Efficient kitchen ventilation is essential even if you’re not a gourmet chef. Maybe more important if you’re a meal prep rookie, right? Lingering aromas, smoke and steam are byproducts of kitchen activities in your Madison WI home. But you don’t want them hanging around for hours afterward. In addition to messing up your kitchen a smoky haze, grease and associated smells can be hazardous to your family’s health.
When you’re planning a kitchen upgrade effective ventilation should be top priority. Fortunately, you have plenty of style and mechanical options to highlight any décor and design. To begin with, forget about the old-fashioned “exhaust fan” in your parents’ or grandparents’ kitchen. If you don’t want an “off the shelf” range hood you have plenty of alternative choices.
No matter your choice of design style, your ventilation system has to address:
Air flow – your mechanical system has to move air and get it circulating within the kitchen. That can be as simple as opening nearby windows (although not a great option when cooking a Christmas dinner in Wisconsin). Other options include ceiling fans and exhaust fans. The most common options are some sort of system integrated into or near the cooking surface.
Ventilation close to gas stoves is especially important because a gas range creates carbon monoxide, a deadly gas
Least Common Kitchen Ventilation Choices
There are two forms of air circulation, filtering systems available as alternatives to the common hood installation:
- An extractor fan – these relatively simple systems fit either in the ceiling or in an adjoining wall. Both draw air from both sides of the fan. They deliver a lot of air flow with a minimum use of power. The main downside is appearance. It is almost impossible to hide an installation or make it blend neatly into kitchen décor. Putting it bluntly, they are efficient but ugly.
- Downdraft ventilation – as it sounds, this system pulls air downward and away from the cooking surface. A downdraft installation is popular for kitchen islands and other spaces where a common hood is impractical or blocks the view. Any space where a standard hood vent doesn’t make sense is a candidate for downdraft technology.
If you think a downdraft system fits your plans, consider:
- Appearance – the vent systems are out of sight when not in use. Some rise up from the frame of the cooktop while others come built into it. Either way they are not a part of the visual appearance of the new kitchen.
- Technology – downdraft vents pull air across the cooking area drawing smoke, steam and grease into its filters and down into ducts ending up outdoors. Duct work is usually beneath the floor or along the kick space of nearby cabinets. Unlike hoods, these systems are part of the cooktop, not purchased and installed separately.
- Limitations – the entrance to the filter system seldom rises more than 10-12 inches above the cooktop. That’s too short to pull in vapors from really tall pots. These systems don’t have the natural movement of air in their favor – smoke and steam naturally goes up so the system has to work hard to pull it down.
The Most Common Choice – A Range Hood
The common range hood is an exhaust fan tucked into a decorative covering hung above the cooktop. It might mount on the wall or suspend above the cooking surface. There are dozens of popular options with colors and décor features for almost any kitchen. The have multi-speed fans, lights and other high-tech options. A range hood is a natural choice because hot air rises so nature does half the work. Beyond the many decorating and design choices you have two main functional decisions to make: A ducted installation or a ductless unit.
- Ducted installations – the more elaborate of the two, these provide duct work to usher smoke and smells outside your home. They may or may not also have filter elements.
- Ductless units – as the name suggests these do not vent air outside the house. They always include some kind of filter elements to clean the grease, grime and smoke from the air. Charcoal filters add the ability to remove odors. No matter what kind of filter your ductless system has it must be cleaned often and regularly replaced. The biggest selling point for ductless hoods is that they can be installed almost anywhere – no need to route vent ducts through the walls, etc.
Do Not Underestimate Kitchen Ventilation Value
The range hood and alternative ventilation systems are too often overlooked in kitchen design. They are, in fact, one of the most important appliances in the kitchen. Consider these advantages to installing and maintaining efficient ventilation:
- Air quality – removing pollutants and allergens from the air improves the indoor environment for the entire family.
- Comfort – cooking generates heat and proper venting removes hot air and steam making for a more pleasant cooking space.
- Odor control – nothing smells better before you sit down to a meal than the aromas of cooking. However, aromas that linger too long outlive their welcome. Proper ventilation removes unpleasant odors and provides fresh air.
- Easy cleanup – grease and moisture from the cooktop are lifted away making the cooking surface easier to clean. Anything that makes cleaning up the kitchen faster and easier is a great investment, right?
- Task lighting – improving kitchen lighting is a hot topic and the lights built into range hoods offer excellent illumination where you often need it most.
- Decorator styles – no longer do you have to settle for a dull, metal appliance hanging above your stove. Hoods are more and more becoming focal points of a kitchen remodel thanks to dozens of material and décor choices.
Build Efficiency Around Your Kitchen Ventilation
No longer an afterthought, kitchen ventilation systems in all their forms are critical elements in a new design. While some kitchen remodeling plans lend themselves to extremely creative installations, other rely upon tried-and-true choices. No matter which fits your renovation plans, the right choice goes a long way toward making your kitchen comfortable and efficient.
The overall design in your home, your lifestyle and your vision for the future dictate choices. When it is time to upgrade and revitalize your kitchen space call 608-825-4500, or email us and we’ll put together a comprehensive plan. Sims Exteriors & Remodeling excels at creating efficient, exciting kitchens. Put our years of experience and skilled craftsmen to work on your kitchen remodel and we’ll create a kitchen ventilation system making your Madison WI home the envy of the neighborhood.