Best Compact Microwave of 2019 Complete Reviews with Comparisons

By Tip Top Oven | Microwave Oven Reviews

Aug 24
Best Compact Microwave
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You’ll hardly find a more convenient kitchen appliance than a good microwave oven. It doesn’t take up a lot of space and works its heating magic in a matter of minutes. If you get a convection microwave oven that has additional capabilities, that’s even better.

However, even things as small as microwave ovens can sometimes cause a spatial headache, especially if your kitchen is tiny and you can’t find a place to fit it.

That’s why it’s important to select the best compact microwave that might save you some precious space. Let’s see which microwave ovens suit this profile.

Comparison Chart

Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN686S Stainless Steel Countertop

Emerson 1.2 CU. FT. 1100W Griller Microwave Oven with Touch Control

Hamilton Beach EM925AJW-P1 .9 cu ft 900W Microwave

LG NeoChef 1040W Microwave – 0.9 cu ft (LMC0975ST) Stainless Steel 

Sharp R1874T 850W Over-the-Range Convection Microwave

Best Compact Microwave Reviews

Panasonic NN-SN686S Microwave Oven

This is a convenient microwave of proven quality from a trusted manufacturer. It has all the specifications and features that you would look for in a compact microwave. On top of that, it isn’t above the regular price range.

Product Highlights

This microwave oven has a modern design with pre-programmed buttons and a four-digit display. The power and control units take up much less space and make the whole device lighter. Inside, there’s a thin and efficient turntable that makes sure your food is evenly heated.

Thanks to this smart design, the Panasonic microwave looks smaller than the rated interior capacity of 1.2 cu. ft. This is plenty of room for cooking or heating up larger meals.

When it comes to power, this microwave draws a solid 1200W. This doesn’t put the device in the top bracket of power consumers (compared to stove ovens), while still providing enough for quick and efficient heating.

The power supply uses inverter technology, which distributes heat equally to all the interior area. Thanks to this, your meals won’t overcook in the center and undercook in other areas. The same inverter technology can defrost any frozen meals in a matter of minutes.

The product has some convenient features such as ‘keep warm,’ which is programmed to keep certain meals warm for as long as you want. There’s also a smart cooking sensor that can adjust the power and heating level depending on the meal. You’ll also find a child-safety lock to prevent any accidents.

What's to like about the Panasonic NN-SN686S Microwave Oven

The Panasonic NN-SN686S provides everything that you could ask of a microwave oven. It has quick-start buttons with pre-programmed functions, 10 power levels to suit your needs (keeping warm, defrosting, etc.). It’s compact enough for a 1200W 1.2 cu.ft microwave, so you can place it on a counter or build it in.

What's not to like about the Panasonic NN-SN686S Microwave Oven

If you’re noise-sensitive, you might find this microwave a bit loud. There is no way to turn the operation volume down and you can’t cancel it. However, you’ll get a lot in return for a few minutes of noise.

PROS

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    Packed with features
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    Lightweight and compact 
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    Good capacity
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    Inverter power supply

CONS

  • Loud than a regular oven

Emerson MWG9115SB Microwave Oven

This microwave comes from an old-school American manufacturer, though the brand has gone up and down over the years. In any event, the Emerson MWG9115SB comes with a reasonable price and a traditional look. If you want a microwave oven that doesn’t cost too much but offers an abundance of features, take a look at this one.

Product Highlights

The Emerson MWG911SB Microwave is made of stainless steel with a black metal coating that will fit most kitchen interiors.  It has a simple design with a reflective glass which allows you to see the food inside while you cook it. On the right side of the front, you’ll find a four-digit display, a handle, and program buttons.

The internal capacity of the microwave is solid at 1.2 cubic feet. Unless you plan to prepare multiple meals at once in the oven, this capacity is more than enough. It draws 1100W of power, which makes for quick and efficient cooking. When it’s time to wipe down the inner area, you can easily remove the turntable from the microwave and clean it, including sticking it in the dishwasher.

