Do Microwaves Need Ventilation? (And Why So?)

In modern kitchen designs, one of the major priorities is to maximize the available space. And this means hiding a range of appliances in varied places to keep the kitchen clean and appealing. 

But then, not all appliances can deliver high efficiency when tucked away. Most of them need proper ventilation and may pack up under poor ventilation. 

In most kitchens, you’ll find microwave ovens tucked away in the wall or cabinet. Sometimes, it could be on a countertop.  

But the question is, do microwaves oven need ventilation? These are cooking appliances. Therefore, the heat they produce needs to be gotten rid of. 

We’ll discuss this in detail, so you can make an informed decision when placing your microwave oven in the kitchen. 

Do Microwaves Need To Be Vented? 

Well, yes, they do. Don’t forget that microwaves are cooking appliances. Therefore, they’re bound to generate heat during operation. 

But then, varied types of microwaves are out there. So the venting need of microwaves may differ according to design and brand. Some microwaves boast built-in ventilation systems, while others don’t.

You have to provide external ventilation if your microwave doesn’t have a built-in ventilation system. Failure to do so would compromise the appliance’s efficiency. 

You may find cooking in such a kitchen more stressful sometimes. 

Ensure there’s proper clearance around your microwave oven. You need to take this crucial step. 

A blocked vent can cause the appliance to overheat. And when that happens, the outcome might not be desirable. The microwave could develop a fault, or it could become damaged completely. 

A Handy Tip: Built-in microwaves pull air from under the appliance and push the air out via a range of holes located at the back. 

So, ensure you don’t block the bottom where the microwave sucks the air from, including pushing the air out (through the back), and everything will be fine. 

Please, note that such types of microwaves might make do without venting. 

Microwaves that need venting are the ones that have exhaust fan units mounted on top of them. The fan serves as the exhaust for the stove underneath.

Let’s go deeper into the reason ventilation is crucial to microwave ovens. Keep reading!

Why Do Microwave Ovens Need Ventilation?

They need ventilation for two simple reasons – safety and efficiency. We all know that microwaves generate heat while cooking. You’ll notice that the body of your microwave is hot while in use. 

How does the microwave generate heat or cook food? Know the answer to this question, and you’ll know why ventilation is highly needed. 

Let’s explain how a microwave oven cooks food. 

When turned on, the heat produced by the microwave oven causes water and the food particles to vibrate. The water is the one the food placed in the microwave oven has. 

The appliance’s vibration produces more heat, which gets the food cooked. And as the food gets cooked, the air produced within the microwave starts expanding. 

This hot air needs to escape from the appliance. Otherwise, its efficiency may decrease. The microwave might even develop a fault, or it could be damaged.

Manufacturers usually stress the importance of proper ventilation for their microwaves. They know how poor ventilation could drastically affect the device’s lifespan and efficiency. 

So, don’t just place a microwave oven on the counter because you feel it’s the right thing to do. Ensure there’s appropriate clearance around the appliance. 

You can check the manufacturer’s manual to know the exact clearance recommended for the microwave brand. And please, ensure you provide the clearance as stated in the manual. 

A Handy Tip: Always check the manual before installing a microwave oven to follow the minimum clearance recommended and actual ventilation needs, as stated by the manufacturer.  

Here are other reasons microwave requires ventilation:

1: Ventilation can ensure your kitchen remains cool and comfortable to be in during summer periods. 

2: Removal of airborne toxins, smoke, and grease from the air can have a massive positive impact on your family’s overall health.

3: Adequate ventilation will ensure odor doesn’t take over your kitchen.

4: Keeping food particles and grease off the air can help ensure surfaces in the kitchen stay clean, giving you less work to do in the kitchen. 

Does a Countertop Microwave Need Ventilation?

Adequate ventilation is essential for the countertop microwave. Otherwise, manufacturers won’t be stressing about it. Proper ventilation allows the appliance to function correctly. 

So, yes, countertop microwave requires ventilation, but not external ventilation. 

The primary thing you need to do is ensure proper clearance at the sides, rear, and top of the microwave. And make sure the vent at the bottom isn’t blocked. 

On the top, allow 3 inches clearance, 3 inches on both sides, and 3 inches at the rear is acceptable for a countertop microwave.

The thing is, these microwaves come designed to stay on top of the countertop, and they have vents. You’ll find the vents at the top or sides of the appliance. 

A Handy Tip: Built-in microwave model’s vents are located at the rear, while the countertop microwaves have their vents located on top or sides of the device.

By the way, built-in and countertop microwaves differ. As the name implies, you can place countertop microwaves on a kitchen counter while you have to tuck a built-in microwave into a wall or cabinet.

Does a Over The Range Microwave Need To Be Vented?

Well, you don’t need to provide an external venting system for your OTR (Over The Range) microwave if you don’t want to. You have to decide if that suits you or not. 

The OTR microwaves are built-in microwave models. They are the types of microwaves you’ll find tucked into a wall or cabinet above a cooktop. 

How’s the OTR microwave’s ventilation system? They boast an internal exhaust fan, which helps prevent the appliance from overheating. 

Its principal function is to channel the hot air away from the appliance. It can also recirculate the air and release it back into the kitchen. 

Another way to vent a built-in microwave, such as the OTR, is to link its ventilation system to an external vent. 

So, OTR microwave ovens either utilize a recirculation or external ventilation system to get rid of steam, smoke, and odor from the kitchen. 

A Handy Tip: A built-in microwave using a recirculation vent system pulls the air through a charcoal filter before venting it back into the house. If you don’t want to use this method, install an external vent.   

How Beneficial are Both Ventilation Systems (Charcoal Filter vs. External Vent)?

Installing an external vent in a preexisting property can be challenging. It might be something the owner of the house doesn’t like. And you have to comply. 

Additionally, the external vent can be very expensive to install. It’s not something you can do by yourself. It would be best if you had a professional for proper installation. 

Remember that inadequate ventilation can ruin your cooking appliance’s efficiency or cause it to start malfunctioning. 

But then, external vent installation is time-consuming and costs a lot of money. 

On the flip side, charcoal filters do an incredible job by recirculating the air and making it clean. But the major challenge with the filters is that you may have to change them every six months and sometimes, lesser. 

Do Convection Microwaves Need To Be Vented?

The simple answer is No. You don’t need to vent convection microwaves. Why? The simple reason is that these microwaves use a fan for air circulation within the appliance. 

The air circulation has a massive impact, as it causes the microwave to heat up and cook food items faster. 

However, proper clearance is essential around the convection microwave. By doing so, there would be no need to vent the microwave or bother about it. 

On the other hand, rules for commercial settings might differ. So, don’t just conclude that you don’t need to vent your microwave. Check to have a proper understanding of the regulation where you reside. 

How Much Ventilation Does a Microwave Need?

Manufacturers usually state the minimum clearance required when installing a microwave. So, you can check the product’s manual to know the requirement written there. 

The usual requirement is to ensure 3 inches of space is maintained on all four sides. These include the rear, top, and two sides. 

Ensure nothing blocks the air vent during operation. Otherwise, you could experience heat build-up, which might cause machine failure or damage. 


Do microwaves need ventilation? Yes, they do. Venting a microwave has a range of benefits. It can help remove airborne toxins and grease from the air, keep the kitchen space cool during hot summer periods, and more. 

However, when mounting microwave ovens, ensure adequate clearance on all sides of the appliance. You can check the manufacturer’s manual to know the clearance required and the venting needs of the microwave before commencing the installation process.