Microwave ovens may be the most convenient invention in the history of inventions, particularly for lazy people like us who can’t be bothered to put food in a pan and heat it up. It’s even more surprising when you find out that the technology was accidentally invented by Percy Spender in 1946. Since then, though, the microwave oven has gone through a whole lot of transformations, and now we have several options to pick from.
The earliest microwaves were only used to prepare simple meals or to reheat leftovers. However, with changing times, microwaves these days can do a whole lot more, like grilling, baking, and roasting, along some of their main uses.
- Types of microwave ovens
- How microwave ovens work
- The difference between grill and convection microwave ovens based on how they work, features, uses, etc.
- Advantages and limitations of a grill microwave oven and convection microwave oven
- Related questions
|Grill Microwave Oven
|Convection Microwave Oven
|Combo grilling, power grilling, eco-mode
|Tempered glass, sensor cooking, inverter technology
|Reheats, defrost, roasts and grill food as well as cook rice and pasta
|Reheats, defrost, roasts, grills, browns, crisps, bake, and cooks versatile dishes
|900 to 1700W
|1200 to 2200W
|More expensive than solo microwave oven
|Significantly more expensive than solo and grill microwaves
|Users may need to monitor the cooking process and manually adjust temperature
|Automatically adjusts temperature when optimum cooking level is achieved
|Radiant heating element as well as magnetron
|Radiant heating element, magnetron, and a fan for even cooking
So without further ado, let’s take a look at the five different types of microwave ovens that are commercially available and see what functions they perform.
Types of Microwave Ovens
These five main types of microwave ovens are easily available on the market:
Solo Microwave Ovens
A solo microwave is the most basic type of microwave oven, which is great for defrosting, reheating, and cooking; but cannot bake or grill. It doesn’t contain any extra features, and you can only use microwave-safe plastic and glass in a solo microwave.
Grill Microwave Ovens
A grill microwave (like this) can perform the functions of a solo microwave as well as a grill. This is great for those who need a microwave for reheating and for grilling meat and veggies, but don’t want it to bake or roast food.
Convection Microwave Ovens
Convection microwave (like this) has all the functions of a solo and grill microwave oven but can also roast, bake, and crisp food. If you want your microwave to be versatile and cook in many different ways, this option is good for you. The great thing about a convection microwave oven is that you can even use metal in it in every setting except microwave.
Over-the-Range Microwave Ovens
Over-the-range microwave ovens are microwave ovens with a range hood that are placed on top of your stove. They are great for people who have a small kitchen.
Built-In Microwave Ovens
These microwaves are designed to be built into cabinetry cutouts in the kitchen and prevent clutter.
How Do Microwave Ovens Work?
Microwaves heat up food by emitting radio waves that directly target the molecules in your food to vibrate them. These rays are very efficient in heating, and can process your meal six times quicker than conventional ovens.
A microwave works on the same principle as an electronic oven or stove. This means that the more power is supplied to the device, the more it heats up. Hence, a microwave oven which can only cook up to 150 degree Celsius may not be effective in cooking different types of food.
Additionally, more power translates to more cooking possibilities like faster cooking, in some cases. For example, a microwave that has a power level of 1000W may need 20 minutes to cook something, but one with a power level of 1,500W may only need 12 to 15 minutes to perform the same task.
Most microwave ovens used at home range from category A to E, while some models that are used commercially may have power levels of up to 2,200W or sometimes, even more. These categories represent only the microwave functions and not the grill and convection functions.
Now on to the major differences between the grill and convection microwave oven:
Grill Microwave Ovens Vs. Convection Microwave Ovens
Grill microwave: Grill microwave ovens are a bit more advanced than regular, solo microwave ovens, but less so than the convection ovens. These microwaves come with a heating element either at the top or the bottom which radiates heat as well as magnetrons that emit microwaves.
A grill microwave may have additional features like a metal grill or rack. This is used to raise food near the top of the microwave where the radiant heating element is located. This helps to evenly toast bread, grill food, and melt cheese, at the touch of a button.
These additional features allow you to roast meat and vegetables. This is very convenient since you can get the grill taste without going through the task of heating your coals and firing up your BBQ grill. Because of these features, a grill microwave may be more expensive than a solo microwave.
A grill microwave, however, cannot bake your food. This is because there is no fan that can distribute the heat evenly to your food.
