Cooking a delicious meal in your kitchen can be very rewarding, but while the scent of a good meal can be very enticing, it is less pleasant if it sticks around your home for days after the meal has been eaten. I am sure you know exactly what I mean by lingering kitchen smells… 😉
In addition to the smell, cooking can also produce other unpleasant side-effects, such as smoke, grease and moisture. These problems can be avoided by installing a kitchen hood over your cooking range. The hood will draw away the unpleasant smoke, steam and smells from your oven, leaving your kitchen free of bad odors and grime.
How kitchen hoods work
A kitchen hood uses a fan to move the air. These fans may be rotary, centrifugal or axial. A rotary fan is a conventional looking bladed fan.
A centrifugal fan is shaped like a barrel and it is the quietest and most efficient option. An axial fan is a type of bladed fan that has an outer ring. It is quieter than a normal rotary fan, but less expensive than a centrifugal fan.
Axial fans are a good option if you are looking for a hood that is less noisy and more effective than the cheapest rotary fans, but cannot afford to buy a centrifugal fan.
Comparing Range Hoods
Kitchen hoods can be compared to one another in terms of the rate at which they move the air. This is usually measured in terms of the cubic feet of air that are moved per minute. The cubic feet per minute or CFM is a good way of determining how effective a kitchen hood will be at removing smoke and smells. The higher the CFM of a kitchen hood, the more effective it will be. If you use a gas powered cooktop, you will need a more powerful kitchen hood than if you use an electric cooktop.
The rate at which the kitchen hood can extract air from the kitchen should be matched to the size of the room. Larger rooms will need more powerful extractor fans in order to prevent bad odors. You can calculate the volume of your kitchen by multiplying its height by its length and width. You should be able to approximate the volume very easily, even if your kitchen is slightly irregular in shape. Once you know the size of your kitchen, you can work out how powerful the fan needs to be in order to achieve the rate of extraction you need.
You should aim to choose a kitchen hood that is capable of completely replacing or cleaning the air in the kitchen at least eight times every hour, although more powerful fans which can replace the air at least twelve times an hour will be better, if you can afford them. You can work out how much air a kitchen hood can extract per hour by multiplying its CFM by 60. If you are looking for a kitchen hood that can change the air in your kitchen twelve times an hour then this number should be at least twelve times as great as the volume of your kitchen.
Another important feature to compare when you are choosing a kitchen hood is the amount of noise which it will produce when it is working. Noise production is usually measured in terms of sones. One sone is equivalent to the sound made by a normal refrigerator, while eight sones is similar to the noise produced by light traffic. Obviously, a quieter kitchen hood will be more pleasant to work with, but you may have to compromise since more powerful kitchen hoods with higher CFM ratings are usually louder.
Understanding the exhaust systems
In addition to choosing a kitchen hood that has a good fan, you will need to make sure that your kitchen hood will have a good exhaust system. This is the system through which the air will pass when it is drawn away from the cooktop or range by the fan. Two different types of exhaust systems are available, ducted and duct-free systems. Some kitchen hoods are convertible and can be used with either type of system. Other hoods can only be used with one type of exhaust system.
The first system is a ducted or vented system. This system uses special ducts to channel the air away and out of the building. If you intend to use a ducted hood, the exhaust system must channel the air out of the building and not into an interior space, such as an attic. It is best if your kitchen hood can be mounted on an exterior wall since this will mean that the duct is shorter and therefore more efficient.
You can use a ducted system when you hood is being placed on an interior wall, but you should remember that the duct system will need to be longer and it can be a good idea to choose a more powerful hood in order to move the air efficiently through the long vent. It is possible to install a ducted system by yourself, but you can also hire a professional to install the exhaust system for you. The duct should usually be the same size as the attachment where it will connect to the kitchen hood.
The second type of exhaust system is duct free or non vented. Rather than channeling the air outside, this system passes it through a filter, which cleans the air. The filter usually includes both a grease filter, to draw out moisture, and a charcoal filter, to purify the air and remove odors. The clean air is then returned to the kitchen. Duct free systems are usually less efficient than ducted systems.
Installing a non vented kitchen range is much easier than installing a vented system, but you will need to replace or wash the filters regularly. Grease filters should usually be replaced or cleaned every three months, while charcoal filters will only need to be replaced approximately every year and a half. Kitchen hoods may have indicators that show when the filters need attention. Some ductless systems have self cleaning filter, which can be more convenient.
Most kitchen hoods come with inbuilt lighting, which can be a very useful feature. In fact, some range hoods come with various types of lighting including fluorescent, incandescent and halogen bulbs. The number of lights in the hood can also vary, with some kitchen hoods having a single light and others having as many as four separate lights. Some kitchen hoods have variable lighting settings, so that you can change the brightness of the lights to meet your present needs. You should think about how you use your oven and what sort of lighting you would prefer before you choose your kitchen hood. The lighting in some of the more expensive and stylish kitchen hoods can make an attractive addition to your kitchen.
Some kitchen hoods come with special features that can be useful, although you should consider whether you really need any of these features before you pay more to obtain a hood that offers them. Unless you are going to use the automatic shutoff facility, for example, which turns the fan off after a certain preset period, there is no point choosing a hood just because it has this feature. Another feature that you may want to consider is a heat sensor, which can activate the fan automatically in response to an increase in temperature.
Extra Features – Do you really need them?
You should make sure that your kitchen hood is the right size. A hood should ideally be at least as wide as the cooktop or range which it will be placed above, although it can be a good idea to choose a hood that is at least three inches wider than the cooktop, on each side. If you tend to cook a lot of food at the same time, you may want to choose a slightly wider kitchen hood in order to ensure that it captures all of the steam. You will also need to consider how much space you have available for the hood and how you intend to fit it into place. Most kitchen hoods will measure at least six inches in height, although this can vary. You need to make sure there is enough room for your new kitchen hood above the cooking surface. You should usually aim to mount the hood so that it is between 24 and 30 inches above the cooktop, although the optimum height may differ between models.
A kitchen hood can be a useful addition to any kitchen, but it can be particularly effective if you have an open plan kitchen, where the odors, smoke and steam produced by cooking can be particularly problematic and intrusive. You can use a kitchen hood with any type of cooktop or range, whether it is placed along an exterior or an interior wall, or placed in an island in the center of your open plan kitchen.
Installing a Vented Hood
Kitchen hoods can be mounted on a wall, incorporated into your kitchen units or an overhead canopy, or suspended from the ceiling. Island and chimney hoods are often used over cooktops that are set in a kitchen island, but they can also be set against a wall. These types of hoods can be particularly useful if your kitchen has an unusually high or low ceiling. Telescopic chimney hoods can even be adjusted to the perfect height and then hidden away when they are not in use. Downdraft kitchen hoods are another option that can be very convenient and attractive. These hoods sit in a slot in the work surface and can be drawn up when they are needed, then hidden away again when the cooktop is not in use.
Some kitchen hoods are designed to draw air towards the edges or perimeter of the hood instead of moving it over a large area. This can make the cooker hood more energy efficient and it can also help to make the hood quieter.