When it comes to features, you’ll find the Emerson microwave has quite a few. For example, there are 11 power levels that you may set depending on what you plan on doing with your food, which also includes a grilling level. The other 10 levels are for the microwave function.

For example, you may set a lower power level for dinner rolls, and a higher one for frozen TV dinner. There’s also a child protection mode that will prevent children from messing with the device.

What's to like about the Emerson MWG9115SB Microwave Oven

The best thing about this oven is the variety of features. Out of all the interesting options, the ‘defrost mode’ works particularly well.

Even if this is an option that the best compact microwave ovens should have, this one takes it up a notch. With this oven, you can measure the weight of your food, place it inside, and the microwave will automatically decide the power and the time required to defrost the meal.

What's not to like about the Emerson MWG9115SB Microwave Oven

The browner (grilling) element is on the upper side of the oven. So even if the grilling option is a great feature to add, it may be a pain for some to clean it up afterward. If you’d grill a small chicken, it may take you ages to clear up the remains from the upper part of the microwave.

PROS

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    Reasonable price
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    11 power levels including grilling
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    Plenty of features
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    Child safety lock

CONS

  • A lot of mess after grilling

Hamilton Beach Microwave Oven

The HB microwave is a bit tiny compared to regular-sized ones and for that reason, it’s meant to heat smaller meals. However, it’s an extremely cheap option and a good bet if you’re to use it occasionally.

Product Highlights

This is a compact microwave oven with a smart design. The external dimensions are just 17.3” x 13.4” x 10.2”, which should take up just a small portion of your counter. The color is discrete and you can select between yellow, red, and white. It should fit regardless of your kitchen’s interior design.

The inner capacity is only 0.7 cu. ft., which is about half the size of a regular microwave. That said, you may not need a large oven capacity if you’re single and you just want to heat or defrost your meals. These measurements are enough to pop a pack of popcorn or heat a dinner plate.

Since it’s so small, it requires only 700W of power. However, you can switch between 10 different power levels depending on the type of food. There are also pre-programmed buttons on the side where you can pick between a few heating types.

What's to like about the Hamilton Beach Microwave Oven

This is a real budget microwave oven and there’s nothing much going against it except the size. If you’re looking for a compact microwave that will occasionally heat your small meals, and you don’t want to spend a lot – this one is ideal.

What's not to like about the Hamilton Beach Microwave Oven

What’s good about it is also what’s bad. It’s tiny, so don’t expect a spacious interior or a powerful performance.

PROS

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    Multiple power levels
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    Comes in different colors
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    Ideal for small kitchens
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    Absolute bargain

CONS

  • Small capacity

LG NeoChef Microwave Oven

The LG NeoChef has a neat design and a high reputation. If you want a reliable microwave oven and you’re willing to pay, you might like this one.

Product Highlights

The microwave has an ultra-modern design.  Its entire surface coating is a sort of grainy silver that’s extremely easy to clean and won’t leave fingerprints. The same applies to the interior, with stainless steel construction that will make cleaning much easier than with some other microwaves. The keyboard and display are touch-based and have a bunch of interesting options.

If you’re into tracking the heating process, the microwave has a 0.5W LED lamp built-in inside. This way you’ll be able to keep track of the heating process. The inverter technology will heat all parts of the meal equally and not just focusing on the inside of the food.

The capacity is a bit less than 1 cubic foot, and while it’s enough room for even a large dinner plate, it’s still below the average. The same thing goes for power, which is around 1000W.

Overall, the oven contains all the essential features such as child lock and defrosting, and with LG’s brand stamped on it, you are paying for reliability too.

What's to like about the LG NeoChef Microwave Oven

The LG NeoChef oven’s biggest upside is its awesome aesthetic and modern features such as the touch panel. It’s a nice compact microwave that fits seamlessly into most kitchens and is extremely easy to clean. At the same time, it will provide all the necessary features of a compact microwave.

What's not to like about the LG NeoChef Microwave Oven

Considering the high price of this microwave, it doesn’t offer too much capacity or power, which is its biggest downside.

