What is a Range Hood and Why Do I Need One?
When you get up on a stepladder for the biannual cleaning the top of your refrigerator, light fixtures, or window molding in your kitchen, you are likely to have come across a gunky residue coated with dust requiring an extra scrubby, suds-saturated sponge, not to mention a healthy dose of elbow grease to clean. This built-up residue naturally accumulates from the airborne grease, combustion products, smoke, odors, heat, and steam escaping food you prepare on your stove, and the culprits are many, from fried chicken to sizzling bacon, and most any other ingredient of a tasty home-cooked meal.
Three basic elements make up the majority of range hoods, such as the "effluent plume" or open vent to contain rising gases, one or more filters and a blower for forced dispersion of gases, which in most cases are evacuated through a vent to outside your home. 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 hoods online, and downdraft hoods may be better for your particular kitchen setup.
Under Cabinet Range Hoods are often combined with a light and 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, 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 sits on the back of the stove top, pulling the air and gases back and out of the room, rather than up, which allows for space saving and a different installation option which works better when you would prefer to use the space over your stove for other 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 all this information while shopping Range Hoods
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 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.
Designer vs. Pro-Style
While shopping for a range hood, you may want to purchase a designer or a pro-style hood. Pro-style hoods are modeled after those used in restaurant kitchens - they are generally sleek and made from stainless steel, like those found in professional kitchens. Designer hoods are more decorative - still quite functional, they add another level of style to the range hood. They can be made of metal or even of wood, and are both useful and artistic.
Determining the CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) a room needs takes a few factors into consideration but is fairly easy to do. You will need to determine the cubic feet measurement of the room, consider where the range hood is installed, and consult recommendations for how much air needs to circulate the specific room, as listed in this guide.
The point of an exhaust fan is to achieve a recommended "Air Changes per Hour" (ACH), where 1 ACH means all the air in a space circulates in one hour's time. The Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) recommends 15 ACH for kitchens.
When choosing a range hood, it's important to consider the installation when determining what amount of CFM you need to achieve the desired ACH. 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, 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.
Range hoods can vary widely in cost. The style, installation, and design all affect the cost of a hood. You can find prices as low as $100 and as high as $20,000, depending on how effective and stylish you want your range hood to be. Custom or semi-custom hoods can be thousands of dollars and can serve as the centerpiece of a room, but there are much cheaper models available as well. With range hoods, as with many products, the more amenities the product has (lighting, timers, easy-clean surfaces), the more expensive it will be. Most range hoods are between $200 and $2,500.
What Other Specifications Should I Look For?
Title 24 - 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.
ENERGY STAR - 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 efficiency, look for the ENERGY STAR logo – the approved hoods also have better performance and a longer life than non-ENERGY STAR models.
UL Listed - 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.