Built in microwave buyers guide

How do microwave ovens work?

Microwave ovens cook food really fast, warming up leftovers, cooking ready meals or joints of meat.

Microwaves are electronic waves that fly through space at the speed of light. You cannot see microwaves but if you could you would see the inside of the microwave chamber light up.

The main component in a microwave oven is the magnetron that generates microwaves from electricity inside the chamber. Most microwaves have a glass turntable the moves the food around, just like a carousel so that it heats evenly and avoiding cold spots in the food.

When you press the start button it takes approximately 2 seconds to heat up the filament inside the magnetron and then cooking starts.

Heat is created by twisting water molecules in the food creating heat. A microwave cooks food much faster than a conventional oven because it heats both the inside and outside of the food. Because the air inside the microwave is at room temperature, food does not go brown or crispy as they would in a normal oven.

Which microwave do I need?

Standard ‘solo’ microwave:

  • These are just simple microwaves and are great if you want to cook ready meals, soups and vegetables
  • Great value for money

Microwave with grills:

  • Great if you want to brown meat and fish easily.
  • Crisp or brown the top of casseroles or lasagne.
  • Great for pizzas

Combination microwave oven (conventional electric oven/grill/microwave):

  • Great if you want more flexibility of having a secondary oven.
  • Prefer to cook healthy meals with more vegetables
  • Great convection cooking function
  • The choice of professional cooks

‘Match line’ combination microwaves:

These are for hobbyist cooks that want the matching aesthetic between the oven and microwave.

The control panels are the same size on both appliances and mean they can be stacked vertically or horizontally in two tall oven housings.

Key microwave functions to look out for:

  • Auto re-heat
  • Auto- defrost
  • Convection cooking
  • Defrost/cook by weight/time
  • Child lock
  • Speedy cook
  • Timer function
  • Warm up function
  • Multi stage cooking
  • Grill function

Top Tip:

Built in measurement guide:

Whether the microwave is going to installed in a tall oven housing or a wall cabinet, it’s important that you check the key dimensions before selecting an appropriate model.


  • As a general rule of thumb there are 3 different heights for built in microwaves.
  • Standard microwave – 39.2 cm
  • Combination microwave – 45/46cm
  • Compact microwave – 28cm


All our microwaves fit in a standard tall oven housing and are 56.8/60cm wide.


Again, all the microwaves we sell will fit in any standard tall oven housing apart from the wall unit one that fits under a cabinet and is shallow depth.

The instruction manual supplied with the microwave will have the appropriate line drawing for installation purposes.