Can An Over-The-Range-Microwave Be Used On A Countertop?

Kirstin Harrington
by Kirstin Harrington
If an over-the-range microwave is all that you have, it can be tempting to put it on the counter. However, this is a bad idea for several reasons, but the underside is the biggest reason. Between heat problems and the base of the microwave, follow along as we explore why it’s simply not compatible with countertops.

Depending on when your house was built, you may have an over-the-range microwave in your kitchen. They’re more common in newer homes and are a great way to free up some counter space.

Over-the-range microwaves can not be used as a countertop microwave because the underside is not flat and it will not be stable enough to sit on the counter. Plus, over-the-range microwaves have the venting built into the range hood, which you can’t convert for countertop use. It’s best to just buy a countertop microwave.

I’ll help you decide between a countertop microwave and an over-the-range option. There are plenty of pros and cons to both styles. One may be better for your lifestyle, and we’ll discuss just which option will be best for you.

Over-the-Range Microwaves


One of the main highlights of using an over-the-range microwave is the built-in venting. There’s a featured exhaust vent that can help to remove things like smoke, moisture, and odor. On top of this, it doubles as a range hood for your stovetop.

Cleared Countertops

Using an over-the-range microwave removes an appliance from your countertop. This gives you more space to use your counters for prepping meals or storing things like flour and sugar. You can also use the extra room to keep blenders, can openers, coffee pots, or toasters.

Improved Cooking Flow

Over-the-range microwaves are known for cooking food better. You can also easily use the microwave and the range at once, making your meals faster to make. Since the microwave is directly above the stove, you’ll also save time from running to and from appliances.

Sleek design

Another highlight of using an over-the-range microwave is that they make a kitchen look fancier. They’re stylish, modern, and can even add value to your home.

Easy to Clean

Over-the-range microwaves are often built with a fingerprint-resistant finish. This makes it easy to clean. The interiors are usually made with a non-stick material, making it easy to wipe away splatters and spills.


  • You’ll have extra counter space for things like meal preparation and smaller appliances.
  • They often have more functions than a standard countertop microwave.
  • You won’t need to purchase a range hood for your stove, saving you money.


  • The cabinets above the microwave are hard to reach.
  • The fans of the range hood have ⅓ of the power of a standard range hood. 
  • Over-the-range microwaves are often much more expensive than counter microwaves.

Countertop Microwaves

No Installation

One of the main highlights of using a countertop microwave is the ability to plug it in and start using it. There are plenty of unique models to choose from that will fit your kitchen aesthetic perfectly.

Another great thing about this style is that they can fit anywhere. You can use a trim kit to convert a countertop microwave into a built-in version that can be fixed to a wall.


Countertop microwave’s best feature is that they’re incredibly portable. When you’re not using it, you can put it in a pantry closet or in a cabinet. You can also easily move it from one spot to another on your countertop.


Countertop microwaves are really easy to access for most people. Whether you live with kids or someone in a wheelchair, they’ll be able to use the microwave. Over-the-range microwaves can be difficult for a lot of folks to reach.

Easy to clean

Lastly, this style of microwave is incredibly easy to clean. You don’t have to reach and possibly miss spots. Since they’re at about waist height, you’ll be able to see inside and clean every nook and cranny.

Plus, you can move them around to clean under and behind the microwave.


  • It’s easy to access for shorter people, disabled individuals, or children.
  • They’re portable and can be easily moved from one space to another. 
  • Countertop microwaves are much more cost-efficient than OTR.
  • There isn’t any complicated installation process required. 


  • They take up valuable counter space and a lot of it. 
  • Countertop microwaves can make a kitchen look cheaper or less seamless. 

Buying Guide

Below are a few things you’ll want to consider when comparing over-the-range microwaves and countertop versions. While you can’t use an OTR on the counter, this will give you a good idea at which will work best in your home.

Kitchen Size

The first thing you’ll want to keep in mind is the size of your kitchen. If you’re living in a tiny house, you may not have room for much on your countertops. Using an over-the-range microwave saves you space.

If you have a larger space, you’ll have more room for a countertop microwave. If you live in an apartment, you may have no other option than to use one that goes on your counter as well.

Venting Power

Something else to consider is the venting power that comes with an over-the-range microwave. They double as a range hood, creating two appliances in once. If you’re just an average Joe who cooks a couple of meals a day in your kitchen, this is a great option.

If you do some professional cooking, the ventilation that comes with an over-the-range microwave may not be enough. They vent air at a rate of 300 cubic feet per minute, while most range hoods do so at 1,000 CFM.

Consider how often you cook to help you choose. If you’re someone who only cooks dinner a few times a week, a countertop microwave will get the job done. Also, if you’re someone who has a busy lifestyle, a countertop style will fit your life better as well.

Microwave Height

One of the main downfalls of over-the-range microwaves is that using one isn’t the most practical. People on the shorter side, kids, and those with physical disabilities could have trouble operating one.

The last thing you want is for someone to spill their hot food or drink onto themselves and get burned. Countertop microwaves eliminate this risk and are much more accessible for all households to use.

There are also people on the opposite end who don’t like leaning over to get their food. If you or someone you live with is tall or has back pain, an over-the-range microwave is a great option.

Ease of Installation

The last thing you want to ask yourself when comparing over-the-range microwaves and countertop ones is the installation process. Do you have the time, skill, and budget to install an OTR microwave?

The nice thing about countertop microwaves is that there isn’t any installation required. You can unbox it, plug it in, and use it immediately. They’re also portable, which is a big plus for folks without a lot of counter space.

Installing an over-the-range microwave isn’t a ton of work. Indeed, it is more expensive than the other options. If you have it in the budget and have the right kitchen for one, it’s something to consider.

Related Questions

How close can a microwave be to a stovetop?

When installing an over-the-range microwave having the proper space between it and the stovetop is essential. The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends that the bottom of the microwave be no higher than 54 inches off the ground.

This gives around 18 inches between the bottom of the microwave and the stovetop. The top of the stove is usually 36 inches off the ground. This can range slightly depending on the manufacturer.

Do microwaves need space around them?

Having adequate ventilation is important for any type of microwave. If you’re using a countertop microwave, look for the vents on the side of the appliance. Make sure nothing is too close to these vents, giving the microwave plenty of room to work without creating a fire hazard.

Are over the range microwaves out of style?

While over-the-range microwaves have been known to be incredibly stylish over the years, this can change. Trends shift fairly often, and we’re seeing fewer over-the-range microwaves in 2020 kitchens.

I personally think they’re timeless and always make a kitchen look a bit more put together. It’s a style preference that can change depending on the individual.

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Kirstin Harrington
Kirstin Harrington

Kirstin is a passionate writer who loves helping people learn new things when it comes to home improvement. When she's not behind a keyboard, she enjoys DIY projects, crafts, spending time with her pets, and making videos. She hopes that with all she writes, someone is finding a solution to their home improvement needs.

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