Can You Put A Microwave In A Cabinet? – Options Explored

Ever found yourself short on kitchen space and wondered, ‘Can You Put A Microwave In A Cabinet?’ You’re not alone. This is a popular question I get from clients trying to make the most of their kitchen real estate or want to hide as many appliances as possible.

While it might seem like a simple solution to a common problem, there’s more to consider than just the spatial aspect.

In this post, I’ll answer if you can put a microwave in a cabinet, explore safety concerns as well as look at some creative alternatives.

Let’s get into it!

Can you put a microwave in a Cabinet?

The short answer is: Yes, sort of, it depends. 😀

While it’s technically possible to put a microwave in a cabinet, it’s crucial to consider several factors for safety and efficiency. These include proper ventilation to prevent overheating, easy accessibility, proximity to a power source, the cupboard’s ability to support the microwave’s weight, and the type of microwave.

While some microwaves are designed for built-in installation into a cabinet or cupboard, others are not and will need careful consideration.

Built-in microwave in a pantry larder cabinet
Integrated microwave in a larder cabinet.
Image – Blakes London

Considerations for installing a microwave in a cabinet

There are several factors to consider before deciding to place your microwave in a cupboard:

1. Ventilation: Microwaves generate heat and need proper ventilation to function safely and efficiently. If a microwave is placed in a confined space like a cupboard, there’s a risk of overheating, which can lead to appliance damage or even fire.

Therefore, if you’re considering installing a countertop microwave in a cabinet, ensure there’s enough clearance space around the microwave for air to circulate and that it has adequate ventilation. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines about this.

Built-in or integrated microwaves are designed to be built into cabinetry and come with different ventilation requirements.

2. Accessibility: Microwaves should be easily accessible. Placing a microwave too high can pose a risk, especially when handling hot food or liquids. On the other hand, if it’s too low, it may be inconvenient to use.

3. Power Supply: Microwaves require a power source, so this will need to be in place and installed. If your cupboard isn’t near an outlet, you might be tempted to use an extension cord, don’t do this, as this can be a safety hazard if not managed properly.

4. Size and Weight: Not all cupboards can bear the weight of a microwave or are large enough to accommodate one. Before placing a microwave in a cupboard, ensure the cupboard is sturdy enough and the microwave fits comfortably. You may need to install additional brackets to help support the appliance. Always check the dimensions and make sure there is enough space for adequate ventilation, if it’s required!

5. Type of Microwave: Freestanding or countertop microwaves will require more consideration and planning. Whereas some microwaves are specifically designed to be built into cabinetry or wall cupboards, these are known as built-in or integrated microwaves. These built-in microwave models will quite often come with trim kits to ensure proper ventilation and neat installation into your cabinetry.

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Can I put a freestanding Countertop microwave in a cupboard?

Placing a freestanding countertop microwave in a cupboard is not generally recommended. Countertop microwaves are designed to sit on a flat, open surface where they have plenty of ventilation to dissipate the heat and steam they generate during operation. As well as this, personally, I don’t think it looks very good as part of your kitchen design.

Often times countertop model microwaves will have vents at the back and sides of the appliances. These microwave vents will need plenty of clear, open space around them.

When a microwave is enclosed in a cabinet, the heat it produces can build up, potentially causing the appliance to overheat and malfunction, or worse, create a fire hazard. Moreover, the door of the microwave needs to be able to open freely and should never be blocked or covered up while the microwave is in use. Which might not be possible in a confined cupboard space.

However, if you still wish to place your countertop microwave in a cupboard, it’s crucial to ensure there’s ample space for ventilation, the microwave is easily accessible and the cupboard should be sturdy enough to support the microwave’s weight. Always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific safety instructions.

countertop microwave in a cabinet
A countertop microwave in a cabinet with plenty of ventilation space.

As I mentioned earlier, some microwaves are designed to be built into cabinetry or wall units, known as built-in or integrated microwaves. If you’re considering placing a microwave in a cupboard, these are a much safer and more efficient option.

Can You get a wall-mounted microwave?

Yes, you can get a wall-mounted microwave. There are typically two options, a “built-in” or “over-the-range” microwave.

Built-in microwaves are designed to be integrated into your kitchen cabinetry wall units or upper cabinets, providing a sleek and space-saving solution. They will often times come with a trim kit for a seamless fit with your kitchen decor and sit flush with your cabinet door.

Microwave in wall cabinet built-in integrated microwave.jpeg
Built-in microwave installed in a wall cabinet.
Image – Harvey Jones

These wall-mounted built-in microwaves are designed to be shallower and smaller so they can fit into a standard depth wall cabinet. They are usually available in 50cm or 60cm widths and are approx 38cm in height.

Another option, popular in North America, is over-the-range microwaves. These are designed to be installed above your stove. They serve a dual purpose, functioning as both a microwave and a range hood. These models have ventilation systems that help eliminate smoke, steam, and cooking odours from your kitchen.

OTR Microwave
Over The Range ‘OTR’ Microwave (personally, I’m not a big fan of this option).

Where to Put a Microwave in a Tiny Kitchen?

In a tiny kitchen, every inch of space is precious. Here are some creative solutions for microwave placement in a tiny kitchen:

  • Over the Range: An over-the-range microwave can be a great space-saving solution. It combines the functions of a microwave and a range hood, freeing up counter space and creating a more efficient workflow.

  • In a Wall Cabinet: If you have wall cabinets, consider installing a built-in or integrated microwave in one. This keeps the microwave off the countertop giving you more of that valuable prep space.

  • Inside a Cabinet or Pantry: If you have a cabinet or pantry that’s large enough, this can be a great place to hide your microwave. Just make sure there’s enough ventilation for the microwave to operate safely. Better yet, get a built-in model!

  • Combi Microwave Oven: Either a full-size oven with microwave function or a compact combination microwave oven can be a great option for a tiny kitchen. This appliance combines the functionality of a microwave and a traditional oven, saving you the need for two separate appliances.

  • On a Shelf: If you don’t have enough counter or cabinet space, consider installing a sturdy shelf on an unused wall and placing your microwave there.

Is it safe to put a microwave in a cabinet?

Yes, it can be safe to put a microwave in a cabinet, but it depends on a few factors. If it is a countertop microwave, the cabinet must be sturdy enough to support the microwave’s weight, and there must be sufficient ventilation to prevent overheating.

However, if it is an integrated microwave, these are specifically designed for built-in installation, which is the safest option for placing a microwave in a cabinet.

Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and guidelines for specific safety instructions, especially for ventilation and space requirements. If you’re unsure, it’s best to consult with a professional.

Final Thoughts…

There you have it! The question ‘Can you put a microwave in a cabinet?’ answered.

The answer isn’t a simple yes or no. It’s a matter of safety, efficiency, and following the manufacturer’s guidelines. Whether you’re considering a built-in, over-the-range, or freestanding countertop microwave, remember that proper ventilation, accessibility, and a sturdy location are key.

If in any doubt, ask a professional, talk with the appliance manufacturers and check your local building rules and regs.

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Author

Michael from Kitchinsider.com

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.