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How to Install an Over The Range Microwave

How to Install an Over The Range Microwave


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Over the range microwaves are a tried and true kitchen appliance. By combing a microwave, a range hood, and in some cases, a convection oven, over the range microwaves (also known as OTR microwaves) can be both stylish and functional.

Unlike countertop microwaves, over the range microwaves need to be installed over a range, stove, or cooktop. Installing an over the range microwave may sound difficult at first, but is something you can do yourself with the help of a friend or household member. In this post, we’re covering how to install an over the range microwave and answering some common questions we get here at Rustic Kitchen and Bath about over the range microwaves.

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What is an Over the Range Microwave?

An over the range microwave is a type of microwave oven that is specifically designed to be mounted next to cabinets and above a cooking range, cooktop, or stove. This positioning allows it to serve both as a convenient cooking appliance of its own as well as a range hood, which is used for ventilation purposes in a kitchen.

By incorporating a built-in ventilation system with a fan and filters into its base, over the range microwaves help to remove smoke, steam, and odors that arise from cooking on the cooking surface below.

Most over the range microwaves have all the features and settings found in traditional countertop microwaves, as well as additional features like convection cooking or sensor cooking, depending on the model.

An Over The Range Microwave in a Kitchen

What Size Over the Range Microwave do you Need?

To determine what size over the range microwave you need you should collect accurate measurements of the cutout above the cooking surface. Measure the width, depth, and height of the space that is available. There may also be ventilation requirements specified by the manufacturer that need to be accounted for. You should also take into consideration your personal preferences for style and power so long you ensure the microwave you choose will fit.

Width: Most over the range microwaves are 30 inches wide, which is also the most common width of freestanding ranges. To ensure that 30 inches is the right width, measure the width of space above your cooking surface. There are also compact over the range microwaves better suited for smaller spaces which are usually 24 inches wide.

Height: Over the range microwaves have a standardized height of 17 inches. Measure the height from the bottom of the upper cabinets to the cooking surface of your range. There are also specialized models called low-profile over the range microwaves which can fit in spaces as low as 10 inches.

Depth: Over the range microwaves have different depths, usually ranging between 15 and 18 inches. Measure the depth from the wall to the front of your range to determine the maximum depth of the microwave that will fit comfortably in the space.

Over the range microwaves should also be around 30 inches above the top of the cooking surface and far enough away from any perpendicular walls so that the door can fully open. 

Taking accurate measurements of the available space and considering any ventilation requirements will help you determine what size over the range microwave you need. 

Can Over the Range Microwaves be Vented Outside?

One of the most common questions we receive in regard to over the range microwaves is about how they are ventilated. Similar to range hoods, over the range microwaves can be vented outside through the use of ducting or can be operated in a recirculating mode. 

It's important to note that some microwaves may offer both venting outside and recirculating options, while others may be limited to only one of these modes. Determining what type of venting option you need before purchasing an over the range microwave is crucial.

Shop OTR Microwaves

How to Install an Over the Range Microwave

  • Removing Your Existing Microwave

  1. Unplug the microwave. You can locate this in the cabinetry directly on top of the microwave.
  2. Once it’s unplugged, locate the screws attaching your microwave to the cabinet.
  3. With the screws located, have a friend assist you by firmly holding onto the microwave while you unscrew the top mounting screws.
  4. With the top mounting screws removed, you should be able to remove the microwave from the back mount plate. Usually, this involves bringing the microwave towards you at an angle and lifting the back of the microwave out of the mount.
  5. With the microwave completely removed, you can now take out the wall mounting bracket. Side note: if you’re installing the same brand as your previous microwave, there’s a chance your new microwave will use the same bracket. Be sure to check your new hardware, as this will save you a few steps.

  • Drilling the Back Wall Mount/Mounting Bracket Holes

Note: If you do not have a template, additional steps need to be taken. You can request a new template from the manufacturer or give us a call at 1 (866) 212-9706 for further assistance. 

  1. Remove the microwave from its packaging.
  2. Locate the back wall mount or mounting bracket.
  3. Locate the studs on your back wall and mark them.
  4. Locate the back wall template. 
  5. Place the back wall template on the rear wall and match the corresponding holes on your template to the studs. We recommend taping your template to the wall to hold it in place. 
  6. Make sure your template is level!
  7. Use a drill bit to drill all the needed pilot holes. At least one screw will need to be securely placed into a stud.
  8. Remove the rear wall template.

