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Ten Reasons To Ditch Your Microwave Vent Hood

June 05, 2023 7 min read

Compact appliances that perform the tasks of multiple kitchen appliances are the dream of most homeowners. It saves you money as you don't need to purchase multiple appliances for different tasks, and they take up less counter space.

Microwave range hoods are prime examples of these compact, feature-packed appliances. They have become ubiquitous in modern kitchens, serving as multi-functional appliances that can cook food and vent smoke and odors. However, while they may seem like a convenient and necessary addition to your kitchen, several compelling reasons exist to consider ditching your microwave vent hood altogether.

This article will explore ten reasons to think twice about relying on a microwave vent hood and why you need the right range hood to get a healthier and more functional kitchen environment.

But first, what is a microwave hood?

What is a Microwave Oven Vent Hood?

Microwave oven vent hood, also known as a microwave vent or over-the-range microwaves (OTR microwave), is a combination appliance that integrates a microwave oven with a ventilation system designed to remove smoke, steam, and cooking odors from the kitchen.

Unlike traditional range hoods installed above the cooking surface, a microwave oven vent hood is mounted above the range or cooktop, with the ventilation system positioned at the bottom of the unit. They work by drawing in air from the kitchen, passing it through a filter to remove grease and other particles, and then expelling the filtered air back into the kitchen or outside the house.

Microwave oven vent hoods come in various sizes, styles, and power levels, making them a popular choice for kitchens with limited space. They are often favored for their convenience, as they provide both cooking and ventilation functions in a single appliance, and their relatively easy installation compared to traditional range hoods.


 What is a Microwave Oven Vent Hood?

Reasons Why Your Should Replace Your Microwave Vent Hoods

While microwave vent hoods may seem like a convenient two-in-one solution, here are ten significant downsides to installing one in your kitchen:

1.   They have limited venting power

An average microwave vent hood has low venting power and can move around 100 cubic feet of air per minute (CFM) on its highest setting. The average wall-mounted range hood can carry about 400 CFM, while some high-end ducted range hoods can move up to 1,200 CFM. This significant difference in venting power means that microwave vent hoods may struggle to keep up with the ventilation needs of a busy kitchen.

There are several reasons why microwave vent hoods can have limited venting power. For one, many are designed with small fans that don't move much air, which can limit their ability to remove smoke and steam from your kitchen effectively. Additionally, because these appliances are often installed above the range or cooktop, they may not be able to effectively capture smoke and steam that rises higher than their intake.

2.   Inadequate capture area

Microwave vent hoods typically have smaller capture areas because they are designed to fit above the range or cooktop, and the width of the microwave oven limits their size. For example, a standard microwave oven is typically around 30 inches wide, which means that the capture area of a microwave vent hood may be limited to about 20-25 inches.

This smaller capture area can make microwave vent hoods less effective at capturing smoke, steam, and cooking odors extending beyond the hood's limited converge area.

3.   Can't handle cooking steam and grease

Microwave vent hoods often cannot handle the high levels of cooking steam and grease from heavy cooking, such as frying or grilling, especially on a gas range or stove. This is due to these appliances' limited venting power and inadequate capture area, as discussed in previous subheadings.

When cooking steam and grease are not adequately captured and removed from the kitchen, they can lead to various problems. Cooking steam can cause moisture buildup on walls and ceilings, leading to mold growth and water damage. Grease can accumulate on surfaces and appliances, causing unsightly stains and potentially posing a fire hazard.

In addition, cooking steam and grease can also negatively impact indoor air quality, leading to respiratory problems and other health issues.

4.   They can be quite noisy

Microwave vent hoods are one of the noisiest types of range hoods, with some models generating noise levels of up to 70 decibels (dB) at high speed. This is due to their smaller size and limited venting power. The smaller fan size required to fit into the limited space of a microwave vent hood may need to work harder to provide adequate ventilation, resulting in increased noise levels.

This can be a problem in open-concept kitchens or other shared living spaces, where the noise from the range hood can be disruptive and annoying. It can also make it difficult to converse or watch TV while cooking.

In addition to being annoying and potentially damaging to hearing, loud noise from a microwave vent hood can indicate inadequate ventilation. If the hood is not effectively removing cooking steam and grease from the kitchen, it may need to work harder and generate more noise to compensate.

5.   They are energy inefficient

Microwave vent hoods are known for being highly energy inefficient. The fan on a microwave vent hood is not as powerful as that on a dedicated range hood, meaning it takes longer to clear the air in the kitchen. This extended use of the microwave's fan can result in significant energy waste and increased utility bills.

