How High Should You Mount Outlets for Over-Range Microwaves?

microwave oven over stove range

Over-the-range microwaves are all the rage. They give your kitchen a sleek look and, in cases of a small kitchen, maximize the space. Installing one is often left to the professionals but an experienced DIYer can take it on themselves. For an over-the-range microwave to work, it will also need an outlet. Here are some tips for placement and height of the outlet and the microwave itself.

How High Should Your Over-the-Range Microwave Be?

Generally speaking, a 66-inch mounting height is standard, but it can vary. The exact distance an over-the-range microwave should be from the stove varies from brand to brand. Look at manufacturer recommendations. Different products may require different distances. You should also check local buildings codes as some may have specific requirements.

The best height for the outlet depends on the height of the over-the-range microwave. These microwaves include ventilation systems that vents exhaust from the cooktop—especially necessary when cooking meat or other foods that let off smoke or steam. Over-the-range microwaves are designed to withstand high temperatures, so they don't need to be very far from a stove.

open kitchen with microwave over stove and range

Other Area Concerns

Just because your microwave can be a short distance from your stove doesn’t mean it should be. If you're an avid cooker, consider raising the microwave slightly to make room for tall pots.

You should also make sure the over-the-range microwave won’t be so close to a smoke detector that you risk setting it off anytime you make oatmeal. You should also ensure that it is not somewhere where a lot of water could get on it. Water and electricity are not a good mix.

When you take something out of a microwave, it is normally hot and needs to be put down quickly. Make sure you have counter space available near the microwave. Installing it too high could make it difficult to transfer goods from the microwave to the counter before you burn your fingers.

Installing the Outlet

Installing a cable outlet can be done in as little as 30 minutes. If you haven't worked with wiring before, though, you may want to call in an electrician. To start, set an electrical box that will house the cable against the wall. Use a pencil to mark where you want to place it. Use a saw to cut out a hole the size of the box.

Put the electrical box inside of the hole you just created. Push the cable wire through the hole. Once it has been thread completely through, secure the box with wall mounting screws. Screw the box in completely. Make sure the screws are tight so the outlet will not move.

You can now put the faceplate, or outlet cover, over it. When you install the over-the-range microwave, you will have to plug it into this outlet. You may want to test the outlet with something like a cell phone charger before you go through the process of installing the microwave.

Installing the Microwave

Before beginning to install the microwave, read the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific model you purchased. A few of these steps may differ slightly depending on those guidances.

Start by unboxing the microwave. Do so gently, and make sure you have all the necessary pieces before moving on to the next step.

Use a stud finder to mark the studs in the wall where you are installing the microwave. Mark where you are going to install the microwave. Then use the template that comes with your over-the-range microwave; if one was not included in the packaging, print one online. The template should provide clear instructions on where to line up the microwave and where to place mounting brackets and other pieces needed for the install.

Mark the wall to follow the template, then remove the template and begin to drill holes into the appropriate places. Once the screws are in place, you can add the mounting brackets to the wall.

kitchen with stove and microwave

Before you place the actual microwave into the area with the mounting brackets, make sure the microwave fan will match your exhaust. If you have an exhaust duct, that is.

Make sure you can still access the power cord as you will need to pull it through the cabinet or housing unit for the microwave to plug it into the outlet you already installed.

Test the unit to make sure it works. If it does, you are ready to enjoy your over-the-range microwave.