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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?

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

  2. 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?

    1. pam kueber says:

      lynda, connect with us via the contact form – the link is at the bottom of the blog in the footer — and from there we can give you our email for photos

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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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