What is a flatbed microwave, and how is it different from the various types of microwave you can buy today? I had no idea what the answer to this question was until I did some research.
I looked at regular or solo microwaves, and how these compare to what is known as a flatbed microwave. Read on to find out more.
So what is a flatbed microwave? A flatbed microwave uses microwaves to cook food like a solo microwave. It doesn’t have a turntable, and uses microwaves entering the cooking area under the base. They bounce at a different angle, evenly distributing heat with no hot and cold spots. With no turntable there is extra cooking space.
If you are interested in buying a flatbed microwave you will want more information than the brief explanation above.
I have gone into more detail below about exactly what a flatbed microwave is, how it cooks food, what you can cook, and the pros and cons. Read on if you want to find out more about this.
What Is A Flatbed Microwave?
A flatbed microwave is really a step further forward in microwave technology. It takes the technology used in a solo microwave oven further forward by advancing the cooking process. A flatbed microwave is really just a microwave without a turntable.
Other microwaves such as grill microwave ovens also use this technology, combined with other cooking methods too. Convection microwaves take this even further by adding a convection cooking element.
A solo microwave oven has at it’s core a component known as a magnetron. I will provide a simplified explanation of how the magnetron works here.
You can read a longer explanation on my post about magnetrons in microwave ovens if you wish to find out more.
The magnetron passes charged electrodes between a cathode and an anode. Underneath the magnetron there is a powerful magnet.
This magnet pulls the electrons so that they fly around in a circular motion. The electrons move quickly over small cavities in the magnetron which cause them to resonate.
When the electrons resonate they create something called microwaves. Interestingly enough these microwaves are also used in radar technology.
The microwaves are passed into the cooking compartment of the microwave through something called a waveguide.
Another type of solo microwave that I found when looking for a new one is an inverter microwave, which also furthers the technology used in microwave ovens.
How Does A Flatbed Microwave Cook Food?
A flatbed microwave cooks food in much the same way as a regular microwave does. As described above, microwaves are passed into the cooking compartment through something called a waveguide. The microwaves then bounce around inside of the microwave, reflected off all of the surfaces inside.
When food or liquid is placed inside of the microwave to be cooked, they absorb these microwaves. Water molecules inside of the food are excited by the microwaves.
This in turn produces heat, which cooks the food. As the microwaves pass through from the outside, food is cooked from the outside first. Foods high in water content will cook quickest in a microwave. the more water molecules to excite, the faster the food will cook.
How Is A Flatbed Microwave Different To A Solo Microwave?
So we can see how a flatbed microwave is similar to a regular microwave, but how is it different? Well both types of microwave use a magnetron to produce microwaves.
Both cook food using these microwaves to excite water molecules. This then produces heat to cook food.
One of the major differences is in the lack of turntable. A solo microwave has a rotating plate in the centre that food is placed on. This turns constantly while the food is being cooked.
The reason for this is due to the way the waveguide funnels microwaves into the cooking compartment.
There is an uneven distribution of microwaves into the cooking compartment. If the food was not constantly rotated, only some parts of the food would be cooked. Other parts would be left cold.
A flatbed microwave does not have a turntable. This is the difference between this kind and a solo microwave. This is due to the positioning of the waveguide or antenna.
In a flatbed microwave the antenna is placed underneath the base or cooking area. It rotates constantly. Although the microwaves still bounce around inside of the compartment, they do so at a different angle.
With the rotation of the antenna, there is no no for a rotating turntable to ensure all parts of the food are cooked.
What Can You Cook With A Flatbed Microwave?
As I said above, the only real difference in terms of cooking ability between a flatbed and solo or normal microwave is the lack of rotating turntable. You can still cook all of the same things you would in a regular microwave.
A flatbed microwave will still cook foods quickly and throughly. You can also use it to quickly and safely reheat food with next to no mess. It can also be used to defrost foods throughly and quickly.
Below are just some of the things that you can cook or make with your flatbed microwave:
- All kinds of pasta dishes
- Scrambled eggs
- Fluffy rice
- French toast
- Steamed Salmon
- Poached Eggs
- Hot drinks such as coffee or hot chocolate
How Much Does A Flatbed Microwave Cost?
The question I was wondering when looking at these is do flatbed microwaves cost more than regular microwaves? The answer is yes flatbed microwaves do cost more than regular microwaves.
Due to the more advanced technology, a flatbed microwave is going to set you back a little more than a solo microwave. I guess it’s a trade off between price and advantages, which I’ll discuss below.
As it is with everything, you get what you pay for. There are lower end of the range flatbed microwaves with less features. Then there are higher priced flatbed microwaves that have much more in the way of features.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Flatbed Microwaves
As with all appliances in the kitchen, there are advantages and disadvantages. When looking at the advantages and disadvantages of flatbed microwaves we need to look at both of these in comparison to regular or solo microwaves, and other cooking methods.
Advantages Of Flatbed Microwaves
Bigger Cooking Capacity
Because the flatbed microwave does not have a turntable, there is much more space for cooking your food.
Whilst the turntable does not take up a lot of space, it does require a large amount to turn food round while it is being cooked. As the food stands still in a flatbed microwave you do not have to worry about this. More space is left for you to cook food in due to this.
With the increased size of the cooking compartment comes the ability to cook more than one dish at once.
Food Cooked More Evenly
This for me is the biggest advantaged of a flatbed microwave over a regular microwave. As described above, due to the cooking process food is heated more evenly.
With the way the microwaves are dispersed in the flatbed microwave, you will find that there are no hot and cold sots. Just evenly cooked food.
Easier To Clean Than A Regular Microwave
A flatbed microwave is easier to clean than a regular microwave oven. There is no turntable to try to navigate, and also no turntable to remove for cleaning. Simply wipe down the inside surfaces regularly and you are good to go.
Packed With Features
This is really an advantage that all microwaves have. Modern day microwaves are full of different cooking features and temperatures. You can get some that provide programs specifically designed for certain types and weights of foods.
You can vary the temperature of your flatbed microwave depending on the amount and types of food you are cooking. Combining cooking times with the exact temperature means you will be able to cook your food perfectly every time.
Disadvantages Of Flatbed Microwaves
The only real disadvantage a flatbed microwave has over a solo microwave is the price. You will definitely pay more for a flatbed microwave. However if you use a microwave regularly, and cook a variety of foods, the extra cost more than justifies itself.
Can Dry Out Food
Just like in a regular microwave, if you overcook some foods they can become dry and inedible. To avoid this is really trial and error.
You can follow any cooking instructions on packaging, and then after that simply work out the times and temperatures that work best for each food.
Can Leave Food Soggy
Just like overcooking can dry out foods in a flatbed microwave, this can also leave foods soggy too. Due to the way food is cooked, overcooking can lead to excess moisture can be transferred back to food, leaving it soggy.
Again, getting used to the timings and temperatures of your microwave will sort this problem.
Not All Containers Can Be Used In A Flatbed Microwave
Just like in regular microwaves, you must be careful about which containers and cookware you use in your flatbed microwave. You can not use metal, crystal, pottery, unglazed earthenware or soft plastics in your flatbed microwave. Firm plastics and most glass and ceramic containers will work just fine.
So there you have it. The answer to the question of what is a flatbed microwave. In short, it is a more expensive version of the regular microwave that does not require a turntable.
This is because microwaves are sent into the cooking chamber from underneath, and bounce around at different angles. This ensures that all areas of food are cooked evenly, without the need for turning it using a turntable.
Thanks for reading. If you have any thoughts on this, I’d be happy to read your comments below.