A microwave oven that’s not too big, not too small, just right: My new Kenmore 72122

sears kenmore microwave ovenOur old microwave oven was a sad 20-year-old fellow whose get up and go had got up and went. It took forever to cook a frozen enchilada yadda yadda yadda, so I finally took action. Importantly, we wanted a Goldilocks-sized microwave: Not too big, not too small, just right. And we wanted white, because all the appliances in our kitchen are white.

At times like these, I turn to my online subscription to Consumer Reports. They liked Kenmores, along with a few other brands, although they had not specifically tested the model I finally bought.

This Kenmore 1.2 cu.ft. 72122 fit the bill. It was quite reasonably priced — the hotlink is to Sears, where we got it for $99.99 plus $6.25 in tax and free shipping. My usual go-to is Amazon, where I have credits to spend due to the bit of income we make from Amazon links here on the blog. But on Amazon, I found that the cost for this model microwave was about 30%+ higher, all-in.

When the microwave arrived, I was super pleased with its hefty powder-coated steel shell — nice! The face of the door and control panel are some kind of plastic, and they also look quite nice. My only product development advice for Sears is: Make the white button you push to open the microwave door feel heftier, too — when you actually push the button in, the button and push-experience feel “loosy” — uninspiring and maybe even kinda cheap. It may not be a quality issue per se, it just feels meh especially considering the nice quality feel of the rest of the microwave.

That said, my Trader Joe frozen enchilada lunches now heat up like a dream. Why did I wait so long?


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  1. Mike says

    FYI, always buy Kenmore products from Sears. It’s their brand, and the only other retailer is K-mart, who sears also own. Amazon is more expensive because it’s individuals who buy the appliances and resell them online.

  2. Bluezette says

    It’s almost impossible to find nice appliances in white anymore. I hope the stainless/black/stainless and black cycle ends soon because several of my appliances are nearing the end of their expected lifespan. I love my simple white refrigerator with split adjustable glass shelves. If I had to replace it today, all the white top-freezer models are the low-end, wire shelf variety. I love you, fridge. Please don’t die, please don’t die, please…

    • Robin, NV says

      I have a Sears Kenmore fridge that I’ve been meaning to recommend to retro renovators. I bought it five years ago – white with a top freezer and glass shelves. It has a squat, wide look that, to me, is reminiscent of the fridges of the 50s and 60s. Alas, a recent look at Sears.com indicates that the model is no more.

    • Bobbie says

      I have the GE Artistry series in white for my range and over-range microwave — the best I could find in white, and good for the look I was going for. For my fridge I went with a Summit brand bottom freezer for a couple reasons — the compact size (it’s a bit taller to make up for the shallower depth), and the clean-lined look of it. I agree, though, very difficult to find appliances in white when everything seems to encased in a thin layer of stainless steel.

      • Erik says

        I shopped for refrigerators last week and purchased a Kenmore made by Whirlpool that I wrote about in a post further below. Note that the 24 cubic foot Kenmore refrigerator that you referenced is massive and may not fit in the typical mid-century or older kitchen that has its original cabinetry (I looked at it and took measurements when I was shopping). Even if the height and width works, note that it is extra deep and may not be a good fit once inside the kitchen, (the refrigerator cabinet depth plus additional depth with the door open could be a real problem for galley kitchens). It is manufactured by Sansui. The main difference between the Sansui branded model and Kenmore branded clone is the Kenmore has door handles which ads even more depth. Also, the 68.5 inch height is misleading. That is height of the top of the freezer door including the hinge. The refrigerator cabinet itself is actually much less than 68 inches so it will probably fit under the typical cubby of an older home. But, again, it is a massive refrigerator.

        • says

          Good to know! I honestly just grabbed one off the site to show OP that there were options out there.

          I’m sorry you had such a poor experience with delivery!

  3. sara says

    Nice job Kenmore! But I wish there were more choices in retro styled mircowaves. There are a few out there, but the prices…oh my! And hard to find in white. I found one I really liked but it only came in black, stainless, and red. In my kitchen, the microwave has to sit front and center on the counter. No space elsewhere. And I’d love to find one that fits in with my 1950’s built-in-place cabinets and white appliances. Oh well, it’s worth it to have a microwave even if it does kind of stick out like a sore thumb in my kitchen.

