Over the Range Microwave Venting Options for Your Kitchen

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Last updated on February 21, 2023


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Unsure whether or not to vent your over the range microwave? 

While not always visible, steam from cooking carries with it food particles and grease. Over time, this can build up on your roof and create a nasty, flammable safety hazard.

Range ventilation isn't always mandatory but it's highly recommended for those with a high functioning kitchen. 

Interested in the different ways to vent?

Below we've outlined the 3 ways to vent an over the range microwave and the pros and cons of each.


Does An Over-the-Range Microwave Need to be Vented?

By law, it depends where you live. 

In the U.S., residential homes are usually not required to have over-the-range ventilation. 


Before installing anything, we HIGHLY recommend getting in touch with your local authorities. It's always better to be safe than sorry here. 

For general information on the requirements of over-the-range ventilation, check out the International Mechanical Code (Updated 2021). 

Before we dive into all of the venting options, best start with the basics...

Duct or Ductless?

duct vs ductless microwave venting options

There are both ducted vents (that vent to the outside), and ductless hoods that filter the fumes and recirculate the air back into the kitchen. 

As the image above illustrates, ducted systems can vent horizontally or vertically. 

Contractors and experts in the field strongly advise installing a ducted vent for over the range microwaves applications. 

Both duct and ductless systems will get the job done but ducted applications tend to be far superior in getting rid of grease, food particles and smells. 

3 Options for Venting your Over the Range Microwave

1) Recirculating Vent (ductless)

ductless microwave air recirculation

What is a recirculating microwave vent?

These microwaves have a built-in exhaust fan that filters and recirculates the air back into the kitchen using a charcoal filter.

This option is the least expensive one and easier to install than other options, but it also has some significant drawbacks. 

The main disadvantage of a recirculating vent is that it doesn't work as well at removing odors, grease, and steam from the kitchen. It also adds to the maintenance by requiring cleaning every so often. 

2) Ducted Vent (through roof or wall)


A ducted vent uses a fan to pull the air through a duct system that releases the air outside. 

You'll find these microwaves labeled as externally vented or convertible vent microwaves.  

This type of vent is better at removing odors, smoke, and steam than a recirculating exhaust vent, but it's also more expensive and difficult to install.

Again, if you have the money, we alway recommend installing a ducted system to reduce the risk of fire.

3) Island Mounted Microwave Hood


An Island mounted microwave hood has a ducted vent that sits on top of an island stove. Like all hoods, it's designed to take the steam, grease and cooking odors away from the kitchen. 

These systems are far less common and require a tricky installation.

With that said, it's possible and even preferred in the right kitchen layout. 

Similar to the perks of having a ducted ventilation system, these hoods get rid of the bad stuff while adding a sleek look to your kitchen. 

Can I replace My Over the Range Microwave with a Hood?

Yes, absolutely! 

The job will differ depending on your layout but here are a few videos to help give you some direction.

Full Removal and Replacement

A Handy Alternative

What is the Best CFM for Over the Range Microwaves?

600 CFM will offer the most effective exhaust speed for most residential homes.

For those looking for a slightly cheaper option that stills offers adequate ventilation, 400 CFM is the perfect medium.

If you're looking at commercial applications, best to use a calculator to find out your CFM needs. 

Do Over-the-range Microwaves Vent Outside?

Not all over the range microwaves vent outside, but ducted applications do.

Venting a microwave outside is usually considered an upgrade because it's the best option to getting rid of airborne smoke, steam and grease.

However, as we've explained above, there are ductless options that filter and recirculate the air back into the kitchen.

For more information on the pros and cons of duct and ductless systems, click here

Whirlpool Over the Range Venting Options

People have repeatedly asked what venting options are available with Whirlpool over-the-range microwaves. You can easily find this information on their website


So there you have it! Your comprehensive guide to over-the-range microwaves and the best way to vent them.

Whether you are remodeling your kitchen or building a new home, be sure to keep this information in mind when making your appliance choices. 

We hope you found this post helpful and that it has made the process of choosing a way to vent your microwave a little bit easier.

Thanks for reading, and please reach out if you have any further questions or comments. 



Founder of Robust Kitchen 

About the author, Michael

Michael spends his days eating, drinking and studying the fascinating world of food. He received his Bachelors Degree in Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis and spent much of his time at the school brewery. While school proved to be an invaluable experience, his true passion lies in exposing the hidden crannies of food for the cooking laymen.