There are few things better than the mouth-watering aroma of a gourmet meal. Whether it’s the sweet scent of garlic or the savory smell of old-fashioned spaghetti sauce, there’s little question that smells greatly enhance the flavor of home cooking. Once the meal is over, however, you don’t want those smells to linger in the kitchen. Range hoods not only vent away odors instantly to keep your kitchen fresh, they also filter out heat, smoke, grease and moisture. Regardless of how your kitchen is set up, you’ll be able to find a hood that will fit in well in terms of both performance and style. Choose from over-the-range, downdraft, microwave/range hood combos and other designs and keep the following questions in mind as you shop:
- What type of range hood is best suited for your kitchen?
- Where should the range hood be installed?
- What type of ventilation system should you use?
- How large should your range hood be?
- Are there any special features you’d like to have?
Ventilation Systems, Style and Installation
The size of your range and the amount of time you spend cooking will help determine what type of range hood you should purchase. Ventilation systems may be either external or recirculating, and range hoods can be installed in several different places, including underneath a cabinet, hanging down from the ceiling or even in the countertop. Though their primary function is to get rid of bad smells, smoke and grease, range hoods can also add a stylish element to your kitchen, particularly if you choose a customized unit. There is a large selection of features to choose from, including halogen lights, variable-speed fans and filter indicator lights, each of which is designed to make using your range hood easier and more convenient. Regardless of which type you choose, it’s important to remember that proper care and maintenance is essential to effective performance.
Ventilation Systems: There are two primary types of ventilation, external and recirculating. You can also choose from a couple of different fan types, including rotary fans, which feature blades, or centrifugal fans, which are shaped like a barrel or wheel. In general, centrifugal fans are slightly more powerful and better suited for longer ducts. The amount of air that is vented by fans is measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. Units with higher CFM rates move more air, and the Home Ventilating Institute, a nonprofit organization that certifies products and provides consumer information in the field of residential ventilation, recommends a minimum of 40 CFM for every linear foot of range. So, if you have a 3? range, you’d need a range hood with at least 120 CFM. For gas cooktops, a good estimate is to have 1 CFM for every 100 BTUs of power the stove has. Consult the chart below to learn more about the different ventilation systems and some points of consideration for each.
|Systems||Description||Points To Consider|
|Convertible –||Able to utilize either external vents or filters.||
|External –||Vents contaminated air outside of the house through a series of vertical or horizontal ducts.||
|Recirculating-||Uses a filter system to clean air before circulating it back into house.||
Size, Style and Placement: The type of range hood you choose will be dictated in part by your kitchen setup and in part by your own sense of style. If your range is installed against a wall and there are cabinets above, you may want to consider an under-cabinet range hood or a slide-out unit, which can be unobtrusively tucked away when not in use. Telescoping downdraft hoods are installed in your countertop and remain hidden from view until they’re needed, at which time they can be activated with the touch of a button, making them ideal for people who don’t want a visible venting system. If you have a cooktop on an island, an island range hood provides a sleek, stylish ventilation method that comes down from the ceiling. Chimney hoods are mounted on a wall and used in conjunction with soffit vents. They often provide lights to help illuminate the cooking area. Depending on the size, style and features you choose, range hoods can cost anywhere from under $100 to several thousand dollars.
- Common colors include almond, bisque, biscuit, stainless steel, silver, black and white
- Make sure to match the finish and style of the hood to your range or cooktop
- Hoods are typically 30”, 36” or 42” wide
- Choose a hood that’s at least as wide as your range for maximum effectiveness
- One-touch activation of downdraft models allows you to start them quickly and easily
Maintenance and Installation Tips: In many cases, you should be able to install a range hood on your own. If, however, you’re unsure of your ability to do so, don’t hesitate to contact a professional. For houses that already have ductwork in place, make sure you select a range hood that has a compatible design. If you’re building a new house or installing new ductwork, make sure to determine whether vertical or horizontal positioning will be more efficient. Always make sure that air is vented outside the house and not into an enclosed space, such as an attic, as heat, moisture and grease can accumulate there and cause damage. Models that can accommodate either round or rectangular ductwork provide greater installation versatility.
- Generally speaking, gas ranges require a hood with a higher CFM rate than electric units
- Wash or replace filters regularly as needed to maintain efficient and effective operation
- Deep-frying, using a wok and frequent cooking may all necessitate cleaning or replacing filters more frequently
- Convertible units generally allow for both vertical and horizontal ventilation
- Wipe down range hood surfaces regularly using warm water and mild soap to avoid grease buildup
Halogen Lights and Nightlight: Lights on a range hood make it easier to see what you’re cooking. Nightlights provide soft illumination that will prevent you from tripping when you sneak into the kitchen for a midnight snack.
Electronic Touch Controls: For easier use, look for models that feature convenient electronic touch controls for precise operation and the ability to preset on and off times.
Variable-Speed Fan with Heat Sensors: Variable-speed fans can speed up to handle more heat, and heat sensors automatically increase speed or sound an alarm when things get too hot.
Quiet Operation: The noise generated by range hoods is measured in sones and, in general, the higher the fan’s CFM rating, the more sones it produces. Some hoods, however, feature insulation for quiet operation, minimizing the noise to provide less of a distraction while you cook.
Automatic Shutoff: Some units shut the fan off automatically after a specified period of time or let you designate a shutoff time, so you can keep the fan going after you leave the kitchen to completely clear the air.
Self-Cleaning/Filterless Operation: For easy maintenance, look for a self-cleaning range hood with filterless operation. These units can be programmed to clean themselves, ensuring your kitchen stays fresh with minimal effort.
Filter Monitor and Indicator Light: You have far too many things going on in life as is, and having to keep track of when to change the filter in your range hood adds one more item to the list. Fortunately, some hoods feature an indicator light that lets you know when it’s time to replace the filter, making it one less thing you have to worry about.