I've noticed that stacks of built-in/wall ovens and microwaves are almost always installed with the microwave on top and the oven at the bottom, regardless of whether they are single or separate appliances.

This seems counter-intuitive to me for at least these reasons:

  1. A lower hotter oven is more dangerous to roaming children than a lower colder microwave.
  2. When both appliances are operating, the colder microwave might be passively heated by the hotter oven, possibly shortening the microwave's life.
  3. When baking with oven's door partly open (for whatever reason), trying to operate a microwave right above it seems inconvenient with the hot air rising from the oven.

So what am I missing? Why are the appliances always stacked with the microwave on top?

  • 1
    Hi everybody, I removed comments suggesting possible reasons. If you have a guess, please state it as an answer. If you are so unsure of the guess that you don't want to make an answer out of it, please don't post it as a comment either.
    – rumtscho
    Nov 30, 2020 at 18:42

1 Answer 1


Three reasons:

  1. The microwave oven itself is lighter than the conventional oven, and putting the lighter item at the top makes good construction sense, especially for freestanding oven/range/microwave units. Such freestanding combo units were a lot more common in the early days of home microwaves, so folks got used to that configuration.
  2. The space over the range/above the wall oven was also generally not used for anything important, and that's still the case. So homeowners re-making a kitchen will put the microwave over the oven given that the space is "available".
  3. Items you put into the microwave tend to be lighter than those you put in the stove, so it makes sense for the oven to be lower down. For example, you might put a whole turkey in a heavy basting pan into the oven, but are unlikely to put anything half that large into the microwave.

Of course, if you're designing your own kitchen, it's possible that none of those reasons apply to you. Certainly I did not put my microwave over my oven.

  • 1
    2b - the space over the oven often gets too warm for food storage, but might not be a convenient place to store (heavy) cookware - it's a good place to put something that doesn't mind the heat and doesn't get lifted down
    – Chris H
    Dec 1, 2020 at 11:40
  • I didn't put a built-in microwave when I rebuilt my kitchen because there's much less choice and they are much more expensive than free standing ones.
    – GdD
    Dec 1, 2020 at 14:32

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