Most people don’t think of a microwave as a gadget, but I guess if it plugs in, has buttons and a display, it excites me a bit. But before I go in a major analysis of popcorn pop timing (or burning), I wanted rewind back. Here’s the story. I had a microwave that was on its last legs, the outer case was cracking and the gears within that drove the turntable were broken and grinding. While the microwave did work, it had only basic features and was really, really noise when it was running.
As luck would have it, I was having some conversations with the Panasonic folks about potentially doing some reviews of items coming out of CES. One thing led to another, and I was able to “pitch a story” to the PR firm that handles the consumer household products division for Panasonic. The story: I would show how to install a Panasonic microwave as well as talk about some of the features of the new microwave.
I had never installed a microwave before but I’m always up for a challenge. So before I go into the features of the Panasonic NN-SD277WR Microwave that I installed, I thought that I would map out the install process a bit. For those who are a little bit handy, it really is pretty straight-forward and actually relatively easy. As with any project, there is usually no way that you will have a standard install. There is always something that will throw you a curveball, and you may have to get a bit creative in your work. Watch the video or read on to learn more.
The Install Process
So this is the old microwave. For starters, when we moved into the house, we had the entire kitchen painted white, so that black color really stood out badly. Also, as I mentioned, the gears of the turntable grind pretty loud when it tried to rotate.
The old microwave was set up to vent through the top. This microwave was installed only about 4 years so upon reviewing the duct-work, things looked pretty good (even to my inexperienced eye), so no new work had to be done there.
Here is the new Panasonic, unboxed and ready to go. I really do recommend that you carefully unpack you microwave and do an inventory of the items. For example, I tested sliding the bracket that is anchored against the wall into the back of the microwave a few times. Even despite this, it was a bit more difficult once the bracket was on the wall, but at least I knew how it was supposed to work.
These are the bolts that screwed down into the top of the old microwave. Be sure to save all of the parts of your old microwave (if you are replacing one) since you never know if you need to use some of the parts. I ended up using the larger washers in the install of the Panasonic.
I was able to start the process of removing the old microwave on my own. However, I do recommend that you get someone to help when it comes to removing the old microwave as they can be awkward and heavy. My wife helped me take the old one down. My neighbor later helped me with the install and lifting it up the new microwave. Don’t try it alone.
A lot of times, looking at the old install bracket can give you some insight into the installation environment.
After removing the bracket, we found that no part of it was anchored to a wall stud. This is something that you really should do when you have this much weight. The larger holes were for anchor or molly bolts (that’s all that the previous installer used.)
So we drilled some smaller holes for some new locations for the anchor bolts.
The anchor bolts were threaded through the bracket.
Since the holes for the anchor bolts were pretty small, it was a bit harder to punch them through, but the reason we kept them small was to be sure that we didn’t weaken the strength of the wall too much.
Be careful around sheet metal. I managed to slice my thumb a bit. No major damage though.
The anchor bolts were tightened in.
Although a bit hard to see, we drilled through the brace’s sheet metal so that we could anchor it to the wall stud. Panasonic recommended having at least 2 screws attached to a wall stud and 4 anchor bolts simultaneously in the drywall.
We threaded the power cord up and through and anchored it down.
The nice thing about the Panasonic brace was that it basically slid in on some tracks (which supported it pretty well). I probably could have slid it on myself.
Be sure to tighten down all of the bolts.
Yes, you will make a mess but don’t worry about it! That is what vacuums are for.
Here is the final product installed. It only took about 2 hours to do everything, even including having to think out some creative solutions.
The happy installers.
The Panasonic ready to go!
Below is a video that shows some of the highlights of the install. (I felt a bit like Bob Villa.) The video doesn’t include all of the work so don’t worry, you don’t have to sit through 2 hours of installation.
The New Panasonic Microwave
I have only had about 24 hours with the new Panasonic NN-SD277WR but I must say that I do really like it. It is definitely an upgrade from my previous microwave and not having the loud gear grinding makes me (and my wife) very happy.
Here are some technical specs on the Panasonic NN-SD277WR microwave:
- 2.0 cubic foot interior
- 12 inch turntable
- Power output – 1200 Watts
- 10 Power levels
- Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 29.9 x 16.4 inches ; 62.4 pounds
- 120 Volts power requirement
- 4 level fan (low/high/turbo/super)
- Weight 53 lbs
This microwave felt a lot lighter than the one it was replacing. Also, the white color (a personal preference) seemed to really brighten up our kitchen.
