Difference Between Countertop Microwave and Built-in Microwave

Time and again, microwaves have proved to be one of the most useful home appliances ever invented. With the advancement in technology, more and more varieties of microwaves are available in the market with many unique features.


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As more and more people choose to have one in their homes, a major dilemma is countertops and built-in microwaves. Both of them have their advantages and disadvantages and unique features.

Key Takeaways

  1. A countertop microwave is a standalone appliance that sits on a countertop or table and is easy to move, install, and use.
  2. On the other hand, a built-in microwave is integrated into a kitchen’s cabinetry or wall and requires professional installation and dedicated space.
  3. Countertop microwaves are more affordable and portable, while built-in microwaves offer a sleeker, more integrated look.

Countertop Microwave vs Built-in Microwave

Countertop microwaves are small and less powerful than built-in microwaves, ideal for small kitchens and can be moved easily. Built-in microwaves are larger and more powerful than countertop microwaves and are part of a larger kitchen appliance package. A professional install them.

Countertop Microwave vs Built in Microwave

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonCountertop MicrowaveBuilt-in Microwave
FunctionalityA countertop oven is placed on a kitchen countertop near a power outlet.A built-in microwave is installed in a kitchen wall or kitchen cabinet
VersatilityIt is portable, can be moved from place to place in the kitchen and is even packed for travel.It is not portable. It is installed permanently and can not be removed except to be replaced.
CostIt is cheaper, more common, and requires no installation charges or high maintenance costs.It is more expensive, requires installation by a professional, needs to be maintained, and needs replacement of the whole unit when it stops working.
Space RequiredIt requires space on the kitchen countertop, near a power outlet and cannot be tucked away from sight in a corner.It does not require any space on the kitchen counter as it is installed in a wall or cabinet and thus leaves the rest of the space free for use.
InstallationIt does not require installation; it works on a simple, buys-and-use right-away basis.It must be installed in the wall or cabinet where it will remain by a licensed professional and requires a licensed professional to remove it for replacement when it stops working.

What is Countertop Microwave?

A countertop microwave is a microwave which is designed to be placed on the kitchen countertop. It occupies some space on the kitchen counter. It is portable, so perfect for users in temporary homes or who move often.

A countertop microwave is versatile as it can be moved around according to the user’s need and even packed easily.

It is cheaper because it does not need installation – just an electrical power outlet and a suitable place on the kitchen counter. It is very common and often preferred by people.

However, a countertop microwave takes up space on the countertop, which can sometimes be inconvenient, especially in small kitchens with little space.

It performs all the basic functions of a microwave, and many different designs are available in countertop microwaves.

Repairing a countertop microwave is always easy and comparatively cheaper because it can be taken to the shop and inspected much more easily. Replacing parts is also much easier in countertop microwaves.

countertop microwave

What is Built-in Microwave?

A built-in microwave is installed in the kitchen wall or cabinet. It is neatly tucked away and thus does not take up much space. A built-in microwave is, however, more permanent and not portable.

It cannot be taken out or moved from one place to another. Thus, it is preferred by permanent and settled homeowners with no plans to move.

It blends with the kitchen well and enhances the aesthetics and design of the kitchen while staying out of the way conveniently. A built-in microwave is expensive and will require installation by a licensed expert. It also requires high maintenance.

Repairing a built-in microwave is rather difficult, and the entire unit will require replacement if it stops working.

Similarly, it will require maintenance and an expert to handle it in case of any defects and difficulties.

It can be installed in a wall or high cabinet, often at eye level or any other such convenient position. This also keeps it safely away from the reach of children while making it fun and convenient to use.

built in microwave

Main Differences Between Countertop Microwaves and Built-in Microwaves

  1. A countertop microwave is placed on a kitchen counter, while a built-in microwave is installed on a kitchen wall or cabinet. So, a countertop microwave takes up space on the kitchen countertop closer to a power supply outlet. A built-in microwave blends in with the kitchen and leaves a lot of free space on the counter.
  2. A countertop microwave is portable. It can be easily shifted around in the kitchen and even packed and repacked while moving and shifting. A built-in microwave does not have this benefit and is installed permanently. It cannot be removed except for replacement; in that case, the whole until it is replaced. 
  3. Owing to the installation, maintenance and versatility of built-in microwaves are more expensive than countertop microwaves.
  4. A countertop microwave can only be placed on a countertop near a power supply outlet, thus taking up space. It stands out in the kitchen. A built-in microwave is tucked away into a corner of the cabinet or the wall neatly and thus does not require space on the kitchen countertop and blends in with the kitchen very easily.
  5. No installation is required for the countertop microwave; it can just be bought from the store and used. However, a built-in microwave must be installed into the cabinet or wall by a licensed electrician before it can be used.
Difference Between Countertop Microwave and Built in Microwave
  1. https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/1132831/
  2. https://escholarship.org/content/qt3s29h7wd/qt3s29h7wd.pdf
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