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Microwave ovens combine efficiency and power, making it easy to cook and reheat various types of food. They're a staple in many breakrooms where employees eat lunch and in homes for the simple convenience they offer. Some have over the range and drawer designs while others are meant for countertop use. Shoppers will find various models from top brands such as Danby, Samsung and Sharp, with features that improve the cooking experience.
Basic Features for Convenience While most models have a touch panel, some have dials for operation, and all have either a pull handle or push-button mechanism for opening the door. LED displays let you know how much time is remaining and when not in use show the time. The keypad has several buttons including numbers 0 through 9 to set timers and multiple pre-set functions that let you set cook time. Adjustable levels let users adjust the cooking power to fit specific needs, turning it up for foods that require more power and down for more delicate items.
Countertop microwaves have rubber feet to keep them firmly in place. A turntable inside rotates the dish and some microwaves have more than one distribution point, to help promote even heating. Those with sensor cooking capabilities automatically adjust the time to prevent burnt or undercooked meals. With pre-set cooking modes, users can benefit from one-button operation for items like popcorn, baked potatoes and pizza. Most models have a defrosting mode for frozen meats. Manually enter the desired defrosting time or choose Auto Defrost and enter the weight to initiate pre-set times. Some models incorporate a one-touch start for commonly used cooking times and a plus-30 seconds button to add more time without interrupting the current progress.
Advanced Features for Increased Versatility Some of these appliances combine microwave capability with added convection, grilling or frying power. Samsung, for example, has models that incorporate several advanced technologies including PowerGrill Duo and Slim Fry, that increase the variety of meals you can cook. Eco-mode helps to conserve energy by shutting off the display when the unit's not in use. Select Over the Range microwaves come with accessories such as a ceramic plate or a round rack to keep foods crispy, eliminating the need for a standard oven. Those with a drop-down door let you insert larger items easily.
Varying Sizes and Colors for Different Purposes Built in microwaves come in many sizes with interiors ranging from 0.6 to 2.2 cubic feet and power levels that range between 600 and 1,600 watts. Smaller units work well in dorm rooms or small apartments with limited space, while larger units fit in home kitchens and office breakrooms. Most models come in white, black and stainless steel, or a combination of colors, though some have bright shades that make them stand out. Glass doors let you see inside, and some models have ceramic interiors that are resistant to scratches and easy to clean, for long-term durability. Those looking for added safety in homes with small children should consider a model with a child-proof lock.