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Thread: Microwave oven prices?

  1. #1
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    Default Microwave oven prices?

    Looking at microwaves and am puzzled by the huge disparity in prices. $100 to $1000. Obviously there are quality and features differences but it is perplexing. I have no desire to cheap-out but I do wonder if that $140 job will do what I want, for a reasonably long time (it's a G.E.).

    I am replacing a fairly expensive model that was also a convection oven; in the $400-$500 range. All we ever use it for is popcorn and reheating stuff.

    Does anyone actually know how to asses value in microwaves?

  2. #2
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    Having owned a hotel I can tell you the comercial variety of microwaves do things much quicker and are usually bigger in capacity.Look at the power ratings and you'll find a big difference between these and the domestic soon redundant chuck- away-able type. Alistair
    Please excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

  3. #3
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    Ours cost around $900 back in 1980 ish, the door still fits tightly and I believe it's 900W.
    Still works like a new one.

    Prices on these have gone way down.

    My concern would be leakage, maybe none with a new one but a crappy door will make a gap sooner rather than later.
    Mike

    My Dad always said, "If you want people to do things for you on the farm, you have to buy a machine they can sit on that does most of the work."

  4. #4
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    Even the cheap ones work just fine and last a very long time.

    For a few dollars more you can get the "inverter" models that are a whole lot lighter and usually more powerful.

    It's a pretty mature technology. I have not had a microwave die in a very long time.

  5. #5
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    I'm not sure I understand what exactly you're asking about, but if the chamber and wattage are sufficient for your needs and the oven looks reasonably well made mechanically (esp., the latch), that's all you really need. I'd stay with a known brand that may, potentially, mean more even heating within the different parts of the chamber, better reliablility, etc. Unfortunately, the current total outsourcing often makes brand name completely irrelevant.

  6. #6
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    I did not find a correlation between size and power vs. cost. Some of the most expensive ones did not have bigger oven space or more power. So what are you paying for? I guess that is my question. Seems like a microwave is a microwave.

  7. #7
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    Some have built in grills ..to brown stuff ..and a pile of different programs to cook different foods

    even those are cheap ..i had a powerful one from aldi for 69 with all those features

    chief failure points are the turntable drive...and the micro-electronics in the programmable ones.

    there are some with food probes ..and some that function as a proper conventional oven....with rotisseries and all sorts of accessories

    all the best.markj

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Horst
    Seems like a microwave is a microwave.
    I think as long as the wavelength is less than about 15 or 20 cm.
    it's a microwave. OH! you mean an oven.
    ...Lew...

  9. #9
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    Used to be you didn't have to worry much about reliability in microwaves. That isn't the case now. Figure on a useful life of two years unless you have a warranty on the full oven (not just magnetron) that lasts longer. Lifespan estimates on microwaves today tend to be 5-10 years - and that is overly optimistic. On the other hand, there are many 1980 vintage ones still working. My mom used the one I bought her ($80?) for about 28 years until she moved (still working but she managed to dislodge the ceiling and stirrer fan while cleaning, took a few minutes to reattach). Some friends are still using a kenmore model that they have probably had since the late 70s (the style that had a lighted rocker switch as start button, rocker cook/defrost switch, rotary timer, full size countertop, probably commercial duty), though they did have to do a significant repair recently; they actually found another identical model for their second house. I bought a microwave around 1991 that I probably used for about 15 years until I accidentally cooked a potato for 60:00 instead of 6:00 (touchpad entry). Potato actually caught on fire and caused some smoke damage to the electronics and occassionally it would suffer flashbacks and the electronics would crash in the cook forever mode; a friend used it for many years after that while I replaced it with a $30 used older model with rotary timer that I used until I moved. My housemate's microwave had to be replaced recently due to it developing a tendency towards unauthorized operation (no flaming potato this time, though it was above the toaster oven and may have been exposed to some smoke).

