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We all take microwave ovens for granted now. What was a newly affordable—and magical!—kitchen appliance for those of us who grew up in the ’80s, is now just a standard issue cooking tool we never want to live without.

Microwaves are so ubiquitous in our lives, when it comes time to buy our first new microwave, how do we know how choose the best one for our needs?

Here are three important things to think about before microwave shopping.

  1. Countertop, Over-the-Range or Built-In?
    This decision is easy. If the kitchen doesn’t already have a space for an over-the-range or built-in microwave oven, shop for a countertop style that can be placed on the kitchen counter or an additional piece of furniture like a baker’s rack or kitchen cart.
  1. Useable Cooking Space
    The size of the microwave and its usable cooking space are different measurements. It’s important to think about what the microwave will be used for and if those things will fit inside. Mugs of water for hot tea, microwave popcorn, and individual frozen meals will fit in nearly any microwave. Homemade casseroles and family-sized frozen meals may require more space.
  1. Cooking Power

    The speed at which a microwave heats food items is determined by its wattage. The higher the wattage, the faster the heating time. The lowest wattage microwaves will be 600- to 800-watts and that’s sufficient for reheating leftovers and making popcorn, but anything else may heat unevenly. A typical home kitchen will get solid use out of an 800- to 1,000-watt microwave oven. A 1,200-watt microwave will suit a larger family or home cooks who rely on their microwaves as much or more than their actual ovens! Typically, the lower the wattage, the lower the cost, too.

Additional Considerations

Other things to consider when microwave shopping include features like pre-programmed cook times and heating power, air frying, grilling, or convection options, and bonus items like special pans and racks.

Browse Aaron’s online for a selection of countertop microwave ovens with a variety of features from top name brands. Look for the Express Delivery label on products that may be eligible for delivery to your home in as few as 2 – 3 days!±