Whirlpool, Samsung, GE and Frigidaire are some of the companies that make over-the-range microwaves. The design of these units allows the buyer to mount them over the stove so that they do not take up counter space. Many also integrate an exhaust fan to remove cooking odors from the house.
Installing a microwave over the stove sometimes requires planning. The manufacturers specify the minimum clearance to prevent overheating of the unit. The microwave requires an electrical plug for power, and units that vent outside of the house require cutting a vent to exhaust the air. The design of portable counter-top microwave ovens allows for mounting in this location.
An over-the-range microwave helps to free up counter space for other tasks. These units are usually larger than portable microwave ovens, allowing the user to prepare larger amounts of food to meet the needs of a family. However, after installation, the oven is no longer portable.
Small, portable microwaves are another option. They typically cost under $100, as of 2015. However, they require a significant amount of counter space, without offering the interior room of the over-the-range microwave. Their smaller size makes them ideal for an individual or couple, but may not be suitable for large meals.