Microwave Ovens

Tuesday, 15 November 2005 | Tags: , , ,

Appliances that make cooking quicker and easier are essential in today's kitchen. Microwave ovens can be anything from compact and simple to full-size, multi-function, deluxe models. We take a look at some options on the market to see if any of these products stand out from the rest.

The Basics

  • To start, choose the largest microwave that will fit comfortably in your kitchen.

  • If you’re cooking for a family don’t buy anything less than 1.2 cubic ft.

  • Make sure it’s big enough inside to accommodate your favourite baking dishes.

  • In newer homes, many microwaves are built-in, which conserves counter space and helps them blend in better. Most models are designed for the countertop.

  • Over-the-range models are convenient space-savers, and tend to be larger.

  • Under-the-counter models are great for a kitchen with little counter space.

  • The amount of power, measured in watts, relates to how fast it can cook food.

    • Less than 700-watt microwave cooks slower and may not cook evenly.

    • At least 1000 watts will suit most kitchens, especially if you use it for more than simply reheating.

    • Different power levels produce different percentages of possible energy. For instance, medium (50%) power on an 800 watt microwave produces 400 watts of energy.

Other Considerations

  • A microwave should blend into the décor. Most are available in black, white, almond or stainless steel. Match it your other large appliances.

  • Cooking sensors are handy. They measure the remaining cooking time based on the amount of steam emitted and the amount of heat coming from the vent.


We tested these microwaves to see how they compared doing various cooking tasks:

  • Danby (1100 Watts/1.4 Cubic Ft.): $88
  • GE (1100 Watts/1.1 Cubic Ft.): $129
  • Kenmore (1100 Watts/1.2 Cubic Ft.): $149
  • Panasonic (1200 Watts/1.2 Cubic Ft.): $159

Chocolate Melting Test

  • All the microwaves did an equally good job.

Popcorn Test

We popped the same brand of microwave popcorn in oven and counted how many un-popped kernels were left:

  • Danby: 62
  • GE: 194
  • Kenmore: 178
  • Panasonic: 31

Defrosting Test

  • The Kenmore did a pretty good job.

  • The Panasonic that defrosted evenly with no cooked bits.

Potato-Cooking Test

  • The Kenmore produced mushy over-cooked potato.

  • The Panasonic produced perfectly-cooked spuds.


The Panasonic did the best job in all our tests. The budget-priced Danby was a runner up.


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