My brother is a do-it-yourselfer. He is incredibly talented when it comes to either woodworking projects or home improvement. Im glad hes around to call when I need help in those areas! He also likes to phone and invite me over when hes working on projects. His latest project is part of his kitchen remodel. He installed the Whirlpool Over-the-Range Microwave -- Model # MH3184XP.
This is a beautiful 1000-watt microwave with a 1.8 cubic foot capacity. The exterior is a glossy black with a large tinted front window. (It also is available in white and stainless steel.) The entire unit measures 29 7/8 long x 17 1/8 high x 15 3/8 deep. This microwave is designed to fit over an electric or gas cooking range that is a maximum of 36 wide. My brother installed his over a Maytag gas range.
The microwave door swings open on a left hinge, and the control panel is to the right of the door. The digital clock is above the control panel with an electric-green LED display. The control panel is a touch pad with eight rows of buttons. (You can read more about the control panel below.)
The interior of the microwave has different measurements since the sides are concave. The actual front opening measures 21 wide and is 14 deep with a height 9 1/2. Since the interior sides are concave, the actual interior width is 23, which allows for longer cooking pans.
Inside the microwave is a removable metal rack. As most people have been taught, it is not wise to put metal in a microwave as it can cause sparking. However, this metal rack does not cause that problem. The manufacturer advises that the metal rack never touch the microwaves sides or bottom during cooking. Also, make sure the metal rack is not in the oven unless it is being used. There are plastic spacers affixed to areas on the rack to keep it from touching the microwave walls. The rack mounts inside the microwave are also constructed from plastic. This rack will accommodate two dinner plates, so that a total of four dinner plates can fit in the microwave at the same time (2 on the rack and 2 on the floor).
There is a recessed glass turntable in the bottom of the microwave. The top of the turntable is flush with the microwave floor. The turntable measures 12 in diameter. There is also an on/off button to keep the turntable from rotating. This on/off feature is great so that two dinner plates can be placed side-by-side in the microwave, or even a longer pan. Always use the microwave with the turntable in place.
A charcoal filter is located behind a removable vent at the top of the microwave (the filter comes with the microwave). The filter at some point will need to be replaced, but the filter is only used if the microwave is not externally vented.
This microwave also has internal lighting, which goes on when the microwave door is open and when the microwave operates. Since this microwave is also a range hood, there is cooktop lighting and venting beneath the microwave. The cooktop light has three settings: high, night and off. The cooktop lighting uses two lightbulbs that came with the unit (maximum rating of 30 watts / 120 volts), and the lights are noticeably dimmer than a halogen bulb would produce. The light has a golden glow. The two lights are located at either end of the front corners. There are two washable metal mesh vent covers next to the lights.
The vent fan has a safety feature built-in to protect the microwave. Should the range beneath the microwave become too hot, the vent fan will automatically turn on at the highest speed. It will remain on for up to one hour. If the fan automatically turns on to keep the microwave cool from the heat of the range, it cannot be turned off until it automatically shuts off.
Note that this microwave requires a grounded plug and is not designed for hardwiring.
More About the Control Panel
Like the exterior of the microwave, the control panel is black. The touchpad buttons are a dark gray. There are eight rows of buttons.
The top row consists of four one-touch cooking buttons: popcorn, baked potato, dinner plate, beverage. Beneath these buttons are three others: reheat, cook, defrost. The next row has buttons labeled: cook time, cook power, warm hold.
There is a numeric keypad as well that features buttons numbered 1 through 0 with a timer set button and a clock button on either side of the "0" button. The numbers 1 through 5 are also easy minute buttons. For example, the # 1 says Easy 1 Minute and the # 5 says Easy 5 Minute. Touch the button once and the microwave will cook for 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 minutes depending upon which number button is pressed.
The bottom row of buttons control the cooktop lighting, ventilation fan and turntable. To the right of these buttons are two larger buttons, the smaller of the two says Cancel, and the larger button is labeled Start (and also serves as an add 30 seconds to cooking time button).
This is a wonderful microwave. My brother and family are happy to cook with it. The controls are intuitive, and the microwave comes with a 15-page instruction booklet. One neat feature of the microwave is the "6th Sense System Cooking". Here is how the manufacturer describes it: A sensor in the microwave oven detects humidity released from the food and automatically sets a cooking time based on the selected pad. Three of the buttons have this feature: the popcorn, baked potato and dinner plate buttons. This feature also is used during various quick cooking choices.
