Most traditional freestanding or optional built-in countertop microwaves are of the turntable variety. They microwave the food while rotating it via a glass disc known as a turntable that moves the food around 360 degrees or in alternating rotations clockwise and counterclockwise.
So can I use the microwave without a turntable? Kind of. Also, what’s the best microwave out there without the turntable or rotating disc accessories included in it?
Can I Use a Microwave without a Turntable?
There’s a type of microwave known as flatbed microwaves and they don’t use a turntable. The turntable variety of microwaves can’t function without the turntable though.
There are many ways to go about answering this question. The first and most obvious one is whether or not you can remove the turntable from a turntable microwave and microwave your food without it. The answer to that is no. Some microwaves won’t start until you put the turntable back.
For microwaves that start even without the turntable, this results in food that’s hot only on one side and cold or uncooked on the other side. You’re likelier to develop hotspots through this method of turntable-free cooking.
However, there are microwaves designed without a turntable. It uses a rotating antenna instead in order to heat up your food in an even manner.
How Do Microwaves without Turntables Work?
A microwave without a turntable is also known as a flatbed microwave. It evenly cooks food with microwaves by using a rotating antenna that’s located at the device’s base. It distributes the microwave rays or shortened radio frequency waves across the interior in an even fashion
A magnetron in your microwave produces these invisible radiowaves. These micro-waves or short-wavelength radiowaves bounce on the metal box interior. This is why you don’t microwave anything made of metal.
Metallic deflects microwaves and causes arcing or sparks to happen if they’re crumpled or its edges are close together. Because of the lack of a turntable, the flatbed microwave offers more space per cubic meter compared to their turntable counterpart.
How Do Microwaves with Turntables Work?
A microwave with a turntable is one of the most common microwave types. Most freestanding countertops are of the turntable variety. This glass disc rotates the food as it’s bombarded with microwaves or radio frequency rays that heat up the inner moisture of the meal.
Once the rays reach the food, its water molecules should then vibrate so fast they’d heat up the food much faster than a conventional oven by friction. The faster the vibration the faster the food and drink will get hot.
You can use a microwave to nearly boil water in under a minute. A turntable microwave rotates the food like the earth rotating on its own axis. This is as opposed to the rotating antenna trick wherein it revolves around the food like the earth revolves around the sun.
What are the Advantages of a Microwave without a Turntable?
The advantages of a microwave without a turntable include the following.
More Efficient Use of Power
The extra space afforded by a flatbed microwave equals more effective use of the microwave interior and its radiowaves. It has more space for those 1-kilowatt rays to surround the food as it bounces around the metal box while it’s being delivered by its rotating antenna from the bottom to the top.
Easy Wipe-Down Cleanup
This microwave that lacks turntables ensures that cleanup is an easy wipe-down. It’s exactly because it doesn’t have a turntable and it has fewer corners for food splatter to settle in. There’s no rotating disc that could get full of food particles. There are no wheels to gum up.
The opening and doorway of such a microwave is also wider, allowing easier access to the interior for easy cleanup when all is said and done.
Even Food Cooking
The food is cooked evenly because it’s easier to prevent uneven cooking with a rotating antenna versus a rotating turntable. Most food cooked by the turntable method infamously delivers hotspots and cold spots all over your meal. The flatbed surrounds the food so it’s heated perfectly inside and out.
The excessively cold or hot spots are avoided because the food is microwaved from bottom to top and the rays are bounced around with a rotating antenna.
Longevity and Durability
The lack of a turntable means fewer moving parts. A device with more moving parts is likelier to wear down versus a device with fewer moving parts. The moving part will end up wearing itself down over time, after all.
You can also end up accidentally dropping the turntable, which requires replacement. Superheating the glass accidentally can also lead to thermal shock (glass breaks due to sudden temperature changes from cold to hot or hot to cold).
Increased Cooking Capacity
More space is given to you because there’s no turntable. The flatbed and simple box presentation of a no-turntable microwave makes more use of a 1 cubic foot capacity of a standard-sized microwave or even a 0.7 cubic foot capacity from a mini microwave.
The glass disc, rotational wheels, and turning mechanism all occupy a lot of space collectively.
What are the Disadvantages of a Microwave without a Turntable?
Long story short, flatbeds cost loads of money. They’re relatively new technology. Therefore, they tend to be expensive even in 2021. Turntables are more commonplace and optimized.
Therefore, to lower the price, buy the appliance when it’s on sale or through discounts. You can also get a flatbed with fewer additional features, like a solo microwave instead of a combo microwave. With that in mind, most flatbed microwaves out there are of the commercial variety.
Why? Most manufacturers figure that its flatbed feature is an additional special feature in and of itself. You might as well add things like the convection microwave mode or the grill microwave. Irregularly shaped dishes inside this microwave can fit better, so you have to pay extra for that benefit.
At the End of the Day
There are many microwave choices out there. For instance, instead of getting a freestanding microwave oven, you could instead get an over-the-range (OTR) or built-in one instead for space-saving purposes.
On that note, microwaves without turntables or flatbed microwaves rotate their rotating antenna around the food like an orbiting moon instead of making the food rotate instead. The glass plate helps even out microwave exposure, but the antenna method is more efficient.