PROS

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    Neat aesthetics
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    Easy to clean
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    Built-in interior LED lamp

CONS

  • Pricey

Sharp R1874T Convection Microwave Oven

This is an over-the-range microwave oven which you can use for convection cooking, ventilation, and sensor cooking. If you’re looking for a compact built-in oven, this one may interest you.

Product Highlights

An over-the-range oven is great for smaller kitchens that don’t have enough floor space or counters. It has 1.1 cu. ft. of capacity, which is about average and it will save up a lot of space in a compact kitchen. Also, with a power consumption of 850W, it may take longer for some meals to cook.

This oven offers convection cooking which means it can work like a regular oven with electric heating elements and forced hot air to distribute and circulate the heat evenly. You can even bake cookies or roast a chicken without the need to turn on your stove, spend a lot more power, and increase the temperature in your kitchen.

The powerful fan for the hood function can work at multiple speeds to remove cooking odors. There’s also a command to filter the air or vent it outdoors.

What's to like about the Sharp R1874T Convection Microwave Oven

The display and overall look of this oven are top-notch, and all the controls are very easy to figure out. It can fit above most stovetops and also has a lot of convenient features.

What's not to like about the Sharp R1874T Convection Microwave Oven

It will require installation, which can be tricky.

PROS

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    Ideal for compact kitchens
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    Over-the-range
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    Powerful fan with adjustable settings
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    Convection function

CONS

  • Requires installation

BUYER'S GUIDE

Types of Convection Microwave Ovens

Most of the time, convection microwave ovens come in two types – European (true) convection and standard convection.

The European type provides even heating throughout the entire inner area. It has a fan and another heating element that equally distributes hot air inside.

In a standard convection microwave oven, air circulates with the help of a fan at the back. This fan can blow both hot and cold air, but it doesn’t cook food as equally as the European type. Instead, it will focus mostly on the central area of the food.

Besides these two types, you can also split convection microwave ovens into different types regarding model and size.

Bakery Depth Model

These types of convection microwaves are much deeper than the regular ones, so you can bake a lot more in one go. For that reason, they need a lot more space and are mostly used in bakeries.

Combi Oven

A combi oven is a bigger microwave oven that you can use in bakeries and restaurants. It contains convection and steamer in one, so you can produce both moist and dry heat. You can find both countertop combi ovens and standalone models.

Countertop Type

A widely used convection microwave, it doesn’t require any floor space and you can put it on a kitchen counter, table, and any other free space. It’s perfect for homes, small restaurants, bakeries, etc. Depending on the size, it can hold anything from plates to small pans and cookie trays.

Watts

A proper convection microwave should have enough power (measured in watts) so you can quickly heat any meal. By default, they’ll consume less power than small toaster-style ovens and regular kitchen ovens. However, you should look for a minimum of 1,000 watts, but that also depends on the size.

Some convention microwave ovens may consume up to 2,000 watts, while there are some that can go as low as 500-800.

Keep in mind that there are models that use gas as a power source for the convection oven function. So, if your household is connected to a gas system, this can be a viable and affordable option.

Construction and Size

When it comes to construction, the models may vary according to price. There are pricey models that have high-quality construction which allows them to maintain heat for a long time and cool down much faster than others. Also, some models have glass doors which allow you to view the interior, and some have solid doors with much lower visibility.

Convection microwaves can also come in various sizes, depending on the price, purpose, and your preferences. You may find a countertop microwave to suit your household needs, while you can also find large and deep ovens if you want to bake larger quantities of food.

You should keep in mind that these types of ovens feature difference fan layouts, too. The more expensive models can have multiple fans on multiple sides so that the air circulates evenly. Regular ovens mostly have one fan that blows in only one direction, though they’d have more than one vent.

Overall Dimensions

Manufacturers usually measure the microwave dimensions in cubic feet (cu.ft.), which is actually the interior capacity. Due to different constructions and built-in accessories, sometimes there’s an imbalance between the outer size and inner capacity. So, if two microwave oven seems to be different in size on the outside, they may actually have the same capacity. You’ll have to open up the door to have a clearer view.

