What Are Microwave Vent Hoods? Are They Any Good?

April 12, 2023 7 min read

Having a kitchen device that combines two separate functions is kind of impressive, and the microwave vent hood fits this bill. They are versatile devices that offer several benefits that have made them a common appliance in most homes. But choosing the right one for your kitchen can be kinda tricky, especially if you have no idea what a microwave vent hood is.

What do microwave vent hoods do? Are they durable? Will getting a microwave vent hood for your kitchen improve its functionality? All of this and so much more will be answered in this article. We will explore how microwave vent hoods work and their benefits and drawbacks. Getting a firm idea of what this nifty kitchen appliance is will help clarify if you actually need a microwave vent hood for your kitchen. Let’s explore

What are Microwave Vent Hoods?

A microwave vent hood is a two-in-one kitchen appliance. It’s basically a microwave and a kitchen ventilation system combined in one tool. It removes pollutants from the kitchen air during meal prep and also heats food. These units are typically above the stove or cooktop. They have an in-built exhaust fan that pulls in and cleans the air by passing the air through a filter before expelling it.

Types of Microwave Vent Hoods

Several types of microwave vent hoods are available on the market, each with unique features and benefits. Some of the most common microwave hood combinations include:

Over-the-range Microwaves Vent Hoods (OTR)

This microwave vent hood is designed to be installed above your stove or cooktop, replacing your existing range hood. They are typically available in various sizes and power levels to fit different kitchen layouts and cooking needs.

Built-in Microwave Vent Hoods

These are integrated microwave vent hoods built into your kitchen cabinetry or wall. They offer a sleek and modern look while also saving valuable counter space.

Countertop Microwave Vent Hoods

These standalone microwave vent hoods sit on your kitchen counter, offering flexibility in placement and usage. They are often smaller in size and power compared to OTR or built-in models.

Combination Microwave Vent Hoods

These microwave vent hoods offer other cooking functions, such as convection cooking or grilling. It is an ideal microwave hood combination for those who want to maximize their cooking options while saving space in their kitchen.

How Does a Microwave Vent Hood Work?

Microwave vent hoods use a combination of microwave technology and ventilation to provide a convenient and efficient cooking and venting solution. It contains a microwave function, venting feature, exhaust fan, filter, and control panel.

The microwave function heats and cooks food quickly and evenly, while the vent feature removes smoke, steam, and odors from your kitchen. The exhaust fan pulls the air through a filter that captures grease and other particles, preventing them from circulating in your home. The filtered air is then expelled outside your home through a duct system.

The control panel on the microwave vent hood allows you to adjust the microwave and ventilation settings. You can set cooking times, power levels and control the exhaust fan.

Benefits of a Microwave Vent Hood

There are numerous advantages of having an appliance like the microwave vent hood installed in the kitchen, and some of the notable ones are:

1. Convenience 

The convenience provided by installing a microwave vent hood is one of the primary reasons for getting it to vent your kitchen space. They are designed to make cooking and ventilation easier and more efficient. It is installed above your stove allowing you to easily watch your food as it cooks and simultaneously clean your kitchen air.

2. Saves space

A microwave vent hood in your kitchen can save space. Traditional kitchens often need a separate range hood and countertop microwave, which can take up a lot of space. A microwave vent hood combines these two appliances into one. This saves counter, countertop, and cabinet space. The appliance is usually installed above your stove or cooktop, which removes the need for a separate range hood

3. Offers versatility

A microwave vent hood is a smart and versatile appliance to get in a kitchen. This is especially obvious if you have limited space or want to streamline your appliances. It cleans your air and brings in the added cooking features of a microwave.  It can reheat leftovers and defrost frozen ingredients, making it a valuable kitchen tool. Some models offer convection cooking, which lets you bake, roast, and grill your favorite dishes.

4. Simple installation

One of the benefits of using a microwave vent hood in your kitchen is that it typically has a simple installation process that we previously explained. Unlike traditional range hoods, which require complex ductwork and electrical wiring, microwave vent hoods can often be installed with minimal modifications to your kitchen setup.

Many models of microwave vent hoods come with detailed installation instructions and require only some essential tools to install. You can install the appliance without professional help or specialized equipment.

5. Cost-saving

Compared to range hoods, microwave vent hoods are generally more budget-friendly, making them an attractive choice for those seeking an upgrade without excessive expenses. Also, by combining the functions of a microwave and vent hood in a single unit, you reduce the costs associated with purchasing and installing separate appliances.

Drawbacks of Microwave Vent Hoods

The whole idea of integrating the functions of a microwave with a kitchen range hood also comes with certain drawbacks, like:

1. Limited ventilation

Due to its compact design, a microwave vent hood may not have the same ventilation power as a traditional range hood. This could result in less effective removal of smoke, steam, and odors, potentially impacting indoor air quality, especially for those who frequently use high-heat cooking methods or cook extensively. If ventilation is a top priority or you have a gas range, a traditional range hood may be a better choice.

