Whirlpool over-the-range microwave

Appliance IQ: Ktichen

Microwave Sizes: Finding the Right Fit

Are you looking for a new microwave? Before you buy, research the dimensions and capacities of countertop and over-the-range microwaves to find the right size for your kitchen and cooking needs. New microwaves can free up counter space and simplify mealtime with advanced features like convection. 

Need a little guidance? Keep reading to learn more about external and internal sizes for different microwaves types, then check out How to choose the right microwave.

What are standard microwave sizes?

Standard countertop microwaves are most typically found in the following sizes:

Typical capacities range from 1.5 to 2.2 cubic feet.
Typically, the width ranges from 21 to 24 inches.

In determining what size microwave to buy, two measurements must be taken into account. The external dimensions, measured in inches, tell you the overall size of the microwave and help you determine how much space you’ll need to accommodate your appliance. The internal dimensions–or capacity–measured in cu. ft., indicate how much cooking space is available inside the microwave. If you have limited space in your kitchen, the depth of the microwave may be key in helping you decide on what size to purchase.

Let’s take a look at the different microwave styles and microwave dimensions available:

Black Whirlpool countertop microwave

With a countertop microwave, you can place it just about anywhere in your kitchen or install it in cabinetry with a trim kit for additional flexibility.

  • Interior space ranges from 0.5 cubic feet (usually considered compact microwaves) to over 2.0 cubic feet.
  • Exterior width ranges from roughly 15 inches for compact microwaves to 24 inches for larger units.
  • Remember to consider the depth of the microwave with the door open to make sure you have enough space for the full swing-out.
    • Closed-door depths range from roughly 14" to 20"
    • Open-door depths range from roughly 27" to 39"

Shop countertop microwaves from Whirlpool® brand to find the perfect combination of size and features for your family.

Over-the-range microwaves

Over-the-range microwaves help you save counter space, and they can even exhaust kitchen odours as well.

  • Interior space usually ranges from 0.8 cubic feet for compact microwaves up to 2.1 cubic feet for full-sized models. The industry-first Low Profile Microwave Hood Combination by the Whirlpool® brand brings together the best of both worlds with a space-saving design and 1.1 cubic feet of interior space, plenty of room to fit tall glasses, wide plates and big bowls.
  • Widths will usually be roughly 30" to match the standard width of the range below and the standard cabinet width where the microwave will be mounted.
  • Most over-the-range microwaves are roughly 17" tall.
  • Closed-door depths can range from 15" to 18". Open-door depths will run from 42" to 45", but the standard width of over-the-range microwaves ensures that all models will have a similar swing-out radius. Expect over-the-range microwaves to extend beyond the surface of your cabinets. For a completely flush fit, explore built-in microwaves, which are designed to install directly into pre-existing cabinetry.
Whirlpool over-the-range microwave with steam

If this style sounds like a good fit for your family, shop a full lineup of over-the-range microwaves from the Whirlpool® brand. You’ll find features like steam cooking to help with healthy family meals.

Built-in microwaves

Built-in microwaves do not have venting capabilities and, unlike over-the-range models, are flush with cabinetry on all sides. 

  • Interior space can range from 1.0 to over 2.0 cubic feet, with most landing between 1.2 to 1.6 cubic feet. 
  • Widths align with standard cabinet widths, usually 24", 27" or 30".
  • Depths range from roughly 20" to 25" with the door closed and 30" to 35" with the door open. Built-in microwaves often have a drop-down door and can be installed in a cabinet or under the counter.
Whirlpool built-in microwave

How do I measure my current microwave dimensions?

Make sure to reference the installation instructions or product guides for your appliance as well as comply with all local codes and ordinances. Use the information below as a helpful guide for typical microwave dimensions and the clearances generally required.

Countertop microwaves

Measure the height, width and depth of your current microwave or the space on your countertop or shelves you want it to occupy. You should generally account for 1" of ventilation space between the microwave and the wall behind it and at least 3" of space from the edge of the counter to the open microwave door to avoid tipping. Also, try to put at least two feet between the microwave and the range.

Black Whirlpool countertop microwave

Over-the-range and built-in microwaves

Measuring the height, width and depth of your existing microwave enclosure is more important than the measurements of your existing appliance when it comes to over-the-range and built-in microwaves. Measure cabinet-to-cabinet, keeping in mind that it’s okay for over-the-range microwaves to drop below cabinets, as long as you retain 30" from the bottom of the microwave to the top of the stove. If you're installing the microwave oven near a left sidewall, make sure there is at least 6" of clearance between the wall and the microwave oven so that the door can open fully.

Stainless steel Whirlpool over-the-range microwave

In addition to getting precise dimensions of your cutout, make sure there is space for ventilation per your manufacturer’s instructions. It’s important to note that built-in microwaves require professional installation.

What to Consider Other Than a Microwave’s Size

Below are three additional considerations besides dimensions.

The number of people in your family
It is more likely that a family of four or more will need a full-size microwave and may even opt for a built-in microwave as well as a countertop microwave, depending on who is using it and how.

How you cook in your microwave
Will you be using a microwave just to heat up items or pop the occasional bag of popcorn, or will you be using it to cook casseroles and other larger dishes? If you’re cooking whole meals in the microwave, you might want to invest in a model with advanced features like select Whirlpool® models with sensor or convection cooking.

What is Sensor Cooking?
This feature lets you take the guesswork out of cooking with sensors that track the cooking progress of your food and automatically adjust cook times. You can learn more about it here:

What is Convection Cooking?
Convection cooking allows you to cook foods with the same home-cooked results right in the microwave.

How much power you’ll need
The more wattage, the faster the food will cook. When cooking frozen foods or foods from scratch, you may want to use a higher wattage.

Now that you know the different styles and dimensions of microwaves, you can pick one that fits your family's needs.

Get started by reading our Microwave Buying Guide. Explore tips for finding a microwave that can simplify your meal preparation so you can spend more time with your family.

Find a Whirlpool® microwave that’s the right fit for you:

Learn more about Whirlpool Microwaves

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