A review of the ZLINE RA-36 range and MWO-24 built-in convection microwave oven in our kitchen renovation.
We bought our new house knowing the whole thing needed a cosmetic gut. There were a lot of decisions that got made in the few months after closing but none more important to me than the kitchen!
From the minute I stepped into the house (it’s a chalet type home with a vaulted 2-story ceiling open concept living/kitchen/dining area), I knew what needed to happen layout wise in the kitchen to improve upon things.
That was the easy part.
Choosing the finishes, fixtures and appliances is where the options became endless and decision fatigue started to settle in.
We renovated our last kitchen not even 3 years ago so the experience was fresh in my mind and after that whole ordeal (which was much more costly and time consuming due to removing load bearing walls and outsourcing the entire thing), I had a much better grasp on what was worth it and what wasn’t when it came to budgeting this time around.
The space begged for a big dramatic waterfall island and I knew I wanted natural stone after previously having quartz. I may be in the minority on this, but I very much dislike quartz in the kitchen! Particularly a white quartz.
So that was a big budget item that got top priority. Waterfall counters, while gorgeous, also quickly add square footage and therefore cost.
The kitchen cabinet quality was also important to me and I actually decided to get the same exact cabinets and color as our previous remodel.
This actually ended up being more affordable than I thought (simply due to the area we moved to and the pricing difference between here and our previous home) but still a large item because cabinets are pretty much always the biggest cost factor in any kitchen remodel.
So then we were left with the appliance decisions.
The dishwasher and fridge were easy.
We found a brand new fridge on FB marketplace before we moved for almost 50% off retail (same brand and basically same model as our previous one) so we snatched that right up!
I loved my KitchenAid dishwasher from our previous house so much I also knew that was going to be an easy decision in the new place.
Two out of the four down, now to decide on the important stuff – the stove and the microwave!
WHY I CHOSE ZLINE APPLIANCES
I really loved our previous dual fuel range and have nothing but great things to say about the 2018 model (I specify this because it’s changed significantly since) GE Cafe 36″ oven.
That being said, it came at a cost. Even procuring mine at a steep discount, I spent over $6,000 for it. Retail was somewhere around $7,500 at the time.
And since everything is more expensive today versus 3 years ago, it really kind of stopped me in my tracks when it came to this kitchen remodel.
This is when I started looking into ZLINE and their ranges. I did an inordinate amount of my own research, scouring appliance forums (yes, this is a thing) and talking to people I knew that had ZLINE in their kitchens because I was honestly a little skeptical thinking this must be one of those “too good to be true” things.
How could they sell a professional line 36″ dual fuel range at less than half the cost of my previous one?
But time and time again, both online and from people I talked to directly, I heard mostly great things. Sure, there’s always the one-off comment or negative review but show me an appliance without a few of those.
So in the end, both with the range and the built-in microwave oven the decision ultimately came down to price.
It just didn’t make sense in this house (which is not our forever dream home) to spend over $10,000 on an oven and microwave.
If I could get the aesthetic and function I wanted out of something that cost almost 1/3 of its competitors, it just didn’t make sense not to.
ZLINE RA-36 DUAL FUEL RANGE REVIEW
If you’re contemplating a dual fuel range vs. an all gas range I can’t recommend it enough.
The ability to cook on the stove-top with gas (or propane – in my situation) while having the consistency of electric for the oven is a game changer.
Highlights of the RA36 ZLINE range:
- Solid piece cast iron grates – these are heavy duty yet manageable for cleaning
- High quality Italian burners – easily removable for cleaning as well
- Both oven racks on smooth slide rollers (love this as my previous oven only had 1 smooth slide rack)
- Adjustable aesthetically pleasing legs (let’s be real, this range is a statement piece so it has to look good!)
- Burners that range from 4,200 to 18,000 BTUs
- Stay put hinges on the oven door with 3-layered glass
Things to be aware of:
- No internal temperature gauge so there’s no preheating “beep”. You’ll need an oven thermometer. I bought this one for like $5. Everyone should have an oven thermometer anyway since ovens aren’t always calibrated perfectly.
- The temperature dial goes up by 50 degree increments which is a little unusual (it’s usually 25) but I’ve found you can set it in between the temperature marks and it does a decent job of getting a more precise heat if needed.
