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Microwaves

BING LEE'S MICROWAVE BUYING GUIDE

Whether it's a Netflix night and you're in the mood to bust out that triple butter flavoured popcorn or you have just woken up from a big night out and are longing for that left over pizza sitting in the fridge with your name on it, microwaves can be pretty handy. Just imagine if you had to heat up that pizza in your traditional fan forced oven and wait a good half an hour before consuming its deliciousness!

Microwaves are not the prettiest thing to look at in the kitchen but some modern designs are rather attractive. Back in the 1940's you could expect to pay a few thousand dollars for a standard model and due their weight back then you would have needed quite a bit of help dragging it into your house. Today the microwave price range is anywhere from $40 to $5,000 depending on the brand and if it is a counter top model or a built in. Essentially the purpose of a microwave is to quickly heat up food and thanks to the TV dinners isle in our local supermarket it can be used to cook too.

So what is the difference between a conventional microwave and a convection microwave? What is inverter technology? How powerful should the microwave be? Is a steam microwave better than a standard microwave? Does size really matter? What about that scary word 'radiation' that people are throwing around? No need to heat yourself up, this buyers guide will go through all of those unfamiliar terms and into a store quicker than you can say microwaved mac and cheese.

Counter Top Microwaves

Counter top microwaves are best suited to kitchens that have enough bench top space to keep the microwave or to those like renters who can’t renovate their kitchen to install a built in. Some houses have an open cavity in the kitchen layout to store a counter top microwave leaving your kitchen bench less cluttered. Keep in mind if you are placing the microwave in an open cavity to allow for some extra room for the door and the vent at the back. Generally counter top microwaves cost less than built in models and will not need to be installed as you simply need to plug it into your power outlet, set the clock and you're good to go.

Over the Range Microwaves

Over the range microwaves are a type of built in model that is installed in the place of your range hood. This microwave works the same as a counter top model but as an added feature they have venting systems that work similar to range hoods. They are a great idea if you are cant spare any counter space for a standard microwave.

Built In Microwaves

Built in microwaves are the designer high range models on currently on the market. Depending on the type of microwave these can be installed virtually anywhere in your kitchen like your drawers and kitchen cabinets. If you already have a hidden built in dishwasher you can hide away your microwave too! These models are more costly and will require a qualified installer.

Conventional vs Convection

Conventional microwaves are your traditional models which are generally cheaper than convectional microwave ovens. Conventional microwaves work by producing 'microwaves' converted from electricity. These microwaves are radio waves that work by heating your food quickly as they are set to a particular frequency to excite the water molecules in your food. Water molecules when disturbed by the microwave vibrate which generates heat thus cooking your food.

Convection microwaves on the other hand work almost the same except for the fact that they have the ability to brown and crisp your food as they have a heating element and a fan to assist with heat distribution. Put simply, this type of microwave works like a conventional microwave that cross-bred with a traditional oven. It has all the benefits of heating your food by exiting the foods water molecules but also the internal cavity is entirely heated like and oven so your food is evenly cooked and heated.

Inverter technology

If you notice that inverter technology sign on your microwave box it simply means that the energy usage can be adjusted to suit your needs. Inverter technology is not crucial to the appliances performance. Microwaves without inverter technology set on medium high will heat the food at 100% full power for half the time then shut off the other half. Inverter microwaves constantly heat the food at medium high using 50% power continually until the time is up.

Steam Microwave Ovens

Designed for healthier eating, steam microwaves are said to keep the nutrients and vitamins in your food as well as the moisture. These microwaves are generally more expensive than standard microwave models and work like your traditional microwave with the added cooking programs. Basically the microwaves provide the heat to a chamber within the unit that evaporates the water used in the cooking process. Most models don't have a revolving plate but rather an oven style rack instead.

Halogen/Quartz Microwaves

These microwaves don't look like your traditional microwave and works like a convection microwave. Looking like an oversized fish bowl with a lid, the halogen/quartz light, heating element and fan assists with heating and browning your food. These models will take up some counter space but no more than what a traditional counter top microwave would take up.

Wattage

Microwave power is measured in watts and most microwaves range from 750 - 1300 watts. Before you jump right in and grab the model with the most power consider your needs. If it’s only the two of you there's no need for a 1200 watt microwave. If you are purchasing a large microwave or intend to cook large amounts of food then a higher power microwave is the right one for you. Keep in mind that the more power a microwave has the less time it will take to heat your food.

Size

Microwave sizes are measured in litres and can range anywhere between 20 -38 litres. Before you purchase your microwave you need to be aware of how much space you have available in your kitchen for the appliance, how much food you intend to fit in your microwave and if your plates fit inside the unit. It’s important to measure your space and perhaps take one of your plates shopping with you to see if it will fit.

Safety

Some microwaves allow you to child lock by pressing a sequence of buttons on the machine meaning little exploring fingers won’t get into any trouble. As for all the radiation hype, you need not worry. In Australia all microwaves sold are required to pass specific requirements in relation to leakage. You should however know that it is unsafe to use a microwave that has a damaged or poorly fitted door as there could be risks of leakage and it is best to have the unit assessed by a qualified technician. The radio waves don't linger in your food and the microwave stops working immediately once you open the door or push a button to end the timer.

Cooking Tips
  • The defrost feature - this program allows you to safely defrost meats to avoid salmonella and other nasties. To do it properly you need to select the weight of the produce and when the microwave beeps you'll need to remove the thawed parts before they start cooking. Avoid letting the meat sit in its own juices because as that water heats up the meat around it will start to cook too.
  • Keep your food covered to help contain the moisture.
  • Utilise the program options that the unit has. For example, if there's a program for veggies select that option if you are cooking vegetables. These programs are designed for specific needs and have the right power level and cooking time for that specific dish.
  • Only use microwave safe dishes. There's nothing worse than having your non microwave safe plastic wear melting into your food or your silver rimmed china causing sparks while reheating your food.

Still Need Help?

Still have questions? If you are still unsure about what you need, call our friendly customer service on 1300 980 399, or to find the closest Bing Lee to you, visit our Store Locator

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