Ventilation Options for Indoor Grill

lee676March 6, 2012

I need help in determining the best way to ventilate my cooktop and grill - there is so much conflicting info from everyone I talk to and everything I read....

I probably will use two Gaggenau units - a 12" wide, 2-burner electric cooktop and a 12" wide barbeque grill, of the type shown in the pictures below. Countertop space is tight, so I like that both will fit in a 24"w space. Alternatively, I may space them apart slightly to allow for more space so pan handles won't overlap the grill, and so a 30"w cooktop will fit in the space if desired at a later time by a future owner. (I may want to take these with me to my next home!)

My inclination is to use a fairly large, high-CFM overhead hood, which everyone seems to agree works best, especially for grills. But Gaggenau's own spec page for their grill states "we recommend the combination with downdraft ventilation", adding "when installed with overhead ventilation, the [optional accessory cast-iron] AM 060 000 griddle plate must be used". Needless to say, always having to use a griddle plate on top of the grill would defeat the purpose of having one, since a real grill depends on juices and fats falling onto the hot charcoal-like briquettes and smoking upward, imparting the taste into the food you're cooking. Essentially, my Gaggenau grill would become just an elegant-looking George Foreman grill, which isn't really a grill at all.

So Gaggenau wants downdraft ventilation for their grill. Or do they? Their own colorful brochures and websites show the grill installed with their overhead hoods and without the downdraft ventilators. And many people who have those Jenn-Air downdraft grill cooktops or ranges tell me they don't work all that well, which doesn't surprise me since they're working against gravity.

So I could (a) use a downdraft grille between the cooktop and grill; (b) use a telescopic downdraft behind the cooktop and grill; (c) use Gaggenau's pop-up downdraft unit shown in one of the photos below; (d)use a powerful overhead hood, or (e) use the Kenmore/LG 600CFM microwave hood and pray.

Or I could just keep the old Nutone through-the-wall fan that's there now, about 10" diameter, about a foot above the cooktop that looks like this:

I have no idea how much air it moves. It doesn't look very good in the middle of the backsplash, but it sure has a direct route to the outdoors through a wide, very short duct, and has got to be at least as effective as a downdraft, right?

Here are what the cooktops and downdrafts look like - I'd be using the electic cooktop and maybe one of the downdraft grilles from the first picture, and the grill and maybe the pop-up ventilator from the second pic. So smoothtop electric cooktop on the left, grill on the right, and maybe a downdraft or pop-up vent in between (or maybe nothing between, and an overhead hood).

Which would work best?


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I'm somewhat at a loss for words on this, because I haven't yet divined why Gagg would require a griddle plate for updraft ventilation but not for downdraft. Maybe I"m mis-reading griddle plate and what they want is to limit rising heat to avoid overheating _their_ pop-up overhead device. A normal hood at 30+ inches above the burners should not have a heat problem. I wouldn't use a naked back wall with a griddle, though. Tile or stainless steel would provide some safety margin.

All that aside, hot cooking effluent rises at a significant velocity. To capture and contain it it with a down draft system is difficult and requires far more air flow than is likely to be present, or even feasible given the aperture sizes in the photos. Turbojet acoustics would follow.

The pop up unit gets above the cooking (only one side at a time), but from its apparent size will have poor capture, and then the diversion to down flow via a very small duct will greatly limit the air flow rate.
The NuTone 10-inch fan placed in the wall above the cooking zone performs a kind of side-draft function. I would expect it to be better, but far from ideal. A lot of rising effluent will pass it, unless it is inside of some kind of overhanging hood. Note that without any filtration, the outside wall will be "washed" with greasy smoke and moisture.

An overhead hood with mesh or (preferably) baffle grease capture that exhausted through the wall to an exterior fan would be preferable. A modest exterior fan (of the "upblast" style (but not restaurant size) mounted horizontally) would keep the effluent off of the exterior wall.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 9:44AM
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Anything but an overhead hood with significant CFM would be a foolish choice with a grill. Remember your first apartment where you were trying to brown some pork chops and the smoke alarm would go off because it had a lousy recirculating vent? (Or, like my first apartment, no vent at all) You'll have a 10x worse smoke production situation with a grill. You've got to have good capture area, and you've got to have enough fan to move all of the smoke that's captured out of the home. None of that would work at all with a downdraft---not even if your were just grilling veggies. Your smoke alarm would be continuous. As would the grease deposits throughout your home.

And, don't forget that with a ventilation unit there comes the responsibility of makeup air to ensure that you don't suck the exhaust from the water heater back down from it's chimney and poison or kill your family.

If you live anywhere in the US where you can grill out 8-9+ months of the year, then a grill is usually wasted money for a kitchen redo. Especially considering the expense of the ventilation and makeup air required to compensate for a grill.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 2:04PM
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An overhead hood is what I really want. But you an read Gaggenau's "Planning Notes" that recommend against it except with a griddle plate on top here. I'll probably ignore it because it makes no sense, but I'm not usually comfortable ignoring manufacturer recomendations.

I'm near Washington DC where the whether is temperate only a few months a year, so indoor grilling is preferable.

Yes, I have a gas water heater and furnace (in the level below the kitchen), so make-up air is an issue. There is an openable window, but is there a better, built-in way to provide makeup air other than expensive commercial gear?

    Bookmark   March 7, 2012 at 7:11PM
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> Remember your first apartment where you were trying to brown some pork chops and the smoke alarm would go off because it had a lousy recirculating vent?

Actually, my current apartment (that I'm about to move out of) is like that. There is a real exhaust fan, but it's in the living room (!) ten feet away from the stove. Astonishingly, it works quite well; leave it on for five minutes and any cooking odors are gone.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 7:22AM
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If the gas water heater and furnace are in a separate closed room, you may be able to put a passive or active damper controlled port in that room connected to the outside that opens if the pressure in the room relative ot outside is less than some value, such as 0.03 inches. Or it opens whenever the furnace OR the water heater run. This MUA source would solve the combustion appliance safety problem.

You would then need to depend on opening a window to provide air to the hood or provide kitchen MUA through another duct system that could be passive or active. Some examples may be found on this site given rigorous searching.

Otherwise, an active MUA system is needed that keeps the negative pressure low enough to avoid back-drafting.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 9:12AM
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The water heater and furnace are in the basement one level below the kitchen, but that's a large room. The intakes for the fan-forced heat are in the living room which is open to the kitchen.

Is this only an issue for high-CFM exhaust hoods needed for grills or mega-BTU burners? Because I see gas heat in houses all the time without any sort of dampers.

The exhaust fan in my apartment does cause the rest of the apartment to become hot in the summertime, as MUA from poorly-sealed doors and such fills the other rooms.

The grill itself is electric by the way - in the picture I used it's placed next to a gas cooktop, but I'm using electric for both units.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 12:04PM
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The flow of combustion air into the furnace heating chamber and thence out throught the chimney should be isolated from the recirculating house air, although it may not be. As the furnace is forced, the pressure needed to cause backdrafting may be negative enough that with the present kitchen fan and various sources of air leakage, combustion products do not leak into the house. However, the furnace might be expected to be running at a different combustion efficiency than it was tuned for.

Usually, the reason for high cfm hoods is not removing CO traces from megaburner combustion. It is to remove grease, smoke, odor and water vapor produced while cooking, particularly while wokking or grilling or frying. Hence, the need for high cfm is personal -- if one doesn't mind odor or grease on everything, electric grilling without good capture and containment is certainly permissible.


    Bookmark   March 8, 2012 at 7:19PM
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