Island cooktop and downdraft dilemma

merristoneMay 10, 2008

We currently have a disfunctional Jenn-Air with downdraft. We need to upgrade so we can get burners with both higher and lower BTU. Our townhouse is on a slab; our kitchen is on the first floor, with the vent running below the slab. We have 13 foot ceilings with a pot rack over the island. We don't want to spend the money for a hood, since it would require new venting, etc.

I like the arrangement of the GE Monogram 6-burner unit (17000 BTU and 140 degree simmer). GE doesn't seem to sell a downdraft compatible with that unit. They say you need a minimum 600 CFM hood. My question is, could I get away with a 600 CFM downdraft instead. I know it wouldn't be perfect but I wouldn't be grilling or doing deep fat frying. After 9 years the only place I notice buildup is on the pot rack, which I can clean. Cooking odors do make it up to the 3rd floor, but we've lived with the 375 (?) CFM of the JennAir for so many years I feel like the elevated downdraft unit must be better than that.

We live in Houston. Does anyone know if local code requires something different? I'm not sure we have the space to mount a wall unit for an external blower, although we do have wide enough duct work (8 inches).

Any helpful comments would be appreciated!

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clinresga

If....you can live with the smell, don't mind the smoke and don't sear, wok, etc then certainly see why downdraft would be easier.

Only suggestion from us (as we FINALLY replace our POS downdraft gas cooktop) would be to go with induction, NOT gas. Otherwise you're stuck with a classic Catch 22: either you have effective ventilation but lose an enormous amount of heat as it's "sucked away" from the pan by the hood, or you don't lose heat to the hood, but then have no effective ventilation.

Induction solves none of the ventilation issues but at least you'll get more heat,which is why you're doing this in the first place.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 9:40AM
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weissman

I think some of the taller pop-up downdrafts are not as bad as the shorter ones at sucking away the flame. Somebody recently posted about one - I think it pops up to 15". Don't remember the brand but you could do a search.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 9:53AM
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merristone

Clinresga: I badly wanted to go with induction, but our island doesn't have sufficient wiring...only 20 amps. To get the required 30 to 50 (depending on number of 'burners') would have cost at least $2000, if it could be done at all. The wiring doesn't always run through conduits, or at least that can't be determined so far, so new external conduits are required for the length of the house, then sheetrock removal once the wiring re-enters the house. Still investigating though.

Weissman, I'll look into the taller downdrafts.
Thanks to both of you

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 10:44AM
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lmalm53

I have an island with an old GE downdraft cooktop which I will be replacing with the 30" Thermador induction cooktop and retractable downdraft system. Thermador makes a 14 inch high and a 10 inch downdraft system. I have ordered the 14 inch which also has a few extra features. There are other vent manufacturers like Diva who have 14 inch or taller retractable vents.

I am having to upgrade my island to a 40 Amp system from 30 Amps, but I have a basement with easy access to the wiring and ceiling to run new wire. The vent system will also need its own 15-20 amp circuit breaker. My existing 8 inch duct work will be useable with the new vent. I will be using the internal 600 CFM blower which is installed directly under the cooktop in the cabinet below.

I had installer and electrician input to verify this could all be done in my space available prior to ordering the cooktop and vent system.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 9:18PM
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coloradoad

We are doing a kitchen redo and will have an induction cooktop in front of a bay window. We have ask and been told by our county that code does not require a ventilation system. We are wondering do we need a downdraft system or can we save $ and not do a vent system? Any thoughts out there? As we have been told, oh you will be sorry if you do not do a downdraft. Others including appliance sales people have said, save the $ and just use your window to vent as needed. Help needed in Colorado.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2008 at 11:13PM
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fahrenheit_451

We are doing a kitchen redo and will have an induction cooktop in front of a bay window. We have ask and been told by our county that code does not require a ventilation system. We are wondering do we need a downdraft system or can we save $ and not do a vent system? Any thoughts out there? As we have been told, oh you will be sorry if you do not do a downdraft. Others including appliance sales people have said, save the $ and just use your window to vent as needed. Help needed in Colorado.

