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Thread: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

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    Default Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    The code I found says 24" unless the appliance is rated to be closer. I imagine most of the modern microwave/vent hoods are rated but how close can they be?

    The one in the picture is about 14" - way too close.

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    You have to read the installation instructions for that particular unit, it varies. Code limit unless specifically listed for less.

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    The cabinets above the microwave have, in the past, basically all been installed to 66" to the bottom of those cabinets.

    Let's start at 66" and see what clearance was left.

    start with ___________ 66"
    less for bottom cabinets 36"
    which leaves _________ 30"
    less height of micro oven 16-1/4"
    which leaves _________ 13-3/4"

    The installation instructions on most over-the-range micro wave ovens used to specify 16" minimum clearance above the cooktop of the range. Many times the cooktop of the range is 1/2"-1" above the countertop, making the clearance only 12"-13".

    Years ago I called Kitchenaid and Thermador and talked with their engineers. I went through the math with them - seems as though they had never done the math. They then faxed a revised set of installation instructions to be showing the new installation instructions was going to allow 14" clearance below the microwave oven, measured to the countertop instead of the cooktop of the range (allowing for their measurements to be consistent without regard to height variations in the cooktop surface).

    Later, while reading some of the new microwave installation instructions, I noticed that they went back to 16", but stated that the upper cabinets the microwave needed to be 'at least at 72" above the floor', meaning they raised the top 6", taking back 2" more for clearance, giving a leeway of 4".

    I've also seen some newer ones where the clearance was simply reduced to 14".

    As Jim said, "You have to read the installation instructions for that particular unit, it varies."

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Wow, thanks... So, what is the general consensus about when to call it on an inspection? I'm guessing we don't all check the specs on each hood.... at least I know I don't


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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    So, what is the general consensus about when to call it on an inspection?

    Matt,

    When you look at it and say to yourself, and your client, "Dang, you will never get a large pot in there, not enough height clearance, sure hope you never cook pasta."

    That's a sign.

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    If it looks questionable on new construction, I try to check it out on line. If in doubt, I tell my customer what I know, "the clearance looks wrong and needs to be verified with the manufacturers' instructions, blah, blah, blah."
    Of course we know this will never be a problem because as we all know the installation instructions are required to be with the appliances.

    Jim Luttrall
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    Question Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    As usual I agree with EC Jerry in that mfg installation instructions rule, but there are times when they are nonsensical or just plain wrong.
    Example: note clearance on photo, then see GE Spacemaker XL Microwave Oven Mfg. instruction sheet. The basic problem is the 66 inch height to the bottom of the upper cabinet from floor level. This kitchen is 2 inches short of that so all that follows is wrong. No where within the Mfgs instruction do they clearly call for a clearance measurement from the bottom of their microwave to the counter or stove top.

    What to do.... ??? hmmmm...... I retired.

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Looks like 13 1/2 inches to me. with a minimum of 2 inches clearance to the top of the back splash.

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    Looks like 13 1/2 inches to me. with a minimum of 2 inches clearance to the top of the back splash.
    I look at this this way, if you have to bend over to see the stove knobs and display, then the microwave is installed too low. I generally write it up is the base of the MW is below the base of the adjacent cabinets. Just simple common sense.


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    Smile Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    24 inches is an acceptable standard,but of course there are always exceptions.


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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Janssen View Post
    24 inches is an acceptable standard,but of course there are always exceptions.
    There are minimum codes, recommended manufacturers installation instructions and the 24 inch common sense rule. Take pictures and give it your best shot.


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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Babcock View Post
    I look at this this way, if you have to bend over to see the stove knobs and display, then the microwave is installed too low. I generally write it up is the base of the MW is below the base of the adjacent cabinets. Just simple common sense.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harry Janssen View Post
    24 inches is an acceptable standard,but of course there are always exceptions.
    Thanks Guys,
    * thought this thread was dead in 08.

    The above diagram was taken from a Manufactures Installation Instruction. So for at least that Model if you take the 30 inches shown to the underside of the top cabinet, subtract the 16 1/2 inch depth of the Micro Wave the clearance ( for that Model ) is 13 1/2 inches.

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Billy, Threads never seem to die, once started they will live forever. Long after you are dead.

    How about a kitchen designed for Little People ? Did one years ago that the counter was 24" off floor. Everything was scaled down..


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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    [QUOTE=Billy Stephens;223905]Thanks Guys,
    * thought this thread was dead in 08.

    The above diagram was taken from a Manufactures Installation Instruction. So for at least that Model if you take the 30 inches shown to the underside of the top cabinet, subtract the 16 1/2 inch depth of the Micro Wave the clearance ( for that Model ) is 13 1/2 inches.[/QUOTE

    . The question was probably dead and buried a long time ago for someone but maybe not for the newer folks north of the boarder. Otherwise there just may be someone who is newer to the business that may have questions that all of us old farts just take for granted. There are no stupid questions when someone wants to learn. There is no time limitations when it comes to the desire to learn.

