(another break from the political news) Well we’ve had two of them break in the last six months, so time to actually spend some time shopping for the. Three big sources are Amazon reviews (I know they are biased for small things, but people do not often give away microwaves for reviews ;-), Wirecutter’s home site called Sweethome as a meta site and Consumer Reports (although they do not often correlate well with Amazon). So here’s an analysis for on the counter microwaves. Note that there are actually very few real microwave makers left, most are rebadges of GE or Panasonic or LG, etc.:
Sweethome. GE JES1656SRSS (or Amazon) at $150 or the newer $200 JVM6175SKSS. This is ironically the exact model that we already have in our house. After years of hard use, it started to vibrate and rattle and stop heating. But wow was it dependable. Looking at the Amazon reviews, there are not many on this model, although Home Depot has lots of good ones, so a decent choice. The $150 model seems pretty good and I’m not sure there is really any real difference.
Amazon. Panasonic NN-SN936B. The GE gets only 3/5 starts on Amazon, the winner there seems to be the Panasonic with 4.5/5. But beware this thing is big: 37 pounds and 22 inches x 14″ for the 2.2 cubic foot one. Even the 1.6 cu foot version is still 21 ?” so it will not be a good fit for a standard 22″ wide cabinet in the US.
Consumer Reports. They like the LG, but on Amazon, folks complain about how noisy it is.
Finally in looking more at Amazon, I looked at a few “commercial-grade” microwaves. Given how much we use it to see if they are worth it. The main thing is that they are theoretically longer life and they are easy to clean since there are no rotating parts inside. (There is also a restaurant supply store called webrestaurantsupply.com with a long list but they are poorly rated by reselleratings.com):
Panasonic NE-1025F. They don’t have fancy controls but a six minute timer and instead of a rotating dish, the microwave tube itself rotates, so much simpler to operate.
Panasonic NE-1054F. This does have electronic controls and is a higher grade but more expensive at $250. It is 20 ?” x 11″ so somewhat smaller than the 1025F.