Picture this: A nice hot griddle, a couple of tablespoons of E.V.O.O., add some sliced red peppers, mushrooms, squash and onions. It smells good in the kitchen now! Now that the griddle on your pro range is up to temperature, you add some marinated chicken and steak strips; the kitchen smells extra good now! As people start to gather around the epicenter of your kitchen, you look up to greet your guests, only to find that SMOKE and GREASE linger in the air!
At Page hardware and Appliance Co., we find that ventilation is one the most overlooked tools in today’s kitchen. Although it’s true that it’s not usually code (double check your local codes) to have an exhaust system, think of what goes into the air when you are cooking. We recently held en event here at Page Hardware and we were fortunate enough to have leftovers to cook the next day for lunch. We will use our experience as an example for our ventilation article. We will help answer why ventilation is so important for your kitchen, and what to look for.
We will cover a few facts first. What is CFM? CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute, and determines how efficiently an exhaust system will remove the tainted air. Capture area is another term for ventilation that corresponds with the bottom of the hood to help manipulate the air into its filters (also referred to as the well). The last bit of background info is the blower system, with Internal, inline and external options. This depends on whether the blower is mounted inside the hood itself, in-line with the duct work inside the house someplace or mounted on the roof or outside wall of the house.
There are formulas to calculate total BTU’s of your cooking appliance to see what amount of CFM is needed. These formulas are for the bare minimum required. The formula looks great on paper and may make some lesser sales people seem intelligent, but it takes an experienced staff, like those at Page Hardware, to know the difference. Whatever the results of these formulas, they are never enough for real world applications.
We will conclude this article with some CFM examples for popular cooking choices after our write up on our experience with a smoke filled showroom. Helpful Tip #1: Always start your hood 10-15 minutes before you turn your cooking appliance on.
Here is what we encountered. Take what the opening paragraph stated, chicken, steak, veggies- all on a hot surface. That produced enough moisture, heat, grease and odors to fill our 1500sq ft showroom. The odor was not an issue, but from what the pictures depict, the haze is not real inviting. Plus, when you see the haze or smoke, the grease is in vapor form and will stick to anything, including clothing, cabinets, carpets, etc. We cooked on a 48” Viking Dual Fuel range, where the griddle and grill are located on the center of the stove top. The hood above is 54” with a 1200 CFM internal blower. With plenty of capture area, and the most powerful internal blower motor- it still was not enough to clear the air. This is a really good example as to why we suggest leaving the grilling to the outdoor grill instead of inside the house. Eventually the hood does remove all contaminates, with the aid of opening windows and turning other fans on.
When planning ventilation, it should be done right after you decide on your cooking appliance. Most often it is overlooked and done last, when the budget is spent. The easy part of ventilation is aesthetics. To simplify things, 600cfm motor in brand A works the same as 600cfm motor in brand B, so this being said, which hood looks best for you? A chimney, Island, or wall (check our website for images of all the different hoods! www.pagehardware.com)
After you decide the look of your new hood, let us factor in how you cook. This will help us decide how powerful the blower should be. The blower should always be the most powerful that you can get. This reasoning is for that one night or holiday that you do have to cook for an army, you are able to evacuate the grease, heat, moisture and other byproducts of cooking (most blowers are variable speed, meaning that if you are boiling water, you don’t have to be on super high suck your dishes up the hood speed.) Powerful is noisy. Looking for a quiet hood? Leave it off. It’s a crass statement but it’s true. When cooking, unless you are filming your own show, you tend not to be holding in depth conversations. Again, speeds are adjustable. Stop in our showroom to hear a 1200 cfm blower in action.
Ok, design and power has been decided. Let us double check the design for one second. Do you cook a lot? Cook either greasy or moister foods? Do you have an active family with friends coming over? These questions help us to determine if your hood should match the width of your cooking product OR jump up one size to effectively increase capture area. It is usual to increase by 6”, and should be discussed with your designer. Just remember “Form Over Function.” It is OK to match the same size; don’t worry if your cabinetry can not accept one size larger. It is just a better scenario (hood sizes match stove sizes; 24,30,36,48,60 – then they throw in a couple extra sizes to accommodate a little overlap; 42”,52”,66”)
Most electric cooktops can get away with a minimum of 400cfm. In the case of gas cooktops, we usually recommend at least 600cfm, because unlike electric cooking, the gas burners themselves put out a natural byproduct by burning gas. We would say that for most 30” gas / electric ranges 600cfm is a good start for ventilation. With pro ranges, you should consider 900cfm as the minimum but go as large as you can for these guys. At Page Hardware and Appliance Co., we understand the manufacturers will say it’s ok to go less, but we set real life expectations and try to match up what really will work for your money invested in the appliances and your kitchen.
Still with us? Excellent! Now that your hood has been chosen and fits the way you cook, NOW comes the hard part! The dreaded “D” word……. DUCTING! Best case scenario – the foundation has been poured and studs (walls) are not up yet! Perfect! Worst case scenario – 1920’s shanty with studs not on center and kitchen located in the middle of the house. OK, that was a little drastic but the point is, if your kitchen is already in place, (most are, as remodeling is becoming more evident than new builds) major obstacles such as wall studs, joists (beams) in the ceiling or even floor joists, usually cannot be moved. Meaning the hood you choose that requires a 10” round duct will be very hard to install. Hopefully at this point you have hired a contractor to help think this situation through, and he may have to come up with a very imaginative answer to your ducting needs. Try not to reduce the duct size required if possible as it will reduce performance and increase noise and likely hood of repair on the motor.
There is a lot of information behind ventilation. Make sure to ask lot of questions and have your designer included in the buying process; they may have some insight on how it would install into your kitchen. A properly vented cooking appliance will help avoid the situations pictured above. Although let’s be real; if you plan on grilling blackened catfish in your kitchen… only a commercial grade fan on