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Every microwave I've encountered always has the same feature - an unusually resistant "open microwave door" button.

Why is the button to open a microwave door always more resistant than buttons on other household appliances?

By resistant I mean you have to use more force to push it open.

Any ideas?

Edit based on answers: As of yet, the answers (especially regarding safety) are unsatisfactory because I see the safety interlock mechanisms can be operated without a resistant button and still maintain the safe level of safety. See Miele Touch2Open feature. Why don't more microwaves employ this feature or at least a regular button? Price cannot surely be such a factor since a regular button would be just as cheap.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Andrew Martin, Shreyas Tripathy, locationunknown, Wanda, JonW Sep 7 '18 at 13:49

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    Anyone care to explain the down vote? It's not good form to leave a down vote without a comment on why. – RobbyReindeer Aug 15 '18 at 9:53
  • Any answers to this question would be speculative. For instance, I speculate that the difficulty in pushing the button is simply a by-product of the cheapest possible mechanism that passes safety standards and is not 'designed' in. However, without assembling a panel of Microwave designers and manufacturers to ask, we will never know for sure. – Andrew Martin Sep 5 '18 at 8:52
  • @AndrewMartin, I disagree. It's evident from the answers & comments that there are some people on this community with that experience. Isn't it just the same kind of question as, for example, this question: link? You could argue we will never know the answer unless we get a panel of door designers, architects and manufacturers to ask... Where is the difference? Maybe this is more of a Meta chat... – RobbyReindeer Sep 5 '18 at 9:14
  • The question you linked to is asking about the validity of a possible resolution to the confusion caused by doors with handles on each side. It suggests an answer and invites criticism. Your question, however, does not suggest any answer that could be examined for merit. One ex-microwave repair person cannot answer for decisions made during the design process. Questions that simply ask why a design decision was taken cannot possibly answered conclusively by anyone other than the person who made that decision or by documentary evidence left by the original design team. – Andrew Martin Sep 5 '18 at 12:35
  • @AndrewMartin You mean like questions like this? ux.stackexchange.com/questions/52336/… It feels a bit double standard if you ask me. – RobbyReindeer Sep 7 '18 at 9:03
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It is a safety issue. Microwave doors have to remain sealed in order to prevent microwave radiation from escaping. While annoying at times, it helps facilitate the wonderful user experience of not dying (or at least not receiving bad burns).

Typically they have at least one safety interlock switch (sometimes they have two of them), and one monitor switch.

The idea is to make the doors less prone to accidental opening, and if they do open -- the microwave should quickly and safely turn itself off.

In fact, if you don't keep your microwave properly clean (e.g. allow food to spill and harden around the gasket at the bottom of the door), you can run the risk of "leaking" microwave radiation.

(Side note: There is a reason most microwave doors open right to left -- the convention better facilitates right handed cooks.)

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    I used to repair microwaves (yes it's a real job) and I totally agree. To add - the button is usual embedded or totally flush to the bezel to prevent people from accidentally opening the button by brushing past/leaning on it. – sclarke Aug 15 '18 at 8:14
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    +1 for the "wonderful user experience of not dying"! I understand all of the safety mechanisms in order to keep it from opening accidentally... but should this really affect how hard the button is to press in this day and age? Surely you could still have these safety mechs behind a touch screen button for example. Yes maybe the user opens the door accidentally but it wouldnt mean they get exposed since the mechanism would still be controlled by the touch screen. Can you see my point? – RobbyReindeer Aug 16 '18 at 6:55
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The following is possibly of some help, although I'm still unclear as to whether the following is relevant to human operating pressure (e.g. a levered operation via the door release button applying a multiplied indirect force to multiple actuators in sequence)

Microwave doors have at least two interlock switches which have to be actuated in a certain order. Interlock switches may be magnetically operated and require a certain force in order to operate.

According to the http://www.microtechfactoryservice.com/switch.html

Another replacement consideration is the operating and release force. This is the relative amount of pressure needed to actuate the switch. Various applications call for differing amounts of operating pressure.

And in an additional reference: US FDA Performance standards for microwave and radio frequency emitting products Part 1030, section c (2) on safety interlocks:

(2) Safety interlocks. (i) Microwave ovens shall have a minimum of two operative safety interlocks. At least one operative safety interlock on a fully assembled microwave oven shall not be operable by any part of the human body, or any object with a straight insertable length of 10 centimeters. Such interlock must also be concealed, unless its actuation is prevented when access to the interlock is possible. Any visible actuator or device to prevent actuation of this safety interlock must not be removable without disassembly of the oven or its door. A magnetically operated interlock is considered to be concealed, or its actuation is considered to be prevented, only if a test magnet held in place on the oven by gravity or its own attraction cannot operate the safety interlock. The test magnet shall be capable of lifting vertically at zero air gap at least 4.5 kilograms, and at 1 centimeter air gap at least 450 grams when the face of the magnet, which is toward the interlock when the magnet is in the test position, is pulling against one of the large faces of a mild steel armature having dimensions of 80 millimeters by 50 millimeters by 8 millimeters.

  • Nice find with the FDA standards! I had read that they needed at least one, but I think that was with regards specifically to the one the person interacts with -- I didn't know that it was mandated that a second, concealed mechanism had to be in place. Having a requirement of two better explains the need for more force! – Kane Ford Aug 15 '18 at 2:39
  • I will echo the same comment in Kane's answer in a hope to receive an improved answer: "I understand all of the safety mechanisms in order to keep it from opening accidentally... but should this really affect how hard the button is to press in this day and age? Surely you could still have these safety mechs behind a touch screen button for example. Yes maybe the user opens the door accidentally but it wouldnt mean they get exposed since the mechanism would still be controlled by the touch screen. Can you see my point?" – RobbyReindeer Aug 20 '18 at 11:09
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    Sure - you can have the door open via a touch screen - it just costs more. e.g. Miele have a Touch2Open feature. My microwave has no open button, just a pull handle. The door has two differently shaped prongs which activate the interlocks. Maybe resistance on the door mechanism is desirable with respect to toppling/expanding/exploding food forcing the door open from the inside! I do think that the interlocks are a cheap mechanical solution that's become an industry 'standard'. It boils down to cost and the majority of devices use the same switches that have been around for 30 years – Roger Attrill Aug 20 '18 at 14:37
  • @RogerAttrill so you pose it is more of a cost issue than a safety issue as I see it. They could have the door open with less resistance whilst still having the same safety mechanisms in place. But they do it the old fashioned way due to price of components. Am I getting it right? – RobbyReindeer Aug 23 '18 at 12:54
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    It's one hypothesis, yes. – Roger Attrill Aug 23 '18 at 19:53

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