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What Size Cabinet for Over-the-Range Microwave? (Details)

Are you perplexed about the right cabinet size for your over-the-range (OTR) microwave? If yes, we understand your plight. Deciding on the cabinet size that best suits your over-the-range microwave can be tricky, especially since you have to consider ventilation and space.

This guide would answer the question, “what size of cabinet for an over-the-range microwave is the best for me and my kitchen?” From discussing space requirements to exploring the best shape and style of cabinet, you’ll leave this article with all the answers you need to make the right decision.

What Size Cabinet for Over-the-Range Microwave? (Quick Answer)

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It truly depends on several factors like microwave sizes, the desired distance between the cabinet and microwave, the size of your kitchen, etc.

Still, here’s a quick guide to deciphering the standard cabinet size for your OTR microwave:

  • Distance between the bottom of the microwave and cooktop: At least 30 inches.
  • Width of the cabinet: Almost the same as that of the OTR microwave; most have a width of 30 inches.
  • Depth of the cabinet: 12–13 inches for an OTR microwave having a depth of 15–16 inches.
  • Height of the cabinet: Almost the same as that of the OTR microwave; however, allow for a 13-inch height between the cabinet and the ground.
  • Distance between the OTR microwave and the ground: A minimum of 66–72 inches.

What Is an Over-the-Range Microwave?


An over-the-range microwave is similar to countertop microwaves because they help heat food. These microwaves are designed in a way that they need to be installed in a cabinet. They’re a great addition to your kitchen, and unlike countertop options, this microwave helps you free up kitchen space, making it look more organized.

OTR microwaves have a stainless steel build design, which can be an issue, especially in the case of excessive heat generation. This is why they come with a ventilator that helps remove heated air following installation in a cabinet. The ventilator also helps extract odors, steam, and smoke in and around the cabinet.

While the accompanying ventilation system eliminates the need for a range hood, it’s an optional feature. Some products don’t offer it alongside the product, so you may have to purchase it separately.

The OTR also has efficient features such as sensor cooking, timer settings, and many more. Just like the standard microwave, the OTR option can also defrost and reheat food and, in some cases, cook meals such as ramen and pasta. Some other designs have built-in microwave ovens, which can be used to grill and bake.

With a design that allows you to shelf the microwave, it’s no surprise most homes are adopting this option. In addition, the OTR microwave has a lighting design that can be a great option for those without proper lighting in their kitchen. Overall, the microwave’s versatility, functionality, efficiency, and convenience, are why it’s a common choice and deserves a place in every kitchen.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Size Cabinet


Considering the design of over-the-range microwaves, it’s only normal to look at some factors before settling for the right cabinet size.

Here are the three major ones:

1. The microwave’s dimensions.

The dimensions of your microwave and any other items that will be kept in the cabinet should be considered when deciding on a suitable cabinet size. This can be decided by considering how much space these other equipment would take up and adding it to the size of your microwave.

Once you have figured that out, the next thing to do is consider airflow inside the cabinet. We’d advise that you leave at least four inches between the top of the microwave and the cabinet.

2. The cabinet’s dimensions.

Choosing the right cabinet size for your OTR microwave is essential to ensure all your kitchen appliances fit correctly and leave you with enough room in your kitchen. Hence, you should consider the cabinet’s dimensions, especially the height and width. 

Since microwaves can be bulky, ensure the cabinet has sufficient depth to prevent the appliance from reaching its far end. This allowance helps reduce overheating or other mechanical issues arising from an overtly tight space.

If your cabinet has doors, you should also factor that into your measurements. At the same time, you wouldn’t want to have an oversized cabinet with too much space, as this might affect your kitchen space’s overall look and efficiency.

3. The distance between the cabinet and the microwave.

When considering your kitchen cabinet’s sizing, remember that you need enough distance between your cabinet and the microwave. This distance is required to accommodate the microwave’s other accessories like electrical outlets, cords, and hoods.

When mounting an over-the-range microwave, the typical distance from the cabinet to the ceiling is between 18–24 inches. In comparison, the distance from the kitchen cabinet to the counter is typically 12 inches. If these distances are exceeded, there may be a need for a larger cabinet to ensure the proper efficiency of the microwave.

Types of Cabinets for Over-the-Range Microwaves


Installing OTR microwaves is a great way to save counter space and create a more organized kitchen. However, before considering an OTR microwave, ensure you know what type of cabinet would be best suited to house it.

With several cabinet options available for over-the-range microwaves, it’s only ideal that you know their different benefits and drawbacks.

Here are a few options available and what they offer:

1. Wall Cabinets

Wall cabinets are the most common option to look out for when installing an over-the-range microwave. These cabinets are typically mounted to the wall directly above your cooktop and sit perfectly with your other cabinets.

They’re usually preferred because they provide easy access and convenience. Also, as long as you have enough clearance between the top of the stove and the ceiling, they should fit perfectly.

2. Base Cabinets

Base cabinets are another great option if you don’t have enough room between the top of your stove and the ceiling. These cabinets are typically mounted on the floor, are ideal for a countertop microwave, and provide just enough space for your microwave to fit securely.

Their design provides easy access, and one can often install them alone without stress. The only downside to these cabinets is that they take up a lot of space and can cluster your kitchen.

3. Specialty Cabinets

Specialty cabinets are an ideal choice for those looking to keep their over-the-range microwave in the front and center of their kitchen. These cabinets feature elevated platforms that allow the oven to rest safely on top of the cabinetry.

Specialty cabinets can be customized to fit your specific needs, allowing you to choose from various sizes, materials, and finishes for your desired look.

4. Tall Storage Cabinets 

Tall-storage cabinets are an excellent fit for those who don’t want to sacrifice the countertop for their microwave. The design usually involves having a wall-sided cabinet with a hinged door at the bottom where you can store various items. Most times, they’re usually customizable, and you can ask your woodworker to help craft a suitable piece.

5 Benefits of Installing the Right Size Cabinet for an Over-the-Range Microwave


You derive several benefits from selecting a perfectly sized cabinet for your OTR microwave.

Here are the major ones:

  1. Enhanced performance: Over-the-range microwaves are designed to be installed in a cabinet. When these devices don’t get the proper housing, they often underperform due to overheating.
  2. Increased safety: Installing a cabinet specifically designed for your over-the-range microwave ensures that it’s firmly secured and reduces the risk of accidents or injuries.
  3. More efficient use of space: Specialized cabinets for your microwave help maximize the space available in your kitchen, making it more efficient.
  4. Greater aesthetic appeal: The right cabinet not only improves your microwave’s functionality but also enhances the look of your kitchen.
  5. Improved air quality: When you install a correct size cabinet, you’d be optimizing your ventilation and providing your home with better air circulation.


So far, this guide has outlined the pathway to selecting the right-sized cabinet for an over-the-counter microwave. Factors such as the type of cabinet and ventilation are some of the most important things to consider.

We hope you learned a thing or two in this guide, and if you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.

Here’s a recap of crucial tips necessary to selecting the right-sized cabinet for your OTR microwave:

  • Consider and measure the dimensions of the microwave.
  • Calculate the space needed to house the microwave by summing up the measurements.
  • Leave at least four inches of space between the microwave and the cabinet’s top.
  • Give adequate spacing between the back of the microwave and the inside of the cabinet.
  • Consider the ventilation hood required for your microwave.
  • Look out for cabinets with adjustable designs.

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