The kids immediately tested the microwave by using the one-touch popcorn button. They popped Act II butter popcorn in individual mini-bags. Just place the bag of popcorn in the microwave and press the popcorn button. The clock display changes to show the word Sense and the microwave cooks. The popcorn popped perfectly with no burned popcorn and maybe a dozen unpopped kernels.
Baked potatoes also cook the same way. Last night we cooked five potatoes
all different sizes, ranging from small to large. We stabbed the potatoes with a fork and placed them on a plate. The turntable was left in the on position so that it turned, and the Baked Potato button was pressed. All five potatoes turned out beautifully, all evenly cooked and hot. My brother especially appreciated this feature since the old microwave always undercooked the largest potato.
The Beverage button is a favorite since everyone likes a hot drink, whether its a quick cup of tea, hot chocolate or warming milk to add to hot chocolate. When the Beverage button is pushed once, it will heat a cup of liquid. Press the button again, and it says Cups 2 to indicate it will heat two cups of liquid. For example, a 17-ounce mug of milk needed warming. To warm that amount of milk required that the Beverage button be pushed twice.
The microwave is usually used to heat quick foods such as popcorn, baked potatoes, beverages, soups, canned chili and frozen dinners. Sometimes it is used for regular cooking such as preparing meatloaf, but this is not done often.
Visiting my brother today, we decided to cook individual-sized Schwans cheese pizzas. The pizza wrapper says to microwave for 4 minutes. We opted to try the Cook and Frozen Entree feature. The Sensor kicked in and cooked the pizza, automatically sensing when the pizza was done cooking. Each pizza took about 4 minutes to cook. The cheese melted perfectly on the pizzas. The crust was soft (almost spongy) but not rubbery. The pizza tasted delicious.
The Reheat button offers a neat feature, too. Hit the Reheat button once and it shows the word Pad, which indicates you should hit the numbered keypad for the time you want for reheating. Press the button a second time and the word Pizza appears, and other choices are offered in sequence if the button is continually pressed: Pizza, Casserole, Soup, Sauce, Baked Goods. If you have three slices of pizza to cook, press the Reheat button until the word Pizza appears then press the number 3 for three slices. The Casserole button can be programmed for how many cups of casserole are cooking. The Baked Goods button displays the word Pieces and then a number can be typed in for cooking more than one piece.
This microwave also offers a Defrost feature. Touch the number 1 for Meat or number 2 for Poultry or the number 3 for Fish. Then you can choose the number of pounds that are to be defrosted.
There are also preset cooking buttons. Press the Cook button and then a number for different cooking options. # 1: canned vegetables (1 4 cups), # 2 fresh vegetables (1 4 cups works using Sensor feature), # 3 frozen vegetables (1 4 cups works using Sensor feature), # 4 rice (1/2 2 cups using Sensor feature), # 5 frozen French toast (1 4 pieces), # 6 bacon (1 6 slices), # 7 frozen entree (10- 20 ounces using Sensor feature).
Inside the microwave along the bottom edge is a Cooking Guide that lists the different options available for the Reheat, Cook and Defrost buttons.
Use the Cook Time button and number keys to select the cook time (this temporarily disables the Easy Minute function of the 1-5 keypad buttons). The Cook Power button allows one to select different power cooking levels.
If extra time is needed after selecting a cooking time, press the Start button to add an additional 30 seconds each time the button is pushed. For example, if one selected a cooking time of one minute, pressing the Start button after cooking has started will add another 30 seconds of cooking time.
The Ventilation button controls the fan speed. There are four fan speeds: they are high to low as the button is pushed. I noticed the lowest fan speed is barely noticed as background noise. The highest fan speed is louder, but we can hold a conversation while it is on.
My brother daringly installed this microwave himself. This microwave weighs over 150 pounds, and he maneuvered it into position without help ... which he tells me he regrets.
This is a brief how-to for installing the microwave so you have an idea of the labor involved. The microwave comes with all the hardware needed as well as two templates for positioning the microwave. One template is for the wall position and the second one for under the cabinet placement.
Some considerations: The space under the cabinet must measure 30 wide minimum. The space beneath the bottom edge of the upper cabinet frame to the top of the range must also be 30 minimum. If the range is not yet installed, then the measurement should be 66 from the floor to the top of the wall mounting plate.
