Microwaves come in all sorts of different varieties these days. When you’re deciding on a new one to buy for your kitchen, most of the focus tends to be on functionality and features - do you want a unit that can double up as a conventional oven or grill too, or just focus on the microwave? How big do you need it to be, and are pre-programmed cook settings better than a traditional 1-10 power scale?
But another question to ask is whether you are better off with a freestanding model - which we might describe as the ordinary, off-the-shelf type of product available - or opting for a built-in version instead? Let’s take a look at each in turn.
Like other types of built-in appliance - cookers, refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers etc - the main appeal of a built-in microwave is aesthetic. If you already have a built-in model which needs replacing, you are unlikely to want to leave an ugly great hole in your kitchen units. Or if you are having a new kitchen fitted, you might want to go for a clean, uncluttered look with all appliances integrated. Built-in microwaves certainly save on worktop space.
The downside to built-in microwaves is that they need to be professionally installed. It is not just a case of plugging them in and away you go as with a freestanding model, they need to be properly bracketed to ensure they are attached safely and securely. That also adds to the cost.
And for the same reasons, should anything go wrong with your microwave further down the line, repair of built-in microwaves becomes that much trickier and more expensive, too. In many cases, the whole unit will need to be removed before it can be fixed.
Like a kettle or a toaster, a freestanding microwave offers a ‘plug and play’ solution that you can sit anywhere on your countertops (assuming there’s a wall socket nearby, of course). The advantages are that they are flexible, easy to use and, without any installation required, tend to cost less than built-in microwaves, too.
The fact that you can position a freestanding microwave wherever you like gives you the freedom to chop and change the layout of your kitchen as you please. There is also a touch of mobility about them - if a friend is having a dinner party and needs extra cooking capacity, you can simply unplug your microwave and take it to them.
The main drawback of a freestanding microwave is that it takes up extra space in your kitchen, rather than being tucked away as part of the units. This is particularly problematic in smaller kitchens when work surfaces are at a premium.
So which is best?
There are plenty of people who view the style and space saving advantages of a built-in microwave as well worth the extra effort and expense. And hey, that’s what choice is for, after all. But for cost, convenience and flexibility, more people tend to conclude that freestanding microwaves represent the better option.
*The information in this blog is designed to provide helpful information on the subjects discussed. Please seek a professional for expert advice as we can not be held responsible for any damages or negative consequences upon following this information.