I want to know if a countertop microwave can be placed on a shelf under the counter. If so what is the code required clearance for floor to bottom of microwave distance? I live in California.

  • Floor to bottom of microwave? Isn't that determined by the height of the unit's feet? The issue is at the sides and above, where heat is exhausted. An inch all around is probably plenty, but we can't answer this rather vague question without more detail.
    – isherwood
    Dec 5 '19 at 19:43

I don't think the code cares. What you need to look out for is mostly awkwardness in getting hot food out of the microwave, and not blocking the vents.

You can get pull-out microwaves that are designed to be easier to use when placed under the counter, but they're hilariously expensive ($1000+).

  • Expensive, smallish, and they don't even have a turntable for the most part.
    – JPhi1618
    Dec 5 '19 at 19:04

The issue is not code. The issue is manufacturer's instructions. The good news is that you can find the manual for almost any current or recent appliance online, either through the manufacturer's web site or often through Home Depot or other retailers. Find a model or 2 that you like based on size, features, etc. and then download the manual to find out clearance requirements. Very often the requirements are fairly low, which is due to the way microwave ovens (as opposed to conventional ovens) work. Floor to bottom of microwave is not likely an issue at all - except that you want it at a height that is comfortable to use when removing hot items. The issues are normally back and/or side and/or top clearance for proper airflow.

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