Combination ovens are great, and we use them a lot to solve our clients cooking problems
But what are the problems and what do you need to know? Let’s begin with a brief description of the main advantages of the combi’ oven
A combi’ has an oven, grill and microwave all in one compartment. We usually fit one of these above a single oven. So, effectively you get 2 ovens, 2 grills and 1 microwave. The big benefit is that all these cooking facilities can be located in one tall housing, thus saving space.
We introduce this appliance when a client asks us for a double oven and a microwave. The reason people want double ovens is so that they can have the flexibility of cooking at 2 different temperatures. Sunday roast is a good example, chickens cook at 180°C and your roastie’s need 230°C.
In a double oven there is usually a grill in the top oven. This is also very important as many people like the option to be able to use a grill whilst something else is cooking. Having 2 ovens is therefore essential.
More space, more options
Having 2 ovens obviously gives you more space. You can see why 2 separate cooking cavities is much sought after. The only problem is, where do you put the microwave? It’s not ideal to build a microwave in over a double oven. Either the microwave will be too high or the main oven too low. Therefore we have to build the microwave in somewhere else, or have it free standing on the work top — eeergh!
The Combination Oven (Combi Oven)
Enter the Combination Oven! As pointed out earlier, by combining this with a single oven you will get 2 ovens, 2 grills and a microwave in one space not much bigger than a double oven. Now there’s no need to search for somewhere to put the microwave.
So what’s the catch?
What is the problem with the combi’ oven? There is nothing wrong with the machine at all, providing you’re getting what you expect to get. Let me explain….
A few of years ago, even with all our experience, we made a huge mistake. It was during a time the entire kitchen industry was having massive supply problems. Getting hold of appliances was very difficult. Sourcing a combination oven in particular was challenging, they were in short supply everywhere. We searched our appliance suppliers listings and spotted a cheaper alternative. It appeared to have all the same functions and it was actually available. So, we bought some!
The product description problem
The problem lies in the product description. I am using the Bosch brochure for this example but the same applies to other makes.
The ovens I bought were described as “microwave, combination oven”, stating they were a microwave that had hot air oven and grill facilities.
Basically this is a microwave with either a hot air cooking function or microwaving grill function. Cooking is limited to one level and there isn’t what we call a ‘drip tray’ with the machine either.
So we ended up a microwave with additional functionality. A microwave that can ‘brown’ whatever you are cooking but is not intended to be used as an oven or grill on its own.
So this machine does not solve the problem of having 2 separate cooking cavities, all it really is, is a better microwave.
The multi function oven with microwave
An actual combi’ oven that can be used as a separate oven, grill or microwave is described slightly differently; a multi-function oven with microwave. This appliance does have all the functions you require and can be used as just an oven, grill or microwave. Or you can use the microwave in combination with either of the other two functions.
Looking at the interiors of the appliances below helps you understand what you are getting. The one on the left looks just like the interior of a microwave.
In the picture  above you can see that there is a turntable at the bottom, there are no tiered shelf settings and the interior is stainless steel. It basically looks like a big microwave, because that is what it is!
Picture  above right, looks exactly like the top oven you would get in a double oven. In this picture you can see that it has a grey catalytic type of lining and 3 adjustable shelf settings.
A “Microwave, Combination Oven” may sound the same as a “Multi-function Oven with Microwave”, … but it most certainly IS NOT the same!
Different retailers and manufacturers often use different terminology. So if you are in any doubt make sure you ask the question; “Is this machine able to be used as just an oven or grill on its own?“
Most good kitchen designers will be able to advise you about this. However, we have had over 50 years experience designing kitchens and even we got it wrong. Only the once though, I might add! 😊