Standard models perform the basic functions allowing you to cook food at low, medium or high power for a specific period of time, and may also have specific programmes to make cooking easier. Settings are normally entered using a simple touch pad or dials. These microwaves are ideal for ready meals, cooking vegetables or fish, defrosting meats and bread or simply reheating food.
Microwave and grill
This is the best option if you want to cook food like pizzas, lasagne, jacket potatoes, waffles, crumpets, toast or spring rolls. The grill function will brown or crisp food, something standard microwaves are unable to do. These microwaves will also carry out the task of a standard microwave. A metal rack is included to raise food closer to the grill element.
Microwave combination oven
The ideal solution if you are short on space, this combines the features of a microwave, grill and convection hot air oven. Functions can be used separately or in combination, making it ideal for baking, browning and crisping (cakes, roast meats, pies, pastry dishes and Yorkshire puddings).
Dials are commonly found on standard microwaves, they ensure smooth and easy operation, allowing you to alter settings without interrupting the cooking. Exact timings and additional functions are best set by touch and electronic buttons.
Capacity is measured in litres and varies from about 17L to over 32L. For larger families, look for at least 27L, which will have a larger turntable and more interior height to cook more than one dish at a time.
Microwave power is measured in watts, and can range from 600W to 1100W. The higher the wattage, the quicker your food will cook.
One advantage of microwaves is that they are much easier to clean than an ordinary oven. However, unless your microwave is fitted with catalytic or pyrolytic liners, meaning it is self-cleaning, it is important not to let the oven surface get dirty, otherwise food will take longer to cook. When cleaning, avoid using abrasives such as scouring pads or steel wool.