    Live by the minimum code, die by the minimum code.

    Last edited by Ray Babcock; 04-04-2013 at 07:02 PM.

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Babcock View Post
    I look at this this way, if you have to bend over to see the stove knobs and display, then the microwave is installed too low.
    That is rather subjective ... a tall inspector may say it is too low, while the next inspector in as short and says that the microwave oven is at the right height because he can reach it.

    The installation instructions determine whether it is too low or not. It is an entirely different issue as to whether or not it is "too low", is or is it not at a height suitable for the person using it - but that has nothing to do with whether or not it is "too low", that is the installation instructions.

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy Stephens View Post
    Thanks Guys,
    * thought this thread was dead in 08.

    .
    Well heck, I saw this topic on Brians FB post today, I shared it, guess it got a chance for a new life

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Harris View Post
    Well heck, I saw this topic on Brians FB post today, I shared it, guess it got a chance for a new life
    The distance between the stove top and the base of the microwave may vary between manufacturers but the main idea is if the MW is fire/heat resistant. It doesn't matter if you are in a wheel chair or are a pro basketball player. This may be an old thead to some but is still an active condition that some people still have questions about and still have spirited conversations with builders. There is no way to put this issue to rest until you consult the manufacturers installation instructions. The 30 inch rule for stove to flammable materials is the general rule.


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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Billy, Threads never seem to die, once started they will live forever. Long after you are dead.
    Maybe,

    But I'm in no hurry.

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Babcock View Post
    The distance between the stove top and the base of the microwave may vary between manufacturers but the main idea is if the MW is fire/heat resistant.
    The units that are designed with a built-in range hood are usually pretty heat resistant. But the rubber door gasket is flammable, or at least meltable. I have a pic somewhere.

    Found the pic, but have to turn it sideways. Brian!

    16" of clearance, but the door gasket is melted. Maybe they had a flame show going in the fry pan, or a tall clam pot?

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    The code I found says 24" unless the appliance is rated to be closer. I imagine most of the modern microwave/vent hoods are rated but how close can they be?

    The one in the picture is about 14" - way too close.
    Hi all,
    I just got done installing a Whirlpool microwave over a gas stove. My insulation instructions stated that the microwave should be no less than 18.75" from the stove top. I was lucky that my cabinets were higher, my unit is 20.75" above the stove top.


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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    The code I found says 24" unless the appliance is rated to be closer. I imagine most of the modern microwave/vent hoods are rated but how close can they be?

    The one in the picture is about 14" - way too close.
    The typical code distance is 16 to 18 inches from the bottom of the microwave to the top of the cooking surface. Some manufacturers state a preference to be as high as 24 inches, but this is often a manufacturers suggested height and not typically a code issue. Be sure and check with local codes prior to selecting and installing your own unit. Anything less than 16 inches needs to be corrected to comply with code, but more importantly, to maintain the safety of the homeowners.

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Food for thought..

    The individual and particular manufacturer/model/dated Listed instructions and Standards for Safety for the Range and/or cooktop must be additionally abided by and can be and often are further restrictive than that of a micro-hood or range hood! Furthermore a generic "microwave oven" which may or may not be affixed or built-in installation such as in-cabinetry or over-the-counter installation, is not necessarily a micro-hood (dually listed, properly shielded, etc. and designed & listed to be installed over a cook-top, range, cooking surface such as fryers, etc.). Another consideration is competing drafting and the configuration of type of ventilltion/ducting (to outdoors or not, and vertical, horizontal, etc.) for a range hood or micro-hood.

    Failure to consult the listing standards of the vintage of the manufactured range, cooktop BELOW the hood, mircrohood, etc. is an all-to-common oversight. Rating, fuel source, etc. More than one model code may apply (such as in gas-fired or dual-fuel appliances - and the NFGC which is envoked in the listing requirements and mfg's listed instructions for same - oftentimes more restrictive than the IFGC and/or the IRC), regarding clearances - above and side.

    The general rule(s) (Standards for Safety - ANSI & UL) are 30" clearance above the surface (grate support, coil, etc. not "burner" for residential (household) listed appliances and for the full width of the cooktop or range UNLESS otherwise excepted by conditions outlined within instructions, and/or the referenced standards (such as NFCG, NEC, etc. which may or may not be so designated, or identified by another reference such as its NFPA number or ANSI number & date corresponding reference or date of the underlying appliance's manufacture date) and/or additional clearances are indicated for the circumstances of installation.