You may find that grill microwave ovens, though widely available, are still less common options than solo or convection microwaves. This may be because people may not consider a microwave the best place to grill, or they would rather buy a convection oven with extra features.
Convection microwave: A convection microwave oven is a full-featured appliance that has all the features of a regular microwave, a grill microwave, and a standard baking oven. Users often prefer to buy convection microwaves as it prevents them the added expense of buying these three appliances separately.
A convection microwave oven is equipped with a heating element and a fan that moves hot air around the confines of the microwave. This is equivalent to a regular oven, but even more efficient because the hot air distributes the heat evenly throughout the food more quickly and effectively.
With a convection oven, you can defrost, reheat, grill, brown, crisp, and bake all sort of yummy goodies. If you rely on your microwave oven to perform a wide variety of cooking tasks, then a convection microwave oven is a better choice for you.
These ovens also come with a metal rack, like grill microwave ovens, and you can use metal containers to heat the food on any setting except the regular microwave one. Because of these added functions, conventional microwave ovens are usually more expensive than solo and grill microwave ovens.
Grill microwave: A grill microwave has features like a solo grill, power grill, combo grill, turntable on/off, and eco mode. Combo grilling is a particularly useful feature that allows you to grill with both the grill and microwave functions. This helps the food cook in less time. However, you cannot use metal dishes when using this mode.
The power grill feature allows you to only use the grill feature. This may take more time to cook than combo grilling, but you can use a metal rack when using this mode. This can give you those beautiful grill lines that you want on your meat. You may turn off the turntable when grilling your food.
Eco-mode is an energy-efficient feature that consumes less electric power and helps you reduce electricity.
Convection microwave: The convection microwave has all the features of a solo and grill microwave oven as well as a regular oven. Additionally, most convection microwave ovens are also equipped with extra features like a premium glass door, sensor heating, and inverter technology.
The premium glass door is made of tempered glass and is heat-resistant and not prone to breakage due to intense heat. This is particularly important since convection ovens are turned on for longer periods of time, especially if you are baking.
Modern convection ovens also have an option for sensor cooking that enables automatic temperature selection options. This feature is particularly convenient when you have to prepare a dish you are unfamiliar with. However, it is still a good idea to monitor the progress of the food as the appliance runs.
Inverter technology offers more cooking control by directly controlling the microwave’s power levels. For example, if the power level is set to High, it will gradually reduce once the food reaches the optimum cooking level.
Grill microwave: Like a solo microwave oven, grill microwaves can be used for simple cooking, like making popcorn, cooking rice or pasta, or brewing milk, coffee, or tea. They can also reheat food and drinks, as well as defrost food.
But what set them apart from the solo microwave is that they can also grill fish, chicken, steak, and kebobs the way you can on an outdoor BBQ grill. The only thing that grill microwaves cannot do is bake.
Convection microwave: Convection microwave ovens can make all the above types of things, plus a whole lot more. They are like regular little ovens that work faster to bake cakes, brownies, cookies, and all sorts of bread.
Grill microwave: Typically, grill microwaves can have a power level from 900W to 1,700W. The higher their power, the more efficient they are for cooking. Grill microwaves that come with power levels at the higher end have a bigger capacity and are more expensive than less powerful counterparts. Additionally, the proper power level can help achieve the right grill flavor for your food.
Convection microwave: A convection microwave power levels can range from 1200W to 2200W. Although the watts is important, since the cooking technology is different from grill microwaves or a regular oven, even convection microwave with a power level at the lower range can perform very well.
Convection microwaves that have a power level near 2200W are typically not used at home but at commercial spaces like restaurants, cafes, and bakeries, and are pretty expensive.
Grill microwave: A grill microwave can be placed on your kitchen’s countertop, installed over a stove range, or mounted inside cabinetry units. Over-the-range microwave ovens have additional features like a range hood, lights, and fans. You will find this type of microwave ovens in commercial places or homes with single families that regularly cook meals. They are also great if you live in an apartment and like grilled food but do not have access to a BBQ grill.
Convection microwave: Like grill microwave ovens, convection microwave ovens can be placed on countertops, over-the-range, or are built-in with your kitchen cabinetry system. You may find smaller convection microwave ovens in homes, but the bigger counterparts are usually seen in commercial kitchens.