  • Drilling the Top Mount/Mounting Bracket Holes

  1. Locate the top mount template.
  2. Tape the top mount template to the bottom of the cabinetry and mark the holes where you will be drilling.
  3. Remove the template.
  4. Drill the top mount pilot holes into the cabinetry.

  • Attaching the Back Wall Mount/Mounting Bracket

  1. Install the mounting bracket on the back wall.
  2. Use toggle bolts for any screws that are not fastened to a stud. At least one screw must be fastened to a stud. Your microwave will not be safely installed if it is not fastened to at least one stud.

  • Installing the Over the Range Microwave

  1. Before you install your microwave, be sure to set it to your desired duction setting. Your instruction manual should have detailed instructions for each setting and how to set it up. If you are using a recirculating configuration you should also ensure your filters are installed at this point. 
  2. With your microwave set to its correct duct, install the microwave into the back wall mount.
  3. After it’s safely in the mount, have someone assist you in holding the microwave while you install the top screws.
  4. Position the power cord and make sure you plug it in!
  5. Test both the fan and the cooking element to make sure your microwave is working properly.

If you followed the above steps, your new over the range microwave should now be fully functional and ready for use! If you have any questions or need assistance in finding the right microwave for you, feel free to reach out to us. Our team is knowledgeable and ready to help!

What is the best Over the Range Microwave?

ZLINE Over the Range Microwave above a range in a rustic kitchen

ZLINE’s 30 in. Over the Range Convection Microwave Oven (MWO-OTR-H) is one of our best-selling microwaves here at Rustic Kitchen and Bath, and it’s a no-brainer as to why! It has a sleek modern design that comes in both stainless steel and black stainless steel, as well as a modern or traditional handle to perfectly match your kitchen style.

This microwave performs just as well as it looks. With DiamondTech technology (a diamond interior that scatters microwaves for no cold spots) and its 900 watts of power, you never have to worry about a half-cooked meal again!

Some of this microwave's unique features include:

  • Convection & Standard Microwave Modes that can be used separately or simultaneously
  • Stainless Steel interior and exterior for effortless cleaning and maximal heat
  • Illuminated and audible LCD screen for optimal access
  • Glass turntable to distribute heat evenly
  • One-Touch cook for quick and easy snacks
  • Control lock for added safety and peace of mind

Shop ZLINE MWO-OTR

ZLINE Microwave Control Panel

What is a Microvisor?

A Microvisor is a product designed to address the issue of fumes escaping while cooking on the front burners of a range or cooktop when using an over the range microwave as an exhaust system. The depth of the microwave exhaust system is generally smaller than the depth of ranges and cooktops. This can cause fumes to escape as the range extends past the microwave's exhaust system by an average of 10 inches. This limited exhaust power cannot effectively draw the fumes from the front burners into its exhaust system.

When a Microvisor is installed, it captures and redirects up to 90% of the total cooking byproducts to the OTR exhaust. This helps to prevent fumes, smoke, grease, moisture, and odors from escaping into the kitchen. Additionally, the Microvisor provides a heat shield to protect the OTR plastics from the heat generated during cooking, preventing damage to the microwave over the range.

Microvisor on a an OTR Microwave

Shop Microvisor

In conclusion, over the range microwaves offer a versatile and efficient solution for your kitchen needs. Not only do they provide the convenience of a microwave, but they also serve as a range hood to keep your kitchen well-ventilated. When choosing an over the range microwave, it's important to consider the size that fits your space and meets your preferences for style and power.

Installing an over the range microwave may seem daunting at first, but with the right instructions and a bit of DIY spirit, it can be a straightforward process. By following the step-by-step installation guide provided in this blog, you can successfully replace or install your own over the range microwave in no time.

If you're in the market for a high-quality over the range microwave, ZLINE's MWO-OTR-H is a top choice. With its sleek design, powerful performance, and convenient features like convection and standard microwave modes, it offers both style and functionality for your kitchen.

To enhance the effectiveness of your over the range microwave's exhaust system, consider adding a Microvisor. This innovative product captures and redirects cooking byproducts, preventing fumes, smoke, grease, moisture, and odors from escaping into your kitchen. It also acts as a heat shield, protecting your microwave from the heat generated during cooking.

We hope this blog post has provided valuable insights and guidance for understanding and installing over the range microwaves. If you have any further questions or need assistance, don't hesitate to reach out to our knowledgeable team. Happy cooking and enjoy the convenience of your new over the range microwave!

If you would like help finding the perfect appliance for your home, call us at 1 (866) 212-9706 or book a consultation with one of our appliance experts!

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