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Microwave ovens and ranges are two of the most popular cooking appliances you can find in any modern kitchen.
While there are so many obvious differences between these two appliances, it may be difficult to choose the unit that’ll better suit your living situation; hence the range vs microwave oven debate.
To help you make the right purchasing decision, we’ve put together an in-depth microwave oven vs range debate.
Let’s find out the differences between a range and a microwave oven.
What Are the Main Differences Between A Range and A Microwave Oven?
The main difference between a microwave oven and a cooking range is in their design.
A kitchen range is an appliance with both a cooktop (an open, flat surface for cooking) and an oven for performing various cooking functions. While a microwave oven is a compact and enclosed appliance (that mostly sits on the kitchen counter) for quickly heating foods.
The second main difference between a microwave oven and a range is in their mode of generating heat and cooking food.
Microwave ovens use microwaves (electromagnetic radiation) to heat water molecules in food, which causes the food to cook very fast. While kitchen ranges generate heat using energy from either gas or electricity.
To help you make the best purchasing decision, we’ll discuss these cookers individually.
What is a range? Ranges are 2-in-1 cookers that combine both rangetops and ovens for performing all your cooking tasks such as boiling, simmering, baking, frying, sautéing, and roasting, etc.
Because cooking ranges combine two appliances in one, they’re very versatile in the kind of cooking they can do. However, they aren’t space-saving because traditional ovens are large; hence the need for countertop models.
But when it comes to efficiency, a range is not the most efficient cooker as it’s a general-purpose appliance; hence the rise of other countertop appliances.
Also, ranges are expensive because they’re designed to save time; they typically come with more than one burner for cooking multiple foods at the same time. Also, being a 2-in-1 appliance makes it easy to switch between cooking on the stove and finishing the preparation in the oven. Plus traditional ovens are some of the best appliances for browning and crisping foods since they start heating from the outer layers of food to the inner layers.
An important point to note is that although people use cooktops and rangetops interchangeably, they’re different kitchen appliances. The major difference between a cooktop and a rangetop is that cooktops have their controls on top of their surfaces while rangetops have theirs in front of the appliance.
What is a microwave oven? A microwave oven is a compact oven that uses electromagnetic waves (microwaves) to heat water molecules in foods. Unlike conventional and convection ovens that use convection heating technology to heat air in the cooking chamber, microwaves heat the food directly.
Microwaves are space savers as they’re compact and designed to sit on the countertop or other spots. And you can store the countertop models in the cupboard after use if there’s not so much space on your kitchen counter.
They also perform a range of cooking tasks but one major advantage of cooking with microwaves is that they allow you to cook healthy low-fat meals. And because microwave ovens heat food from inside out by agitating the water molecules, they tend to preserve the nutritional value of dishes and not burn them. Also, they are very efficient at cooking food evenly without hot spots.
Furthermore, they’re energy-efficient as they use between 40 to 80% less energy than a conventional oven and a gas range; however, microwave ovens consume more electricity.
What are the advantages of a range over a microwave oven?
The advantages of cooking with a range, when compared to a microwave oven, are that it’s a versatile appliance that is safe for cooking delicious meals for larger families.
When compared to microwaves, ranges offer better versatility as they’re two-in-one appliances. Ranges combine the functionality of stovetops and ovens in one cooker; this makes them a multi-purpose tool for stewing, boiling, frying, defrosting, reheating, baking, and roasting.
On the other hand, microwaves are mostly designed for performing functions such as reheating leftovers, defrosting frozen foods, and melting butter. Not all foods can nuke well in a microwave as their specialty is heating food with high water content.
Great for quickly cooking for large families
As opposed to microwave ovens, ranges are large and built to feed large families in one go.
First, you can fit big pots that can feed up to six people on top of ranges, and most ranges come with more than one burner for cooking multiple foods at a time. Some burners could even be power burners that are designed to cook very fast. Also, the ovens are large enough to comfortably fit multiple servings at the same time, although they’ll take a longer time to cook.
On the other hand, microwaves are compact countertop appliances that don’t afford you the luxury of heating food for large families of up to 10 members (unless you’re doing it in multiple batches).
Great for cooking delicious meals
During heating on a range, it’s more comfortable to add ingredients to your cooking: simply open the lid to add new or more ingredients. You can find how to use a range here.
Conversely, it’s a bit strenuous using a microwave as you may have to stop it from running before taking out your meal to add the ingredients. Here’s how to use a microwave.
An oven cooks food from the outer layers to the inner layers, and this makes it yield browner and crispier results. These evenly browned foods taste more delicious than when cooked using a microwave oven.
Safer for health
Unlike microwaves that use electromagnetic radiation when cooking, ranges use electricity and gas which are safer cooking options. A human body standing in front of a microwave while it’s running may absorb these harmful radiations.
