What is a range hood and why do I need one?
When you get up on a stepladder for the biannual cleaning of your refrigerator, light fixtures, or window molding in your kitchen; you are likely to come across a gunky residue coated with dust requiring an extra scrubby, suds-saturated sponge, and not to mention a healthy dose of elbow grease. This built-up residue naturally accumulates from the airborne grease, combustion products, smoke, odors, heat, and steam escaping the food you prepare on your stovetop. The culprits are many, but the main ones include fried chicken, sizzling bacon, and boiling water.
Range hoods come in a variety of types to fit various applications as well as satisfying the demands of style. The most commonly found are the under cabinet style, however, wall mount, island, range hood inserts, and downdraft hoods may be better for your particular kitchen setup.
Types of Kitchen Vent Hoods
Under Cabinet Range Hoods fit under the cabinet mounted above your stove top. A common, space-saving under cabinet range hood couples the hood with a microwave, providing easy installation and cooking convenience all in one unit.
Wall Mount Range Hoods are installed in kitchens which don't have cabinets over the cook top. They come in a variety of finishes and add a certain elegance or professional look to your kitchen and typically have more efficient and powerful ventilation properties than under cabinet styles.
Island Range Hoods are similar to wall mounts, however they hang from the ceiling over an island countertop, allowing for access on all sides.
Hood inserts can be installed horizontally on their own, in a ceiling, or paired with a custom constructed hood for maximum design flexibility.
Downdraft style rests on the back of the stove top and pulls the air and gases down and out of the room, rather than up. This allows for space saving and a different installation option which might work better depending on storage or design reasons.
Choosing a Range Hood
Whether you are building a new home or just updating your kitchen, the range hood can be one of the most important purchases. It is important to know what to look for in a range hood so that you can get the style, sound, and effectiveness that you require from a range hood. Consider the following information while shopping for your next range hood.
Range Hood Measurement
The measurement of a range hood is not actually the measured width of the hood itself - rather, the hood is generally 1/8" to 1/4" smaller than the advertised size. This is so it will fit properly in the space available for it in the kitchen. When measuring for a new hood, simply measure from left to right across the opening available in your kitchen and purchase a hood of that advertised width. The slight difference will prevent the hood from getting stuck so it will fit easily into the space available. Common Range Hood Sizes are 30" Range Hoods, 36" Range Hoods, 42" Range Hoods and even larger.
Types of Filters
There are several range hood filter types available - make sure you choose the filter that best fits your needs.
Charcoal filters bond with the contaminants in the air, thus removing them entirely from circulation. Eventually these get used up, and they must be replaced every three to six months.
Oil cups are removable cups that collect the grease and oil. These do not need to be replaced, but they must be emptied as they fill with oil.
Baffle filters are made of stainless steel set at an angle to the incoming air. This allows the filter to collect grease as it hits the angled steel. They must be cleaned to prevent excessive oil buildup.
Aluminum mesh filters use a fine aluminum mesh to catch the grease and oil released into the air from cooking. Like baffle filters, they must be removed and cleaned to function optimally.
Stainless steel mesh works the same way as aluminum mesh, but are made of steel instead of aluminum. They also must be cleaned occasionally, like aluminum mesh and baffle filters.
Determining Appropriate CFM
It's important to review the installation type when determining what amount of CFM you need to achieve the desired ACH (Air Changes Per Hour) in your kitchen. For example, overhead range hoods are positioned to naturally capture rising gases and steam, and therefore require a less powerful fan than downdraft styles. These exhaust the stove area by pulling air backwards against the natural flow, which necessitates a stronger fan.
To determine the CFM you need, consider the following two methods. First, measure the width of your range and note whether it is against a wall or an island installation. For islands, the HVI recommends 150 CFM for every foot of width, and 50 CFM per foot is required. For wall installation, 100 CFM per foot is recommended and 40 CFM per foot is required. The second method we recommend is allowing 10 CFM of ventilation per 1,000 BTU (reference the BTU of your cook-top/range).
Some features to consider when shopping for range hoods:
There are two types of fans used in range hoods. The first type is rotary, which is the typical type of fan you are used to seeing in house and ceiling fans. The second is a centrifugal fan, which has a barrel shape and rotates on a center axis oriented parallel to the floor. As it has more blade surface area, the centrifugal type moves more air, works best with ducted range hoods, and runs quieter than rotary style. Rotary style fans are less expensive, and if budget is a concern, then you may want to choose one of these.
What are "Sones?"
A Sone is an internationally recognized measurement of sound output in terms of comfortable hearing level for an average listener. The lower a Sone value, the more comfortable the environment is. Sones are not decibels or volume, but rather how a sound is "sensed." One Sone is half as loud as two Sones, and is equivalent to a quiet refrigerator.
To light or not to light?
Some hoods include lighting, handy for illuminating a dark stove top, and consists of one or two halogen or incandescent bulbs. For some people, this feature is just as important as the venting, so make sure you find one that gives your stove sufficient light.
If it's too hot...
Heat sensors are a feature on some range hoods, and their function is to speed up the fan and/or sound an alarm to indicate an increase in heat.
In case you are the sort to worry about leaving the oven on, automatic shutoff is a great feature - it can be pre-set to turn off the range hood after a certain amount of time. Perfect when you are entertaining and want to run the vent to freshen the room but not have to worry about it running all evening.
Title 24 is a large collection of laws found in the California State Building Code. All new homes and extensive remodels must comply with the rules outlined in Title 24, which relates mainly to energy efficiency. Be sure your range hood meets the requirements outlined in the current version of Title 24 - in addition, purchasing an ENERGY STAR product can help to meet energy efficiency requirements.
Some range hoods have received the ENERGYSTAR, a mark of energy efficiency. These models use 70% less energy than the standard models and are 50% quieter. If you’re looking for quiet and efficient, look for the ENERGY STAR logo – the approved hoods also have better performance and a longer life than non-ENERGY STAR models.
Products that have been tested by Underwriters Laboratories have passed a series of tests and meet certain safety standards. It is not required to use UL products, but it can help your project pass inspection, and you will know that you can expect your product to perform to a certain standards.
There are many factors to keep in mind when choosing a range hood, but knowing what you want from your range hood can help you determine what to look for. Make sure your purchase meets the requirements you need from a hood, and you'll soon have the kitchen that looks and functions just as you want it to.