Do funky custom vent hoods work?

shannonazAugust 5, 2012

I am going to need a vent hood over my island cooktop and I don't love the looks of most I see. There are a few examples of funky, different-looking hoods on houzz but I wonder if they work correctly? I want the hood for function, but I would love for it to look different from a conventional hood...

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Without knowledge of any of the parameters of these examples, one cannot be sure that they are adequate or inadequate -- a condition that also depends on cooking style and interest in odor removal. It is not clear that these are anything but kitchens built to illustrate style without substance.

When considering kitchen cooktop ventilation, it is best to start with the first principles and the constraint. The first principles are capture and containment; the constraint is that aesthetics, affordability, and effectiveness are usually in conflict.

For capture, the question is: Does the hood overlap the rising and expanding effluent sufficiently and provide some volume below the baffles or other filter to compensate for flow rate limitations, if any? Can the flow rate keep momentum changes due to the effluent hitting the hood parts from reflecting effluent out of the hood.

For containment, the question is does the air flow rate along with the baffle or filter design pull the effluent past the filter/firestop such that it continues up the duct.

Commercial hoods set the standard for efficiency in performing these tasks, and residential hoods modeled on their principles of operation will be the most effective. However, aesthetics also is a consideration, along with cost, and compromises range from the so-called pro hoods to those one sees in the examples above.

As long as the limitations of small, marginally filtered, possibly inadequately flowed beautiful hoods are understood, then the buyer is not selecting in ignorance. My guess, though, is that wok cooking with Schezwan peppers using the hoods above would bring tears to the eyes of even the most stoic.


    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 10:48AM
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Sophie Wheeler

Those look all show and no real go. No real capture area, and mounted pretty darn high.

While it would not be impossible to create a "hanging soffit" style hood similar to the above that actually worked well, it would involve a lot of custom metal working and custom ventilation work as well. You'd best talk to a HVAC person who does custom restaurant work. And you might want to give up holding a conversation with anyone else in the kitchen while your vent hood is on. The cost also might make buying real food to cook on your range a bit of a stretch as well. With makeup air, and something "real" plus the custom metal fabrication, I'd expect such a setup to be in the 15K range without the cooking appliance.

You'll get much better quality and less expensive ventilation if your range is located on a wall. Plus you get to use the whole island space as prep space, which is 70% of the time you spend in a kitchen. It's win/win.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2012 at 11:48AM
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As it happens we made Szechuan green beans just the other night. Watching smoke rise from a wok is a great way to see the expanding effluent column. Thanks in part to Kaseki's lucid explanations, the remodeled kitchen has a wide/deep enough hood and enough cfm to handle it.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 1:38AM
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Thanks, Colin. I'm happy my comments were useful.


    Bookmark   August 6, 2012 at 8:27AM
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