Microwaves: Where do you put them?

March 7th, 2009 § 4 Comments

Over at Apartment Therapy , they ran a survey: Where do you hide your microwave?
One homeowner submitted this photograph as their solution as to where to hide the microwave. From observing the pictures of this kitchen and reading the article, this was a new and fairly large kitchen remodel designed with new and expensive inset door cabinetry. Surely there was a better alternative they could have allowed for this new kitchen. Poor planning in my opinion, really.

Unless you are extremely tall, this is the worst place ever to house a microwave. Or perhaps you are merging households and need a place to store the spare, placing your microwave over the refrigerator is the most dangerous place for it and an accident waiting to happen. With refrigerators that are 66″ or 72″ tall, this poses a danger in the worst way pulling a hot dish or boiling hot mug out of a microwave and above the user’s head. This is not to say you can’t get hurt with a microwave on a counter, you can. But why add to the danger by adding height as a factor?

I have a different question: Why hide the microwave? After all, this is a kitchen. And the bottom line in a kitchen should be about convenience and efficiency. Ease of use and safety should be driving factors behind a design. If you have to conceal it because you need the kitchen to blend in as part of the living space, that’s fine too, just pay attention to safety. Watch the video below to see how dangerous a microwave can be to the unknowing user. Make sure everyone in your family that uses a microwave knows how to use it properly.

Dangers of microwaves

No matter what you use your microwave for, it’s important you exercise caution to avoid burns and the risk of fire. Click the link below this photo for the true dangers of a microwave.

More to microwaves
More to microwaves

It is true many of us have small kitchens and need a solution to free up valuable counter space. Here are some alternatives for microwave placement:

Consider a microwave below the counter top.

Or place it right out there on the counter top. Make your appliances the theme of the kitchen as shown here. This busy kitchen has microwaves doubled up. One on the counter with another on a shelf right above, both at convenient heights.

Build it into the cabinetry. This microwave is a drawer. Very good height for children or people with mobility challenges.

Or in this family friendly kitchen, the microwave is built into the middle of a tall pantry cabinet with a pull out shelf below it for a landing space for hot food. It is at a height that most everyone can reach.

Can’t spare base cabinet or counter space? Consider lower wall placement of your microwave as shown here.
Appliance garages can tuck away small counter top microwaves. Although doors must remain open while in use. I prefer pocket doors for this reason. The depth of the microwave should be planned carefully first to make sure it will work with the depth of the cabinet. Most wall cabinets are 12″ deep and can be special ordered at 14″ deep.

This is a creative use for hiding away your appliances if you must. Notice the door is pocket style, concealing the toaster oven and microwave. Although I think this microwave is still a little too high up. It could have been built lower and yet still room for the toaster.

Here is another creative way of placing a microwave within reach. When in use the pocket doors are open. See picture below for pocket doors in closed position.

Here it is, concealed behind pocket doors. The drawback of pocket doors is they take away usable storage width. Plan in advance that your microwave or small appliance will fit within the usable space.

Next Generation Microwave Drawer Ovens

February 22nd, 2009 § 5 Comments

Sharp unveils the newest 24″ and 30″ models for microwave drawers, models KB-6524 and KB-6525.

If you have a base cabinet to spare, microwave drawers are a great solution for freeing up counter space. Microwave drawers are ideal for children learning to help cook with Mom and Dad supervising, or Aging in Place design concerns. The controls are tilted up for easy viewing.

This year, Sharp has improved the design by making the interior bigger for reheating food and beverages.

If you have tall coffee mugs and wished for a taller capacity to reheat your beverage, Sharp has listened to the consumer, and the new models, K-6524 and K-6525, have a taller interior cavity at 7 1/8″ tall. The units are larger by 1.2 cubic feet. The total interior space measures 17 5/16″ x 7 1/8″ x 16 3/16″. Big enough to place a 8″ x 13″ casserole dish or a 20oz coffee mug.

But hold on, one change I am disappointed to report missing from the new models are the louvered grills at the bottom. The louvers on the older models served a valuable purpose directing the hot air out and away from the cabinetry.

Although the new design may look contemporary and sleek with concealed vents, I have to question the logic of the new design. The hot air from the concealed vents is forced to blow down and to the right directly onto the cabinetry face frames and doors. Steam heat directed at cabinets for over 7-10 minutes (a standard frozen meal cooking time), results in condensation on the cabinet parts closet to the venting. Moisture left on cabinetry, well, any one knows water wears away mountains, so steam heat aimed at cabinetry over time can’t be good for cabinet finishes. Why would they decide concealing the air flo vents a good feature?

Let’s hope they don’t get rid of the models that have the exposed louver grills. They have been problem free. Hey Sharp, I’ll take function first over sleekness every time.

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