Energy inefficiency is a problem for several reasons. First, it adds to the microwave vent hood's overall cost. Because it takes longer to clear the air, the microwave must run for a more extended period, increasing energy usage and, therefore, energy costs. Additionally, the prolonged use of the microwave's fan can put unnecessary strain on the appliance, leading to a shorter lifespan.

The increased energy usage leads to increased carbon emissions, which can contribute to climate change. Energy-efficient appliances are essential for reducing carbon footprints and promoting sustainability.

6.   Limited cooking space

Microwave vent hoods can provide limited cooking and clearance space over the cooktop, which can be problematic for those who like to cook or use larger pots and pans.

Most microwave vent hoods have a depth of around 12 to 15 inches, limiting the space available for cooking and making it difficult to use larger or wider cookware. Additionally, placing the microwave vent hood above the cooktop can further restrict the clearance space available for cooking.

This can be especially problematic for those who cook frequently or for larger families who may need larger cookware or multiple pots and pans at once. The limited cooking space can also impact the effectiveness of the ventilation system, as the airflow may be obstructed by larger cookware or the microwave itself.

7.   They can be quite difficult to clean and maintain

Microwave vent hoods can be challenging to clean due to their design and location above the cooktop. Grease, cooking steam, and other contaminants can build up inside the hood and its filters over time, making it harder to maintain adequate ventilation and increasing the risk of fire hazards.

Cleaning a microwave vent hood often requires removing and washing the filters, wiping down the interior of the hood, and possibly using specialized cleaning products to remove stubborn grease or dirt.

This can be time-consuming and messy, especially for homeowners who use their vent hood frequently or cook with greasy or oily foods.

8.   Limited design options

Microwave vent hoods often have limited design options compared to other types of range hoods. This is due to their unique design that combines a microwave oven and a vent hood into one appliance.

As a result, homeowners may have difficulty finding a microwave vent hood that matches the style and design of their kitchen. This can be problematic for those who value aesthetics and want their kitchen to look cohesive and visually appealing.

Additionally, limited design options may make finding a microwave vent hood that fits a homeowner's specific needs difficult. For example, those with larger cooktops may need a vent hood with a broader coverage area but may struggle to find a microwave vent hood to accommodate this requirement.

While some manufacturers offer customization options for their microwave vent hoods, these options may be limited and come at a premium price.

9.   Limited durability

Microwave vent hoods can have limited durability due to their design and construction. The combination of a microwave oven and a vent hood creates a complex appliance prone to wear and tear over time.

One common issue with microwave vent hoods is their exhaust fan, which constantly breakdown. The exhaust fan can wear out quickly due to the constant use and exposure to cooking byproducts, which can reduce its effectiveness and lifespan.

Another issue affecting the durability of microwave vent hoods is the materials used in their construction. Some models may use low-quality materials prone to corrosion and rust, especially in humid environments.

The limited durability of microwave vent hoods can be a significant problem for homeowners who rely on these appliances to keep their kitchens clean and odor-free

10.                  Unusable by short individuals

Microwave vent hoods are often mounted high above the cooktop for adequate ventilation. However, this can create a problem for short individuals who may have difficulty accessing or using the appliance.

For many short individuals, reaching the microwave oven's controls can be challenging, especially if it is 18 to 24 inches above the cooktop, like most countertop microwave ovens. This can make it difficult or even impossible to use the microwave vent hood comfortably or safely.

Furthermore, short individuals may have difficulty seeing or accessing the cooktop while using the microwave oven, which can create safety hazards when cooking or handling hot pots and pans.

While some microwave vent hood models may offer adjustable heights or lower mounting options, these features may not be widely available or costly to install.

In comparison, other types of range hoods, such as under cabinet hoods or downdraft hoods, may be more suitable for short individuals due to their lower mounting heights and easier accessibility.

Final Words

A microwave vent hood or over-the-range microwave is not a good way to vent a kitchen. It is just a microwave oven with ventilation capabilities. You will likely end up with a broken, cost-intensive device that barely cleans your kitchen air.

Overall, if you're finding that your microwave vent hood isn't doing enough to keep your kitchen smoke-free and fresh-smelling, it may be time to consider ditching it for a quality range hood. Whether that means installing a proper range hood, upgrading to a more powerful microwave vent hood, or simply improving the placement and orientation of your existing appliance, taking steps to improve your kitchen's ventilation can make a big difference in both the air quality and overall enjoyment of your cooking space.