A guide to choosing a small microwave

How to Choose a Small Microwave

If you have a small kitchen or caravan, you might be considering buying a microwave with a small footprint. The best small microwaves can indeed be great for saving space. It’s vital to avoid three common mistakes when choosing a compact appliance though – keep reading to find out what they are.

At SmallMicrowave.co.uk, we specialise in helping you get the most for your money when buying a new microwave. With that said, we can only point you towards the best microwaves on the market. The right one for you depends on your personal requirements. The following mistakes are ones we see time and again – so make sure you read this article thoroughly to avoid disappointment or wasted money.

1. Don’t Forget Internal Height

One of the most common mistakes when choosing a new microwave is forgetting the internal height. The capacity of a microwave only gives you an idea of the space available for cooking – it doesn’t tell you the width, height and depth of the cavity.

Why is this important? For cooking food it probably isn’t a vital consideration. But if you want to use your microwave to heat a baby bottle, large casserole dish or other tall items, a small microwave may not provide enough vertical space.

Fortunately, all microwave manufacturers provide both the external and internal dimensions for their products. Make sure you check these before you buy – especially if you want to cook tall items or containers.

2. Size Isn’t the Only Concern

If you’re lacking kitchen counter space, it can be tempting to focus almost entirely on the size of a microwave. While external dimensions are important, you also need to consider the whether the microwave can meet your requirements for cooking speed, quantity and settings.

With that in mind, here are just a few of the things to look at when choosing a microwave:

  • Power Level – if you’re used to cooking with an 800W or 900W microwave, using a 600W compact appliance can seem painfully slow. This may not be a problem, but if you’re often in a rush when cooking it’s something to consider.
  • Manual or Digital – most small microwaves are manual appliances (although there are exceptions). If you’re looking for a no-frills appliance that’s cheap and gets the job done, manual microwaves are perfect. If you need advanced features such as auto-cook programmes and weight defrost settings, however, you’ll need a digital microwave.
  • Solo, Combination or Grill – one of the biggest decisions when choosing a microwave is which type to buy. Most small microwaves are solo models, as manufacturers remove any extra components to reduce the size. If you want to bake or crisp food, however, then you’ll need to look for a combination or grill model. These tend to be larger but provide more variety when cooking.
  • Colour – the colour of a microwave isn’t one of the most important factors, but it’s still something to consider. Make sure you choose a colour that you like and that matches your other appliances.
  • Defrost Modes. Basic microwaves usually have a power level that’s suitable for defrost, but you need to work out the timing yourself. Digital models often have weight and time defrost modes which takes a lot of the guesswork out of defrosting.
  • Brand – it’s important to buy a microwave that’s going to last a long time. The best brands produce reliable microwaves that provide excellent value. It’s usually a good idea to stick with known brands – especially if you’re going to be spending a lot on an appliance.
  • Price – your budget determines the quality and type of microwave you can buy. If you just want a manual solo microwave, a budget of around £50 is enough to get an excellent compact model. If you want a high-quality combination microwave, however, then you’ll need £100+.
  • Weight – if you’re buying a microwave for your kitchen, the weight probably isn’t important. But if you’re looking for a small caravan microwave, the overall weight may be an important consideration.

These are just a few examples of what you need to consider when buying a microwave. Other factors include the number of power levels, whether the microwave has a defrost mode, child safety locks and many more. The good news is that we’ve done a lot of the research for you – so check out our “Best Of” pages to see which we recommend!

3. Turntable Size is Essential

One factor that’s missing from the previous list of factors when buying a microwave is turntable size. The reason is that it’s so important we think it deserves its own section.

Manufacturers often talk about internal capacity as if it’s the only thing that matters. This is true to a certain extent, but it’s not the only factor.

The typical rectangular microwave wastes a lot of space in the corners, as this area can’t be used to cook food. If you place anything larger than the turntable in a microwave, such as a big dinner plate or casserole dish, the turntable won’t be able to rotate and food is cooked unevenly.

For this reason, the turntable size is what really determines how much food you can cook (unless you’re using a flatbed microwave). That’s why microwaves with curved backs are often a great choice due to their larger turntables – the rounded design of the cavity means there’s less wasted space. It’s also why microwaves with a smaller capacity can sometimes handle larger dinner plates than supposedly bigger alternatives.


Choosing a new microwave isn’t rocket science, but it’s important to avoid the mistakes in this article if you want to get the most for your money. By considering all aspects of a microwave, including its turntable size and internal height, you can be much more confident in buying an appliance that meets your requirements.