Why are over the range microwaves so expensive?

I was in Best Buy yesterday and I noticed this. A countertop microwave can be had for $75. One that is meant to be put over the range is over $400. Why so much more? This doesn’t even include installation, just buying it off the shelf. Could I make a fortune by buying $75 microwaves and making mounting kits for them, so I could sell them as over the range units?

Do the over-the-range models also include an extractor fan? In my experience most do. So you need to compare the cost of a microwave plus the cost of an extractor hood.

Yes, over the counter microwaves include lights and an exhaust fan. Plus $400 is on the high end - decent brands are available in the $250 - $300 range.

The primary buyers of over-the-range microwaves are homeowners, and I suspect most of the “what microwave to get” decisions are made during or shortly after the purchase of a house. And when you’ve just dropped 6 or 7 figures on something, spending a little extra to get a higher-end microwave doesn’t seem like such a big deal.

They also sell far fewer of the over the range microwaves than they do countertop versions. This drives the price up because they have to design to fit into specific spaces, so you have limited choices to choose from.

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of houses are sold with ranges or cooktops in place, so there would be no need to replace the micro over the range/cooktop. The primary buys would be builders/developers, or folks building or remodeling their homes.

I had to replace my over-range microwave after about 10 years, and I think a lot of them are sold as replacement units. New installations may be the majority, but I think replacements are at least a significant minority of sales. However, I do not think these are sold during or shortly after the purchase of a home, the replacements would follow down the road.

As a builder I don’t think of over the range microwaves as expensive, rather the opposite. A typical North American kitchen should have both a range hood and a microwave. You can get really basic range hoods for as low as $50 and el cheapo microwave for $75. Sure for low end kitchens in rental properties we throw in the cheap hood and let the renter supply a microwave to put on the counter.

Even in a moderate kitchen we are going to be at the very least installing a microwave cabinet (which in a small kitchen takes up valuable storage space) and hood. A decent looking hood is going to be minimum $150. Decent OTR microwaves are in the $200-400 range. In smaller to moderate size kitchens space is worth a lot, a $350 OTR microwave vs a rangehood and microwave cabinet starts to make a lot of sense. As kitchens get higher end the cost of a nice looking OTR Microwave is often a lot cheaper than the nicer rangehoods, which get stupidly expensive. Built in microwaves are going to require not only a good microwave ($200-500), but the trim kit ($200-300), significant install time, and a cabinet once again taking up space.

All that being said even a pretty basic range hood is going to out perform an OTR microwave as an extractor, and the microwaves are more difficult to clean out. I choose a good hood and a good built in microwave for my own kitchen.

When it comes to cost and space management for all but the very low and high end, OTR microwaves are the more economical solution by far.

I’m sure some are sold shortly after the purchase of a home , although I can’t speculate what percentage. But’s it’s not terribly uncommon for someone to buy a home where the kitchen hasn’t been updated in years and decide to change things around without doing a full remodeling job - and one of those things might be replacing the stove in the last decade’s popular color with a new range and an OTR microwave. In fact, if I’d known that OTR microwaves included an exhaust fan, I’d have gotten one instead of the range hood ( when I bought the house, there was no range hood) - it would have saved me counter space and wouldn’t have cost much more than the combined cost of the range hood and microwave.

I don’t really know how it breaks down percentage-wise. You are right that there are a lot of kitchen updates shortly after a home purchase, I don’t doubt that, but I’d think that the number of replacements would increase with the number of years following purchase of a home or installation of the original.

The range hood and microwave are a good over the stove combination. Most kitchens have a cabinet over the hood that isn’t convenient to put a microwave in. A shelf over the hood to put a stand-alone microwave would be just as functional but probably not esthetically pleasing. And by combining them for standard designs I think the microwave shape is better than many stand-alone ovens, wide and deep but not too tall, and still leaving room for storage above it.

I don’t know if anyone’s mentioned yet, but over the stove microwaves are huge compared to the counter top variety. I had a really nice ~$200 counter top microwave before our house fire, but the $400 above-the-stove version we replaced it with has at least twice as much cooking space inside as the old one.

I’ll also add that when I was buying a new counter top microwave a couple of weeks ago, I noticed the prices on the OTR models DIDN’T seem to be exorbinate. I thought that for the features (fans, larger cooking area, lights), they seemed very reasonable at less than $250.

That has to be one of the niftiest new words I’ve learned in a long time. Now if only I can make up a worthy meaning for it . . . :smiley:

The satellite, newly exorbinate, flew off into space never to be seen again.

My experience with over the range microwaves is they are very loud.

the initial cost is relative … long-term focus is imperative. as suggested by another member … otr units are noisy … do not displace exhaust from stove adequately … replacing parts is prohibitively expensive. and, if you are not mech/elec inclined … service-calls place most home-owners at the folly of some goat’s foot-kick (manner of speech).

counter-top units are inexpensive … dispensable (remember to recycle responsibly) … and make for great gifts … 'specially for the kid going off to college.

Those larger models are also more likely to be dual or at least have a crisper feature. Large counter-top models with crisper and good controls are also going to be more expensive than their smaller brethren… “where does it get installed” is the lesser difference. I’ve been shopping for a high-end microwave for a while and the prices are similar for “installed” vs “drop in place” so long as the rest of the features are.