This feasibility report compares three alternative microwave ovens and determines the best choice for the General Technology Department's use.

Our department has $600 left in our budget which must be spent before the end of the fiscal year. We have needed some way of warming up sandwiches out of our sack lunches and have decided to buy a microwave oven for that purpose. Mr. Jafar assures us that he can find other uses for the microwave in his chemical engineering classes.

Three models of microwave ovens have been chosen for comparison: model A--Sears, model B--Tappan, and model C--General Electric. In order to obtain information, I made a survey of the local Sears, Gambles and Woolco stores.

This report is divided into three major parts: the sections, conclusions and recommendations. There are five subdivisions of the sections: 1. background, 2. cost, 3. dial graduation and precision, 4. appearance and view through the oven window, and 5. maintenance. The last four sections are a discussion for the criteria on which the alternatives have been judged.


Microwave cooking is quick, convenient, clean, cool, and energy efficient.

The microwave oven is really similar to a little broadcasting station. Inside the oven is a special power source called a magnetron tube, which is activated by electricity, causing it to produce short, high frequency waves similar to radio waves. Some waves will go directly toward the food, while others will be reflected off the walls and flooring of the oven to be directed towards all the different surfaces of the food. All the micro- wave energy remains inside the oven. While the door is opened or the oven is off, the broadcasting of microwaves stops (4:7).

Useable volume for ovens ranges from 0.5 to 1.5 cubic feet. As our department employs 10 people, we need a microwave oven of at least 1.0 cubic feet capacity.

The microwave ovens set the cooking time with either a dial, a push button or a wind-up digital timer, or a touch panel. Highly sophisticated models have features like computerized timing, browning elements, temperature probes, and even whole- meal cooking functions (3:10). The microwave ovens with touch panels and computerized timing cost 30 to 40 percent more than the dial type ovens. As we plan to use the oven for convenience foods or for quick meals or for reheating food brought to work by employees, the microwave oven with a power level timer and probe will meet our requirements.

After establishing the above features suited to our needs, I have decided to compare these three models of microwave ovens:

The following criteria are used in selection of the micro- wave oven:
  1. Cost: cost includes the purchase price of the oven;
  2. Dial graduation and precision, with special attention given to ease and time settings;
  3. Appearance and view through the oven window;
  4. Maintenance and the ease of cleaning the oven's interior.


The only cost involved in comparing the three alternatives is the purchase price of the oven. As all three models are rated at 650 watts, the electricity cost will be nearly equal. The price of these three models is shown in the following table.

Table 1: costs of ovens
A-Sears B-Tappan C-GE
Price $339.95 $359.00 $369.95
Comments price is after $80 discount price is after $80 discount savings bond

From the above information, it can be concluded that alternative A costs the least. In order to avail ourselves of the $80 discount on the Sears microwave, we have to make a decision and purchase the oven before the end of the month.


The various settings on the microwaves are called "power levels" rather than temperature settings as in conventional ovens. Knobs or dials are used to get the power level. Turning the pointer adjusts the power level, and the oven will not operate until a time has been set. When the cooking time is completed, a bell will ring, and the microwave energy will stop.

The Sears model has three power levels, and includes a defrost cycle. This model has a twenty-five minute timer, which can be set at a fifteen second interval on the rest. The graduations on the timer are very close together and hardly visible from the normal thirty inch distance of viewing. It is difficult to identify the graduation to the exact time on the timer, making the Sears model inconvenient to operate.

The Tappan model has five power levels, and includes a defrost cycle. This model has a thirty-five minute timer, which can be set at a fifteen second interval on the first five minutes, and set at a one-minute interval on the rest. The graduations on the timer are well space: the lines are long and clearly visible from a normal viewing distance.

The GE model has five power levels and includes a defrost cycle. This model has a sixty minute timer, which can be set at fifteen second intervals on the first twenty minutes, and at two minute intervals on the rest. The graduations are very close together and hardly visible from the normal viewing distance. The numbers marked against the graduations are small and diffi- cult to see from a distance of two feet.

Most of our department cooking or reheating needs a timer which can be set at a fifteen second interval on the first five minutes, and set at one minuter intervals for the rest. The longest cooking time required for our food is twenty-two minutes. Considering the ease of operation and precision, I believe model B, the Tappan, to be the best option.


APPEARANCE. All these three models have a wood grained, vinyl-covered steel exterior and a black glass door with side- swing window. Based on appearance, all three models can be rated the same.

VIEW THROUGH OVEN WINDOW. Sears and Tappan models have poor views through the oven window. This makes it difficult to see the food during the cooking process. As shown in figure one, the oven window of the GE model gives a good view of the food during the cooking process.

Fig. 1: Window in door of GE model

Of the three models, model C, the GE, gives the best view through the oven window.


Warranty coverage on all three models is identical, and they cover the following:

One more thing should be considered: to replace the light- bulb on the Sears model, the entire cabinet must be disassembled.

OVEN CLEANABILITY. The Tappan oven has a removable glass oven bottom. The glass bottom can be removed, cleaned and put back. Another use of this glass bottom is to use it at a cooking vessel. To clean the Sears or GE models, the user must insert his hand into the oven and use a paper towel or rag.

On the basis of maintenance, the Tappan and GE models are the best because they do not require disassembly of the cabinent to replace the lightbulb. Because the Tappan has a removable glass oven bottom, we can save half of our clean-up time when compared to the other models. Hence, of the three modes, model B. the Tappan, is the mose easily maintained oven.



I recommend that we buy the Tappan oven for the following reasons:


1. John Stossel, Shoping Smart (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1980), pp. 55, 66.

2. Guide to Wise Buying (New York: Benjamin Company, 1980), pp. 308, 309.

3. Consumer Report, 1982, pp. 10-15.

4. Tappan Microwave Cooking Guide, 1979.