  4. virginia says

    So funny — never thought I’d see my little microwave at RR. Bought the same model about six months ago. Very nice little device. I too like white appliances.

  5. spacedcowgirl says

    Up until a few years ago, you could still get hood microwaves from Amana with the “Radarange” name and logo. Was so sad to see that this had finally gone by the wayside when I was recently in the market for a new microwave.

    • Mary Elizabeth says

      I had an Amana Radarange in the 1970s and wrote about it in my daughter’s baby book (under the category “What’s New This Year” (besides baby). It was the first one I had seen, and there was no general category of “microwave ovens.” That old workhorse lasted for about 20 years.

      Pam, I think your choice of a smaller microwave with simple lines is the best for your retro-renovated kitchen. Although it would be nice to find a Radarange in working condition, I doubt I would risk using it.

      The lovely apartment where I stayed in Iceland last week had a very small, very efficient, mid-century Danish style kitchen with white metal cabinets and a teak (?) wood countertop. The microwave was hidden in a drawer that looked like part of the cabinet.

  6. Amy Dietz says

    I am the proud owner of a similar microwave, a Kenmore Elite. Mine is all white, and again the ‘door release’ button feels loose. That said, it works fine and I’ve had it for two or three years. My last one of a different brand crapped out after 5 years.

  7. Marta says

    Just a heads up reminder that Sears manufactures nothing. All their appliances are made by the regular appliance manufacturers. You can tell who made your Kenmore by the first three digits of the model number. Dozens of sites and YouTube vids are available to translate that 3-digit code to the company that actually produced the appliance. Good info to have when comparing models for future purchase or looking for repair help on line.

  8. Jacki says

    I’m still looking for a pink microwave to match my appliances. I have found a couple, but they are either junk, have Hello Kitty splashed all over them, or they cost as much as a car. Painting one isn’t an option. Any suggestions where to get one anyone?

    • Ed says

      Might check into sign and graphics shops in your area, especially the ones that do vehicle wraps. They *may* be able to provide satisfactory results, wrapping the appliance in your choice color.

  9. Debbie says

    A friend’s husband painted their washer and dryer Coca-Cola red with automotive paint (she keeps her Coca-Cola collection in the laundry room). Check with collector car clubs, they often have members who restore vintage cars and do their own painting.

  10. Diane says

    FYI there is no real “Kenmore” brand in the sense that there is a Kenmore factory turning out Sears appliances. Sears contracts with other manufacturers to make their products. You can tell what brand you are really buying from the model number. Follow this link if you are curious about your appliances: http://www.appliance411.com/parts/sears.shtml
    That said, I am very happy with my Kenmore fridge, vacuum and sewing machine.

    • Erik says

      Last week I replaced my recently deceased 31 year old Kelvinator Classic top-freezer refrigerator with a new Kenmore 20.5 cubic foot top-freezer refrigerator. It is manufactured by Whirlpool and is a clone of the 20.5 Whirlpool, which also makes a clone 20.5 Maytag. There are just slight differences between the three refrigerators. It’s a great refrigerator. However, the Sears-contracted delivery team scratched the paint on the side and broke off a corner filler piece on the refrigerator and damaged the woodwork on my hallway door trim. They were real amateurs. They did not have a professional appliance dolly but merely a hand truck and they would not listen to me when I told them the doors and hinges needed to be removed from the refrigerator prior to bringing it through the front door. Those were two huge red flags and I should have refused delivery before they even brought it into the house. They were not careful or considerate and complained the entire time that they were late for their next delivery. I had taken careful measurements of the floor model and checked them against the published specifications, measured my doorways and removed my interior doors, etc. so I knew the refrigerator would fit with some planning and careful maneuvering. The Kenmore had the same depth as my old Kelvinator, and this was the most crucial dimension as far as maneuvering the refrigerator through the hall doorways. My father and I had easily removed my Kelvinator sans doors and hinges without any problems so there was no reason the new Kenmore could not have been brought into the house in the same manner. I was able to get Sears to agree to refund some of my money on the refrigerator and send a replacement for the broken part but I am still waiting for their claims department to contact me so I can get reimbursed for the damage to my home. Regardless of the amount of reimbursement, I will be making the repairs myself and, although I do have the tools and talent, I am not looking forward to spending my time doing it. So, be forewarned: now matter how wonderful the selection is at Sears, if you purchase a major appliance you just may be at the mercy of the yahoos who deliver it. If you are not confident with the delivery team that shows up, refuse delivery, contact Sears and ask them to reschedule the delivery with a more professional team. Next time I will purchase from one of the local, family-owned appliance dealers whose delivery staff are actually their employees.

