There are two different types of microwaves commonly available for domestic purchasing; flatbed microwaves and turntable microwaves.
A turntable microwave uses the turntable at the bottom of the appliance to help circulate the microwaves evenly across the ingredients inside.
Meanwhile, a flatbed microwave uses new technology to evenly emit microwaves across the food inside the appliance without the need of a turntable.
A flatbed microwave is more expensive than a turntable microwave, yet is more common in US households. It’s easier to clean and is often more effective at evenly cooking foods as it doesn’t depend on the food rotating on a turntable.
If you don’t use a microwave often then it may not be worth the additional cost to invest in a flatbed microwave.
However, if you have a large family or use a microwave regularly to cook ingredients then I’d suggest investing the extra amount of money in a flatbed microwave which is larger, easier to clean and more durable.
How Flatbed Microwaves Work?
A flatbed microwave uses a rotating antenna which is situated at the base of the appliance to distribute microwaves across the appliance’s interior.
This rotating antenna replaces the turntable you might see in a traditional microwave and allows for more space internally for larger meals among other key benefits.
There are three different types of flatbed microwaves; solo, combo and grill. Here’s a little about each;
Solo Flatbed Microwave – Solo flatbed microwaves are limited in functions and tend to offer the basic; defrost, heat and reheat options. However, as they are more limited they also tend to be more affordable. These are great if you’re simply looking for a basic large, reliable microwave for your kitchen.
Combination Microwaves – These appliances unsurprisingly offer a combination of different features which can be used either independently or together to cook food by; reheating, roasting, crisping, browning and grilling food.
Combination microwaves are a great addition to any kitchen especially when cooking a vast number of ingredients either as part of weekly meal preparation or for special events such as thanksgiving and Christmas.
Again, unsurprisingly these appliances also cost significantly more than solo flatbed microwaves and range from $500 to $2,500 depending on the manufacturer, appliance size, model, and other advanced technologies included.
Grill Microwaves – Perhaps the least common type of flatbed microwave is the grill microwave. These appliances act much like a solo microwave and also include a grilling function.
These are more expensive than solo microwaves but often cheaper than the combination methods given the fact they have slightly more versatility when compared to solo microwaves.
Advantages Of A Flatbed Microwave
Some advantages of a flatbed microwave include;
Increased Cooking Capacity – As there’s no turntable in a flatbed microwave and therefore no need for the additional space for the food to turn there’s an increased cooking capacity.
You’ll also find a range of different sizes so if you’re short on counter space you can buy a smaller one, or if you have a larger family to feed then you can often buy a larger capacity model.
Easy To Clean – A wider opening and no removable internal parks make cleaning the interior of a flatbed microwave relatively easy when compared to a traditional microwave and indeed some other kitchen appliances.
Evenly Cooked Food – Flatbed microwaves boast new technology which is proven to cook food more evenly than traditional turntable microwaves.
Durability – The most common cause of damage with a turntable microwave is the plate being damaged during the cooking process. As there is no turntable situated inside a flatbed microwave the machine tends to be more durable and require fewer replacement parts.
Disadvantages Of A Flatbed Microwave
As these microwaves include relatively new technology they do tend to cost more money than turntable microwaves. Although these costs can be mitigated by purchasing the appliance in the sales or limiting the additional features included.
How Do Turntable Microwaves Work?
Microwave ovens work by releasing powerful “micro-waves” of energy that bounce off the metal surfaces in your oven until they reach your food. These waves are invisible radio waves that are released by a small transmitter the transmitter called a magnetron.
Once these micro-waves reach your food, they cause the molecules in your food to vibrate and heat up. The faster the vibration, the hotter the food will get.
Microwave ovens operate using radiation, and so do not heat your food in the same way as a typical convection or conduction oven.
Microwave ovens are dependent on a transmitter to release the micro-wave energy. Some microwave ovens release this energy from a fixed position, while others feature a heating mechanism that moves.
Most of the microwaves on the market today are turntable microwaves. In a turntable microwave oven, the mechanism that emits the microwaves is in a fixed position.
This means that in order to achieve even heating, your food is the object that will need to move.
Turntable microwaves work by rotating your food at a steady pace to ensure that an even and thorough heating takes place. This rotation is achieved through the use of a circular glass plate on a small track.
This rotation helps eliminate the presence of any hot or cold spots in your food and makes sure that each portion of your dish receives the same amount of microwave energy.
By rotating your food and the plate it is sitting on, a turntable microwave oven should theoretically cut down on the number of times you need to remove, stir, and reheat your food.
You may notice that sometimes your microwave’s turntable plate rotates clockwise, and other times it rotates counterclockwise. This is normal.
In addition, some turntable microwave ovens may feature an on/off switch allowing you to use the oven with or without rotation.
On the other hand, flatbed microwaves are another option on the market today. Flatbed microwave ovens are microwaves without any rotation of your food at all. Instead, the use of a rotating antenna or rotating fan works to evenly heat your food.