Grill microwave: The oven capacity of the grill microwave may be a bit smaller than solo microwave ovens. Their capacity can be anywhere between 1 and 2.5 cubic feet, which can accommodate 26 to 32 liters of food.
Convection microwave: Convection and grill microwaves usually have similar capacities. Convection ovens can range from 1 to 2.0 cubic feet and can accommodate 20 to 38 liters of food.
However, these figures are not set in stone, and capacity may vary according to the manufacturer, make, and model of the ovens.
Advantages of Grill and Convection Microwave Oven
Both grill and convection microwave oven offer a lot of benefits.
- Used for a wider variety of cooking than a solo microwave.
- Ability to grill food like you can on an outdoor BBQ grill.
- Can be used without the microwave function.
- Metal rack can be used to get those delicious-looking grill lines.
- Easier to clean than an outdoor BBQ grill.
- Cooking is faster than an outdoor BBQ grill.
- Can cook almost all types of dishes there are, including baked and crisped goods.
- Cooks faster than a conventional stove.
- Eliminates issues of uneven cooking.
- Saves energy and results in reduced bills.
Limitations of Grill and Convection Microwave Oven
Like all technology, grill and convection microwave ovens come with a few limitations as well.
- Can only reheat, defrost, and grill. Cannot bake, brown, or crisp food.
- Extra features like metal grill can consume space in the oven.
- Some components may require extra cleaning.
- Difficulty in regulating temperature so consumers may need to frequently monitor food to avoid undercooking or burning it.
- Is much more expensive than a solo and grill microwave oven
- The temperature inside the oven can reduce dramatically when the door is opened, which can affect the timing and the cooking result.
- The walls get dirty frequently, so conventional microwaves with self-cleaning technology are very useful in this regard.
1. Can I bake in a grill microwave oven?
Not really, unless you don’t mind unevenly baked cakes and bread. Grill microwaves are solo microwaves with an additional radiant heating element on the top. However, this feature works well only for grilling and roasting food. The heating coils in the feature depend on natural heating to heat the interior of the oven. In these conditions, baking won’t be consistent, and you will get your baked goodies raw on one side and burnt on the other side — and no one wants that.
2. Can I use metal in a convection microwave oven?
If your convection microwave is set on a microwave setting, DO NOT use a metal container or rack for cooking food in it. The microwave can pull the electrons away from the metal, causing it to scrunch up. You may hear alarming noises like explosions and pops from inside your microwave if you ever make the mistake of placing metal inside on a microwave setting, which should be your cue to turn the appliance off.
However, if you set your microwave to the convection setting, the source of heating will be the radiant element at the top or bottom of your microwave oven. Additionally, the heat is evenly distributed with the help of fans. Cooking in this setting will not damage your food, metal container, or microwave oven. So it is safe to use a metal container with it.
3. What’s the Difference Between a Convection Microwave Oven and a Regular Convection Oven?
A convection microwave oven can perform all the functions of a convection oven, but a convection oven does not have all the features or can perform all the functions of a regular convection oven. That’s because a convection microwave includes a magnetron to emit microwaves as well as a radiant heating element. In contrast, regular convection ovens do not have the microwave feature. So the only heating source in a convection oven is the radiant heating element.
4. Can I grill on the glass turntable of a grill or convection microwave oven?
You can grill without using a metal rack in a grill or a convection microwave oven. But since the grill is designed to raise your food to the optimum level to the radiant heating element, the lower portion of your food may be undercooked if you don’t use a grill. So, it is obviously better to use a grill.
So, which microwave oven should you buy: grill or convection?
The answer to this question depends a lot on what you want to get out of your microwave. If you usually use your microwave oven to reheat or defrost things, then buying an expensive convection oven is not a great idea. If, however, you like to eat grilled food, but do not have access to an outdoor grill, you can buy a grill microwave oven.
A convection microwave oven has all the features of a grill microwave oven, plus even more, so if you have the money, investing in it is a great idea. However, you can only get value for your money if you intend to bake or cook a lot of meat in a short amount of time in a convection microwave oven.
Although it is easy to get hooked by the lure of extra features provided by a convection microwave oven, you won’t be using it to your maximum if you don’t use it for baking too. Considering convection microwave are quite pricey, this is something you need to think about.
In the end, it all depends on what type of food you intend to cook in your microwave and whether you have the budget to buy the appliance. However, buying either one can add a measure of convenience, efficiency, and fun to your cooking.