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Buying Guide

CDA Buying Advice – Microwave Oven Types Explained

What is a microwave?

Microwaves are handy and staple appliances to have in your kitchen, whether you are reheating leftovers or defrosting meat for your dinner. They are quick and convenient if you are in a rush and need to heat something up or indeed cook something, such as microwavable rice. They heat up food a lot quicker than a conventional oven does, however you may not get the exact same result as you would if using a normal oven.

The numerous cooking modes will provide you with versatility in the kitchen, whilst being easy to use. There are many models and makes of microwave, so there is a wide array of choice for you to choose from.

A microwave is simply an appliance that uses microwave radiation to heat or cook your food, whereas a normal oven uses a heating element which heats the air inside of the oven. Microwaves are on the electromagnetic spectrum and can be found between radio waves and infrared radiation. These types of waves are good at absorbing things such as water or fats, but they do not like metal which is why it’s not such a good idea to leave a spoon in with your dinner!

Microwaves are quicker at cooking because the microwaves penetrate the food, this happens because the waves ‘excite’ the fat or water molecules within the food which help to cook it more efficiently. There are so many foods that you can cook, defrost or reheat in the microwave such as:

• Defrost any type of meat including chicken, mince or fish
• Reheat any leftover dishes
• Microwave meals
• Scrambled eggs
• Bacon
• Rice
• Pasta

These are only a few things that you can’t cook in your microwave (such as eggs in shells and chilli peppers), so the possibilities endless. There is now even a trend for microwavable meals in a mug. You just mix the ingredients together in a mug and cook it in the microwave, popular meals include omelette and cake.

What is a combination microwave?

A combination microwave, also known as a combi microwave is what it sounds like. It is a microwave that offers a combination of cooking options; this includes grilling, steaming and baking. Great for a busy kitchen eager to try lots of new recipes.

Because of the capabilities of a combination microwave the possibilities for cooking are countless. You will be able to heat, crisp, roast and even brown your food just how you like it. With an appliance like this you can vary your cooking, creating different dishes and trying new things. A combination microwave will allow you to do a lot more than just a standard microwave, but they are more expensive because of the premium features.

Pros of combi microwaves

• Offer a multitude of cooking options
• Higher capabilities than a standard microwave
• Higher range of features

Cons of combi microwaves

• More expensive than standard microwave ovens
• Not needed if you only wish to reheat and defrost food, a standard microwave will be better and less expensive

Our popular VK902 Combi Microwave which is a compact combination microwave, grill and fan oven is equipped with a range of features including an auto defrost setting, 6 microwave power levels and a cooling fan which will all help to maximise your cooking capability. It also has an amazing 40L net capacity compared to some of our standard microwaves that can hold a 17L net capacity.

Doesn’t a combi-oven that can create a whole host of meals in one place sound like something everyone should have?

What to look out for when buying a microwave

There are many things to consider when purchasing a built-in microwave that you can sometimes get a little lost. This is why we have put together a short buying guide on what to look out for when choosing a microwave.

Features

There are countless amounts of features that you can have on a microwave, but it’s about choosing the one that has the right features for you.

If you want a sleek and minimalist microwave, then maybe choosing one that has a touch control panel will suit you, as there are no buttons to press or knobs to turn.

It is also a good idea to look at the range of power settings and automatic programmes available to you. If you like to freeze the majority of your food then having a good defrost feature will be essential for you. If you want the microwave to do most of the work for you, then why not look at a microwave that can even recommend how long an item needs to cook or defrost depending on the weight and size. You should bear in mind that the more advanced the features are, the more expensive the microwave can cost.

Size

Size matters! You need to ensure that you buy a microwave that is big enough to fit what you need to cook inside of it. Typical family sized microwaves are around 20 to 25 litres. If you would like a larger microwave you can buy one that is able to hold up to a staggering 42 litres.

The size and capability of the turntable are also important when choosing a microwave, as this is what you will load your food onto to then cook or defrost. Standard microwaves have a turntable of around 25-27cm in diameter, whilst the majority of our microwaves have a turntable diameter of 31.5cm, plenty of room to cook.

Type

One of the bigger questions is what type of microwave do you want? Freestanding, built-in, combi, microwave with a grill or simply just a microwave? There are a lot of decisions to be made.

Freestanding

A freestanding microwave is a microwave that stands on its own feet and can sit on your countertop. It gives you flexibility in location as you can place it where you need it to go. It can also be called a countertop microwave.

Built-in

Built-in microwaves are fitted into a cabinet or you can buy a wall-unit microwave which has a slimmer profile. These styles of microwaves are out of the way and allow you to free up space on your worktop.

Combi

A combi microwave also known as a combination microwave is exactly what it says, it provides a combination of cooking capabilities. These different cooking options can include features like grilling, steaming and baking, which is great if you love to cook and want everything in one appliance.

Microwave with grill

A microwave with grill is essentially a standard microwave with all the excellent features that a microwave provides, but it has the added function of a grill. So you are able to cook and brown your food, giving you excellent cooking results. Great for adding that extra crisp to your food a microwave with grill can give you that little extra, but remember these will come at a higher cost than a standard microwave.

Microwave only

A microwave is great for reheating leftovers and defrosting something quickly for a snack at lunchtime, it is a staple item in the kitchen nowadays and we wouldn’t be without it. It uses microwave radiation to cook/heat your food and will come with a range of settings, but will not offer complex settings like a grilling function.

Power

Microwaves are becoming more powerful which is great for us, but it means there are more to choose from which can be a difficult decision!

The standard wattage for a microwave is around 850-900W, CDA offers a wall unit microwave at 700W and the rest of our range has a maximum wattage of 900W. To read more about how powerful microwaves can be, make sure you read our expert guide on how many watts does a microwave use? For more advise.

Budget

Budget is always going to be one of the more important factors to consider when buying a microwave, as this will determine which brand, model and specification you are able to pick.

Around 93% of the UK own a microwave, so luckily there are microwaves to suit every level of budget. The higher the specification the higher the cost, as you get more features and functions for your money. Lower spec microwaves tend to sit within the £60-£80 bracket, while higher specification microwaves can start at around £100. The majority of CDA microwaves start at around £100, but make sure you shop around to find the best price.

Visit our ‘where to buy’ page to browse our list of CDA stockists.

When purchasing a microwave you have a few questions to ask yourself before you make the final decision, but looking at these key factors will help to ensure you buy the right microwave for you and your kitchen.