An interior size of 0.9 cu.ft. is enough to heat a plate or a small pot. The standard size for regular use and larger meals should be at least 1.2 cubic foot. Anything bigger than that and you’ll be able to prepare multiple meals at the same time.

Temperature and Heating Options

It’s important to check the temperature range of the oven before you opt to buy it. Microwave functions don’t generate heat except the heat coming from the hot food, while in convection mode it can go up to 550 degrees. The average range is between 200 and 500 degrees.

Furthermore, you should consider the heating options of your microwave. A standard convection microwave oven should have regular options such as baking, toasting, and broiling. Some better-equipped models can perform defrosting and roasting, too.

Brands

The most reliable microwave brands that you should look for are Panasonic, LG, Samsung, Black + Decker, Sharp, Hamilton, Emerson, Avanti, and Farberware, among others. According to Consumer Report, RCA, Electrolux, and Frigidaire are rated much more poorly than other brands.

F.A.Q.

What is a convection microwave oven?

A convection microwave oven is a type of microwave that has a standard oven feature built-in; in the convection heating mode, it turns on the heating elements and uses a fan to distribute heat across the whole interior of the oven.

On the other hand, in microwave mode, an oven emits microwaves (a sort of radio wave between the frequency of 300MHz and 300GHz) that cause water molecules to heat up, which would then transfer to the rest of the food particles.

Some high-end convection microwave ovens are equipped with multiple fans. In some cases, you can modify them to blow with a certain speed or at a certain time.

That’s why convection microwaves are good for crisping, roasting, browning, and various other cooking processes that you can’t perform with a standard microwave. For example, in a convection microwave, you can bake a cake or a pie, and even roast a chicken.

What size microwave do I need?

Your ideal microwave size depends on your preferences. They come in a wide range of sizes, from those that barely fit a dinner plate, to deep ovens used in bakeries.

If you want to heat or cook a large meal, an interior capacity of 1.2 to 1.5 square feet would be ideal. Most compact microwaves are less than 1 square foot. You can even find microwaves with 0.5 and 0.7 square foot of interior space, which are mostly good for microwave popcorn and beverages.

Where to put a microwave in a tiny kitchen

If you have a tiny kitchen, you may opt for an over-the-counter microwave. This type of microwave is a bit more expensive than your usual compact microwave, but you can install it in above your stove. This way it won’t take up any extra space on your counter.

If you have any kitchen cabinets that you don’t find useful, you can build in a microwave oven inside and save some space. Most of the compact microwaves are small enough that you can place them on the kitchen counter.

How to install built-in microwave

To install a built-in microwave, you’ll also need a 20-amp circuit installed above the oven. You can run the circuit by yourself but it’d be better to let an electrician do it. You should first use the top and back template that came with your microwave to mark the places in the cabinet where you’ll drill the holes. Then set the mounting brackets and attach the microwave. Insert, tighten the bolts and plug the microwave in.

How many watts in a standard microwave?

The default power for a standard microwave should be around 1000W. This is enough power to cook anything quickly and efficiently. More power can provide more power level options and even quicker heating, but it will consume more electricity. On the other hand, some smaller microwaves can have 500-700W of power.

FINAL VERDICT

The Panasonic NN-SN686S oven is the best compact microwave if you’re looking for a compact oven for a tidy kitchen. It’s reasonably priced, reliable, and offers all the necessary features of a good microwave oven.

If you’re on a budget, you might like the Hamilton Beach Microwave, which costs less than half the price. It provides similar features, albeit at lower power and capacity. If you don’t have any countertop space, you can go with the Sharp R1874T, which is an over-the-counter microwave. However, you should know that these types of microwave ovens are much more expensive since they come with a hood exhaust system on the bottom.

All in all, searching for the best compact microwave is not as difficult as it sounds. If you want an oven that you’ll occasionally use for small meals, you may not want to waste money on a large, powerful one. But, if you want to use it frequently and for larger meals, get one that will serve you reliably for a long time.

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