Organizing your kitchen space for optimum efficiency can be a bit of a nightmare. You need space to cook, space to eat, space to keep permanent appliances and furniture—it can all get a bit overwhelming. You want to prioritize open spaces for you to move around in and counter space you can use freely, but how close together can you squish all your kitchen gadgets before it becomes infeasible? Can you put a microwave on top of a fridge, for example?
The short answer to this question is: yes, you can put a microwave on top of a fridge. There are some general rules and precautions you’ll need to follow, but if you meet all the requirements, it will be possible for you to keep and use your microwave on top of a refrigerator.
We’ll cover all the details: the pros, the cons, the risks or lack thereof, and everything else you need to know to make a decision that suits you. And for good measure, we’ll also consider some other potentially problematic microwave placements and whether they are safe for you and your family.
- Is it Safe to Put a Microwave on Top of a Refrigerator?
- Why Putting Microwave on Top of a Fridge is a Bad Idea?
- Can You Put a Microwave on Top of a Mini Fridge?
- Can You Put a Microwave on Top of a Freezer?
- Can You Put a Microwave on a Glass Table?
- Can You Put a Microwave on a Shelf?
- Can You Put a Microwave on a Toaster Oven?
Is it Safe to Put a Microwave on Top of a Refrigerator?
While we just confirmed that it is possible to keep a microwave oven on top of a fridge, it doesn’t mean there aren’t risks involved. Here are some things you should think about before putting your microwave oven on top of a fridge.
The first and most important consideration isn’t about whether it will hurt your microwave oven or hurt your refrigerator—it’s about whether it can hurt you or your family.
A microwave is used to cook food, and that food can come out of the microwave at extremely high temperatures. Handling hot food is something we need to do with the utmost care, especially when there are children and pets running around the house.
The main factor that will affect the safety and viability of keeping a microwave on top of your fridge is the height. Modern refrigerators, especially those made for families, can get very tall. They’re made to store all the food you could ever want, and a lot of them have freezers attached as well.
It is not uncommon to see refrigerators that stand about as tall as a person at a good 5 feet or 150cm. If you then sit a microwave oven on top of a refrigerator like that, some people will actually have to reach above their head to handle the food going in and out of the microwave.
This could easily result in spillages that could cause burns to yourself and those around you, and we would therefore not recommend putting a microwave oven on top of a fridge more than 100-120cm, or a little under 4 feet tall.
It’s not just the size of the refrigerator we need to think about, but also the size of the microwave oven. This is due to two reasons: the weight of the microwave and the size of its base.
Fridges can generally take quite a lot of weight, and a safe maximum weight is about 45 lbs. The average weight of most microwave ovens is around 38 lbs, so this falls within the realm of okay. However, you can buy larger models than this, and some will reach weights of 50 lbs.
A microwave oven that’s too heavy could potentially put a strain on your fridge and damage its internal parts, so we recommend being careful about how much weight you put on top of the fridge.
The other thing to think about is the measurements of your microwave. If the base of your microwave oven can’t fit comfortably on top of the fridge, you won’t be able to store it safely. It may stay in place and seem okay, but if a leg or two are not properly set on the flat surface of the refrigerator, the microwave oven will not be stable. It will likely not be level either, which could cause food to slide around inside the microwave.
To make sure your microwave can work effectively and without causing too much heat, you’ll also need to consider what’s around it and the refrigerator. For example, if there are cupboards less than 20cm or 7.8 inches above your microwave, your appliances will struggle to ventilate properly and won’t be able to prevent heat from building up.
Check the sides of your appliances, too. Are there any more kitchen gadgets creating heat close to the refrigerator and the microwave oven? All kitchen appliances need a cool environment if you want them to work at their best, so crowding them all into the same space will raise the temperature in that area and lead to problems.
By having the appliances taking up the same space, it will also mean they’ll be on the same circuit, and using the same power outlet. Most refrigerators need to have their own outlet, so this can be a problem. If they don’t have a dedicated circuit, it’s not generally safe and could lead to the appliances shorting out.
Another concern is making sure the two appliances have good ventilation. The ventilation system of a microwave oven is always on the back of the machine, so that is fairly simple. Fridges, however, can vary from brand to brand. Some fridges will have their ventilation system very close to the top of the fridge and this could cause problems.
If you’re not sure where the ventilation on your refrigerator is, just look for several pipes sticking out of the appliance. These will be the cooling coils of your fridge, and they play an important part in keeping your refrigerator working. However, to do their job, they need to have access to plenty of room temperature air so the liquid flowing inside them can be cooled. If your cooling coils are at the back and right near the top of your refrigerator, and your microwave is blowing hot air right next to the coils, this could cause excess heat problems.
It wouldn’t cause a fire or anything too dramatic, but it will mean that your fridge will have to work harder to maintain its cool temperature, and this will shorten its lifespan.
Why Putting Microwave on Top of a Fridge is a Bad Idea?
Wanting to put your microwave oven on top of your fridge is understandable—you may have limited space in your kitchen, or your other kitchen appliances have already taken all the space you have. You may not have any space left on your kitchen counter, and don’t want to buy a table just for the microwave oven to sit on.
However, safety concerns must be prioritized, and too much weight on your fridge, unstable microwaves, or handling hot food that’s not within comfortable reach are all things that could lead to problems for both the refrigerator and yourself.
