A convection microwave oven or a combo microwave oven is an oven that has both a convection mode via convection fans and heating element as well as a microwave mode via magnetron. It can do simple reheating and defrosting via microwave mode and outright cooking and baking via convection mode.
Can any freestanding (countertop) microwave be converted into a cabinet or built-in microwave? Keep on reading to find out.
Can You Put a Convection Microwave in a Cabinet?
The long and short of it is that you can put a convection microwave into a cabinet as long as its manufacturer specifically allows you to do such a thing and has trim kits available for cabinet or built-in installation. You should also be concerned about ventilation.
Certain convection oven models—like those made by Sharp from 2002 to 2007—don’t require ventilation. It can be used as wall/space mounted with a trim kit or as countertop freestanding models. However, the kit provides air gaps on about 5 sides of it.
When installing a convection microwave inside a cabinet, you need about 2 inches of clearance on all sides of the cabinet as ventilation space.
Can a Freestanding Microwave Be Converted to a Built-In?
A built-in microwave model can’t be turned into a freestanding microwave unless it’s a freestanding microwave model that can double as a cabinet-installed microwave with a trim kit. On that note, not all freestanding microwaves can be installed into cabinets.
In other words, you have built-in microwaves that fit exactly into the cabinet space. There are also freestanding models that you can put inside a spacey cabinet so it’s not necessarily a built-in. Finally, there are freestanding models you can turn into a built-in trim kit.
A built-in microwave model that’s intended to strictly be for built-in cabinet spaces is ready to be fitted into the cabinet every time from the start. They could be or not be a convection-type microwave.
What Kind of Microwave Can Go Inside a Cabinet?
A freestanding microwave with the trim kit or built-in conversion option, a mini microwave that can fit into many a spacious cabinet, or a built-in microwave with a trim kit can all go inside your cabinet.
You can sometimes keep the cabinet doors. However, for most built-in models, their door and façade fits right into the space where your cabinet doors used to be, with the trim kit sealing the seams to make the microwave literally look built right into the cabinet (hence the term).
A built-in can also be installed into your wall like an A/C unit as long as the other end has ventilation space and a cover to keep all that microwave radiation strictly inside the device instead of all over the place.
What’s the Difference Between Countertop and Built-In Microwave?
A countertop or freestanding microwave is obviously a standard microwave you can easily mount on a countertop, table, or pretty much any (sensible) surface. A built-in microwave is literally built into the cabinet or wall.
The built-in design is known to be space-saving and can be installed away from the range instead of over it, allowing multiple persons to cook together with all that extra space. A countertop can be put inside a cabinet without turning it into a built-in as long as the cabinet is big enough.
You need ventilation space of at least two inches around every side and corner except for the bottom for either freestanding or built-in microwave models.
Does It Help that a Convection Microwave Offers Convection Features When Installed in a Cabinet?
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, it’s almost irrelevant whether a microwave is convection or a standard microwave. Any convection microwave can be put inside a cabinet as long as it’s designed for it, it’s small enough, the cabinet is big enough, and it comes with a trim kit.
You need a deep enough cabinet to accommodate the microwave. If the microwave isn’t designed to be built-in, you might need to hire someone to adjust it or the cabinet to fit around it perfectly with the ventilation space taken into consideration.
A non-built-in freestanding microwave put inside a cabinet is more likely to require the cabinet door to close in order to hide it. This is in contrast with a built-in wherein the face of the microwave replaces your cabinet doors or shelf safe.
How Much Ventilation Does a Convection Oven Need Inside the Cabinet?
The convection oven has its own vent system like the OTR microwave. Moisture is vented out of it and it requires ventilation in order to make its browning feature work. This leads to an all-in-all more energy-efficient oven.
Unsurprisingly, any oven that cooks your food in less time and heats up quite quickly uses less energy than an oven that requires lengthy preheating time. Regardless, your convection freestanding or built-in microwave still requires that 2 inches or more of ventilation space from your cabinet.
Should You Install via Trim Kit or Just Store Your Microwave Inside the Cabinet?
Many authors and bloggers out there strongly advocate for installing microwaves inside kitchen cabinets, mostly of the built-in variety although cabinet-stored mini microwaves can also work without the trim kit installation process.
However, there are others who strongly advise against it. A microwave is better with a dedicated table or space in your countertop for accessibility. You can do both with microwave models like the Sharp Matte Black Carousel Convection Microwave Oven.
This oven can be either built into your cabinets with its trim kit or used as a freestanding or countertop microwave—the best of both worlds. If your cabinet is spacious enough, you can simply store it inside it as well too instead of making it a built-in.
You watch this video to have ideas for your microwave cabinet:
What Else Can Be Said?
Not all freestanding microwaves can be turned into a cabinet-installed microwave or a built-in. Some freestanding microwaves could fit inside the right size of cabinet, but built-in models are more installation ready (and can’t double as freestanding countertops).
Also, be careful when placing a freestanding mini microwave—such as Whirlpool WMC20005—in limited spaces like inside small apartments, recreational vehicles, or cabinets. Make sure it has ample venting space and it’s far away from places like the sink (electrical shock risk).
- Joe Ford, “Can you put a microwave above a sink?“, AnswerstoAll.com, April 25, 2021
- Natnael Lacunsa, “Does a microwave convection oven need to be vented?“, FindAnyAnswer.com, May 18, 2020