Picture of the Whirlpool Over Range Microwave Oven WMH31017AB2, fully installed with its door open.

Whirlpool WMB31017AB Microwave Oven Review, Over Range

The Whirlpool microwave oven model WMB31017AB fits over the range, and has a large 1.7 cubic foot chamber.  You can easily clean the white inner coatings.  The oven also features a bright blue clock / function display. It has powerful yet hidden venting, and 1,000 watts (1 kilowatt) of heating and cooking power.

This built in oven a good choice for heating most any frozen food single or two-serving dish. It can defrost and heat to piping hot in less than five minutes. Plus, the Whirlpool WMB31017AB microwave oven carries the well-known and well-trusted Whirlpool name.

This microwave holds up well for up to ten years of everyday home use without failing. Further, it offers among the most useful program features and modes.  We saw the Whirlpool WMB31017AB microwave oven as standard kitchen equipment in one high-rise building with over a hundred apartments.  Reports of failures or problems with it are rare. When issues arise, they happen mostly because the renter failed to read and follow the instructions. Operation is simple and nearly fool-proof. But, just don’t fall asleep or leave the unit unattended while heating food in it. This oven indeed has enough cooking power to quickly burn food.

Picture of the Whirlpool Over The Range Microwave Oven, Model WMH31017AB, fully installed and operational.
Whirlpool microwave WMB31017AB oven, fully installed and operational.

Advantages, Pros, Features, and Benefits of the Whirlpool Microwave Oven Model WMB31017AB

1.7 Cu. Ft. Capacity

Large enough to hold common size food plates, mugs, glasses, and bowls.

Quick Installation

If you’re just venting into the room, over-the-range setup is a snap. Just make sure you have enough space on a solid wall for it.

Easy to Read, Bright Glue Eisplay

The readout on the Whirlpool WMB31017AB microwave oven shows the time of day when oven is not running. It provides visual prompts during the setting of cooking times.  Plus, it shows how much time is left to go while heating.

Sealed Key Pad

Keyboard contacts are protected from food or oil contamination, by a durable but flexible plastic shield.

Spinning Carousel Glass Plate

This plate is THICK and heavy; unlikely to break unless dropped on a concrete floor from several feet up.

Easy Grip Door Handle

The Whirlpool WMB31017AB microwave oven features a large opening for fingers behind it, for quick grabbing and releasing.

Demo Mode

Allows you to practice entering times and commands on the keyboard without actually running the heating.

Auto Shutoff

This safety feature all but eliminates any microwave exposure. The Whirlpool WMB31017AB microwave oven stops cooking when you start pulling on the handle to open the door.

Control Lock

You can “lock” the oven, to prevent accidental starting by children et al.  A padlock icon displays when this feature is activated.

Pre Programmed Settings for Popular Foods

The unit provides quick-start buttons just beneath the display.  These let you quickly start cooking with the right settings for proper heating of popcorn, pizza, and potato.

Stage Cooking

You can program multiple cooking periods, or stages on the Whirlpool WMB31017AB microwave oven. E.g. You can program a cooking session as follows.

  1. Start off for five minutes at 30 percent power.
  2. Follow that with a 2 minute period with 50 percent power.
  3. Then end with three minutes at 90 percent power.

Use stage cooking for defrosting food, and then cooking it with one programmed cooking session.  With cooking in stages, you don’t have to set times and powers to the different levels during heating.

Add 30 Seconds Key

This is a feature found on at least several Whirlpool models.  Quite useful.  It lets you add 30 seconds more to the current cooking time left.  No need to stop the cooking to do that either.  Plus, you can also press this key when the oven is OFF. Pressing when OFF starts the oven heating and puts thirty seconds on the time-left clock.  One of our favorite features.

Defrost Feature

Allows you to enter the type of food you wish to defrost, along with how much of it you’re defrosting.  This microwave then figures out the right power level and time amounts, for good defrosting without much over cooking.

Soften / Melt Key

Quickly sets heating power to lower, gentler levels, for heating milk, melting butter, or softening chocolate, et al.

Reheat Key

Adjustable Power Level

Ten levels of duty-cycle based power throttling

Hidden Vent

The vent louvers on the Whirlpool WMB31017AB microwave oven are not visible from the front.  This is a good thing, as these often gunk up with ugly, hard to clean grease and grime over time.  The hidden vent supports easy cleanup of the oven’s visible parts. Plus, it cuts down on the fan noise too.  Why?  Because the vents being hidden have no direct sound path from fan to users’ ears.

