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Why do all of the microwaves that are used in our houses opening from the right side to left side? I've never seen any that do the opposite. I called LG company and asked them why and I got an answer in a week by email indicating that the first design that they did was in this structure and style.

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5 Answers 5

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Because the control panel is on the right.

Microwaves have the controls on the right to favour right handed people (similar to the placement of control panels on pre 1990's televisions.)

Placing the hinge on the right would make for a very awkward design as it would be near the middle. If you wanted to stir your food and adjust the controls at the same time, you would find the door bashing into your arm. Having it on the left means it is at one end of the equipment, so when the door is open there is no obstruction for an operator moving between controls and food.

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    I would say one thing goes together with the other. The control is on the right + the door opens from the right for right handed. For left handed it would be left control + door opening from left to right.
    – Alvaro
    Nov 11, 2016 at 22:08
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    From a technical point of view, this is probably the correct answer. If in doubt, go to your microwave, and imagine the door opening left to right (with controls on the right). The right side of the door would collide with the control zone, so you wouldn't be able to open the door. Thus: the hinge has to be on the most external side. After that, it's just a numbers game: 90% of people is right handed, so... controls on the right.
    – Devin
    Nov 11, 2016 at 22:52
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    Do you normally use the controls without first shutting the door? My microwave actually resets the clock when I close the door so it's not even possible (unless it's just the time remaining when I opened the door).
    – MichaelS
    Nov 14, 2016 at 11:10
  • "... mirroring the placement of control panels ..." does this mean control panels are on opposite side as older TV's? Shouldn't this say "... duplicating the placement of control panels ..."? Nov 14, 2016 at 16:54
  • This answer, as written, boils down to "they are laid out how they are because they have the layout they have"; if the hinge was on the right, the control panel could go on the left, problem solved. With some tweaking, it could answer the related question of why they don't have easily reversible doors, like many refrigerators do. Converting a microwave would be more like converting a car dashboard between left- and right-hand drive: it would require significant rearrangement of components.
    – IMSoP
    Nov 15, 2016 at 11:48
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I would guess it's because the design fits better for right-handed people.

According to Wikipedia: "Studies suggest that 88–92% of the world population is right-handed".

Microwave doors open such so that the user can insert dishes and glassware with the right hand, while holding the door with the left hand if necessary. The user needs more precision to control that which is being inserted. Afterwards, the user can close the door with either hand.

Edit

With a microwave, we are managing hot foods and drinks. Extra safety and precision are important.

It's true that a right-handed person can successfully handle dishes using the left hand. But a cup, for example, certainly could use more skill — especially if it contains a hot drink.

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    90% of the population are right-handed, so it makes business sense to only make right-handed microwaves, and let the lefties adapt.
    – Tom Bowen
    Nov 11, 2016 at 15:17
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    @Hennes Microwaves are rarely used by just one person. Nov 11, 2016 at 20:29
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    @user23013: most fullsize fridges have hinges that can be installed on either side, so the door opening can work with the cabinetry/room layout of the kitchen they are installed into. Nov 12, 2016 at 5:18
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    Fridges have their internal mechanism at the top and behind the fridge area, so, being symmetrical, it's rather easy to attach hinges to both sides. Microwave ovens very typically have their control panel and attached circuitry on their side.
    – Gábor
    Nov 12, 2016 at 13:01
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    @MrLister My wife is left-handed. We don't mind having an extra pair of scissors, but we don't feel like putting an extra microwave in our kitchen. Nov 14, 2016 at 13:21
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I think making a microwave door hinge at the bottom center (like that of a conventional oven) would solve the right-hand / left-hand argument.

Also: We are trained to move left to right, mainly because that is how most of us read and write. Therefore, if the keypad was on the left, that would suggest that you would have to key in the settings before inserting the food.

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    A downward-opening door would cause other problems. Many microwaves sit on counter-tops, so the hinges would have to be mounted high enough to allow the door to open without being fouled by the counter. That would waste vertical space by forcing the oven to be on little legs or something. For microwaves mounted higher than counter-height, a downward-opening door would obstruct entry to the oven. Nov 11, 2016 at 15:31
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    Next to that, plenty of microwaves (at least in my country) are placed on top of another object. With a door that opens downwards, you might think it's a good idea to use it as a temporary table to put your food on while you grab some gloves or other equipment. until the entire thing topples over, that is. Nov 11, 2016 at 17:45
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    My microwave is hung above the stove. With a door opening downwards, I would need to reach above the door into a microwave that I now can't see to get my food. Sounds like a good way to get burned.
    – user23463
    Nov 11, 2016 at 18:00
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    There are many microwaves that have a downward opening door
    – mmmmmm
    Nov 11, 2016 at 18:51
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    @DavidRicherby A counter-example: Many (most?) toaster ovens have downward opening doors and sit on counter tops and tables. (Though they are usually smaller, and often the door can be supported when open by the handle resting on the counter.) Nov 11, 2016 at 20:16
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I don't thing it as a question of hinge. In my opinion it is a question of control.

As some other person has noted, the majority of old TV sets, even before remotes, have had the control knobs to the right.

It is control which commends design. Microwaves operations demand visual perception plus hand manipulation; 90% of population is right handed; so, in order to not interfere vision and hand operation, right side controls seem logical.

As a left handed person I know the feeling of misfitting in a right handed world, anyway these obstacles it are not -usually- life threatening issues :-)

PS TV sets abandoned this design when remotes became the norm.

Regards

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It's simply due to biased assumption that most people are right handed and kitchens have been designed to accommodate the "standard" design.

Some have a reversable door. Some have pull-out doors. Some have a top-open door. Few are designed with a "left access design". They can be, but they just are not. Yes, this makes it inconvenient for everyone, not just left-handers, who have a microwave up against a fridge, or wall or a counter-top obstructing the right side.

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  • It's not a biased assumption, it's a fact that ~90% of the people are right-handed. (Lefty here BTW.)
    – Glorfindel
    Aug 8, 2022 at 8:27

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