  11. Scott says

    Microwaves are a bear to find something that looks right. And don’t let yourself wander into Google images from abroad lest you fall into deep depression over what we can’t have.

    I’d almost given up on replacing mine until 2 weekends ago I stumbled upon a gently used 1978 Amana Radar Range in an antique mall complete with all the manuals and hardbound (!) cookbook. Its massive and barely fit under my counter but I’m thrilled.

    • Scott says

      PS So far they haven’t adopted the look on their microwaves but Oster has some new toaster ovens that look very mid-century indeed, rounded edges, chrome accents, a big orange indicator light, very handsome.

  12. lynda murray says

    Hi Pam. I’m in the process of installing the Crosley kitchen, (origional to my house), in a building that I’m using for my workshop. I would like to post a picture of the microwave / refrigerator area that I have almost completed , But I don’t know how. I have the picture on my I phone , Can I send it to you somehow?

  13. lynda says

    We have an old Amana Radarrange we have had since 1980. It sits on a shelf the cabinet maker made when the house was built in 1977. I saw the same range at the Amana Village in Iowa. (a museum)
    I still like it and it works perfectly. The commercial microwave is a great idea. The simple white one you bought looks just right in your kitchen. Nostalgic Electrics have a couple of retro microwaves. My daughter has one in white and it seems fine.

  14. Jonny says

    Amana Radarange. 90 lbs, as big as my living room TV set, chromed out like a Cadillac, and a big enough magnatron to take out Russian satellites. It’s practically the ONLY mid-century microwave!

  15. Pat says

    We have a 1995 ish model of Panasonic. It’s the perfect size (1.0 cu ft). We were having problems with it cycling off, also the latch was catching. So we stuck it in the garage and bought a new Kenmore, we took it back after 2 weeks, the way it operated was way too complicated, we had to keep looking at the instructions! So we returned it and got a Panasonic, but we thought it had Sensor Reheat like our old one, but it didn’t. We returned it too. So we brought the old one out of the garage and figured we could use it for awhile longer – well, it has worked perfectly (for the last 6 months, knock on wood) and even the door latch started working again. Moral of the story: give it a rest and it might start working again, lol!

  16. Ed says

    I wasn’t thinking when I bought my current microwave, a brand I’d never heard of on sale at the local home improvement store. Now I’d rather get a Kenmore to match the fridge and the stove provided by the landlord. But I can’t really complain about this one, it matches the other appliances design wise, heats up food great, and if it dies in five years, it’ll only have cost me a dollar a month. Tempted to move it to the basement bar, and put a Kenmore in its rightful place on the funky shelf above the stove, but on the other hand I’ve found a commercial supply retailer that has heavy duty microwaves that should serve well into a nuclear winter. In a fit of whimsy, I ordered one of their picnic tables for my dining room, didn’t have any trouble ordering (thought I might, being that I’m not a commercial entity), and it showed up promptly and assembled easily. Since I already have a microwave, I might go after one of their retro looking blenders, next. The one I want is chrome and has two speeds, on and off.

  17. Ed says

    Keep wattage in mind when shopping for a microwave, many microwaveable snacks recommend 1100 watts for best results. The 700 watt “minis” could take a while longer than the cook time listed on the package to reach a safe internal temperature.

  18. Donna says

    For nice white appliances – checkout the new line from Whirlpool called White Ice. I am restoring a 1940s cottage and really wanted one of those lovely vintage gas ranges but they were too costly for us. After doing a TON of research I chose The White Ice line. They have a very clean white finish, and will fit into the tiny kitchen we have. They harmonize beautifully with the vintage inspired cabinetry and features of the home.

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