Serving piping hot food for your family can be one of the most joyous and important moments in a day. However, deciding on a microwave for you and your family can be a little difficult. The wide variety of types and features available do not help and not to mention the various brands that are available.
To help make your decision much easier we at Hometop have explained everything you must consider before buying a microwave. At the end of this guide you’ll have a thorough understanding of most of the features offered in a microwave as well as the info necessary to zero in on the microwave for your home.
The first thing that you need to figure out is what kind of microwave you need. There are three basic types:
Solo: This does the basic job of heating and reheating your food. If you don’t cook often and just need something to reheat your leftovers this might be sufficient for you. This is just a entry level Microwave Oven that you can use for heating up some basic food items like Popcorn, noodles, pasta.
Grill: This can both grill and reheat food. Both microwave and grill function can be used in parallel and making delicious grills in minutes.It has heating coils which helps in grilling, toasting or roasting. These Ovens are provided with additional grill accessories.
Convection: The third type is multifunctional and highly effective. It is a more expensive model but is extremely helpful in the long run. This can be used for everything from baking to popping popcorn. It can grill as well. Instead of separately investing in an oven and a microwave, you can buy this. It serves all your purposes and saves both space and energy.
The image below clearly breaks down the functionality of each type of microwave based on your cooking needs.
(Image from hometop)
Once you’ve figured out what kind of microwave you are getting, you need to decide on the size.
If you have a larger family or if you do your cooking for a lot of people then your required capacity might be more. This short infographic should give you the info you need.
In addition to the basic heating functions there are a lot of extra features that come with a microwave (mostly with a convection microwave oven). We’ve broken down what they mean below:
Multi-stage cooking (Combitec): This feature allows you to automatically vary between grill and convection mode. It has an inbuilt memory that stores up to three levels (and different styles) of cooking simultaneously. It saves time and makes cooking convenient. Some advanced models offer up to 6 stages of memory.
Keep warm: This feature delivers a very low power microwave pulse that keeps the temperature of your food at a constant level without overcooking it. This means you can keep your food warm in the microwave. The Keep Warm feature can be activated generally for a maximum of 90 minutes.
Auto-cook: Explore new flavours and cuisines, sitting right at home. Enter the weight of the food you wish to cook and leave the rest to the auto cook feature. It has a pre-programmed menu to cook various pre-set dishes saving you the hassle of setting them manually. For example to make popcorn all you need to do is to press the popcorn symbol.
Note: When using this feature, make sure to use the bowls and utensils specified in the user manual. Else, this might hinder your cooking time!
Defrost: Unsure about the time needed to defrost? Simply enter the weight of the food item you wish to defrost and you’re good to go. It thaws frozen food without heating it or spoiling the food.
Rotisserie: Rotisserie is a style of roasting meat. The rotation cooks the meat evenly in its own juices and allows easy access for continuous self-basting.
In a microwave, a rotisserie is incorporated using a skewer and a grill. Advanced models have this feature. It can be used to cook both meat and vegetables. You could have your own barbecue party using this feature.
Panel Types: There are three types of control panel types, namely Mechanical, Tact Dial Type, Feather Touch. The Mechanical and Tact Dial usually comes in basic models and can handle rough usage. These are actually physical buttons.
Feather Touch panels add to the design of your microwave. It behaves like a touchscreen. Feather Touch usually comes in higher end models.
Steam Clean: The grease in the machine is removed in just a couple of minutes by this feature, which has steam infused with refreshing lemon fragrance. It cleans the microwave without requiring any effort. This keeps your machine germ-free and safer to use.
All you do is fill the Steam Clean container with water. Stick it into the Microwave. Then press the Steam Clean button. After only a few moments, just one wipe is all it takes to eliminate bacteria.
(Inside a microwave after the steam clean function)
Deodorizer: A deodorizer does exactly what its name indicates, removes odours from the microwave. It is not the same as steam cleaning. It only eliminates odours and keeps the environment of the microwave hygienic.
This is a really cool feature and will help your vegetarian food to stay free from smelling like chicken!
Fermentation: Bread, Naan and other such edibles require fermentation of its dough at the initial stages. Due to weather changes, this process is affected. The fermentation feature ensures optimum temperature control for proper preparation of the dough.
Cooling Feature: The cool cycle is a feature that ensures the operating components of the microwave (Inverter and Magnetron) are cooled after an operation by running the fan inside the microwave. The cooling function generally is activated whenever the microwave runs for over 3 minutes or is operated twice within a 10 minute period.
Child lock: Children tend to fiddle with the electronic gadgets at home. A child could touch a microwave or misuse it which is a potential danger. Generally, a child lock is facilitated with the help of code which uses a password to lock the microwave. Convection microwave oven interiors get very hot when you bake and child lock is an absolutely necessary feature in that case.
Overheating Protection: This feature protects the interiors of an oven from damage. It does not allow the microwave to overheat.
4. POWER CONSUMPTION:
This is a no-brainer. The more the power consumed the higher is your electricity bill. Choose one that makes sense to you.
Also, there is a difference in the power consumption for different cooking styles. It differs for grilling, baking and toasting.
Basic models come with plastic doors and a glass for easy visibility. The doors have to be forcefully opened. The next level of models come with a button to open the doors. The finish could be metal or plastic (depends). Higher models come with a sleek metal finish or a mirror finish. It makes a model look chic and beautiful. This is not an essential feature as it does not add to the utility of the model but you could watch out for it if you are aesthetically conscious.
The build of the cavity of the microwave also matters. A stainless steel cavity is commonly used among models with a medium to high price range. Lower models have an anti-bacterial cavity. If you don’t choose a model with stainless steel cavities then you might end up with a rusted cavity in the future.
6. WARRANTY AND SERVICE CENTRE:
This one element you must not compromise on! Buying a model with a long-lasting warranty is important. Good brands offer longer warranty up to 3 years.
If a machine is built badly, then its parts stop working within a short period of time. You might face problems with the switches or the turn table. It is essential to have a warranty to back you up at such times. You should also choose a brand which has good service centers that are centrally located ( for easy accessibility).
So that’s it! Now you know all you need to, to choose a microwave! At the end of the day, it is important to make sure you pick one that satisfies your needs and get your family the hot food they absolutely love. Happy shopping!