Secondly, microwaves emit carcinogenic agents that may weaken the immune system. Also, when you reheat food using plastics, Bisphenol from these materials can leach into your dish and cause food poisoning. With kitchen ranges, you’re not exposed to these dangers.
Better temperature control
Different foods cook at different temperatures and speeds.
And when heating food with both a stovetop and a conventional oven, you can easily regulate the unit’s temperature. On the other hand, microwaves are more intuitive but instead of allowing you to control the speed of your cooking, they have settings such as ‘Defrost’ which may have the appropriate temperature setting for some foods but not all.
Ovens and stoves are more durable than microwaves and last longer. The average lifetime expectancy of a stove is 13 to 15 years while the average lifetime of a microwave oven is 9 years.
What are the advantages of a microwave oven over a range?
The advantages of using a microwave when compared to a cooking range are that they’re compact, budget-friendly, and energy-efficient appliances that you can use when you want to have a quick meal.
When compared to cooking with a range, microwaves cook and heat meals faster. This is because the heat waves are focused directly on the food as compared to heat being lost when using stovetops or traditional ovens.
For example, it may take you 20 to 30 minutes to heat steak on a stove whereas it could take around 5 to 8 minutes in a microwave. Prolonged heating in a microwave may result in drying out the steak.
Aside from reheating food very fast, microwave ovens are designed to save space. They either sit on the countertop or can be installed in other spots in the kitchen. You can also stash the countertop units in the cabinet after use.
This is opposed to ranges that are permanent fixtures in kitchens and may be too bulky for small kitchens due to their large traditional ovens.
Microwaves use over 40 to 80% less energy than stoves and traditional ovens. This is because, unlike ranges that heat the air surrounding the item being cooked, nukers focus their heat waves directly on the item being cooked.
Keeps the kitchen cooler
When compared to stoves, microwaves don’t lose a lot of heat, so they keep kitchens cooler.
Stoves (especially gas stoves) lose a lot of heat; this lost heat is absorbed by the environment, making kitchens hotter. More so, their attached ovens heat up the surroundings even more.
Although microwaves are compact appliances, they’re more affordable when compared to ranges. The cost of a microwave oven ranges between $70 and $1,500 while ranges cost around $500 to $15,000. Ranges are more expensive because they’re two-in-one appliances.
Also, you’ll have to pay installation costs when you install your kitchen range. Conversely, there are no installation costs if you’re getting a countertop microwave.
When compared to cleaning stoves, microwave ovens are easier to clean. You can clean a nuker in a few simple steps. But for stoves, you’ll first have to remove the parts such as the racks, knobs, gas burners, and handles.
Which One is more Usable in the Kitchen between A Range and A Microwave Oven?
Cooking ranges are more versatile in the kitchen than microwave ovens. Kitchen ranges combine the functionality of two appliances in one, making them versatile enough to perform all cooking tasks such as boil rice, broil vegetables, cook soup, roast chicken, fry potatoes, bake cookies, and brown bread.
And if you’re asking, “Is a range the same as a microwave oven?” No, they’re different appliances.
A range is an appliance that has both a stovetop and a traditional oven in one unit for heating meals. While a microwave is an appliance that heats food using electromagnetic waves.
What foods can you cook on a range?
You can cook virtually any food on a stove. So here are some healthy stove-top skillet meals you can try out;
- Mac’ N Cheese with sausage and bell pepper
- Chickpea pancake
- Stuffed bell pepper
- Huevos rancheros
- Pork chops and zesty rice
- Cauliflower rice with zucchini and Kielbasa
- Mexican quinoa
- Honey mustard and rosemary chicken
- Banana pancake
- Loaded mashed potatoes
- Tofu fingers
- Sweet potato breakfast with bacon
- Teriyaki chicken and pineapple rice
- Southwest pasta
- Tuscan chicken
- Ground turkey sweet potato mash
- Skillet beef: top loin steak, ribeye steak, shoulder tender petite, porterhouse steak, and chuck eye steak.
Here are other foods you can cook on a range.
What foods can you cook in a microwave oven?
Microwaves are great for quickly heating meals with rich water content. You can use a microwave to reheat leftovers, frozen beef, and broil vegetables.
Here are some of the foods you can heat in a microwave;
- Baked potatoes
- Omelet or scrambled eggs
- Macaroni and cheese
- Lemon pudding
- Hot dogs
- Steamed veggies
- Spaghetti squash and meatballs
- Pumpkin seeds
- Chicken quesadilla
Here are more uses of a microwave oven. However, you should avoid cooking the following meals in a microwave;
- Breast milk
- Hot peppers
- Processed meat
- Red pasta sauce
- Whole eggs
Can a range and a microwave oven be paired together in a kitchen?
