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What Is an OTR (Microwave) Range Hood? How Do They Work?

What are the pros and cons? Can OTR perform as well as a traditional range hood? Here's everything you need to know about OTR microwaves.

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If you’re in the market for a range hood, you might be wondering what an OTR (over-the-range) microwave is. Or, you might wonder if OTR range hoods are as good as traditional range hoods.

In this article, we’ll answer all of these questions and more. We’ll also discuss the pros and cons of OTR microwaves and whether or not they’re worth considering for your home. So read on to learn everything you need to know about OTR range hoods!

Image of a kitchen with an otr microwave range hood. Source: pexels
Image of a kitchen with an OTR microwave range hood. Source: Pexels

A microwave over-the-range (OTR) hood is a common ventilation option for small kitchens in apartments. They save space by merging the microwave oven with the ventilation or air filtration system.

What is an OTR range hood?

A microwave over-the-range (OTR) hood is a common ventilation solution. Microwave over-the-range (OTR) hoods are a popular choice for ventilation in apartment kitchens because of their compact size.

There are two common venting methods for OTR microwaves. In the first case, the OTR microwave is vented to the outside of the building

In the second scenario, below, the exhaust from the microwave over the range (OTR) goes through grease or carbon filters added by the manufacturer before being sent back into the house.

Microwave ovens typically have airflow ratings of between 300 and 400 CFM. So, if you had to choose between a 300 CFM and a 400 CFM microwave, you should go with the latter. However, a difference of 100 CFM is quite marginal. And neither 300 nor 400 CFM can match the strength of a ducted range hood. A properly ducted range hood may draw up to 2000 CFM of air, much more than microwaves.

Here are some great OTR microwaves you can consider purchasing.

What are the benefits (pros) of an OTR (microwave) range hood?

Below are some of the many benefits of using an OTR range hood.

1. More space

Most people choose an OTR microwave since it fits in the cabinet above the stove. For one, these microwaves eliminate the need for bulky cabinets. The OTR microwave saves space because it has a vent hood, task lighting, and a microwave all in one.

2. Multiple funcionality

Combining microwave and a range hood into a single appliance might be convenient if your kitchen is on the smaller side.

What are the drawbacks (cons) of an OTR (microwave) range hood?

below are some of the drawbacks to OTR range hoods.

1. Weak performance

The fans are weak and will not draw much air. So they are not as effective at venting. That implies you’ll have to put up with poor air quality conditions. Because of this, many homeowners are ditching their microwaves in favor of range hoods.

2. Lack of coverage

One major drawback of OTR microwaves is their much smaller catchment area. The surface area covered by an OTR microwave’s exhaust fan is far less than that of a conventional microwave. Thus, I don’t recommend them if you use a gas stove or do a lot of cooking.

When choosing a range hood, choose don’t that it is 6 inches wider than the cooktop and 3 inches longer on each side once installed. This will ensure that your range hood absorbs most of the smoke and fumes from cooking.

What are the types of OTR range hoods?

Two main over-the-range (OTR) microwave ovens are vented and recirculated.

Ductless

Ductless stove hoods clean the air that is recirculated by using charcoal filters. If you can’t have ductwork, a ductless range hood is an excellent alternative for improving your kitchen’s air quality.

Ducted

Ducted OTR units are superior to recirculating OTR units. They are more effective in removing smoke and pollutants (although not at the same level as a regular range hood). When using a vented system, the toxic gases are sent outside your property. In most over-the-range (OTR) microwaves, charcoal filters are used to clean the air before it goes back into the kitchen.

Are OTR microwave hoods good enough for proper kitchen ventilation?

For most home cooks, a conventional range hood is ideal (for any skill level). While there are benefits to using an over-the-range (OTR) microwave, upgrading to a regular range hood offers even more value.

Several studies have been done on poor indoor air quality and the benefits of putting in a strong vent hood. These reports support the idea that one should invest in a high-quality range hood. They also emphasize the dangerous poisons and chemicals in the air during cooking.

How high should a microwave be above a gas range?

Set up your microwave oven between 28 and 36 inches from your stovetop. However, since microwaves are less powerful than vent hoods, they are usually placed closer to the stove than vent hoods. Make sure you can readily see what you’re cooking by leaving enough room at the bottom of your highest pot.

How long do over-the-range microwaves usually last?

Over-the-range microwaves are installed and fixed to the wall, while regular microwaves sit on a counter. Most manufacturers state that their products can be used for up to ten years with proper maintenance. If you treat yours well, you can avoid purchasing a replacement too quickly.

Are over-the-range microwaves out of style?

Yes. Using ventilation systems above cooking surfaces has increased in popularity in recent years. However, many people who have tried microwaves and range hoods have concluded that the savings in space are not worth the lack of ventilation. It is a waste of money.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “OTR MICROWAVE OVEN | Pros vs Cons | But mostly cons…” from the Mark Tobin Kitchen Design YouTube Channel.

A video called “OTR MICROWAVE OVEN | Pros vs. Cons | But mostly cons…” from the Mark Tobin Kitchen Design YouTube Channel.

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about the OTR (microwave) range hood.

What is a range hood?

Cooking generates a lot of fumes, aromas, heat, and steam; a range hood is there to help you get rid of it. While most of us vent the removed air outdoors, others have a filtering system that can clean the air and bring it back into the cooking area.

Are over-the-range microwaves worth it?

The over-the-range microwave is a terrific choice if you’re short on counter space and want a microwave that blends in with the rest of your built-in appliances. If you don’t count the installation cost, you can buy a brand-new OTR microwave for as little as $200.

Can you place the microwave above a gas range?

Yes. A microwave oven may be used with a gas or electric stovetop.

Conclusion

OTR microwaves are a fine option if you don’t cook often, but a range hood is usually the better choice, in particular with the high heat output of gas burners. We recommend brands like Broan, Zephyr, and XO Ventilation for range hoods. Mainstream appliance brands like Whirlpool, Frigidaire, GE, and LG all make over-the-range microwaves.

This article covered an OTR range hood, its benefits, and the types of OTR range hoods. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • There are two common types of venting for OTR microwaves
  • Two main over-the-range (OTR) microwave ovens are vented and recirculated.
  • Compared to charcoal filters, stainless steel ones are superior in catching greasy residue.
  • A grease that doesn’t get sucked up by the range hood is expelled from the house.
  • A higher cubic foot per minute (CFM) rating indicates more efficiency in venting your kitchen’s toxic fumes, oil, steam, and odors.

So, do you also use an OTR (microwave) range hood? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks in your kitchen. Thanks for reading, and stay safe.

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Author avatar - Roger Harris
Written By Roger Harris
Hey there! My name is Roger, and I've been selling range hoods for over six years. I now run this blog all about range hoods and kitchen ventilation! If you're looking for a new range hood for your kitchen, this is the place for you.

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