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Once and Future Microwave
Old 01-14-2012, 12:03 AM   #1
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Once and Future Microwave

My microwave has needed cleaning for a long time. I tackled it this afternoon and much to my dismay realized the paint was coming off the inside. It's an over-the stove microwave+vent hood. The glass tray broke some years back and I have been procrastinating replacing it. The darn thing cost $85 last time I checked, and by this time the part plus sales tax will cost nearly a hundred bucks. My mind revolts at the thought of paying as much just for the glass tray as I would for a whole new countertop microwave (which is why I didn't buy it when it was "only" $85)! So now I'm on the horns of a dilemma...I don't know if the fact that the paint is coming out means the machine is on its last legs, or even if it's not on its last legs is a peeling microwave a big turnoff for potential buyers (I plan to put house on the market a year from this spring)? Do I buy the overpriced replacement part or just replace the whole machine? Or do I get any old microwave tray from a thrift store and call it good?

One thing for sure, there will be no micro-hood in the wee housie I plan to build for retirement. I'm planning to check out those magnetic cooking thingies—I don't know the correct name—at the Home Show next month and will also look into those stoves with the vent right at the back of the burners (I think this is called a downdraft range). Either one would be teamed up with an ordinary countertop microwave, maybe in an "appliance garage" where it won't get (as) greasy from stovetop cooking as the current one does.

Do any of you have either the downdraft range or the magnetic gadget? If so, what's your experience? Is it lower maintenance than an ordinary cooktop with an overhead fan? Does it reduce the amount of grease and spatters? I am looking for the ultimate low maintenance cooking apparatus for my future kitchen.
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Old 01-14-2012, 06:52 AM   #2
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Induction ranges (the "magnetic gadget") are nice, and very efficient. The drawback is that you can't use any old pots and pans; they have to be compatible.

We had a Jenn-Air range in a former house (the downdraft vent) and it was good, but I really don't think it made the slightest difference in terms of grease and spatters. The down-venting was purely for getting smoke, steam, and odors out of the way.
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Old 01-14-2012, 07:10 AM   #3
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Funny you should post this since I believe our 26 year old Sears counter top maybe on it's last legs and we don't want a counter top anymore. Since counter space is valuable we decided we were going to go for an over the range, but by the sounds of it, they don't make them like they used to.

As for the induction ranges, when I was installing institutional kitchens not many chefs like them, the main reason they were used was when they were used close to the customer so there was less chance of anyone being burned. Maybe times have changed, but braumeister us correct in that you can't use your standard pots and pans.
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:42 AM   #4
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Our 20 something year old Sears counter microwave bit the dust within the last couple of weeks. We bought a replacement and the cord is too short to use with our microwave stand. You are not supposed to use extension cords from what I have read, so we returned the microwave and tried to find one with a longer cord. I guess that they don't make them anymore. I don't want to buy a new microwave stand, because we are going to have our kitchen remodeled one of these days. I was not really ready to have it remodeled yet. Can a broken microwave really cause you to have your kitchen remodeled more quickly? LOL. I thought that the microwave over the stove would be nice to have when we remodel. Maybe not?
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Old 01-14-2012, 08:47 AM   #5
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Our 20 something year old Sears counter microwave bit the dust within the last couple of weeks. We bought a replacement and the cord is too short to use with our microwave stand. You are not supposed to use extension cords from what I have read, so we returned the microwave and tried to find one with a longer cord.
I would have just bought a short (3 ft.) heavy duty extension cord.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:04 AM   #6
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I would have just bought a short (3 ft.) heavy duty extension cord.
Wouldn't it be pretty easy to just replace the original cord with a longer one though. I have done it for many other appliances, but not microwave, so I'm not sure.
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Old 01-14-2012, 09:57 AM   #7
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Induction ranges (the "magnetic gadget") are nice, and very efficient. The drawback is that you can't use any old pots and pans; they have to be compatible.

We had a Jenn-Air range in a former house (the downdraft vent) and it was good, but I really don't think it made the slightest difference in terms of grease and spatters. The down-venting was purely for getting smoke, steam, and odors out of the way.
For the induction range they have to be steel or cast iron, right? I don't have a lot of old pans, but the ones I use most are some Revere ware pans (stainless steel with copper bottom but I think the bottom is only plated) and my pressure cooker, which I am pretty sure is 100% steel. And I wouldn't mind buying some new, or new-to-me, pans, if I can reduce maintenance overall.
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Old 01-14-2012, 10:18 AM   #8
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(snip)...we decided we were going to go for an over the range, but by the sounds of it, they don't make them like they used to. (snip)
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(snip) I thought that the microwave over the stove would be nice to have when we remodel. Maybe not?
I don't have any complaints about the quality, the microwave works just fine. It's just that that location also means that every bit of splatter or grease from the stove ends up on the microwave. And the fan vents get very dirty/greasy and are difficult to clean. I took the grille off and went at it with a brush but still didn't get all of it off. The slits are narrow and it's hard to get any cleaning tool in there. I don't think it would have gotten clean even if run through the dishwasher.

The combination micro-hood is, I think, more expensive than a microwave and a hood bought separately, and the price of the replacement tray is ridiculous. The whole arrangement is IMO more expensive and harder to take care of than it needs to be, but functionally there's nothing wrong with it and the location above the stove is very convenient.
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Old 01-14-2012, 10:21 AM   #9
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We had an over-the-oven model when we moved in, and I quickly replaced it with a real fan and a microwave that mounts under the cabinets. When that microwave died, I got a smaller one for $10 on Craigslist, and, even though it wasn't designed for it, I mounted it under the cabinets. They don't sell UTC units anymore, but with this one, at least, it was easy to take the cover off, and add some bolts.

