Are all over the range microwaves built to the same size?
March 4, 2007 7:49 AM   Subscribe

We need a new over-the-range microwave oven. Are all of them built to a standard size with standard ventilation ports?

Our old microwave from 1992 has a badly cracked floor on it, so if you put things inside, arcs start zapping around from the cracks. I found a replacement part online, but it is expensive and I don't see how to get the old floor out.

Instead, we are looking at buying a new microwave. We are considering the Kenmore Elite Microhood (Kenmore Item 80834). I would just order one and install it myself, except I am not sure that it will fit the existing ventilation pipe. It seems to be the same size as our old oven (a 1992 GE model JVM139K002) overall, but the rangehood part of the old oven has a rectangular vent port that exits off of the top back of the oven into a soffet and then outside. I can't find any detailed data sheets that show the vent layout for either oven.

Do these kinds of microwaves have a standardized layout? Will I be able to drop out the old oven and just put a new one in its place so that the ventilation pipe matches up? If it doesn't then I might have to pay for installation, and I would rather use the $180 for something else.

posted by procrastination to Home & Garden (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
its been my experience that these things NEVER match up. The good thing is that your vent goes up into a soffit and just just out through the back wall. If you have to move the vent it will likely be a matter of inches (or less).

If you're handy, this can be a very simple task. If not, you probably already know somebody who is. Check around before overpaying to slightly move a vent.

That being said I HIGHLY HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend you look into the GE Advantium microwave. It is so far from a regular microwave in that it also uses halogen to cook. Its pricy at $600-700 for the base models but you'll totally love cooking in it. If you've got the money, at least give it a look. It amazes me that they don't try to market this product harder. Its the best appliance invented for the kitchen since the coffee maker.
posted by Thrillhouse at 8:47 AM on March 4, 2007

I'd call a SEARS catalog store and see if they have one in stock. Then stop by and tell the salesman you want to make sure it will fit...they might even let you peek inside the manual. If it works, then it's one-stop shopping.
posted by lobstah at 9:03 AM on March 4, 2007

We replaced our old GE over the range microwave with a new GE last week. My husband had to drill out a little bit more of the upper cabinets to accommodate the plug, since it was in a different location. (We don't have ventilation to the outside) He also had to drill new holes for the brackets, since they were in a different place. Installing is simple. It can be a little awkward to heave it up there, but with help it's a cinch.

Also, make sure you measure the dimensions of your current microwave. Some are bigger in height nowadays, and you don't want a big ol' microwave hindering your area to cook on the stovetop.
posted by LoriFLA at 9:47 AM on March 4, 2007

I was looking at this several months ago and here's what I found:

Most over the cook top microwaves are close in size, but there is variance by about an inch. Read carefully.

The real clincher for size is the allowable distance above the cook top. Obey this or you are inviting a fire, a lot of cleanup, and at best cursing the unit every time you bang yourself trying to get at the back burner.

Nearly all manufacturers post PDFs of the installation instructions.

Nearly all microwaves include fairly flexible venting options, including no outside venting at all (routes through a filter).
posted by plinth at 10:47 AM on March 4, 2007

A few months ago we replaced our over-the cooktop microwave, and ordered the exact same model online, thinking it would be simplest to install.

Not only was the ventilation port in a completely different place, the new microwave was 1/4 inch taller than the old one, which meant that it didn't fit with the existing granite backsplash. We had to disassemble the cabinet above the microwave, shorten it by 1/2 inch, reassemble and re-install the cabinet before installing the new microwave, so replacing an older GE microwave with a new GE microwave turned into an all-weekend project.
posted by ambrosia at 11:33 AM on March 4, 2007

We're doing the same thing; how coincidental. Our state law mandates a minimum of 30" from bottom of microwave to stovetop, and recommended is something larger (36"? I can't remember) You might not only have to retrofit the exhaust vent, but cut out some cabinetry as well.
posted by boo_radley at 1:43 PM on March 4, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. After looking at the oven more closely, we were able to get the broken pieces out and order a replacement part for an obscenely high price which was still a few hundred dollars less than we would have spent otherwise. So no new microwave for us. We really only use it for reheating things, so this is an ok solution.
posted by procrastination at 8:15 PM on March 4, 2007

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