What Clearance is Required for Microwaves
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What Clearance is Required for Microwaves?

A countertop microwave installed beside or near a gas range should have loads of space away from the stove. In fact, it’s better to follow the kitchen triangle, wherein your stove, sink, and refrigerator form a triangle of sorts, and peripherals like microwaves are placed about 4 feet away from any of these three points.

OTR microwaves can be nearer the stove because it’s designed for use with a stove. It can be placed where you’d normally place a hood vent over the microwave to clear the air and keep everything cooled down and clean.

What Clearance is Required for Microwaves?

According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the microwave’s bottom should be no higher than 54 inches above the floor if it’s a countertop model. This translates to 18 inches of clearance from the typical cooktop height of 36 inches and the microwave.

The International Residential Code (most building codes are based on this code) recommends a clearance of 30 inches between the stove’s combustible surface and the microwave unit.

Some manufacturers of certain types of microwaves allow for smaller clearance distances. It should have at least 3 inches of clearance on both sides and the top for venting purposes. It should also have an inch of clearance in the rear for good measure.

This applies whether you’re using a countertop or built-in microwaves with a cabinet surrounding it.

A countertop microwave in the kitchen
A countertop microwave in the kitchen

What are the Other Safety Clearance Measurements Microwaves Should Have?

The microwave’s front edge from the door onwards should sit at least 3 inches or more back on the counter to keep it from tipping over and breaking itself. If the microwave is located near the range when it’s on a counter, it should be 2 feet away or more from the range.

Don’t place the microwave over or near a heat source and if it’s an OTR microwave, observe proper clearance or place it where you’d normally place the hood vent. Don’t take off the microwave’s feet either. This affects circulation. The microwave should be slightly above the surface it’s sitting on.

The lack of feet also makes the unit less stable. Avoid placing small appliances, cookbooks, or other items above the microwave for good measure.

What Is the Proper Distance to Separate a Microwave & a Range Top?

Here is the proper distance to separate the range top and microwave in accordance to the type of microwave.

Countertop Microwaves

If you’re placing a countertop near a cooktop, it should be far enough from the gas range to avoid of heat or fire damage. A microwave can overheat like a car, so it shouldn’t have heat from the inside and out potentially damaging its circuitry. This could make it stop working.

Further reading: Can We Put Microwave Near Stove?

You should also keep the device away from any food splatter when cooking food on the stovetop. This is because they’re not designed for OTR use. They’ll break down when dealing with the heat that an OTR microwave is used to.

Their ventilation fans are too weak to deal with such temperatures, in short. They should be about 2-4 feet away (or more) from the cooktop as well as the sink and the refrigerator.

Over-the-Range Microwaves

As they say, if you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen. A countertop can’t handle the heat but OTRs are made to deal with stovetop exhaust.

When it comes to Over-the-Range (OTR) microwaves, they have built-in ventilation systems and high-CFM (cubic feet per minute) fans that filter and vent hot exhaust from the cooktop, allowing them to work fine as overhead microwaves while not being affected by the kitchen’s hot temperatures.

Some models vent through a duct that leads outside the kitchen or outdoors. Others work as ductless models. The recommended clearance between OTR microwaves and the stovetop depends on the model and the circumstance.

  • International Residential Code: A clearance of 30 inches between the stove’s combustible surface and the microwave unit as recommended by the International Residential Code (most building codes are based on this code).
  • Manufacturer’s Instructions: Other OTR microwaves can tolerate less clearance distance and should be mounted in accordance with the instructions of the manufacturer. The 30 inches thusly serves as a rule of thumb if no such instruction is found.
  • National Kitchen and Bath Association: According to the National Kitchen and Bath Association, the bottom of the microwave should be 54 inches above the floor or 18 inches between the stove and the microwave.

What’s the Proper Clearance for OTR Microwaves by Manufacturer?

General Electric is one of the manufacturers that allow for varying clearance distances.  They offer a minimum of 66 inches between the floor and the top of the microwave, which means the clearance between the cooktop and the microwave can range between 13 and 16 inches.

Such tight clearances don’t take into consideration larger pots on the stove, like the pressure cooker and the like. The floor to microwave clearance distance applies to both countertops and OTRs, although it’s not recommended to mount countertops above stoves.

Where Should You Place Your Microwave in the Kitchen?

Just like with real estate, microwave placement is all about location, location, location. Where should you put your microwave in the kitchen? What should be its clearance distances at the bottom, the front, the sides, and at the back?

You may also love this post: What are the Best Places to Put the Microwave in Your Kitchen?

The proper distance between the range top and a microwave will vary based on what type of microwave is being used. If you’re installing an over-the-range or OTR microwave, you’ll need less space to install between the microwave and stove.

This isn’t the case with the countertop microwave, which isn’t designed to withstand higher external temperatures compared to the OTR microwave (which typically has an internal ventilation fan to boot so that it could double as a hood vent).

Keep This in Mind

The microwave should be 54 inches above the floor or 18 inches above a stovetop. The OTR microwave should be placed on the same area as the hood vent while also observing the same clearance distance between vent and gas range.

You can use the kitchen triangle as the basis for how far you should place the microwave from the refrigerator, sink, and/or gas stove (about 4 feet). Without this guide or when faced with more limited kitchen real estate, at least make sure the microwave is about 2 feet away from the stove.


  1. Evan Gillespie, “What Is the Proper Distance to Separate a Microwave & a Range Top?” Hunker.com, Retrieved August 17, 2021
  2. MICROWAVE AIR CLEARANCE – COUNTERTOP ONLY MODELS“, GEAppliances.com, Retrieved August 17, 2021

Through the years, the microwave oven has become a standard appliance for all homes. It is safe to say that there is no home without a microwave oven. If you are looking for a microwave oven that best fits your needs, You find the right website.

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