Can you remember when you got your first microwave? The first microwaves sat on the countertop, and came to market in 1967 under the Amana brand which is now owned by Whirlpool. We bought one of these early microwaves but only trusted it for defrosting whatever we were making for dinner. Today I can't imagine living without a microwave because I use it for everything from my morning oatmeal to steaming vegetables in those wonderful, time saving packages.
This article explores how their location has changed over the years. When they first came out, microwaves sat on the counter top and giving up that space was one of the trade-offs you had to make. The next solution solved the counter top problem by including a shelf below one of the wall cabinets. It also provided flexibility as to how wide or tall a replacement oven could be, as all appliances have to be replaced. The projected lifetime for a microwave oven is 9 years according to a CBS news story, Kitchen Appliances: How Long do They Last?
It became commonplace for the microwave to be built-in, by attaching it to the cabinet over the stove. This expanded the role of the appliance as it now needed to include the exhaust hood for the cooktop underneath. Another alternative was to place it above or below a standard wall oven.
A New Choice in Microwaves
Today there's a new option in microwaves. You can get one installed under the counter, that opens like a drawer. You pull the oven out from the cabinet versus needing the space to swing the door left or right to open. These can be installed anywhere along your base kitchen cabinets or in a kitchen island. The capacity of these new ovens ranges is similar to other microwaves, and they come in widths of 24 and 30 inches.