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How to Choose a Hood Vent: Design & Function

Dec 8, 2015 | by Carrie

Hood vents aren't typically on the top of homeowner's "shopping lists" when it comes to choosing design features for a new kitchen remodel. Sure, you flip it on when you're frying bacon or if the kitchen starts to get smoky. Other than that, the system is considered more of an afterthought.

In fact, your hood vent is a pretty important household appliance. In addition to adding (or detracting) from your kitchen design, it is an essential component in maintaining healthy indoor air quality.

The kitchen's venting system directs excess moisture and/or any toxic fumes - including smoke - out of your home so occupants don't breathe it in and so moisture build-up doesn't lead to more serious problems like mold and mildew growth.

traditional kitchen

Choosing a Hood Vent By Design

Personal health aside, let's face it: Looks Matter! So, let's start by reviewing some of your options when it comes to design.

Height: Ideally, the distance between stovetop burners and the filters of the hood vent should be between 30- and 36-inches. Exceptions are for undercabinet models and microwave hoods, which may be a little shorter than that. The further away the vent is from the stove top, the less efficient it will be and the more moisture, gases and aromas will permeate into the greater living space.

If you are tall - take this 36-inches into consideration since the vent will be more likely to be in your line of sight when cooking. Consider raising the countertops a bit - which can partially remedy the vent obstruction, not to mention improve the ergonomics of your design.

Capture area. Typically, the capture area (the footprint of the hood bottom) mimics the dimensions of your stove top, encompassing the entire width and covering the back burners and a portion of the front burners at a minimum. This is where your kitchen designer will work with you to choose a style that fits your design - traditional, transitional or contemporary.

Your capture area can be fairly substantial with some nice adornments (traditional) or it can be quite sleek and almost non-existent for the minimalist modern designer.

Kitchen Hood Vent

Selecting the Right Vent by Function

Keeping in mind that your kitchen venting system is integral to healthy indoor air quality, vent function should be a priority.

CFMs. A vent's performance is measure by cubic-feet-per-minute or CFMs. The vent's CFMs should accommodate the size of your stove top (CFMs will increase according the number and size of your burners) as well as how much you use the kitchen and the type of cooking you do. Also, electric stove tops require vents with lower CFMs than gas stove tops since there are no gas fumes to contend with.

Blower options. The blower is another important component, the power of which helps to suck the moisture/fumes/aromas up and out of your home. They are installed in one of three locations:

  • Right in the hood body. This is the loudest but also, typically, the most affordable option.
  • Inline blower. This blower is installed in the ducts above the hood body - usually in the attic or between ceiling joists. If you have a long and/or complicated duct system, consider installing an inline blower in addition to the main blower, for extra sucking power.
  • External blower. These are the quietest, cleanest and the most expensive, requiring more complicated installation. They're vented on your roof or an exterior wall - away from main pathways or exterior living spaces.

Depending on your HVAC system and/or local building code requirements, you may also be required to install a make-up air system to replace vented air with fresh, exterior air.  Take a little extra time to research these "afterthoughts that shouldn't be" to make sure you select the kitchen hood vent that makes the most sense for your kitchen's design and function

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Topics: Kitchen Remodel Ideas Accessories