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Having a new Over The Range (OTR) Microwave installed professionally can be exciting. But depending on the company you’ve hired to install your OTR Microwave, you may not be getting the care you deserve.

Many installers don’t take the time to go over your pre installation options, including how to best handle venting your new Over The Range (OTR) Microwave’s exhaust. Is venting your Over The Range Microwave outside something your installer even knows how to do? Do Over the Range Microwaves have to be vented outside?

There is no requirement that your Over The Range (OTR) Microwave be vented to the outdoors. All OTR microwave ovens can be set up to either allow the fan to recirculate the air back into the kitchen or be vented to the outdoors.

If you’re unsure about which solution works best for your over the range microwave, you’re in the right place. I’ll go over your Over The Range microwave venting options as well as a few pros and cons of each choice. Let’s begin!

Over the Range Microwave Venting Options

The OTR Microwave oven comes with features we are all familiar with, the convenience of a microwave oven, lighting for your range below and a vent fan to remove smoke, steam and odors from your cooking surface. You have two options for venting your exhaust fan, recirculation and venting to the outdoors. 

There are a few pros and cons to allowing your microwave’s built-in exhaust fan to recirculate. “Recirculate” means that when the exhaust fan is turned on the air will be drawn in through filters in the bottom of the OTR microwave and then blown out into the kitchen through an exhaust vent on the top of the OTR microwave oven.

 On the other hand, choosing to have your OTR microwave vented to the outdoors, means the smoke and odors are removed from the room and are not recirculated into your kitchen. 

Allow me to explain a few of the pros and cons of each option:

OTR Microwave with Recirculating Exhaust Vent


There are Pros to having an OTR microwave, like freeing up counter space otherwise occupied by a microwave oven. And the recirculating exhaust fan will move smoke and steam from the immediate cooking surface area.


The Cons are that the smoke and odors never leave your kitchen or your house for that matter. In fact the recirculating exhaust fan serves to force the smoke and odors from your range into your living space.

OTR Microwave Oven Vented to the outdoors


The Pros are that the smoke and odors are vented out of the room and out of the house. In fact it never hurts to turn your fan on “low” as you begin cooking. This creates an updraft in the duct work that naturally exhausts odors as they occur instead of waiting until you “need” to exhaust smoke and odors in a hurry.


Almost all OTR microwaves can be exhausted to the outdoors in one way or another.  The Con is that this may be outside your budget. It could range from $500 to $1,500 to run ductwork to the outdoors and install a proper wall cap. 

Replace your OTR microwave with a Wall hood


Replacing your microwave with a wall hood actually has several Pros. First, it will increase the height of your cooking area.You can feel cramped for space when you have to reach under the OTR to stir a pot or flip a burger.

Also the rising steam and oils can condense on the bottom of the OTR microwave and then drip into the food you are cooking. Installing a wall hood immediately increases the cooking work space height. Even increasing your cooking space height by six or eight inches can make a world of difference.

Second, a wall hood will have a higher CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) rating. This means it’s able to handle moving more air and move it faster.

The OTR microwave design does not allow for a very big fan. Consequently it does not move air very efficiently. OTR microwaves are typically rated at 200 to 300 CFMs.

Wall hoods can be rated from 600 to 1200 CFMs. 

And third, Lighting. Wall Hoods will almost always afford you a better well-lit working space when you are cooking than a OTR. Again, wall hoods are designed to provide ventilation and directed lighting to enhance the cooking experience.  


Deciding on the perfect spot in your kitchen for your new microwave oven.

If you’re in the Richmond Virginia area and you’re ready to have your Over The Range Microwave Oven installed, and vented to the outdoors, or if you are ready to replace your OTR with a wall hood, give us a call today at (804) 464-2545

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Proudly Serving the Greater Richmond VA Area for over 15 Years!