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Microwaves buyers guide

While most of us no longer fear the microwave as some other-worldly horror sent to destroy us all, it’s safe to say most of us are far from experts on these handy little cookers. It’s the kind of product you may buy two or three times in your lifetime, so why would you be?

But don’t worry: Here at Crowdstorm we've gathered up all the basics for your buying decision so you don’t have to. Below you’ll find all you need to help compare and then purchase the microwave oven that’s right for you.

Better still you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing you’re buying your new microwave from a UK retailer you can trust: Crowdstorm will link you through to household names such as Tesco, Currys, Amazon and George at Asda to complete your purchase.

What types of microwave oven are there?

Most people will be familiar with the standard microwave oven: great for simple, time-saving tasks such as heating milk and ready meals, defrosting food from the freezer (but be careful – not all have a defrost setting) and cooking jacket potatoes in about a millionth of the usual time.

  • Grill/quartz grill: One downside of a microwave is a lack of crispiness – a problem solved with a built-in grill! Yu can crisp or brown your food once it’s cooked, or just use it as a standard grill if your oven is being used. Quartz grills preheat instantly, making them perfect quick snacks or browning.
  • Combi-microwave: One step up from a grill, combination microwaves are a grill, standard convection oven and microwave all in one. These are perfect for a small kitchen, perhaps in a bedsit or small office, offering all the cooking options you need. They’re also economical, letting you cook many foods faster than usual.
  • Built-in/integrated: The one disadvantage about buying online is that you don’t get to see the product in such close-up detail. This may seem like a no-brainer, but do be careful not to buy a built-in microwave if you’re looking for a counter top model! These are for fitted kitchens only, but some images can be a little misleading.

Which microwave features should I look out for?

Power: Microwave power is measured in wattage (W) – and the more you get, the better. A 1000+W microwave will cook quickly and evenly, while something at the cheaper end of the scale (around 700W) will cook slower and less evenly.

Capacity: Microwave capacity is measured in litres and can vary from below 20L to more than 30L. If you’re wanting to cook for a family, you’ll want something at the top end of the scale. More capacity means bigger turntable (so your popcorn bag will go around properly!), as well as more interior heat – meaning you can often microwave several things at once.

Power rating: You may also notice a power rating letter (usually in a square on the microwave itself) between A and E. This rating takes both power and size into consideration, with ‘E’ being the best. For example, if two microwave ovens have the same wattage but one is much larger, the smaller one will have a better power rating as it is better equipped to heat the smaller space.

Defrost: While this is a fairly common feature in modern microwaves, don’t presume your microwave will have the capacity to thaw food – especially at the smaller or budget ends of the market.

Auto-cooking by weight: This is really handy if you’re defrosting/cooking items that don’t have guidelines on the packet – such as fresh/frozen meat.

Rotating plate: smaller, cheaper microwaves may not contain a rotating plate. Again, the problem with this is your food was be so evenly heated.

Size and colour: Finally, be sure your microwave is going to fit snuggly – and stylishly – into your kitchen. Worktop space may force you to settle for a small microwave; while a stylish black microwave may look great in the pics – but will it fit in with the rest of your kitchen?

Who makes microwaves – and what do I do next?

Here at Crowdstorm you can compare hundreds of microwaves from all the leading manufacturers. You’ll find budget models (under £100) from household names such as Samsung, Panasonic, Hotpoint and Sharp. But you’ll also find top of the range microwaves from the likes of Neff and Bosch.

Once you’ve narrowed your search using our handy filters, simply click through to get all the details you need and purchase your new microwave from your chosen retailer. You’ll be buying from them direct, not Crowdstorm, so you don’t have to worry about a middle man – we’re just pointing you in the right direction. Happy shopping!