2016 Microwave Ovens Reviewed
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Looking for the best new microwave for your kitchen? Compare brands with our customer satisfaction ratings.
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Canstar Blue research finalised December 2015, published February 2016.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Most Satisfied Customers | Sharp
Sharp rated No.1 for food zapping satisfaction
Some say dog is man’s best friend. But these people have clearly never arrived home from work too late to cook something for dinner, or have never experienced the efficiency of heating frozen vegetables in the microwave rather than in a pan. Seriously, why would you do that?
Microwave ovens are the best friend of anyone with a busy lifestyle – the type of people who like to take shortcuts, and probably struggle to find the time to walk the dog (dogs not having a good day here, sorry dogs). Microwaves are the solution to countless kitchen problems. They are the friend you turn to in your hour of need, and you appreciate most when they’re gone.
So which microwaves are best at making our lives entirely more convenient? You might think there isn’t much difference between them, but our customer satisfaction ratings suggest otherwise. Based on a survey of 930 adults who have bought a new microwave in the last three years, we found Sharp is the highest rated microwave brand in 2016, rating 5 stars in Overall Customer Satisfaction, receiving the Canstar Blue award. It was the only brand to score five-star ratings for appearance & design, ease of use, cooking functions, even heat distribution and most importantly of all, overall satisfaction.
How much do microwaves cost?
Australia’s biggest discount and electronics retailers are currently embroiled in something of a price war over small appliances. You may have seen the kettles and toasters on sale for less than $10 in some stores, and basic microwaves are going a similar way, available for under $50 if you look hard enough. At the other end of the price spectrum, you could easily spend upwards of $400 on a top of range model, or even more for the real high-tech appliances. While the majority of Sharp microwaves retail at around the $200 mark, the brand also leads from the front when it comes to the real top-end pieces of kit, boasting two convection microwave ovens at over $1,000.
In our survey, however, we found consumers spent an average of $223 on their microwaves they have purchased in the last three years. Generally the older people get, the more they spend on microwaves, with 18-29 year-olds reporting an average of $214, compared to $243 for those in their 60s. Overall, half of survey respondents (50%) paid more for their current microwave than their previous one.
What do consumers want?
So how important is price in determining customer satisfaction? Only one brand, Homemaker, scored a five-star rating in terms of value for money, which suggests that consumers have high expectations and are wary of paying more than they need to. Indeed, Homemaker is one of those brands with microwaves at under $50. Overall though, our research shows that other factors are more significant in driving overall satisfaction.
- Appearance & design: 23%
- Even heat distribution: 23%
- Cooking functions: 19%
- Ease of use: 18%
- Value for money: 17%
There will always be a market for cheap microwaves but for a great many consumers, it seems the brand that strikes the perfect balance between appearance and functionality will be onto a winner. This year, that brand is Sharp.
Which microwave should you buy?
As you’d expect, the more you pay for a microwave, the more features you’ll get from it. While those appliances under $50 will be able to perform the most basic microwave functions – like heating your frozen peas – you’ll need to spend a bit more if you want to make your roast dinner in super quick time. Sharp’s R99OKS convection microwave oven boasts 15 different auto cooking menus, compared to the six you get with the $49 Homemaker microwave from Kmart, for example.
Ultimately though, it’s important to give thought to the things you’d like your microwave to do before deciding which one to buy. If all you’re looking for is basic food heating, then you have plenty of cheap options. But if you’re hoping your microwave can more or less replace your oven, you’ll need to pay for it. Either way, we hope our customer satisfaction ratings are helpful.
Frequently asked questions
Canstar Blue commissioned Colmar Brunton to survey 3,000 Australian consumers across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have purchased a new microwave in the last three years – in this case, 930 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.