The first thing that you notice is that there is no touchpad for entering numbers (e.g., the minute and seconds for cook time). This is a unique design to the Panasonic. In the center of the control panel, there is a pop-out dial that lets you spin to select the cook time duration (among other things). The front control panel is clearly organized with a variety of buttons that are dedicated to specific functions, specifically (from top to bottom, left to right):
- Popcorn – while I haven’t tested this out yet, there is a dedicated popcorn button that senses when steam is coming out during the popping process. (Note, you can use the Less/More button to add or subtract a percentage of cook time. How well this works depends on many factors including the size of the popcorn bag, the type of popcorn and your preference of how many kernels you want left unpopped. Watch out for burning!
- Sensor Reheat – this button allows you to simply put some food in and reheat it. It detects the amount of steam coming from the food and then adjusts the cook time automatically. I tested this and it really does heat things up HOT!
- Sensor Cook – similar to the Sensor Reheat, you can simply put in food and push this button and the Panasonic detects the steam output and sets the appropriate cook time.
- Power Level – you have 10 levels of power to play with. One thing that I liked about this was how the power level on the display would shrink or grow depending on how many times you clicked the button. Use this for fine-tuning the cook time.
- Inverter Turbo Defrost – with this feature, you simply enter in the weight of the meat or poultry that you want to defrost and the Panasonic will ensure that you know when to flip it over as well as prevent the outer edges from cooking (a common problem with many defrost settings in some microwaves)
- Keep Warm – this is a nifty little feature that lets you keep food warm after cooking for up to 30 minutes. The Panasonic will automatically turn on and boost the heat of the food periodically.
- Pop-out Dial – this is where you control many aspects of the microwave, most importantly, the amount of time you want to cook something. Simply push the dial in and it pops out. Then spin it to the desired number (minutes or clock setting).
- Timer – this is your basic countdown timer. Coupled with the dial, you can specify when an alarm will go off after a set amount of time
- Clock – you can use this to set the time on the display
- Quick Min – easily set cook times in minute increments
- More/Less – this button is used with other functional buttons to add/subtract cooking times (as a percentage)
- Turntable On/Off – this controls whether the turntable will turn as well as change the directions
- Stop/Reset – this should be obvious, no?
- Start – if you don’t know what this button does, you probably shouldn’t have a microwave at all!
- Fan Hi/Lo – this is the button for the standard fan settings. The fan is pretty quiet using this button.
- Fan Super/Turbo – if you really need to clear out smoke or vent things, kick your fan into overdrive here. It is much louder but does its job!
- Auto Off – you can set the fan to turn off after a set amount of time with this button
- Light Hi/Lo – this controls the over-the-range lighting which is actually quite good!
Another nice thing about the design is that the turntable is slightly recessed into the base. This allows you to fully load up the space with taller microwavable cooking containers. Also, the sides of the space are indented as well to allow for wider containers to rotate without obstruction. Included is a removable metal rack that lets you have two layers of items being microwaved simultaneously. However, if you do that, remember to switch out the items from the rack to the turntable and visa versa so that your food rotates for even cooking. You can see the inside of the microwave as well as an overview of the features in the video overview below.
I have not put too much time into the use of the Panasonic. I’m sure over time, more things that I like or dislike will come out. One thing that I did notice that I didn’t particularly like was when using the Timer function. While you can set an alarm for when the timer should go off, it only beeps 3 times and then is silent after that. I think that the Timer should keep beeping until you actually come back to the microwave and turn it off. Otherwise, if you are in the other room and don’t hear the initial 3 beeps, you might miss some critical cooking timing. This is the only things that I have to “complain” about at this point.
The power of the microwave is really great and food and liquids seem to be heating much faster and more evenly than with my previous microwave (probably due to a higher power output as well as a functional turntable). The fan is really, really powerful! I recommend making sure that you have your vent working well as it does move a lot of air. I had to tape off and block some of the install holes from my previous microwave as they were venting into the cabinet above. You can set it up to vent from the top, the back or just out the front (see the install guide for changing the blower directions on this). Another nice feature is that the microwave will detect if a lot of heat is coming from the stovetop. If there is, the fan will automatically turn on to vent some of the heat. I have not gotten this to happen yet but it is a nice feature to have.
All in all, the install process was very straight-forward and relatively easy to do (with some help). The features and functions of the Panasonic NN-SD277WR are pretty great, a definite upgrade from what I had. The MSRP is $419.95 however you can pick one up from Amazon for about $330, making it a very good value for what you get. As my wife and I continue to use the Panasonic, we will become more experienced with its workings. If you have questions about the functionality or the install process, please leave a comment on this review.
HTD says: Don’t be afraid to try some do-it-yourself installs. You save money and can apply those install fees to getting a better device in the long run!