I feel that you are receiving bad advice in the name of saving money for several reasons. Although you can ventilate through a window, have you taken into consideration the prevailing winds, and any special seasonal winds in your area? You may have wind blowing in through the window versus your cooking air being evacuated. On a calm day with no air circulation within your residence, the hot air, steam, and odors, will simply rise and permeate your residence versus being evacuated. What happens in the event you burn food and wish to quickly evacuate the smoke? Also, please confirm with your local Building Department the specifics for your situationÂdo not take someone's word for what are vital life/safety building codes.

You might wish to read facts from this site as well: Indoor Air Quality

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 12:29AM
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fahrenheit_451

I badly wanted to go with induction, but our island doesn't have sufficient wiring...only 20 amps. To get the required 30 to 50 (depending on number of 'burners') would have cost at least $2000, if it could be done at all. The wiring doesn't always run through conduits, or at least that can't be determined so far, so new external conduits are required for the length of the house, then sheetrock removal once the wiring re-enters the house. Still investigating though.

Where is the electrical panel located on, or within your residence? Have you had an electrician examine your situation with your telling the electrician what you have in mind? Since you have a poured slab some of better layouts do accommodate with extra stub-outs for electrical runs; you make have an extra run hidden underneath the floor of the cabinet base. An electrician has the tools to locate your electrical run throughout the slab, and walls, without demolition. If you had your heart set on something, you should try to achieve it versus having to live with second best as you will be living it for several years after the decision has been made.

Regarding your downdraft fan, and from personal experience, here is what I look for:

1) Ventilator height; the taller, the better.
2) Variable CFM capability; there is nothing like evacuating smoke as high-speed when you accidentally burn food, and smoke alarms are wailing.
2) An external fan as pulling air out is better than pushing it, plus the noise reduction is well worth it.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 12:47AM
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mcmann

We've used a downdraft on our island for over 20 years and have been satisfied with the results. Three years ago we replaced our Thermador cooktop and vent with a 6 burner Dacor gas cooktop and downdraft with a remote blower mounted outside the house. Works great, it has a variable speed motor and is fairly quiet. We never had a problem with the vent pulling the flames from the burner with either downdraft.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 3:40PM
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bryce5

We replaced our 8 year old Dacor downdraft two years ago with the Thermador 15" downdraft with a remote blower when we remodeled and got an induction cooktop. We are very pleased with both the induction and the downdraft. I cannot imagine not have some venting system while cooking. Downdrafts do not work as well as the overhead hood; but it's definitely better than nothing. I think you will regret not getting a downdraft if that is the route you choose.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2008 at 11:35PM
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coloradoad

fahreinheit 451

Thanks for the advice as that was very helpful. We did check with our County on the building codes and it is not required to have a vent system for the cooktop. Yes, we would love to save $ but not at the cost of an efficent kitchen. We have considered prevailing winds etc. We want to do this right and sounds like downdraft is the best way to go in our situation and I appreciate your help.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2008 at 3:28PM
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merristone

Fahrenheit 451, I took your advice (and others) to pursue what I really wanted, got other quotes and was able to upgrade the wiring to 50 amps for under $100!! The first electrician was hundreds more than that.
We got the Thermador downdraft (14"rise) and everything fits in our existing island. Tomorrow it should all be connected and I can finally start cooking!!
Thanks for all your input.

    Bookmark   July 2, 2008 at 4:10PM
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marbrett2

Have all of you been happy with your cooktop on the island? We are designing and I keep reading negative comments about this arrangement, but I do a lot of entertaining and thought it would be a more social setting. I'm having doubts now based on others' negative comments! Also, has the downdraft vent really provided sufficient ventilation? We're getting the GE Profile 36" induction cooktop.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2009 at 5:12PM
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