Yes, you can pair a range and a microwave oven in your kitchen as many homes do that.
Microwave ovens are better suited to reheating leftovers and defrosting frozen foods when you want a quick meal. On the other hand, stoves are general-purpose cookers that are slow in cooking all forms of meals.
What are the instances where you can use a range and a microwave oven together?
Since microwaves are good for heating frozen foods, you can defrost frozen chicken in the microwave, and roast it in your oven. Or you can prepare stew using your stove while you make pasta or rice in your microwave.
What are the instances where a range and a microwave oven should never be used together?
If you don’t stock up on a lot of frozen foods, you do not need to use your range and microwave as your stove will be efficient in performing your other culinary tasks.
What to Consider when Buying A Range and A Microwave Oven?
Whether a range or a microwave oven is good enough for you depends on your living condition and several other factors. These are the following factors you should consider when deciding on the cooker to get.
What type of appliance should I get?
The kind of range you should get depends on your kitchen’s setup. If you have either a natural gas or propane gas line in your home, your best option will be a gas range, but if you have at least a 220-volt electricity line, you should go for an electric model.
That said, there are four types of ranges based on fuel type; gas, electric, induction, and dual-fuel ranges.
Gas ranges are the cheapest ranges, and they heat up quickly. Electric ranges have flat, smooth surfaces that cook more evenly than gas ranges. They’re also easier to clean; however, they’ll run your electricity bill.
Induction ranges heat food faster and simmers more steadily than the gas and electric units. However, they’re more expensive and are only compatible with magnetic cookware. And a dual-fuel model combines a gas cooktop with an electric oven. It gives you the ability to control your oven with more precision and benefit from the direct heat of a gas cooktop.
There are also three types of ranges based on design styles; freestanding, slide-in, and drop-in models.
And if you’re contemplating getting a microwave, there are four types of microwave ovens; countertop, over-the-range, built-in, and convection microwave ovens.
Countertop models are the commonest and most affordable nukes. They’re lightweight and very portable; however, they take up countertop space and lack many features due to their small size.
Over-the-range models save your countertop space and are great for small kitchens with limited space on the counter. They serve as ventilation systems for the kitchen ranges that they sit above and remove fumes, odors, and heat. However, they’re expensive and require installation.
Built-in microwaves are the most aesthetic microwave ovens and they save countertop space. They’re more expensive than the previous models and require installation.
And finally, convection microwave ovens use convection heating technology (like conventional ovens) and have convection fans for heating foods. They’re also the most expensive models because of their versatility.
Which of these appliances is safer?
Generally, ranges are safer to use than microwaves. There’s the threat of microwaves leaking radiation and causing cancer or the unit catching fire. Plus nuking food with plastic may lead to food poisoning.
What wattage is good enough for me?
If you bake a lot, you’ll need a microwave with more wattage. These microwaves are more efficient and usually come with more functions.
So if you prepare meals for a large family (5 members and above), you should get a full-sized model (25 – 32 liters) with 1000 to 1600 watts. Mid-sized models (15 – 25 liters) with 800 to 1000 watts will cater to the needs of 3 – 4 people. And if you’re a couple that doesn’t use the oven always, a less powerful model will suffice.
How much should I pay for a cooker?
Because of their versatility, ranges are more expensive than microwaves. A good range that will come with the most important features and serve you efficiently will cost around $2,000.
And if you prefer to go for a microwave oven with basic settings, a model that costs around $100 will suffice. But if you heat meals a lot and need one with more features and power, you can expect to pay around $250.
What Are the Best Brands for Ranges?
The five best brands making the best ranges are Samsung, GE, LG, Frigidaire, and Kenmore.
Samsung is the most reliable brand making the best ranges. They have the highest owner satisfaction rating according to Consumer Reports. Their kitchen ranges are moderately priced, and they come with some innovative and high-end features to give the user an exciting cooking experience.
GE is one of the best brands making some of the best cooking ranges. They have both mid-priced and high-end models that come with lots of features. Their high-performance products offer great value for money.
LG is another popular name when it comes to making quality home appliances. Their units are also mid-priced like Samsung’s and have some high-tech features to make cooking more enjoyable. Their products also come with impressive designs and large capacities.
If you’re looking for kitchen ranges with time-saving features, Frigidaire is a reliable brand. Their products come with impressive designs and give users exceptional performance. They’re priced mid level.
Kenmore is another household name making some of the best kitchen ranges. They have several lines to suit different customers; Kenmore Elite sells mid-priced stoves with innovative features while Kenmore Pro sells premium stoves with high-end features.
What Are the Best Brands for Microwave Ovens?
The five best brands making the best microwave ovens include Black & Decker, Whirlpool, Panasonic, Breville, and GE.