While most people know the basics of operating a microwave, ever-evolving technology gives rise to a need for some basic instructions in order to maximize usage of this popular and convenient appliance.

STEP 1: Choosing a Microwave Oven to Fit Your Needs

Microwaves come in a variety of sizes, power capacities and prices. Microwave size is measured in cubic feet. A 0.8 cubic foot microwave, while perfect for small spaces, would not allow you to heat in large quantity the way a 2.2 cubic foot appliance would. Likewise, one consumer might be able to get by fine with an 800-watt microwave oven, while someone who plans for heavier appliance usage would opt for one in the 1,250 to 1,300-watt range. Price will be determined by both these factors, as well as make and model. One can expect to pay anywhere from fifty to three-hundred dollars for a brand-new, residential-grade microwave oven.

STEP 2: Setting up Your Microwave Oven

Most modern microwaves require minimal time and effort to set up. If you plan to keep your microwave on the kitchen counter, simply take it out of the box and plug it in. If you intend for it to be suspended above your countertop or cooking range, you should hire a licensed contractor to perform the job, so as to ensure safe and proper installation. Once the microwave has been plugged in, make sure that all protective plastic and styrofoam coating has been removed from the appliance’s interior and exterior. Next, you will want to set the clock. This usually requires pressing a button labeled “Clock” or “Time,” and manually entering the desired time from the numbered key pad. You may then be prompted to select from an “AM” or “PM” button, and then to press the “Clock” or “Time” button once more to confirm your selection.

STEP 3: Getting to Know the Features of Your Microwave Oven

While you may think you already know everything you need to know about your new microwave, it would greatly behoove you to read the instruction manual it came with. Most microwave instruction manuals contain a diagram somewhere toward the front which labels all the appliance’s important features. There may be “express” cook options for specific foods such as meats, potatoes and vegetables. There will also likely be various power settings from which you can choose. Most modern microwaves allow you to augment your heating time in increments of thirty-seconds or one minute with just the touch of a button (i.e., no need to stop your current usage and input a new cook time.) All this is information which you can glean from the manual.

STEP 4: Using Your Microwave Oven

Once you have completed Steps 1 through 3, it will be time to try out your new microwave. Begin by opening the door – either by pulling on the front handle, or pressing a release button in the lower right corner of the appliance, depending on your model. Then place a microwave-safe container on the rotating glass plate within. (For a comprehensive list of microwave-safe materials, go to Hardware Store: Microwave Cookware.) Close the door and select the amount of time you wish to heat your food by pressing the numbers on the key pad. (Alternately, choose from one of the “express” cook options discussed in Step 3.) Press the Start button and let your meal heat until the microwave beeps, signaling that the process is complete. Open the door, take out the container and enjoy!

If you still have questions as to how to operate your microwave, check out the following helpful sites:

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