None of the over-the-range microwave ovens we tested could match the smoke-capturing ability of a good range hood. If removing smoke and fumes is more important to you than the convenience of a microwave, you're better off with a hood.
A fashion statement
Over-the-range hoods have become as stylish as they are practical. Most now offer the commercial look of stainless steel—and you needn't pay a pro-style price to get a pro-style hood. While you can spend about $1,000 for some models we tested, several delivered excellent overall performance for far less money. Many over-the-range microwave ovens also offer a stainless-steel finish.
How they performed
The best hoods we tested excelled at containing and exhausting smoke and fumes and exchanging air. Some were also notably quieter than the others and better at delivering high and low levels of lighting. Our tests of microwaves focused on cooking evenness, automatic defrosting ability, and ease of use. Subscribers can check our Ratings to see how the hood and microwave models performed.
Install it properly
Whether you opt for a hood or an over-the-range microwave oven, be sure it's installed according to the manufacturer's directions—typically, 18 to 30 inches above the burners or elements. That gives you working room while helping to prevent steam from escaping to the sides. Vent outdoors, if possible, using the largest-size solid, smooth-walled metal ducting that fits. Keep duct runs short and minimize bends to maximize airflow. A wall or roof cap outside the house prevents back drafts. Wash or replace the filters every one to three months—or more often if you cook frequently.
Copyright © 2006-2012 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.