The 10 Best Microwaves
Since the initial publication of this wiki in May of 2015, we've made 26 edits to this page. Abraham Lincoln once said, "Never trust anyone who doesn't own a microwave." OK, that might not be true, but the fact is these little appliances are some of the most convenient devices in the world. Here you'll find affordable selections perfect for warming up leftovers, nuking a bag of popcorn, or heating a cup of tea — and many of them won't monopolize your counter space, either. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best microwafe on Amazon.
What they do produce is a very short wavelength of electromagnetic radiation, the same kind of radio waves that power your FM and AM stations.
They all swear that microwaves are inherently dangerous, evil machines.
There's a lot of technology we take for granted in this world. The lights come on because you flip a switch. The car starts when you turn the key in the ignition, and it goes when you apply the gas, stops when you hit the brakes. As long as these things all function the way they should, we don't have a lot of impetus to figure out what's going on behind the scenes.
I have a lot of friends in the health foods industry. These are the people you meet who only drink alkaline water, who eat a mostly raw diet, who don't drink coffee, etc. They all swear that microwaves are inherently dangerous, evil machines. Whenever they say this, though, I like to ask them why they think microwaves are so dangerous. It's usually at this point that I find out they don't know how microwaves work, and once I tell them, they see just how safe these machines are when used properly.
A microwave isn't any more dangerous than your cell phone. If you break your phone open and consume the cadmium inside, you might see some adverse effect. Likewise, if you rig a microwave up to run with the door open, and you stand staring into it while it runs, you'll probably encounter a problem or two. Beyond those ridiculous examples, you're perfectly safe.
That's because microwaves don't produce dangerous amounts of radiation that'll poison you. They won't even produce enough radiation to harm you from half-way across a small room. What they do produce is a very short wavelength of electromagnetic radiation, the same kind of radio waves that power your FM and AM stations. It just so happens that wavelengths of energy in the microwave portion of the electromagnetic spectrum have a ton of energy in them.
Those waves pass through foodstuffs the same way that light passes through a thick, colored pane of glass. A lot of the energy fails to make it all the way through the food, mainly because it transfers that energy to the molecules of the grub, causing them to vibrate. The faster the molecules vibrate, the hotter the substance.
The moment the microwave turns off, any residual waves lose their energy either in the food or from bouncing off the reflective metal insides of the microwave. This is a near-instantaneous energy loss, so even if you pull open the microwave doors mid-cook, the unit immediately shuts down, and you're perfectly safe.
Micromanaging Your Space
Kitchen real estate is some of the most valuable space in the home, and any appliance that's intended to live on your counter top had better be deserving. I've seen some pretty useless items given a permanent home on the counters of friends and family, only to slowly make the transition from the counter to the cupboard, from the cupboard to the closet, the closet to the garage, and finally from the garage to the garage sale.
Today's microwaves all have pretty good programmed settings, as well as kitchen timers, clocks, and express heating functions.
The usefulness of a microwave is unquestionable, but that doesn't mean it'll be easy for you to find the perfect spot for it. That's why it's crucial for you to take stock of the dimensions of each microwave on our top ten list. You probably want the highest capacity you can get your hands on, so find out what that is in a size that'll fit somewhere sensible in your kitchen.
Once you've found a couple models that fit, you can compare their features. Today's microwaves all have pretty good programmed settings, as well as kitchen timers, clocks, and express heating functions. On that last note, check to see if the express heating function is a 30 second or one minute auto-cook.
When it comes to microwaves, the fewer buttons you have to push, the better, so if you know what you cook the most you can look for those specific programmed settings, or for the express time interval that suits your style the best.
Speaking of style, the last thing you'll want to consider, which you can integrate into the first point in this section, is the look of the microwave. For example, if everything in your kitchen is stainless steel, a white microwave might stick out like a sore thumb. Try to find a unit that looks as nice as it works, and you'll be more than pleased with your selection.
Melts In Your Pocket
The main element in a microwave, the thing that actually converts the electrical energy into a specific electromagnetic wavelength, is called a magnetron. Technicians and scientists originally employed them in radar technology until one such scientist, a man by the name of Percy Spenser, showed up to work with a chocolate bar in his pocket.
When he fired up the magnetron in his lab, it almost immediately melted the bar he'd brought as a sweet little snack for himself. The discovery led him to eventually patent a "Method of Treating Foodstuffs" in the early 1950s. These early microwave ovens were enormous and expensive, but like all such technology, the competitive marketplace finds ways to make things smaller, faster, and less expensive.
In the 1970s, the microwave really took off, and it has since become a mainstay across the industrialized world. Between 2006 and 20016, sales of microwave ovens dipped below 10 million per year only in the depths of the recession, never dropping below 9 million each year and peaking at nearly 14 million in 2006. I guess you could say that sales are really cooking.
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