- Oven settings are a little different. At least compared to my previous range and others I’ve seen, the setting options take some getting used to. For example, there’s no “roast” setting but rather “high bake” or “low bake” and “convection bake” or “convection broil”. I tend to use convection bake 99% of the time but I don’t find it to get things as crispy as my previous oven’s “convection roast” setting.
- No display whatsoever so there’s no time or temp display. This is common among professional series ovens but many of them now include “smart” features so they’re starting to include displays. If you’re someone who relies on your appliances to tell the time, this takes some getting used to!
We installed our range in the kitchen island as it was really the only option given our layout but it’s worth noting that the range really isn’t meant to be installed like this. It absolutely can be but as you can see in the pictures, the back of the range will not sit level with your counters.
It’s manufactured to be against a wall and there are open screw holes in the back to anchor it to the wall. This doesn’t bother me tremendously because I keep my cooking oils and utensils behind it hiding most of those holes.
Two conveniences I really like about the RA-36:
- Its ease of cleaning – both the stove-top and glass door of the oven are very easy to clean which is incredibly appreciated. Gas stove tops can be a pain in this regard!
- The gas to propane conversion was also very simple and straightforward.
We installed and converted the gas to propane on the range without any issue.
One thing I regret:
- I ended up choosing the traditional RA-36 which is all stainless steel. I was debating between this and the DuraSnow® finish (fingerprint resistant) ZLINE offers but was unsure of the color and in the end just went with the classic stainless steel. In retrospect, I should’ve gone with DuraSnow® because I really hate keeping stainless free of spots!
While I didn’t end up choosing it, I love the fun color options ZLINE offers for the door panels. I thought about doing a black door but chickened out in the end. They also offer brass burners if that’s an accent color you want in your kitchen (it definitely looks sharp with the black!).
BUILT-IN MICROWAVE OVEN VS. MICROWAVE DRAWER
If you’re going for the built-in look this is a decision you’re going to have to make.
Honestly, my dream house would have a huge walk-in pantry where I could just hide a cheap countertop microwave and be done with it. Alas, I’ve yet to have that dream kitchen layout…one day.
In our last kitchen renovation, I spent an inordinate amount of time on the microwave decision. In the end I went with a drawer though and while it functioned fine, after 3 years I was so irritated by the time it took to open and close the microwave.
Because it’s an automatic open and close, it takes like 3-5 seconds to do both. That sounds trivial but when you’re heating something up and need to constantly stir it or check on it, it becomes quite annoying. There was also no stopping the drawer from either opening or closing if you accidentally hit the button. Ask me how often I did that.
That’s why this time around I decided on the built-in oven-type approach.
There aren’t many brands that make a built-in microwave that opens like an oven door and since we were smack in the middle of the supply chain appliance issues, ZLINE was actually the only brand that had it available for our timeframe.
And I have to say, I think this microwave might be my favorite appliance of all!
REVIEW OF THE ZLINE MWO-24 BUILT-IN CONVECTION MICROWAVE
By far, my favorite feature of this microwave is that it opens like an oven door instead of a swing door (like a fridge). This makes it super convenient and doesn’t block the walking path between the island and perimeter counters in the kitchen.
Highlights of the MWO24 ZLINE Convection Microwave:
- 1,000 watt cooking power – it’s powerful and heats food really well and evenly.
- 1.6 cu ft capacity – you won’t have any issues fitting whatever you need to inside this micro!
- Clear LCD display with touch controls – it’s a very aesthetically pleasing yet simple and function control panel.
- Functions as both a microwave and a convection oven!
- Stainless steel interior for better efficiency and heating control.
- Multiple different modes and settings including a child safety lock.
Besides the door, I also love the :30 second start button. I probably use that button 95% of the time. Makes it so quick and easy to reheat food!
While I don’t really utilize the convection oven part of the microwave, it’s really a great feature for cooking smaller meals or using on holidays as another oven.
The microwave comes with a reversible metal wire rack for cooking. If I was hosting Thanksgiving, it’d be great for the stuffing or a casserole while the main oven is occupied with a turkey.
The microwave fit perfectly in our 24″ cabinet cutout and I really like how nice it looks built-in without the need for any trim kit. I’ve seen lots of built in microwaves installed above wall ovens and always really dislike how a trim piece is needed to build the microwave out to the same width as the oven. Not a problem with this microwave!
This was also another very easy install we did ourselves. It slid right into the cut out and we just had to install an outlet in the back of the cabinet to plug it into.
*This is not a sponsored post but I did receive a small discount on the ZLINE appliances. All opinions are my own.