It doesn’t matter if you just want to hide your microwave away out of sight, Or you live in a tiny home and need that valuable space to be freed up. It’s important to know if you can store a microwave in an enclosed space safely without any problems.
The answer is yes! It’s absolutely safe to store a microwave in an enclosed space such as a cabinet. You may need to make small concessions on placement based on where the exhaust vent comes out. Always try and keep a few inches (1-3 in.) open in that area.
The pantry or cabinet shelf should be sturdy enough to hold a full microwave without bowing down. If you don’t think your shelf can maintain the weight of the appliance, you should add extra anchor points and put them on a thicker shelf. You can do this with a simple drill and trip to the hardware store.
You will also need to consider the placement of the electrical circuit. If you don’t have one inside the pantry you should consider having one installed for cable management and safety reasons. Some states and provinces may have regulations regarding the circuit microwaves are run on, So be aware of your local ordinance and be compliant.
When installing it, consider the ease with which it’s accessible. Too low or too high could make it difficult to use.
Does a microwave need ventilation?
Microwaves don’t get very hot, but they do produce a lot of air which expands outwards as food heats up. It’s important to keep these vents clear of any blockage. While they don’t produce a lot of heat, that heat that it does produce can quickly build up and cause failure.
Each microwave manufacturer will have different values and clearance rates for their vents. Checking your exact model is easy, and only requires a simple google search or a quick paw through a manual.
In general it’s recommended to have at least 1 in. to 3 in. clearance in order to maintain good ventilation.
Recommended clearances by reputable brands:
- GE Countertop Appliances: 3″ on all sides and top, 1″ of space in the back. Door swing clearance 3″.
- Toshiba Countertop Appliances: A minimum 3″ in. clearance around all walls, 1 side must be open.
- Panasonic Official Guidelines: Do not remove feet, Keep 10cm’s of space in the back, and 5cm’s on either side. 15cm clearance at the top.
One thing all models have in common is they have units built specifically for tightly enclosed spaces, and you should consider using one of those rather than a countertop microwave.
Door swing clearance
Door swing clearance also needs to be considered when adding a microwave to an enclosed pantry. You should be able to swing out the microwave door further than it is wide for optimal results. Lining it up with the pantry doors is a good way to achieve this.
Having a deep cabinet may prove to be problematic with swing width, and even just everyday use. Consider storing longer-term products that you won’t access regularly in a deep pantry behind the microwave.
Putting false wallboard behind could be an option if having a bunch of stuff behind your appliance isn’t your aesthetic style. A slide out platform with a swivel placed under the microwave might be an option to make a deep shelf pantry a bit more tolerable with a microwave in the way. It could also improve doors wing ranges.
If living space is a premium in your life, be it a tiny home, a small NY apartment, or you’re just trying to get a microwave into a cabinet at the office kitchen, It’s important to know the basics of safely.
Your electrical should be hooked up in a convenient location inside the pantry as well as up to code for the particular state you are in. Leave enough clearance all around your microwave, which varies by manufacturer.
Put it at or around chest level for best convenience. Never put it above your head, as holding boiling food over your head is bound to end poorly with very bad burns.
Do allow for enough space to open the door. Not only does it make life easier, But it’s a safety hazard not to be able to swing the door out far enough. Bumping the door with your elbow while carrying hot food can result in very bad burns.