Are generally easy to clean. It can be hard to access the control panel on some built-in units.

3What are the common microwave sizes?

Before purchasing a microwave (or any small appliance, really), it’s always a good idea to bust out the tape measurer and see how much space you’ve got. Then, do it again just to be sure. Remember, it’s not just the width and depth to note—height is just as important.

Each microwave has specific qualities, so it’s important to read the manufacturer’s specs before buying, especially if you’re looking for a certain size with a particular power range, for instance. Here are the size ranges you’ll find at Walmart Canada:

Size Specs Good For Power
Compact Under 0.7 cubic feet. Beverages, popcorn or instant dinners for one. 500 to 800 watts.
Mid size Under 0.9 cubic feet. Reheating food on a plate, two beverages at once. 800-plus watts.
Family size Under 1.3 cubic feet. Casserole dishes, multiple beverages or a couple of plates at once. More than 1,000 watts.
 

Full size

Up to 1.6 cubic feet. Large casserole dishes, medium pizza. More than 1,000 watts.

4What special features should you look for?

microwave with air fryer inside, filled with chicken wings

Microwaves have come a long way since the 1950s, when they were first introduced as the next big appliance.[2] Since then, emerging tech and the desire for appliances to multitask as hard as we do have led to some pretty cool advancements.

Air Fryer and Convection Microwaves

Looking for that crispy finish on a plate of frozen French fries or reheated fried chicken? Air fryer or convection microwaves use a fan to push around the microwave’s heat and to cook food from the outside-in, resulting in fast fare that is little more evenly cooked.

Shop Air Fryer and Convection Microwaves

Inverter Technology

In the old days microwaves allowed you to adjust the power level, but what that really meant was that the heat would go on and off to maintain an average level. It also resulted in unevenly heated food. These days, inverter technology allows a consistent stream of power at a more precise voltage, resulting in more evenly cooked fare.

Shop Microwaves with Inverter Technology

Sensors

Sensor microwaves have come a long way since that early “popcorn” feature, which was really just a button to make the appliance run for a certain number of pre-set minutes. These days microwaves can sense moisture and humidity from your food as it cooks, helping to take the guesswork out of it.

Shop Microwaves with Sensors

Other Features

  • Turntable: These allow your food to rotate as it heats up, allowing for a more even cook. Look for ones that you can remove for easy clean up, or that lock when the item inside is too large to actually rotate.
  • Preprogrammed cooking: Most microwaves have buttons for things like popcorn, pizza, and potatoes. On some units these are just pre-set timers and you’ll need to watch food so it doesn’t burn. However newer microwaves with sensors will monitor these preprogrammed foods for you.
  • Programmable cooking: If you want more control over your cooking time and temperature, some microwaves offer programmable cooking and memory options so you can get your food just how you like it, each and every time.
  • Smart tech: This is still an emerging technology, but these days some models can sync up with your smart device, allow you to monitor cooking-time from anywhere, or even scan microwaveable meals to automatically set the best recommended cooking time.
  • Easy clean/antibacterial interior: Manufacturers realize that cleaning the inside of a microwave isn’t always the most fun task, and stuck-on food can cause potential rust and cracks. These days many models come with antibacterial interiors to prevent sticking.

5What are the differences between popular microwave brands?

It never hurts to do a microwave brand comparison before buying. Here are some of Walmart Canada’s most popular microwave producers:

  • Panasonic: Panasonic is a tech-forward company known for innovations across a range of electronics and appliances, including countertop and over-the-range microwaves. Many newer Panasonic microwaves feature inverter technology that moves in a cyclone pattern, promising precise heating and defrosting, even at low temperatures. Regular-priced Panasonic microwaves at Walmart range from $160 to just over $1500 for a premium microwave plus air-fryer, grill and steam oven.
  • Danby: For more than 70 years, Danby has been all about appliances, especially fridges and specialty appliances such as dehumidifiers, ice makers and microwaves. The company offers a wide range of countertop microwaves in different sizes. Regular-priced Danby microwaves at Walmart range from $100 to $160.
  • Hamilton Beach: Founded in 1910, Hamilton Beach specializes in kitchen appliances and is known for generous five-year warranties on many products (with most of its microwaves covered for one year). Regular-priced Hamilton Beach microwaves at Walmart range from $75 to $130.
  • Galanz: Founded in 1978, Galanz produces nearly half of the world’s microwaves.[3][4] Galanz specializes in kitchen appliances, including a line of retro pieces. Regular-priced Galanz microwaves at Walmart range from $100 to $160.
  • RCA: RCA is well known as an electronics company known for its televisions and audio equipment. However, the company also extends its technology to appliances, offering some cool innovations, like microwaves with grills or pull-down doors. Regular-priced RCA microwaves at Walmart range from $85 to $449.
  • LG: Another tech-forward company, LG offers a wide range of products, from cell phones to TVs, computers, kitchen appliances and more. Several of LG’s microwaves come with sensitive touch technology instead of buttons, a feature that Walmart customers tend to review positively. Regular-priced LG microwaves at Walmart range from $116 to $343.

Shop Microwave Accessories

Article Sources

  1. Encyclopedia of Food Safety, 2014. Microwave Oven.
  2. National Museum of American History. Tapan Model RL-1 Microwave Oven.
  3. Case Centre. Galanz: From Price Killer to Consumer Brand Innovator?
  4. Galanz. DNA of Thoughtful Manufacturing.

Prices shown are subject to change. Please check Walmart.ca for the latest pricing.

This article is intended as general information. To be sure a product is right for you, always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.