Consider Location and Convenience
Both the built-in microwave and the range hood are installed above the stove. This is extremely convenient: the microwave is at upper arm level for easy insertion and removal of dishes, and allows for easy viewing through the microwave door. The range hood over the stove is placed perfectly to suction up steam and smelly cooking odors for outside distribution.
Large built-in microwaves are more expensive than the typical countertop units, and built-in microwaves are more expensive than the basic range hood systems. However, a homeowner may have no problem installing a built-in microwave, but may be hesitant to drill a duct system to the home exterior. Labor costs for professional installation may eat up any savings incurred by the purchase of a less expensive appliance.
The built-in microwave saves a good deal of countertop space, and the numerous classy styles give the cooking area a customized look. Range hoods also sport many beautiful styles--some are equipped with stylish paneling, molding, and trim that lend the stove area an old-fashioned hearth appearance. Built-in microwaves certainly look stylish in a contemporary kitchen; and an elaborate range hood looks beautiful in a traditional one.
Clean Up and Maintenance
Built-in microwaves are inundated with steam from range cooking, and become caked with grease over time. The grease can coat the controls and working parts. Moreover, steam and grease particles are dispersed throughout the kitchen if there is no ducted system to carry it out. A built-in microwave must be maintained properly. A range hood may require filter changes and thorough cleanings as grease builds up.
Alternatives to Consider
The homeowner need not be restricted to only one choice or the other. Microwaves can be installed in alternative locations in the kitchen. The variety of microwaves allow the machine to rest on a countertop or securely hang from an upper cabinet undermount. Additonally, range exhaust units may be installed beside a stove. Special, powerful exhaust vents suction up stove steams and odors with a power fan, and can direct these gases through a duct system to the exterior of the building. Manufacturers have also made built-in microwaves with ducted range hoods.