NewMicrowave.jpg
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Old 01-14-2012, 10:41 AM   #10
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For the induction range they have to be steel or cast iron, right?
They need to be steel or cast iron, but also magnetic. Much stainless steel is not really magnetic, but you can easily check by simply holding a magnet to the bottom of the pan. If it doesn't stick, it won't work on an induction range. If it does stick, you're probably good to go.

The other thing is you want a perfectly flat bottom to the pan, to maximize the surface area in use.
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Old 01-14-2012, 01:03 PM   #11
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They need to be steel or cast iron, but also magnetic. Much stainless steel is not really magnetic, but you can easily check by simply holding a magnet to the bottom of the pan. If it doesn't stick, it won't work on an induction range. If it does stick, you're probably good to go..
I am not sure but I think induction heating works by eddy currents, if resistance is high any metal will work. So generally steel/iron will be OK since it has high resistance, copper, aluminum will not since these have less electrical resistance.
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Old 01-14-2012, 04:01 PM   #12
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I have an induction cooktop and like it a lot. When buying pans, I take a small magnet to the store to make sure the bottom is magnetic.

I do like the induction and it is very nice to have if you have cats. I was nervous about cats walking across my smooth top electric cooktop and mistakenly jumping onto hot burners. With induction there is no issue since the burners are not hot.

That said -- for resale I'm not sure I would buy one since many buyers have no clue about induction.
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Old 01-14-2012, 04:34 PM   #13
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I am not sure but I think induction heating works by eddy currents, if resistance is high any metal will work. So generally steel/iron will be OK since it has high resistance, copper, aluminum will not since these have less electrical resistance.
Technically that's true, but my understanding is that nonmagnetic stainless steel cookware reduces the efficiency considerably.
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Old 01-14-2012, 05:07 PM   #14
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The combination micro-hood is, I think, more expensive than a microwave and a hood bought separately, and the price of the replacement tray is ridiculous. The whole arrangement is IMO more expensive and harder to take care of than it needs to be, but functionally there's nothing wrong with it and the location above the stove is very convenient.
Agree with all that. But we use our microwave ovens a lot, and sometimes we're both heating something. So, when we disigned our new (small!) kitchen I went with the over-the-hood range/microwave AND a shelf in place of one of the low cabinets for a small countertop microwave (it's still sitting on the counter, though, I haven't yet finished the cabinets). The small microwave is what we use 70-80% of the time, so the expensive-to-replace over-the-stove microwave should last a long, long time, but we have the flexibility of having two microwaves when we need them (including one big enough to heat something big). And we haven't lost any counter space.
If you don't need two, consider just buying a conventional hood and also building a shelf at 14-18" above the counter to replace the lower area of a small cabinet. Put a small microwave there and replace it for <$100 when it dies.
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Old 01-14-2012, 11:48 PM   #15
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If you don't need two, consider just buying a conventional hood and also building a shelf at 14-18" above the counter to replace the lower area of a small cabinet. Put a small microwave there and replace it for <$100 when it dies.
+1 When we got new appliances for our kitchen, the old oven was an over/under with a cook top and separate exhaust fan/hood. We used counter-top, relatively cheap microwaves that lasted a long time.

But with the new set up, we put in an over-the-cooktop microwave with built in exhaust fan (there are almost no ovens on the market like we had). I know I'm going to regret this (and already do somewhat). So if that thing breaks, I'm looking at $500 to replace it, plus a somewhat involved installation (you wanna bet the new one will need significant mods to fit?). Plus, the fan isn't very effective.

What I should have done, is built a shelf, constructed my own hood and installed an industrial generic squirrel cage fan of a known CFM with a speed control. Microwave breaks? Take it off the shelf and put in a new one. No effort.

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Old 01-15-2012, 01:32 AM   #16
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One other question, has anyone used a magnetic induction cooker with a wok? I have a steel wok with a round bottom that has to go in a ring-shaped stand. I had a glass cooktop at my old house that said not to use a wok that sits in a ring. I figured when I moved here I'd be able to use it again, because it's a gas range, but the instruction leaflet for th this stove also nixed the ring. Can I use the wok on an induction cooker (assuming it's magnetic).
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Old 01-15-2012, 06:51 AM   #17
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the instruction leaflet for th this stove also nixed the ring. Can I use the wok on an induction cooker (assuming it's magnetic).
In a word, no.

The way the induction coil works best is with maximizing the surface area in contact with the element. That's why you want the bottoms of the pots to be very flat. With the wok, the rounded bottom means you have so little close contact that the efficiency would be so terribly low as to be effectively useless. Since the whole idea of wok cooking is to get very hight heat, it's a non-starter.

There are versions of woks with a flat bottom (I have one) that would work, but a traditional wok would not.
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:46 AM   #18
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If you are thinking about moving soon, you might want to talk to a realtor or otherwise investigate to find out which of your options would have the best effect on resale.

I know that personally, I would consider an over-the-range microwave to be a negative when looking at a home, but who knows what buyers in your area might think (unless you ask).
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Old 01-16-2012, 04:45 PM   #19
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If you are thinking about moving soon, you might want to talk to a realtor or otherwise investigate to find out which of your options would have the best effect on resale.(snip)
Talking to a realtor about what I need to do to get the house ready to go on the market is scheduled for 1st quarter of this year.
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Old 01-21-2012, 02:45 PM   #20
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We ended up going to Wal-Mart and buying a very small microwave for around $55.00 that we put on the dishwasher. The other one just took up way too much room when we tried it there. It is working for what we use it for and I am happy. If it goes after a year, who cares.
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