2. They can be noisy

Microwave vent hoods tend to be noisier than traditional range hoods, with noise levels varying by model and brand. If you're noise-sensitive or prefer a quieter cooking environment, a microwave vent hood may not be the best fit. These hoods can produce loud and distracting noise when operating, which may be more pronounced in models with powerful ventilation systems or blocked filters.

3. Design limitations

Microwave vent hoods are often designed to match specific microwave models, which may not be compatible with all kitchen styles and decor. This could restrict your options when choosing a microwave vent hood that complements your kitchen's aesthetic. Therefore, if you have a large cooktop or range or are looking for a particular style of vent hood, consider alternative options to the microwave vent hood.

4. Prone to failures

Like any appliance, there's a risk of technical issues, which can be more complex and costly with microwave vent hoods due to their combined microwave and ventilation system. Clogging in the ventilation system from grease, dirt, or debris can reduce efficiency or cause unit damage.

5. Difficult to repair

Microwave vent hoods are relatively new, which means replacement parts might not be as readily available as traditional hoods. Purchasing parts from the manufacturer can be expensive. Additionally, their integrated installation often requires professional expertise, increasing repair costs.

Who Should Want a Microwave Vent Hood

Microwave vent hoods offer a space-saving solution, making them ideal for homeowners with compact kitchens, including small apartments and houses with limited kitchen space. They also cater to individuals who engage in light cooking or use the stove primarily for food reheating, as they provide ample ventilation in such scenarios.

Overall, suppose you are looking for a space-saving, versatile, and convenient option for your kitchen that also provides adequate ventilation. In that case, a microwave vent hood could be a good choice for you.

Choosing The Right Microwave Vent Hood

When picking the perfect microwave vent hood for your kitchen, it's essential to take into account various factors to guarantee efficiency and effectiveness. Here are crucial considerations to remember:

1. Sizing and Power Considerations

Microwave vent hoods come in various sizes and power levels to fit different kitchen layouts. When choosing one, think about your stove or cooktop size and your kitchen size. The vent hood should be as wide as your stove. The power level should be enough to remove smoke, steam, and odors from your kitchen.

2. Type of Ventilation

Two main types of ventilation systems are used in microwave vent hoods: ducted and ductless. Ducted ventilation systems vent smoke, steam, and odors outside the home through a duct system. In contrast, ductless systems use filters to remove smoke, moisture, and odors before recirculating the air back into the kitchen. Ducted systems are generally more efficient at removing pollutants, but they require more installation work and may not be feasible in all kitchens.

3. Design and Style Options

Microwave vent hoods come in various designs and styles to complement different kitchen decors. Some models are designed to be mounted under cabinets, while others are built into the cabinetry. Consider the design and style of your kitchen when selecting a microwave vent hood to ensure that it blends seamlessly with your existing decor.

4. Price Range and Budget Considerations

Microwave vent hoods are available in various price ranges, offering budget-friendly options and high-end models with advanced features. Your budget should align with your desired features.

5. Brand Reputation and Reliability

Prioritize reputable brands known for quality and reliability. Read customer reviews, consider warranties, and evaluate customer service to make an informed decision.

Alternatives to a Microwave Vent Hood

1. Ducted range hoods

These standard range hoods can be mounted above the stove and connected to ductwork to vent outside. They are more powerful and effective at removing smoke, steam, and odors from the kitchen. Some exquisite examples of ducted range hoods are available at Moderncopper.

2. Inline exhaust fans

These ventilation systems are installed in the kitchen and the house's exterior ductwork. They can be used with a range hood or as a standalone option to remove cooking fumes from the kitchen. Inline exhaust fans are typically more powerful than microwave vent hoods and can be installed in various configurations.

3. Recirculating range hoods

These range hoods use a filter to recirculate air back into the kitchen rather than vent outside. While they are less effective at removing smoke and odors than ducted range hoods, they are a good option for kitchens where ductwork is not possible or for homeowners who do not want to create a hole in their walls or roof.

Final Thoughts

A microwave vent hood is a space-saving and versatile option for homeowners who want to combine the functions of a microwave and a kitchen ventilation unit in one appliance. When choosing the right microwave vent hood, it's essential to consider sizing and power, type of ventilation, design and style options, price range and budget, and brand reputation and reliability.

Ultimately, whether a microwave vent hood is suitable for your kitchen depends on your cooking needs, budget, and preferences. By weighing the pros and cons and considering your options, you can decide whether a microwave vent hood best fits your kitchen.