To completely neutralize all safety concerns, we recommend investing in a wall oven tower. These are special shelving units made to house multiple appliances like fridges, microwaves, and toaster ovens. Each appliance will have its own shelf, so they can be stored vertically without actually making contact with each other. This means you’ll have a dedicated microwave stand and won’t have to worry about your heavy microwave hurting your refrigerator, or making sure both appliances have adequate airflow.
One more point is that fridges use a lot of power, and most fridges generally don’t like to share the same socket as other appliances. This doesn’t mean you can’t keep your microwave on top of your refrigerator, but it does mean you should probably plug them into separate outlets.
Next, let’s take a look at some other surfaces you may want to put your microwave on.
Can You Put a Microwave on Top of a Mini Fridge?
With mini fridges, the height concern is no longer relevant, but the microwave size and weight concern are worse. Mini fridges can not handle as much weight as normal fridges, and they will have less space for your microwave to sit.
If you’re planning to put a mini microwave on top of your mini-refrigerator, you may not have a problem, but we don’t recommend having larger models on top of the fridge.
If your microwave is fairly light and doesn’t surpass the maximum weight recommended for your mini-refrigerator, but the refrigerator is too small to accommodate it—there is something you can do to fix this problem.
By placing a wooden board on top of your fridge, you can create a larger surface for your microwave to sit on. You will need to make sure it is well centered and equal amounts of the board are hanging over each side of the mini-refrigerator to guarantee stability. You’ll also need to make sure the microwave is placed right in the center for the same reason.
Using a wooden board in this way can also protect your refrigerator top from suffering dents from the legs of your microwave. The top of a refrigerator can be fairly fragile, so concentrated weight can easily cause dents.
Can You Put a Microwave on Top of a Freezer?
All the aforementioned factors for fridges will apply to freezers as well, and there are no new considerations to make for this appliance. This would also apply to wine coolers.
If you want to put a microwave on top of a freezer, you’ll need to think about a few things like how much weight it can take, whether they will use the same outlet and whether both appliances will have proper ventilation.
As with the mini-refrigerator, you can use a wooden board to create more space for microwave ovens to sit. Making sure the microwave will sit at a height that is comfortable for you to handle hot food is still very important, and we recommend using some other kitchen space if the microwave is too high.
Can You Put a Microwave on a Glass Table?
Glass tables are slightly fragile compared to wood or plastic, but it’s not impossible to put your microwave on a glass table. You’ll need to think about how much weight will be on the table, but most microwave ovens fall within an acceptable range of about 37-40 lbs.
An extra consideration to make with a glass table is the movement of the microwave when it is being used. Since glass is delicate, it’s not good to have appliances shaking around or vibrating on top of the table’s surface. However, there is an easy fix for this.
To absorb vibrations and movements from the microwave oven, simply place it on a rubberized mat. This will stop the microwave from hitting the glass and risking damage.
Can You Put a Microwave on a Shelf?
Yes! A shelf is a great place to put a microwave oven, whether you’re cooking dinner or baking cakes. There’s no technical reason to avoid putting a microwave oven on a shelf because doing so is pretty much identical to sitting it on a kitchen counter. The shelf can hold the appliance’s weight easily, and it will have its own area and access to cool air so it can work at full power.
Compared to putting the microwave on top of your refrigerator, a shelf is a much better place for microwaves. As mentioned before, if you need to store your appliances vertically, a wall oven tower can be a good idea, because your appliances can have their own shelf while still being stacked on top of each other. The best wall towers will also be backless or have holes for the wires to exit and air to circulate, so you won’t need to worry about heat.
You should always follow the same rules about power outlets though, and avoid having your fridge and microwave on the same circuit. If you need to use an extension cable because there is only one nearby outlet, it’s best to plug the microwave into the extension cable and keep the nearby outlet for the fridge because it uses more power, and would cause more problems if it is turned off.
Can You Put a Microwave on a Toaster Oven?
A toaster oven is a much smaller appliance than a refrigerator, and will not be able to handle as much weight. They are both also appliances that create a lot of heat, so placing them right on top of each other would not be ideal.
Microwaves are best placed on a stable surface, and toaster ovens are not the best example of a stable surface. Placing both a microwave oven and a toaster oven in a wall oven tower, however, would be fine.
If you don’t want to use a wall tower, you could make a small stand for your kitchen counter that a toaster oven could sit underneath, and a microwave oven could sit on top of. This would do the same job as a wall tower, but be much more compact, and fit on your work surfaces. If you don’t want to make one yourself, you may be able to buy a small table that will do the trick.
The bottom line is that it is okay to put your microwave on top of a refrigerator. Most microwaves will be within the acceptable weight range and therefore shouldn’t damage the fridge.
The biggest factors you have to consider are whether the microwave will be at a safe height for use and whether both appliances will be able to ventilate properly and avoid heat build-up. One more thing to look out for is the power outlets. A refrigerator can be damaged if another appliance is referring to traffic on the same circuit, so it’s best to give the fridge its own power outlet.
Aside from microwaves, you can also put other stuff on your fridge as long as you stick to the same rules and watch out for any malfunctions. We hope this article helps you develop the perfect kitchen setup for your house so you can enjoy cooking to the fullest!