Pros: Reliable. Even heating. Fast. Energy Efficient. Clever.
Cons: Interior staining ... maybe.
The Kenmore 61652, 61654, and 61659 model microwave ovens all are large capacity, "Ultra Wave" sensor units that deliver a continuous stream of power moderated by sensory detection of humidity. Our 61659 does a super job.
I marvel at how it automatically cooks, defrosts or re-heats just right.
We're big vegetable eaters. Not that we eat BIG vegetables, mind you, but we eat A LOT of vegetables to fill up our combined eleven-foot-eleven-inches of height (not to mention girth). With sensor cooking, we never have to weigh or guess. We pop a vented bowl of dampened vegetables in the oven, touch the pad control for fresh or frozen and, without touching START/ENTER, in a few minutes (estimated and re-estimated in the display), our vegetables are ready to serve.
If there's any margin of error with this sensor cooking, everything from veggies to popcorn is under- rather than over-cooked, but never enough to cause us to complain.
There's a touch pad control for popcorn, beverage, baked potato, and fresh and frozen vegetables. Prep is no different than usual for microwave cooking.
Defrosting in a Kenmore Ultra Wave is almost as much fun as sensor cooking. It's FUN because the defrosting is so correct.
This process is done by weight, however, so when you're unwrapping the poultry, fish, or meat, be sure to remember that.
You'll touch "Ultra" one time for fish, two for poultry, and three for meats, and then enter the weight of your selection. Without entering times, or powers, your frozen food will be defrosted in precisely the right amount of time. This is a winning feature.
There's a separate function for defrosting bread that works the same way, and just as well.
Auto Cook and Re-heat
The Ultra Waves come with automatic cooking and re-heating functions, too. For mixtures of food, they work to cook or re-heat without your having to enter times or powers, and they do a fail-safe job of it, so you'd think anybody could "cook" with this microwave, but don't count on it.
We've had our fair share of sophomore cooks in the kitchen, and, regardless, of their grade point averages, they've managed to burn popcorn, and splatter who-knows-what everywhere, so, while this microwave oven is a kitchen magician for my husband and me, beware: It's not for everyone.
Other Unique Features
I'm a long time microwave cook, so, while this fairly recent model microwave has lots of special features, I rely on old habits and often forget to use the very convenient new features. The good news, though, is that I can tell you this microwave out-rivals the Littons, Panasonics, and older Kenmores I've used. I enjoy using it, and highly recommend it.
Kitchen timer. Even while the oven is running, its timer can be used as an independent kitchen timer. I suppose that could be a handy feature for some, but I've never found a need for it. I'd rather have a dual function be that the timer continue to show real time while the mic is working. Finding cook time on the microwave, and oven temp on the stove display, when I want to see the real time, always annoys me.
Cooking in Stages. Some cooking instructions call for one cook power for a certain length of time, and another power for another length of time. This oven can be set to do that automatically for up to three stages. Do I remember? No.
Hold Warm. Here's another handy one I forget to use. It's a terrific convenience, and works for foods cooked in the microwave and elsewhere; so, when that "must receive" call comes, just as you were about to eat, stash your plate(s) in the microwave. Touch Hold Warm and Start. The oven will keep cooked food warm until you're ready to eat.
You also can make this a pre-requisite for microwave cooking. By touching Hold Warm prior to setting your cooking or heating instructions, this mic will do its job AND keep your food warm until ready to serve. -- Pretty nice feature, huh?
Add A Minute. This touchpad feature allows you to cook on high for one minute, or add a minute at a time, up to 99 minutes, to your in-process heating or cooking. I use it occasionally.
Turntable On/Off Yes, this microwave comes with a turntable, but with a touch, you can turn it on or off. We use it most of the time. With it, the oven heats so uniformly I've forgotten some microwaves don't. We get uniform heating without it's being on, too, but we've turned it off so infrequently, I wouldn't count on our luck holding true.
Customary Microwave Cooking and Heating
Creatures of habits need not dispair. While this microwave offers many conveniences, it also functions just as simply as any other you've ever used. That's nice for slow learners and those who are set in their ways. I speak for both.
All customary microwave oven care, such as cooking and heating with microwave-safe dishes and using hot pads to remove those dishes, should be used with this unit. If you're buying a microwave for the very first time, be sure to read all of the owners manuel. It's full of important tips and precautions.
A 120 Volt, 60 Hz, AC only, 15- or 20-amp fused electrical supply is called for to power this unit. Grounding is required. A time delay fuse, or circuit breaker is recommended, as is a separate circuit to serve only this appliance.
With less than a 110 volt electrical supply, cooking times will be longer.
By virtue of their mechanics, microwave ovens are about 50% energy efficient; 40% moreso than a typical electric range. They transfer about half of their energy supply into the water in the content of the oven, and, thereby, produce thermal heat. For maximum energy efficiency, cook small to medium quantities in your microwave. As the volume of food increases, the energy savings decrease; however, because cooking in a microwave oven wont heat up your kitchen, it will help save on summer cooling requirements for your home.
I've cooked or heated something in this microwave oven almost every day for the past five years, and enjoyed nothing but success. Once upon a time, after large children were "playing house" or experimenting with "chemistry in our kitchen, I discovered a scorch on the back wall of the oven that's never come clean. I can't account for how that happened any more than I can cleanse away the scorch, so ...
So long as you keep my off-spring and their companions away from your Kenmore Ultra Wave, I'd highly recommend its features and use.
While microwaves were known long before anyone knew how to produce them efficiently, they became important during World War II as the basis for radar. The ability to detect and locate enemy aircraft at long distances and at night was crucial to the defense of Allied cities during the war. The 1945 discovery that microwaves also cooked food was an accidental offshoot of radar development.
-- Dr. Louis A. Bloomfield, professor of physics, University of Virginia, for howthingswork.virginia.edu
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