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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kogel View Post
    The units that are designed with a built-in range hood are usually pretty heat resistant. But the rubber door gasket is flammable, or at least meltable. I have a pic somewhere.Found the pic, but have to turn it sideways. Brian!16" of clearance, but the door gasket is melted. Maybe they had a flame show going in the fry pan, or a tall clam pot?
    JK, note the adjacent (and combustible - substrate of your pictured countertop) elevation is higher than that of your pictured range - and therefore the range is not installed/placed within the requirements of the mfg instructions nor the Standards for Safety for same. Adjacent air space for heat dissipation amognst requirements for listing and the tests for same. That range's cooktop 'spill guard bump' is also designed as a heat shield to adjacent combustibles from the heat at the cooktop/range surface so the properly placed/installed/set appliance can meet the Standards for Safety and testing for same.WAG someone used a WOK pan or griddle pan below, and let it over-pre-heat before cooking; or a moderately tall stock pot on the front higher btu, or turned on the wrong element. I recall having come across user instruction manuals cautioning against opening a microhood's doors anytime an underlying appliance top surface is or has been in use! and notations as to clearances not only to the underying appliance's cook surfaces but the clearance for cooking pots used below. Also restrictions regarding co-comittant use of the microwave compartment with open flame grill features of some gas-fuel cooktops/ranges (or dual-fuel).

    Last edited by H.G. Watson, Sr.; 04-24-2013 at 06:35 AM.

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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    All good thoughts and considerations. The 30 inches of clearance refered to (as ANSI) is for the minimum distance to a combustible surface, such as a cabinet or similar. If the 30 inch clearance is used, the bottom of the microwave would be located at a minimum of 5'-6" above the floor. Adding a typical 3 inches to the interior cooking surface of the microwave gets you to 5'-9" to be able to view (at eye level only) the interior surface to place food. This would mean that the average height of the user would need to be approximately 6'-2" tall just to be able to be eye level with the interior cooking surface. If the minumum clearance distance would be lowered to 24 inches, the average user height be need to be 5'-8" just to be at eye level with the same interior cooking surface.

    Kitchen designers use a 24 inch clearance as a guideline, if achieveable, but the fallacy in using this 24 inch dimension is that most microwave users are not at least 5'-8" tall and most users would prefer to be able to at least see where they are placing items for heating - not just be at eye level with the cooking surface plane. The other fallacy is that there is a greater safety risk of placing items in an over-the-range microwave due to the increased extended reach involved using a higher clearance dimension.

    The actual clearance is usually dependent on the type of microwave and features being installed over the range and the rating of the unit. An 18 inch clearance is fairly low, but acceptable. It is important to refer to the manufacturers clearance requirements to start with. It is equally important to factor in the considerations of reach, height of users, and type of range being used in order to provide safe and functional operation.



    Quote Originally Posted by H.G. Watson, Sr. View Post
    Food for thought..

    The individual and particular manufacturer/model/dated Listed instructions and Standards for Safety for the Range and/or cooktop must be additionally abided by and can be and often are further restrictive than that of a micro-hood or range hood! Furthermore a generic "microwave oven" which may or may not be affixed or built-in installation such as in-cabinetry or over-the-counter installation, is not necessarily a micro-hood (dually listed, properly shielded, etc. and designed & listed to be installed over a cook-top, range, cooking surface such as fryers, etc.). Another consideration is competing drafting and the configuration of type of ventilltion/ducting (to outdoors or not, and vertical, horizontal, etc.) for a range hood or micro-hood.

    Failure to consult the listing standards of the vintage of the manufactured range, cooktop BELOW the hood, mircrohood, etc. is an all-to-common oversight. Rating, fuel source, etc. More than one model code may apply (such as in gas-fired or dual-fuel appliances - and the NFGC which is envoked in the listing requirements and mfg's listed instructions for same - oftentimes more restrictive than the IFGC and/or the IRC), regarding clearances - above and side.

    The general rule(s) (Standards for Safety - ANSI & UL) are 30" clearance above the surface (grate support, coil, etc. not "burner" for residential (household) listed appliances and for the full width of the cooktop or range UNLESS otherwise excepted by conditions outlined within instructions, and/or the referenced standards (such as NFCG, NEC, etc. which may or may not be so designated, or identified by another reference such as its NFPA number or ANSI number & date corresponding reference or date of the underlying appliance's manufacture date) and/or additional clearances are indicated for the circumstances of installation.



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    Default Re: Microwave oven clearance to range surface

    Quote Originally Posted by james hambright View Post
    The typical code distance is 16 to 18 inches from the bottom of the microwave to the top of the cooking surface.
    James,

    Do you have a "typical" code section in mind which states that 16" to 18" clearance?

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