    There is no guarantee that a used microwave today won't outlast one purchased new for ten times the price. In addition to the general decline in quality of formerly "durable" goods, there are some widespread reductions in quality in elctronic devices even when the manufacturer hasn't intentionally tried to cut corners. Modern inverter ovens stand a good chance of an early death due to capacitor plague which has caused the death of many electronic devices built since 1999. This affects high ripple current caps, from most capacitor manufacturers, used in inverters and switching supplies and has caused the failure of billions of dollars worth of electronics. Products built after 2002 are prone to be built to comply with RoHS lead-free standards which are not conducive to long life spans. There are many counterfeit electronic parts (and end products) on the market, now. If you have a product manufactured in China and don't have people on site monitoring the supply chain, these parts can find their way into your product. Even if you take apart the microwave and find Nichicon brand caps, they could be fakes. So 5-10 years might be very optimistic and influenced by pre-1999 models skewing the average and outdated data. And, indeed, I see many reports of failures within the first few years or even the first year (not just infant mortality, either) - including reports that this is the norm. People reporting reliability often report something like my last microwave lasted 10-30 years, new one lasted 1-3. Or one that says "In the last 10 years I've had 4 microwaves of varying top quality brands. Most do not last more than a few years these days."

    When one of my computer monitors died due to capacitor plague, I found out that if you sent it back for repair they installed the same defective capacitors as replacements. So I bought and installed some Panasonic ECG caps which had formerly been known for good quality; found out shortly thereafter, though, that their newer caps (he tends to purchase from authorized component distributors) are prone to very early leakage so I will probably have to replace those as well.

    I was looking at some switching power supply modules a couple days ago that sell for $2 shipped (new) on ebay. Never mind the caps (though this is the kind of circuit which would be affected by the plague). The main part (LM2596) on those boards costs me $5 (though around $1 qty 1600 reputable 2nd source or $2.77 for original manufacturer qty 1000). Sure enough, I found a report from someone who got a batch of unreliable counterfeits of that same part. The logo on the part on those boards is that of the more expensive manufacturer (but a bit distorted). There were about 1400 separate reports of counterfeit parts in 2011 and most of these were reported by US military and aerospace suppliers - consumer market is much worse.

    While capacitor plague has been seen in microwaves, one thing working for you is that most microwaves spend most of their time "off" and not wearing out the caps as much.

    I have seen a lot of consumer electronics that used to last decades die after 1-3 years. Remind you of the discussions of various brands of tools?

    In microwaves, you pay extra for larger size, higher wattage, turntable, temperature probe, stainless steel exterior, conventional or convection oven capability, over stove mount with vent hood or built in models, 12V operation, humidity sensor based cooking times, fancier controls, commercial duty, etc. Build quality is harder to evaluate, especially without disassembly and hard to tell even then if fake parts are used.

    Look at sites which have reviews. These won't necessarily tell you if the product is going to die a few years down the road but sometimes they will. On BestBuy one $290 GE full size microwave had 3 reviews, all reporting failures. One reported it died in 6 months and a year and a half later the replacement died. A $120 mid-size model gets 4.4/5 stars and the most substantial complaint out of 18 reviews was that the time display was hard to read at an angle. In the compact class, the reviews of the $60 models were negative and the reviews of the three $260 models (includes radiant heat) gave 5/5 stars. On Amazon, the first microwave listed was a $60 model which got 4/5 stars out of many reviews but if you start to read the reviews you see lots of reports of failures within a year. Customer reviews on shopping sites tend to vary a lot in quality; many are made by uninformed people who haven't even had the product long enough to shake out infant mortality but if you read deep you will often find reviews from people who have had the product awhile (if it has been on the market awhile which often isn't the case) and may reveal product failures or serious design flaws. Talk to someone at a repair shop. Here is an example of a product with a some infomative customer reviews, with a couple customers reporting on how long the first lasted and the second:
    http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-NN-H.../dp/B0009KMYDW

    Consumer reports buying guide intro.
    http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/m...ying-guide.htm

    There can be a safety disadvantage in over the range models or countertops mounted high. I had one on top of the fridge. A plastic tray of very hot mac-n-cheese buckled, coating my arms in napalm. Did not require a hospital visit but not far from it. You might not want it at or above face level, in particular. But if you are tight on counter space, yo might take the risk.

  10. #10
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    i tried to fix a turn table failure on a microwave once .......never again ...

    i gave up when i realised this was the first module installed when the thing was built ......and it was looking like every single screw, pressed steel fabrication had to be undone to get at it .....literally you end up with a mecanno set with not one part in one peice....

    The whole lot was put into a few boxes and take to the dump.

    This can be compared to a car heater matrix replacement......about the same amount of time and effort ....dont go there ....buy new or S/H if your turn table fails ..is my advice .

    all the best.markj

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