Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How to Choose the Right Hood Fan for Your Kitchen

By Ines Hanl

Keep your kitchen clean and your home's air fresh
by understanding all the options for ventilating via a hood fan 
The kitchen for many is a sophisticated workshop where we whip up mouthwatering meals to nourish ourselves and our loved ones. But the wonderful cooking process has some unfortunate by-products: grease, moisture and odor. The proper ventilation can help minimize the effects of those fat droplets and neutralize smells in the heart of your home.

It's not the most glamorous part of a remodel, but one of the main decisions you should make is the type of ventilation for your kitchen. Before you think about how a hood fan actually looks, explore the technical considerations. An island fan makes a strong statement in the center of the space, but it could fight for attention with pendants or chandeliers. On the other hand, a downdraft fan system lets you install a cooktop inconspicuously — even in front of a window. Being aware of your options could have an impact on the way you lay out your kitchen.
Use this mini guide covering the lingo to help you find the right hood fan for your kitchen.

Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM)

The first thing to consider is how much power your fan needs to have. A range hood's performance is measured in Cubic feet per minute (CFM). The higher the CFM number, the more air the range hood can remove in one minute of operation.

Your CFM needs depend on the size and the type of your range or range top, as well as the type and frequency of your cooking. For example, a large six-burner gas range requires more CFMs than a 30-inch-wide electric cooktop.

The requirement for an electric stove is 300 to 450 CFMs, whereas a gas range will need about 600 to 1,200. This number is based on the amount of BTUs (British thermal units, a gas appliance's performance measurement) divided by 100.


Many people don't use their kitchen fan because they find it too noisy. Don't let that happen with your new kitchen design.

A fan's sound output is measured in sones — an internationally recognized measurement of loudness as perceived by a person with normal hearing. Some of the manufacturers will provide that information in decibels (dB) rather than in sones.

Fans typically have three to six speed settings. Consider keeping the low setting, which is usually around 3 sones (at the sound level of a refrigerator running), on throughout the cooking process, and ramp up to the highest setting of about 7 sones (at the sound level of traffic noise) only for short, intense periods of cooking.

Although a fan's sones can be easily found, many North American manufacturers do not have standardized rules as to what distance the source of the noise is measured from. Rather than relying completely on the written test result, you might be better off to simply stand next to the appliance and turn it on in the store.

The filter is a crucial culprit in creating fan noise.

Blower Options

You have another option to cut down on fan noise: The blower part of a fan can be located in 3 different areas. Typically it sits in the actual carcass, or body, of the appliance. This is the version that creates the loudest sound.

There is also an inline blower, which sits halfway in the duct run, either between ceiling joists or in the attic. If you have a complicated duct installation — either because it is very long or because it has a number of turns — an inline blower can also be added to your main blower to strengthen its power.

If you are in the market for a more expensive product, then check out an external blower, which cuts down significantly on potential noise. External blowers are often used in combination with compactible fan products or to create a total custom ventilation system. Give the location of the exterior blower consideration. Although you can mount the unit to any exterior wall or roof, you don't want it to be close to often-used pathways or living spaces.

Make-Up Air

Don't underestimate the need for a make-up air system in your HVAC system, especially if you choose a strong hood fan.

High-powered hood fans take out large volumes of air. If this air is not replaced at the same rate that it is expelled, this results in greater air pressure outside the building than inside (a vacuum effect). A make-up air system replaces the air that is expelled by a building's exhaust system, makes sure your exhaust systems work properly and supplies conditioned replacement air that can be heated, cooled, humidified or dehumidified to suit your specific living environment.

Depending on your local building codes, your municipality might insist on the installation of a make-up air device, which would add expense to your construction budget. This is particularly important for renovations, as new builds usually already include a budget for an HVAC system.

Mounting Height

This refers to the installation height of the appliance: the distance between the filter of the range hood and the burners on the range below.

The standard distance between a countertop and the hood is typically 30 to 36 inches. Some of the undercabinet models and microwave-hood combinations are installed at a lower height.

The farther the fan protrudes from the wall, the more it will be in your face — literally. And the taller you are, the more you will be affected by the unit, so please do not just rely on what is considered the standard installation height. First and foremost, your kitchen needs to suit you.

But, keep in mind that venting power decreases as a hood is installed higher on the wall. Select a fan with adequate power and consider the effects of its greater noise.

Capture Area

This is the term for the range hood’s footprint. It is measured in width and depth of the range hood itself in relation to the cooktop below. Technically, the width of the fan will match the width of the range or cooktop. Its depth should cover the back burners and at least half of the front burners.

But from a designer's point of view, this can result in bottom-heavy-looking feature areas and a decorative hood that is not proportional in size and shape. There's more to it than a simple equation. Aside from the available space that can be dedicated to the hood fan in a kitchen, the perceived volume of a hood depends on the design of the hood fan itself (straight or boxlike versus tapered, for example), as well as the style of the appliance (contemporary, stainless or decoratively wrapped in cabinetry) and the distance between the fan and its neighboring upper cabinets.

Grease Filters

The Vent-a-Hood centrifugal system, mentioned previously, has an easy-to-remove grease trap — either wipe it clean or put it in the dishwasher.

All other vent models (should) feature stainless steel filters that are dishwasher safe. Make sure that you take out the filters at the appliance store to see if they're easy to remove.


When it's impossible to ventilate the range hood to the outside environment via a duct, a model with a recirculating kit allows air to be cleaned through a carbon filter that traps and quarantines cooking by-products. Once the air passes through the carbon filter, it is reintroduced into the kitchen, grease and odor free.

You will need to clean or exchange those filters regularly.

Cabinet-S-Top is an experienced kitchen design firm that can assist you in selecting the proper ventilation hood for your home.  Stop by our showroom located at 1977 Medina Road, Medina, OH  44256 ~ 330-239-3630 ~ www.cabinet-s-top.com 

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