So how do you know which type of microwave you should purchase? Are turntable microwaves better than flatbed microwaves? We’ll cover some of the advantages and disadvantages of turntable microwave ovens below.
Advantages Of A Turntable Microwave
The main advantage of a turntable microwave is that they offer the ability to evenly heat your food without paying a hefty price tag for a flatbed microwave. Flatbed microwaves tend to be more expensive, harder to find, and limited in style and size.
For example, if you are looking for a small white microwave that matches your kitchen and only have $50 to spend, you are probably only going to find turntable microwaves that fit this description.
Another advantage of selecting a turntable microwave oven is that you know you are guaranteed an even cooking experience due to the rotating plate.
Since most flatbed microwave ovens operate using newer technology, they may not be quite as reliable, and you may still find yourself repeatedly stirring and reheating your food trying to ensure an even cooking. The purchase of a turntable microwave should eliminate this need altogether.
Disadvantages Of A Turntable Microwave
Unless your microwave has a turntable on/off feature, you will be severely limited in the types and sizes of dishes you can use in your turntable microwave.
With turntable microwaves, larger plates and oddly shaped containers will not fit properly in the microwave or be able to turn without hitting the sides of the microwave. You also lose vertical space in the microwave due to the slight elevation of the turntable track and plate.
With turntable microwaves, sometimes the glass plate can get off track, meaning they can become noisy and rattle. And if you have a dish full of liquid such as a creamy sauce, some of your food can even slosh and spill out due to the movement of the turning plate.
This brings one other point to mind, which is that turntable microwaves are full of many cracks and crevices that can be difficult to clean. The glass can become dirty, and it is another part that you need to keep track of, clean or even replace.
On the other hand, flatbed microwaves are easy to clean, have no need for replacement parts, and offer much larger capacity for all shapes and sizes of food dishes.
For these reasons, most commercial microwave ovens are flatbed microwaves.
Best Microwaves Available To Buy
Here are some of my favourite microwaves on the market right now;
Panasonic Microwave Oven NN-SN686S
This microwave is available in three sizes; 0.9 cubic feet, 1.2 cubic feet and 1.3 cubic feet. The power wattage varies depending on the size (1.2 cubic feet uses 1200 watt for example).
The microwave is made of stainless steel which is one of the most food safe materials available on the market and is incredibly easily to clean.
This Panasonic flatbed microwave NN-SN686S also uses inverter technology with advanced turbo defrost which is a patented technology.
This technology is designed to generate a seamless stream of power consistently without overcooking the food.
All of this technology also helps this microwave to be one of the most energy-efficient microwaves on the market today.
This Toshiba flatbed microwave also comes in two sizes; 1.2 cubic feet and a 1.3 cubic feet. Again, the exact power wattage for each machine varies slightly depending on the size.
This microwave is also made from durable and lightweight stainless steel and is well known as being incredibly easy to clean both inside and out.
The Toshiba EM131A5C-SS has a number of pre-set cooking features and power settings.
These are designed to help you cook different ingredients including pizza, potatoes and vegetables with ease.
This flatbed microwave also has a dedicated ECO model which helps significantly reduce energy consumption (around 50% when compared to the main power settings).
One of the most affordable flatbed microwaves is the Toshiba EM925A5A-BS which is available in just one size, a 0.9 cubic-feet.
Given the small size this microwave requires just 900 watts and has a voltage of 120V~ 60Hz.
However, despite the affordability of this microwave it still comes with a one-touch start and six pre-programmed settings specifically designed for foods such as popcorn, potatoes and pizza.
The Toshiba EM925A5A-BS has a one year warranty however, an additional warranty can be purchased from some retailers.
How To Save Money When Buying A Microwave
There are a number of ways you can look to save money when purchasing a flatbed microwave, or even a traditional turntable microwave. These include;
Buying Second Hand – You could look to buy the appliance second hand. The majority of second-hand appliances retail for around 50% less than the original RRP and while Smeg appliances tend to hold their value slightly more it’s still a sure-fire way to save money.
Buying The Floor Model – You can also ask for the floor model, in certain stores, they’ll have a floor model or demo appliance which is used to help incentivize people to purchase the item.
When new models are released or stores are redesigned these models are often sold off with a discount of between 10% to 25%. While this is often a ‘right place, right time scenario’ it’s something to consider during your search.
Buy During Specialist Sales – You could aim to buy the appliance during Black Friday or during the Boxing Day sales. In this case, you’ll still be buying a new appliance but may save up to 25% as a result.
The problem with this solution is that you may be waiting months for your new appliance (i.e. if you’re looking to replace your refrigerator in June then November is a number of months away, will your fridge last this long or has it already stopped working).
Buy Using Coupon Codes – Finally, if you have to buy your kitchen appliances brand new and are unable to wait for the sales then I suggest shopping around and using coupon codes where possible.
The majority of stores will offer a ‘best price guarantee’ so you can ensure that you’re getting the best possible retail price.
On top of this, you can use coupon codes which are advertised on the site, directly delivered to your inbox or found online through the likes of Honey to save anything up to 30%.