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There are two main types of venting for microwaves: recirculating and external. Many people aren’t sure what the difference is between these two types of venting, so we’re here to clear things up!
What is the difference between Recirculating Microwave vs External Venting Microwave? The main difference between recirculating and external venting microwaves is how the air is circulated. With recirculating venting, the air is cycled back inside the microwave. With external venting, the hot air is expelled through an outside pipe.
The fan in the circulating venting microwave draws air inside the microwave through some filter and expels it into the kitchen. External venting vents the hot air from the microwave.
The exhaust fan discards the hot air through an outside pipe. External venting microwaves are used in larger kitchens because they must expel the hot air outside.
Food Flavor in Recirculating Venting and External Venting Microwave
Recirculating venting does not cause previously cooked food to influence the taste and smell of new food. Some people believe that the food tastes different when cooked in a recirculating venting system. The thinking is that the flavors are “trapped” inside and can’t escape.
There’s no scientific evidence to support this claim, but it’s something to consider if you’re especially sensitive to the taste of food cooked in a microwave oven.
There’s no difference in food odor when cooked in recirculating venting vs. external venting. If you notice a difference in food odor, it’s likely due to the type of food you’re cooking and not the ventilation system.
For example, fish is more likely to cause your kitchen to smell than chicken or beef.
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Emission Effectiveness: Recirculating Venting Vs External Venting Microwave
Externally vented microwaves employ a fan to draw air through the microwave’s vents and into an exhaust duct that exits the building, allowing most moisture, heat, odor, and particles produced by cooking to go outside.
A ductless recirculating vent draws air through a filter and then exhausts it into the kitchen. A charcoal filter is present in some models, which traps some particulate matter and odors while keeping most of the heat and moisture and certain particles within the home.
Other units use aluminum filters that trap grease but not much else. On the other hand, recirculating vents don’t exhaust conditioned air to the outside, so they can help make a kitchen more energy-efficient.
External venting is more effective at removing odors from the kitchen because the hot air and smells are vented directly to the outdoors. If you’re cooking something that smells bad, like fish, the smell will not be noticeable in your kitchen with an external venting system.
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Installation Costs: Recirculating Venting Vs External Venting Microwave
Installation of recirculating venting is much easier and cheaper than installing external venting. With recirculating venting, the fan draws air inside the microwave through some filter and expels it into the kitchen.
No ductwork or exterior vent cap is needed, and there is no need to pierce a wall, ceiling, or roof.
An external vent involves access to the outside, so it’s most conveniently located on an exterior wall. However, recirculating units can be easily installed on interior walls. They can also be moved relatively quickly if needed.
If you want to install an over-the-range microwave and have it up and running within the hour, recirculating venting is the way to go. Likewise, recirculating venting is your best option if you want to keep costs down. You won’t have to pay someone to cut through the exterior wall.
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Different Vent Requirements for Recirculating and External Venting Microwave
Some municipalities have a recirculating venting requirement for microwaves to be installed. This means that the air must be cycled back inside the microwave, and an exhaust fan is not necessary.
If your municipality has this requirement, it’s likely because recirculating vents are more energy-efficient than external venting.
The vent must follow relevant building rules to be safe and effective when installing an externally vented microwave. The manufacturer will provide you with installation instructions for your microwave, but they may not comply with all of your local building codes.
The vent duct should be galvanized steel, stainless steel, or copper and have a smooth interior. The vent should always be exhausted to the outside, never into an attic or any other internal room.
Local building codes may require a minimum distance between an exterior vent and any adjacent door, window, or other structure in some locations. Because recirculating vents have no external components, they are not affected by these rules.
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Recirculating Venting Maintenance Is Much Easier Than External Venting Microwave
Recirculating venting maintenance is much easier than external venting. There are no filters to replace and no exterior vents to clean with recirculating venting. The only regular maintenance you’ll need to do is occasionally clear away any lint that builds up in the fan housing.
Filter replacement and exterior vent cleaning are necessary with external venting. The filters need to be replaced every six months to a year, and the exterior vents should be cleaned at least twice a year.
If you’re looking for an easy-to-maintain microwave ventilation option, recirculating venting is the way to go. No replacement filters or exterior vents to clean means less work for you in the long run.
Recirculating venting is an excellent option if you’re looking for an easy-to-maintain microwave ventilation system. The lack of filters to replace and exterior vents to clean means less work for you over time.
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Quick Summary: Recirculating Venting Vs External Venting Microwave
|Area||Recirculating Venting||External Venting|
|Food Taste & Smell||No influence of previously cooked food||No influence of previously cooked food|
|Emission Effectiveness||Clear most moisture, heat, odor, and particles||More effective|
|Maintenance||Low cost, low labor||Costly, need more labor|
Conclusion: Recirculating Venting Vs External Venting in a Microwave Oven
In conclusion, recirculating venting is a better option than external venting in most cases. It’s cheaper to install, easier to maintain, and more energy-efficient. However, if your municipality has a recirculating venting requirement for microwaves, then you’ll need to go with that option.