Today the number of models is so great that a reasonable question arises: “How to choose a microwave oven and not be mistaken?” Let’s figure out what you need to pay attention to while standing in a store or choosing a microwave in an online store.
Microwaves – Safe or Harmful?
Allegations that microwave ovens are dangerous do not correspond to reality – its harm is felt only if you stand at a distance of 5 cm from the microwave oven every day for 8 hours. Each modern model has a special protective mesh on the inside of the window, as well as an electromagnetic “trap”. Microwave (microwave) radiation will not be able to penetrate through a tightly closed door. So the minuses of the microwave are rather invented..
Factor one – cost
The decisive factor in the question of how to choose a microwave for your home will be the budget allocated for the purchase. The average cost of such a device is about $ 150. For this price, you can purchase a device with broad capabilities. The more expensive the oven is, the more functions it has. But simple budget models are suitable only for defrosting / heating and preparing the simplest dishes. They can cost $ 60-80. These models are most often purchased for offices to warm up meals..
The second factor is the volume of the working chamber
To make your choice correctly, you must also take into account the technical characteristics of the microwave. The most important parameter here is the internal volume of the chamber. The recommendations here are as follows:
- If the equipment is used by one person, then the volume can be in the range of 12-14 liters. Such ovens are also called “solo”;
- For two family members, 17-20 liters of volume will be enough;
- For a family of 3-4 people, 20-25 liters will be enough. Perhaps, models of microwave ovens with such a volume can be called optimal in terms of price, functionality and capacity;
- Those who cook often and a lot should buy a model with a volume of more than 30 liters, then even a whole bird can fit inside. The same recommendations are valid if there are 5-6 people in the family..
Factor three – power
Features like microwave power are just as important. The advantages of powerful ovens are that food is cooked faster in them. The power range can fluctuate between 450-1680 watts, but when choosing, it is worth focusing on energy costs for a specific culinary process:
- To keep the dish warm, 100-150 W is enough;
- For cooking “delicate” foods and slow defrosting – up to 300W;
- For quick defrosting of a small amount of food – 400 … 500W;
- Slow cooking / heating – 550… 700W;
- Quick Cook / Reheat – 800 to 900 W.
It should be borne in mind that the power should be proportional to the volume – the larger the inner chamber, the more powerful the device..
And do not forget that the power in the process of cooking different products should be adjusted (by default it is set to 100%). For example, for meat dishes, 50-70% of the power is recommended, then the product will not become tough.
Fourth factor – the material of the inner coating
The advantages of trusted manufacturers of microwave ovens are that they guarantee the quality of the inner coating of the chamber. Today, models are often produced using innovative materials, but there are several main proven coatings:
- Heat resistant enamel. Practical and easy to clean, but not very durable. Although enamel is considered heat-resistant, it cannot withstand extremely high temperatures for a long time, and therefore the service life of such a furnace will be less than 7 years. In order not to aggravate the process of destruction of enamel, it should be washed without abrasives and hard brushes that leave micro-scratches.
- Stainless steel. This type of coating is better than the previous one in terms of durability, because it does not lose its properties and strength at all due to heating or temperature extremes. However, stainless steel quickly becomes covered with a greasy coating, so this type of coating will require careful and laborious maintenance..
- Among the new coatings, it is worth highlighting bioceramics. It combines all the advantages – easy to clean, durable, strong and reliable, does not become greasy. The only drawback is the high price, about twice as expensive as compared to the model of the same functionality, but with an enamel coating. But the service life of the furnace will differ several times..
Factor five – type of management
Mechanical control is familiar and reliable, with two rotating knobs for power adjustment and time setting.
And the electronic control is either buttons or sensors. The touch surface is easier to clean than a push-button surface and is also considered more modern.
The sixth and most important factor is functionality
Of course, technical characteristics and appearance matter, but it is impossible to ignore the issue of functionality. Before making a choice, you must definitely decide what the microwave will be used for at home – exclusively for heating or as a full-fledged worthy alternative to the hob or oven?
First, let’s take a look at what microwave ovens can do:
- Defrost food. Here you can choose manual or automatic mode..
- Cooking dishes according to the given recipes. The food is loaded into the chamber, and you just have to choose a recipe and indicate the weight of the product. The oven adjusts the power and time itself.
- The ability to program your own recipes. Provided only in expensive models.
- Convection mode. Convection ovens ensure even baking of the product. Convection, in fact, is an oven mode, which means that in a microwave oven you will get ruddy baked goods, and useful substances will be completely preserved in the products. Convection mode is considered energy consuming.
- The grill mode allows you to grill meat or fish with a golden brown crust. The grill can be quartz or standard heating elements. Quartz works both more economically and faster. In addition, it does not require special maintenance, since it is hidden in the ceiling, but the uniformity of roasting will be worse. The heating element grill is a spiral with the ability to adjust the height and angle of inclination – the roasting is uniform, models with such a grill are a little cheaper, but they have a high energy consumption.
- Steam cleaning will allow you to quickly and efficiently “wipe” the inner surface from food debris and fat.
- Removing odors. Provides a “ventilation” mode that eliminates food “odors” from the inner chamber.
There are also models with built-in bread maker and steamer.
Some more important tips for choosing
- Installation method. You can purchase built-in or free-standing appliances. The built-in one is placed inside the kitchen unit, allowing you to save space on the work surface, and the freestanding one keeps mobility. In this case, the built-in may be more expensive than the usual.
- Color is also important. Choose it to match the shade of the kitchen unit or finish.
- Choose the right accessories. For example, a multi-level plate holder is very convenient to use, with which you can heat several dishes at once, placing them one above the other..
- Some microwave ovens come with potholders and plastic caps to prevent grease from splashing onto the walls..
Dos and Don’ts while using microwave ovens
To use the microwave safe, you should not violate 9 simple prohibitions:
- when the door is open, the equipment does not turn on;
- not used without food in the chamber;
- dishes made of metal, porcelain with gilding or silvering are not placed in a microwave oven, otherwise visible electrical discharges appear, which are unsafe for equipment;
- frying in oil is not carried out – you will not be able to control its temperature, and therefore there is a great risk of ignition;
- eggs are not boiled or heated in the shell, as they can explode;
- products are not placed in hermetically sealed vessels – canned food, cans, tied plastic bags;
- products with natural shells (liver, corn, potatoes, etc.) are cut or pricked, otherwise micro-explosions will occur due to bursting shells;
- do not place hot objects on a cold turntable.
See also: Cleaning the microwave without effort – 5 proven ways.