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?

A microwave oven vent hood is also known as a microwave vent or over-the-range microwave (OTR microwave). It is a combination appliance that integrates a microwave oven with a ventilation system. This system is designed to remove smoke and odors from the kitchen area that are generated when cooking.

The microwave oven vent hood is mounted above the cooktop area so it can catch and vent out as many pollutants as possible. The ventilation system in them is often a form of recirculating range hood model which often limits their usefulness. It is positioned at the bottom of the unit and works by drawing in polluted air from the kitchen. This air is then passed through a filter to remove grease and other particles in it. The filtered air is then expelled back into the kitchen area.

Microwave oven vent hoods come in various sizes, styles, and power levels. This makes them a popular choice for kitchens with limited space. They are often favored for their convenience and multiple functionality because provide both cooking and ventilation functions in a single appliance. 

 What is a Microwave Oven Vent Hood?

Reasons Why You 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. Microwave Vent Hoods 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 blower/ exhaust fans. This can limit their ability to remove smoke and steam from your kitchen area effectively. Also, because these appliances are often installed above the range or cooktop, they often will not capture smoke and steam that rises higher than their intake vents.

2. Microwave Vent Hoods Have Reduced Capture Area

Microwave vent hoods typically have smaller capture areas because they are designed to fit above the range or cooktop. These vent hoods are often small with limited width which reduces the size of their intake vent. For example, a standard microwave oven is typically around 30 inches wide. For a device like that, it means that the capture area of the microwave vent hood may be limited to about 20-25 inches. This smaller capture area can make microwave vent hoods considerably less effective at capturing pollutants and cooking odors extending beyond the hood's limited converge area.

3. Microwave Vent Hoods 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. Microwave Vent Hoods Can Be Quite Noisy

Microwave vent hoods are among the noisiest types of range hoods. Some models can generate noise levels of up to 70 decibels (dB) at high speed. This is due to their smaller size which seriously limits their venting power. The smaller fan size required to fit into the limited space of a microwave vent hood may need to work harder. With the vent hood working that hard and often for a considerable period the result is a pretty loud range hood..

This can be a problem in open-concept kitchens or other shared living spaces. The noise from the microwave vent hood can be disruptive and annoying for those around it. 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. This would generate more noise to compensate.

5. Microwave Vent Hoods 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. This means it takes longer to clear the air in the kitchen. This extended use of the microwave's fan can result in significant energy waste. It can also lead to increased utility bills due to their extended use.

Energy inefficiency is a problem for several reasons as it adds to the microwave vent hood's overall cost-effectiveness. The prolonged use of the microwave's fan can put unnecessary strain on the appliance. This can lead to a shorter lifespan. The increased energy usage leads to increased carbon emissions which some climate-conscious homeowners will find distasteful.

6. Microwave Vent Hoods Reduce the Available Cooking Space

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

Most microwave vent hoods have a depth of around 12 to 15 inches which extends over the cooking area. This limits the space available for cooking and makes it difficult to use larger or wider cookware. The placing of 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. It can also be problematic 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. The airflow may be obstructed by larger cookware or the microwave itself.

7.  Microwave Vent Hoods Can Be Quite Difficult to Clean and Maintain

Microwave vent hoods can be challenging to clean because of their design and where the vent hood is located. The exhaust grill and filters that trap grease and other contaminants can easily clog up over time. However removing and cleaning these parts can be quite tricky. This makes it a lot harder to maintain adequate ventilation and the presence of the increases the risk of fire hazards.

Cleaning a microwave vent hood often requires several steps that can be time-consuming and pretty messy. This is especially true for homeowners who use their vent hood frequently. Plus one often has to be careful not to damage the microwave section of the hood when cleaning the ventilation section.

8.  Microwave Vent Hoods Have Limited Design Options

Microwave vent hoods often have limited design options when compared to other types of range hoods. They are often only available in standard box like shape that houses the microwave and a vent hood into one appliance. This limits the design options and makes it difficult for finding one that matches the style and design of some kitchen space. This can be problematic for those who value aesthetics or homeowners who want their kitchen to look visually appealing. For example, those with larger cooktops may need a vent hood with a broader coverage area. However, they 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. Microwave Vent Hoods Have Limited Durability

Microwave vent hoods have limited durability because of their poor design and construction. The combination of a microwave oven and a vent hood creates a complex appliance. This appliance is prone to wear and tear and breaks down a lot.

One common issue with most microwave vent hoods is their exhaust fan constantly breaks down, This is majorly due to constant use and exposure to cooking byproducts which can have a corrosive effect on them. This can reduce its effectiveness and the lifespan of the fans.

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

10. Microwave Vent Hoods Are 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. This can make it difficult or even impossible to use the microwave vent hood comfortably or safely.

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 from Moderncopper.