Buying a new microwave is so much harder than you think

When last have you bought a new microwave? With a lifespan of around seven years on average, you might be in the market for a brand new microwave right now.  

Some microwaves are built to last as long as ten years and some might even sneak across that lifespan if they don't get used all that often. But with everyone spending more time at home, your trusty old appliance has probably been given more of a workout than usual recently, right?

Even if your microwave is tough as old boots and spluttering on past the 10-year mark, it might be worth considering a new investment with the vast improvements in technology over the last few years. Although a study by the National Association of Homebuilders (yes, really) fond that the average lifespan for microwaves is around nine years.

But here's the thing... if you've not bought a new microwave in recent years, you might very well be surprised at just how much of a thing this process can be.

You might think, “what’s the big deal?” – a radioactive hub for nuking leftovers is a radioactive hub for nuking leftovers, right? Wrong.

Settle down, intrepid reader, because we’re about to go a journey that might change the way you look at your countertop friend with its tepid yellow disco light forever.

So, your microwave breaks. You can choose your own adventure here. It sparks and smokes when turned on. It just doesn’t even turn on. It turns on but doesn’t heat anything up. Take your pick, it doesn’t matter. Point is, your microwave is zonked. So, off you go to the internet to begin what you imagine would be a straight forward process. You do a quick search for “best microwaves to buy” – because that’s the kind of responsible adult you are, comparing prices and options and whatnot.

As it turns out, the problem with being a responsible adult is that responsibility can straddle quite a lot of different aspects when it comes to buying home goods.

Your search for a new microwave reveals that it’s worth looking at things like Watt (anything under 900 is practically useless, apparently) and obviously sizes and dimensions – because you need the thing to actually fit in your kitchen.

But one scroll down lurks Pandora’s Box That Pings When It Isn’t Opened. Her box is pinging and you can’t resist… so much for that responsible adult thing, right? Open the box and out comes a whole roasted chicken, done in under 40 minutes with perfectly crisp skin. Okay, we hope you’re still following this metaphor. In case you’re getting lost (we are) the box is a microwave. As it turns out, microwaves can do some amazing things these days – including roasting a chicken.

Yeah, once you know that there is no going back from the rabbit hole of new microwave buying research.

While your bog-standard normal microwave (called a solo microwave by fancy people) does still exist and does come with some pretty smart options if you’re not the adventurous type, the combi (fancy word for combination) microwaves are where it’s at.

As you might have guessed, solo does just its plain ol’ microwaving thing. Combi options can do anything from grill a chicken to perform a pap smear. Okay, maybe not that.

So, what should you consider when buying a new microwave?

Most important, as we have learned on our journey, is to think about Watts. Not Naomi.

Wattage is basically the thing that determines how long, how evenly and how well things will cook or heat up. The higher it is, the faster things will heat up. Most modern-day machines are in the 900W range - but if you want to crank it up and you can find a good deal, you should look for something with a little bit more power. It might cost more now, but it will save you years of pain and frustration in the future.

Then consider space. We know, so obvious, right? Like the proper adult you area, take a measurement of potential places for your new microwave (provided it’s not one of those super fancy built-in ones) and make sure you check the product specs while browsing your options.

Now we can get onto the fun stuff. If you’re not here for all that fancy jazz, then off you go – look for a “solo” microwave and be done with it. 

Combination microwaves offer grill or convection options. Both of these come with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Convection microwave ovens are useful if you're more into baking while grills are better for... well... grilling. Other combi microwaves even offer specialized options like steaming and, apparently, the ability to make yoghurt (we did warn you this was a wild box). 

Before you get too excited, keep in mind that different combi microwaves will offer different functions. So to choose the best new microwave, you have to decide what you want from it - and what you want to use it for. 

Key features to consider for a new microwave 

Whether you're going for the solo microwave option or one with the all the bells and whistles, these are some of the basic factors to consider. 

  • Capacity - usually from 17L to over 32L. This obviously means how big the inside is. Look turnable size and interior height, though - especially if you dream of roasting a chicken in your little squat nuke machine. 
  • Turntable or flatbed - No, your microwave isn't going to take up a side hustle spinning decks. Some of the combi microwaves do not come with the removable turntable you might be familiar with. 
  • Auto-cook programmes and other functions - you don't need a bajillion options, but it's worth checking to see if the new microwave you are eying up contains some of the one-press functions you're likely to use most often. 
  • Child lock and control panel: Do you want to press flat buttons, or do you want to turn knobs? These are the important questions in life and about microwaves.
  • Size of the microwave and its power, as previously mentioned.

The days if these squat boxes doing nothing but heating up ready meals with a depressing hum and a dash of ruining-the-taste of everything are a thing of the past. We’ll leave you with one single exhibit (but there are loads more where this came from if you’re looking for a way to waste time, err, do valuable research about which new microwave to buy).

Oh yeah, somebody is putting a metal stand thing INSIDE A MICROWAVE AND IT HASN’T BLOWN UP. Don’t try this at home. Unless you have a microwave that can do that and you’ve read the instructions, obviously.

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