The glass plate inside microwaves is called a turntable. It is used to rotate your meals within the microwave so that the food can be heated evenly. The purpose of a turntable is to prevent cold and hot spots caused by microwave interference when you are warming the food up.
Microwave ovens are very useful since they cook or heat up your food quickly in next to no time. The microwaves of today have a lot of features and functionalities. Some microwave ovens have turntables while others don’t.
The ovens that don’t have a turntable are called Flatbed Microwaves. They come with a rotating motor that rotates the stirring blades present under the flatbed that distribute the waves evenly and heat the food.
Let’s see what are the pros and cons of microwaves with/without turntables to help you decide what is best for you.
How Do Microwaves Work
An oven releases microwaves. These waves reflect off the metallic surfaces on the inner cavity and hit the surface of the food that absorbs the waves. In an oven, there is a lot of interference among waves.
When the waves interfere, they create a resultant wave. This resultant wave can either be a standing wave or a wave whose intensity is different from the parent wave. If these waves interfere with each other constructively, a wave is created whose amplitude is doubled and the energy increased.
When this occurs, a hot spot is produced in the cavity that heats up the food. If the waves interfere destructively, this results in a cold spot. This is because there isn’t any net radiation that will warm up the food.
Most waves fall in between these two extremes while some fall in the middle. These microwaves interact with the liquid molecules in uncooked foods. Basically, a micro-wave is a standing wave that has a low frequency and needs to move.
The movement of the rotating plates allows the food to be cooked uniformly.
What is the Purpose of Turntables
Turntables are made of tempered glass. Therefore, they are not affected by the ambient heat and radiation from a microwave. Turntables have a very simple yet important role inside an oven.
They make sure that the food is heated evenly by turning it around. The turntable spins in both directions so that the waves emitted from the magnetron get distributed evenly. If the food gets a lot of heat, the intrinsic nutrients will get denatured.
Your turntable keeps this from happening.
Can Microwaves Work Without Turntables
Yes, microwave ovens that don’t have turntables can still heat your food efficiently. An oven that has a turntable comes with a rotating motor that moves the glass plate. This is required to ensure that the food gets heated evenly.
If there is no movement, the heat will not be distributed evenly. This will result in hot & cold spots. At times the dish or container that you want to place is too big and the turntable will not rotate properly.
In such a situation, there is a function on ovens that can stop the turntable’s rotation. You will have to rotate the dish manually or else the food will not be heated properly and evenly.
Pros of Turntable Microwaves
Here are the advantages of microwave ovens with turntables that you need to look at.
Turntable microwaves are less expensive as compared to flatbed microwaves. It is an affordable, cost-effective appliance that does its job perfectly.
Even Cooking of the Food
The turntable ensures that your food will be heated evenly and adequately.
Cons of Turntable Microwaves
The space inside a turntable microwave is limited. If you place a large dish inside the oven that doesn’t fit correctly, the turntable will fall out of place. This will cause a mess inside your oven.
Difficult to Clean
A microwave with a turntable is harder to clean. You have to remove different parts to clean the oven correctly. There are many small and hard to reach areas as well that are not easy to clean.
Not all microwaves have turntables. Some have turntables, while others known as flatbed ovens don’t have turntables. When it comes to flatbed microwaves, there are three major types.
A solo flatbed microwave is pretty simple – it has 3 basic options.
They are pretty affordable as well.
Grill Flatbed Oven
It is similar to a solo flatbed microwave. It also includes a grilling feature. In terms of price, they come in between a combination and a solo flatbed microwave.
This kind of flatbed microwave has a variety of functions that can either work on their own or in combination with others. These functions include grilling, crisping, reheating, or browning food. They are slightly expensive but are similar to cooking ranges so that you can easily cook your meals in them.
Pros of a Flatbed Microwave
The flatbed microwaves are more spacious. They have a large cooking volume and are more flexible. This is very beneficial when you have to fit a big container or more than one dish inside your oven.
Easy to Clean
Since they don’t have a rotating motor or a turntable, they are easier to clean, which is a huge plus. You don’t have to take out the turntable while cleaning the microwave. As your food will not be rotated as it gets heated up, there will be no splashes.
The turntable breaks easily during cleaning or cooking. On the other hand, the flatbed microwave doesn’t come with a lot of loose parts that can break easily and need to be replaced. When you are cleaning a flatbed microwave, you do not have to worry about the coupler, the roller guide, or the turntable itself.
The turntable is usually of glass while the roller guides are made of delicate plastic, both of which can easily break. The roller guide has a wheel that can wear down over time and it will keep the turntable from turning.
All of this isn’t a problem with flatbed microwaves.
Cons of a Flatbed Microwave
Flatbed microwaves are expensive as compared to turntable microwaves. They are pricey since they are relatively new and are equipped with advanced technology. The features and functionalities of flatbed microwaves even out the high price.
Which Microwave Should You Buy – Turntable or Flatbed
Whether you go for a turntable microwave or not, depends on what you are going to use it for.
If you are looking for a microwave for use in your commercial kitchen, then you should go with a microwave without a turntable. Get one that is durable and robust so that you can get plenty of work done without having to worry about fragile turntables.
You can easily place multiple dishes inside the commercial oven and cook multiple dishes at a time.
If you are searching for a microwave to heat your food in or simply have quick popcorn at night, then a turntable microwave will be your best option. It will get the job done excellently, and that too at a price rate that is very easy on your pocket.
The capacity of a microwave is measured in cubic liters. A typical microwave meant for personal use has a capacity of 20 to 25 liters. This tells only the capacity in terms of volume rather than in terms of width and height.
Apart from this, you have to look at the diameter of the turntable as well. Small microwaves usually have turntables of a diameter of 25 cm. It is too small to hold your typical dinner plate which is at least 27 cm in diameter.
If you plan on making a few Sunday roasts in your oven, you should get an oven that has a turntable with a diameter of 34 cm.
FAQs for What is a Turntable in Microwave
Are there different types of turntables?
Yes, there are different types of turntables depending on their diameters. The smallest ones are about 9.6 inches in diameter.
Can you get a replacement for a turntable if it breaks?
Yes, you can replace a broken turntable. You have to consider the size of the turntable, the design of the brush coupling, along with the inside and outside diameter of the plate roller.