A range hood is more than a ventilation mechanism to remove cooking odors; it’s an important component in a kitchen’s decor. A sleek, well-designed range hood makes a bold statement: that the resident chef is no slouch. But beyond putting on culinary airs, a range hood is something akin to a life-support system for your kitchen.
In days gone by, ventilating the kitchen meant opening a window. Today, however, houses are being built increasingly airtight, central air is ubiquitous, and windows remain closed most of the year, making mechanical ventilation a necessity. An effective range hood will exhaust excess heat, humidity, cooking odors and fumes from household chemicals. The best models will also trap grease to help keep the kitchen clean. All these features make the range hood an integral part of a home’s indoor air-quality system, improving safety and hygiene.
Modern range hoods offer a wide variety of options in terms of style, function and capacity. Here’s what you need to know when selecting the right model for your kitchen.
Recirculating vs. outdoor-venting
An effective ventilation system exhausts air outside. Low-end recirculating hoods, which do not have outdoor venting, may filter grease and odors, but they won’t remove humidity and chemical pollutants. Many also make a lot of noise and do little to trap odors and grease. “If an outside-ducted range hood is impractical, consider supplementing the range hood with a central ventilator similar to a bath fan that does vent to the outdoors,” advises James Lyon, PE. Keep in mind that building codes require any fan within a 45-degree angle of the cooktop to have a grease trap.
If you must use a recirculating hood, look for a model with a good aluminum-screen grease trap that you can put in the dishwasher and the largest charcoal-bed filter available for smoke and odors. Some models have a combination of baffle and mesh grease filters. The baffles work well when the fan runs at high speed; the mesh is for low speed.
An outdoor-vented range hood is always the best choice, but for it to be effective, proper installation is essential (see “Kitchen Vent-Hood Installation,” p. xx). A too-narrow duct will detract from the hood’s performance; a duct that is too wide may reduce air velocity, resulting in grease deposits along the pipe, says Lyon. The duct should match the hood’s port size and follow a direct path to the exterior, avoiding sharp angles. Never use corrugated pipe; grease will build up in the grooves and could catch on fire.
READ MORE: download the complete article as a pdf file.