The main advantages of compact microwave ovens are price, size and simple, easy-to-use features. Compact counter-top models are the least expensive microwaves and can be found for under $100, as of 2015. Compact microwaves are available from most small and major appliance retailers.
A compact microwave has interior dimensions of less than 1 cubic foot, which does not provide much cooking space. Compact appliances are ideal for small kitchens and recreational vehicles. If space is not an issue, a standard size microwave offers additional cooking features and greater versatility.
Compact ovens offer basic features including defrost and several quick-cooking options, such as a popcorn setting and reheat. Medium- and large-sized microwave ovens offer a larger cooking capacity and additional features, including greater cooking power. Compact ovens are rated at 600 to 800 watts, while larger models are able to cook at 850 to 1,200 watts, as of 2015.
All counter-top microwaves are easy to set up, and do not require any installation like the built-in or over-the-range models. A counter-top microwave only needs to be plugged into an outlet, as opposed to being installed and connected by an electrician.
As of 2015, GE is the top-selling brand in microwave appliances, offering models in a wide variety of sizes, styles and features. Kenmore, Sharp and Whirlpool also sell compact microwaves.