Variable Speed Fan

Two fan speeds let you set how hard the vent fan blows.  This further cuts air noise when your cooking does not make your kitchen steamy. The blower moves 220 CFM max. This is enough to pull most steam and (hopefully no) smoke away from your stove top.  This fan works well even when you are cooking on all stove burners.

Quiet Operation

Now you’ll still hear the fans whirring when in the same room with this unit. But the WMH31017AB-2 is one of the quieter ovens we’ve tested.  We heard little vibration, noise, and hum in nearby rooms; particularly rooms that share a wall with the one on which you mount this unit.  Note thought that we do not suggest mounting this on any common walls with bedrooms. Why not?  Because the oven door slamming during breakfast preps may awaken people who want to sleep late.

Mesh Vent Filters

The vent air passes through these dishwasher safe filters that help remove any airborne grease droplets from the air.

Also a Charcoal Vent Filter

This replaceable filter helps remove strong cooking odors from recirculated kitchen air.

Multiple vent Modes

The Whirlpool WMB31017AB microwave oven Can vent to outside. Or, it can recirculate air indoors.

Light Inside Oven

This microwave oven has a light inside that lights up during heating or cooking.  It also comes on any time you open the door.  The lamp lets you clearly see the dish inside while it heats / cooks / spins around.

Stove Hood Light

There’s also a separate under-hood lamp, that lights the stove top below.  Turn this on to see better what you’re boiling or frying down there.  Has two brightness levels; FULL and HALF.

Multiple Color Schemes

The WMH31017AB-2 can be purchased in black, white, silver, and black-on-stainless colors.  Note however that each color has a slightly different model number. The one discussed in this piece is black.

Limited One Year Warranty

Low Priced for a Large, Over the Range Microwave

The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is $229 (subject to change without notice).  But we found this microwave for as low as $188.10; perhaps even cheaper on eBay.com sometimes.

Picture of the Whirlpool Over Range Microwave Oven WMH31017AB2, fully installed with its door open.
Whirlpool Microwave WMB31017AB oven, fully installed with its door open.

Problems, Concerns, Limitations, and Cons of the Whirlpool Microwave Oven WMB31017AB

Max Cooking Power is a Bit Low

The advertised top cooking power level of this microwave is 1 KW.  However, other similar capacity units offer 1,250 watts, which significantly shortens tea heating or popcorn popping times.  So we’d prefer the higher power.

Preset Cooking Features Use Codes

You either have to know, or look up, the right code for the food you’re defrosting, heating, or cooking.  Find these codes on the inside of the door.

Installation Template Hard for Some to Use

One template is part of the oven’s package cardboard.  Was hard to cut out.

Included Mounting hardware may be Wrong for Some Setups

Users tell us that they made at least a few trips to hardware stores.  They had to find bolts long enough to reach in their deep-cabinet setups.

No Upper Vent Grill

Easy to drop objects E.g. nuts, bolts, washers,… and dirt into the oven’s mechanism when installing.

May Be a Bit Deep for Some Installations

If your kitchen features standard-depth cabinets, this Whirlpool WMB31017AB microwave oven may stick out some inches in front of them.  It’s front-to-back length (depth), is a bit greater than other, better aligned oven installations.

Our Rating

We’ve owned (or rented in apartments) several Whirlpool microwave ovens over the decades; one 1984 vintage unit we used for 18 years.  That one never did fail. But we gave that 700 watt relic away, to clear the stove bay for a higher power model. Yes, the oven we bought was also Whirlpool.

Like those earlier units, the Whirlpool WMB31017AB microwave oven seems solid.  It’s well built, highly rated, lasts long, easy to find, safe, efficient, and low cost.  Our only gripe is that using the pre-programmed food cooking is a bit awkward. This is because you must enter codes for desired foods.

Voice entry commands would be nice. This is where you could simply speak your requests to the oven. E.g. “pizza,” “vegetable soup,” or “clam chowder.” In the meantime though, these number codes work well enough for us. This minor quirk thus, is one of those hard to avoid hardships of working a microwave oven. Advancing tech over time will solve this issue, we hope.   We like this oven, and rate it thus, at 93 out of 100.

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References for Whirlpool Microwave Oven WMB31017AB

Revision History

  • 2019-06-04: Added key phrase targeting for ‘Whirlpool Microwave WMB31017AB’, added more links and tags, and fixed some typos.
  • 2015-10-22: Added appropriate tags.
  • 2015-09-01: Originally published.