First a metal mounting plate is removed from the back of the microwave and placed against the wall after the template is used for positioning. The microwave must be screwed into wall studs. You must anchor each corner of the metal plate with the screws provided. You can also screw it into position with additional holding points if wall studs are not hit with the four corner screws. Spring Toggle Head Bolts are used if no wall studs are lined up in the corners.
Next, locate the wall studs that would be behind the microwave. Lag Screws are provided for anchoring the metal plate to the studs. The microwave is so heavy that it is mandatory to connect the plate to the wall studs with a minimum of two Lag Screws, but using four Lag Screws is preferred. (The template has markings for all possible optional Lag Screw mounting holes.)
Once the metal wall plate is connected, it is time to use the under-the-cabinet template to drill the appropriate holes in the bottom of the cabinet for the additional support that is needed to hold the weight of the microwave. The cabinet that the microwave is being mounted to should be screwed into wall studs for added support. Note: the holes drilled into the bottom of the cabinet are for two front supporting screws that mount into the microwave and a hole to allow the microwave plug to come up into the cabinet. Also note that an electrical outlet with a standard 3-prong plug is needed to plug in the microwave.
Now comes the part where my brother lifted the 150-plus pound microwave by himself (nut that he is). One person doing this alone will have difficulty aligning the microwave against the bottom edge supports of the plate. On the first attempt, my brother couldnt see what he was doing and actually bent one of the support brackets. So he had to put down the microwave, unbend the bracket, and then try again to align the microwave with the bottom edge of the bracket. When the microwave is lifted, tilt the microwave forward toward the body. Then it is lifted to slide into the bottom edge of the wall mount and tilted backward to fit into the under-the-cabinet mount. The microwave locks into position. (If the microwave ever needs to be removed, there is a release latch located behind the top vents in the microwave.)
Note while tilting the microwave into position, the electrical cord also has to be fed through the bottom of the cabinet. The manufacturer recommends a time-delayed fuse or circuit breaker and separated circuit. After installation is complete, the microwave can be plugged in.
Once the microwave is positioned, two screws are dropped through the inside bottom of the cabinet into the top of the microwave. When these screws are tightened, they pull the microwave against the bottom of the cabinet for a snug fit.
Two 1/4-20 x 3 bolts and 2 washers
Four 1/2-20 x 3 bolts and 4 spring toggle-heads
Four 1/4 x 2 lag screws
One power supply cord clamp and mounting screw
One power supply cord bushing
One sheet metal screw
Cleaning & Care
Do not use an abrasive cleaner to clean the outside of the microwave. Use a soft cloth and either warm water or liquid detergent. Before cleaning the microwaves interior, make sure the microwave is cool. Use liquid soap and water with either a soft cloth or sponge.
To clean the grease filters on the underside of the microwave, soak them in hot water and mild detergent. Scrub and swish them through the water to remove dirt then rinse and shake dry. Do not place them in a dishwasher.
The cooking rack should also be cleaned with mild soap and water with a soft cloth. Do not place the rack in a dishwasher.
The turntable is cleaned when cool. Use mild soap and a scouring pad. The turntable is dishwasher safe, though we have never placed it in the dishwasher.
This microwave came from a local Lowes store and cost $328.00. My sister-in-law had a 10% discount off the price, which made it even more attractive. The microwave comes in a huge box (about a foot longer than the microwave), so make sure your vehicle can accommodate the carton.
This is a terrific microwave. It works great, and even the two children can easily use it. In hindsight, my brother strongly recommends that two people lift the microwave into position. Hes still sporting battle scars!
I hope you found this review useful.
Enjoy your day,
One-Year Full Warranty from date of purchase. A Second through Fifth Year Limited Warranty on Magnetron Tube.
Toll-free Phone: 800-253-1301
Please read my other reviews:
Broan Allure III Range Hood
Maytag Gemini Double Oven Range
Black & Decker 4-slice Toaster Oven
Hamilton Beach BlendMaster 12 Speed Blender
T-Fal Perfection Nonstick Cookware Set
T-Fal Perfection Square Griddle
Farberware Nonstick Bakeware 12 Cup Muffin Pan
KitchenAid Measuring Cup Set
Hefty Serve n Store Disposable Plates
Ziploc Containers with Snap n Seal Lids
Ultra Dawn Dishwashing Soap Apple Blossom scent
Pyrex Digital Timer
Copyright 2005 Dawn L. Stewart
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Amount Paid (US$): 328.00