Zephyr AK2100 range hood review

jkom51July 3, 2011

Back on 5/24 a thread on 'budget range hoods' was started, but my Zephyr AK2100 hadn't been installed yet. I promised to review it after running it a few weeks, so here it is.

Setup:

- Vents directly out the back wall, so any fan will be noisier than one with a vertical vent or off-line blower.

- 30" width, between cabs

- Headroom a problem, so needed a hood with a thinner forward profile, although stove power burners are in the front, not the back

- First range hood in 1989 Kenmore $75 special - worked fine, but got progressively noisier and harder to clean. Replaced in 2003 with:

- Second hood, Broan Allure III $300 piece of junk. Absolutely awful. Top always got greasy, and a lovely thin film of grease would always float off to the left, to gunk up the countertop and bottom of upper cabs, because the Broan's fan is on the left, not centered.

The Zephyr AK2100 fulfilled all the requirements: not too expensive (this is a modest cottage in a starter home neighborhood), higher front profile, decent cfms, vented out the back, seemed an easy cleaning process. I did not worry about noise, because so much depends on the installation, so I knew I wouldn't be able to tell until it was actually up and running.

I cook (a lot) and very often sear-roast steaks/chops. Lots of boiling, stewing, some stir-frying on our Kenmore/WP gas range. A lot of oven use, and when it's summer and you don't have air-conditioning, that range hood needs to actually WORK, instead of just make a lot of noise without accomplishing much. I wanted to wait until I'd done some heavy-duty grease/steam cooking and could try cleaning the fans, to report.

I'm happy to report the Zephyr AK2100 has been a good performer. It's not quiet, but I don't judge the noise level any higher than the Broan Allure III it replaced, and it works much, much better. There is no longer that thin, sticky film of grease on the top of the hood, which was always reappeared on the Broan within a week of being cleaned. Nothing on the countertops/underside of upper cabs, ditto.

The halogen lights are hot, but they were on the Broan, too, so nice as it would have been to have the cooler LED lights, it's okay.

The time delay is only for 5 min or 10 min, no longer. It automatically dials the fan speed back to the lowest setting, but you can dial it back up to higher speeds if you want. I have an open plan for LR/DR/kitchen, and I do find that 10 min. is not quite long enough, even at high speeds, to clean out really strong smells like nice crusty burger patties. OTOH, about 30 min of the Zephyr cleans out the air completely, even furthest from the kitchen, whereas the Broan would take several hours to accomplish the same thing. If we still had a closed-in kitchen, I think the 10 min delay would be sufficient.

Cleaning the Zephyr AK2100 consists of:

- Unscrewing and taking off the grilles (very simple, just don't lose the screws!). They can be run through the dishwasher.

- Running the fan on low, spray a degreaser 20-30x up into the area.

- Stop the fan, remove the plastic tilt-out cups (one for each fan) and clean them - also dishwasher safe plastic.

- Replace the cups, screw the grilles back in, and wipe the underside surfaces of the hood down.

Summary: very easy, won't be difficult to do this on a semi-monthly basis as it only takes a few minutes.

The one thing the Broan design had over the Zephyr is that the screens just popped in on a spring release. They should have figured out a way for the Zephyr grilles to do the same - they don't stop grease, they're only there to protect your fingers or larger objects like a kleenix or pieces of paper from flying into the fan blades.

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coco4444

OT a bit... can you clarify why the horizontal ducting is louder? I'm considering this discharge style, as I was under the impression the less bends the better?

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 4:22PM
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jkom51

From what I understand from previous discussions on this forum, venting vertically with as few bends as possible maximizes cfms and (slightly?) minimizes noise.

We didn't have this option, unfortunately. This is our first house and therefore first time I had ever used a range hood at all, LOL, so all three range hoods used the same set-up. I can compare the different brands I've had, but not a different setup.

I can only say that the three people I know with range hoods that vent vertically out the roof seem quieter than mine (none are remote blowers, which are the quietest), but they are also different brands so I can't make a straight comparison.

    Bookmark   July 3, 2011 at 6:29PM
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kaseki

Rules of thumb about noise probably aren't.

Often vertical ducts are longer than horizontal, and if the exact same external blower were used for each configuration, the system with the longer ducting might be a bit quieter.

Bends in the ducting can add local noise due to increased turbulence, but may also attenuate distant noise (slightly).

kas

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:21AM
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mike634

I'm also curious why no mention of Wolf. How could you spend "a lot of time & energy" looking for a hood and neglect the manufacturer of your range? Seems odd. Wolf makes pro island hoods with 1200 cfm internal blowers or 1400 cfm external rooftop blowers. I'm looking at the pro 42" island hood now for our new Wolf SRT366 6-burner rangetop. I'm also looking at Independent since they have very similarly configured products and have been around for many years.

Here is a link that might be useful: range hoods

    Bookmark   September 27, 2011 at 11:30AM
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jkom51

I'm sure we can ignore mike634's post of Sept 27th - perhaps meant for a different thread? I'm the OP and have a Kenmore/WP gas range, no Wolf here.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 10:27PM
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