'Professionals' advice on range hood - help!

kitykatAugust 27, 2012

We will be building a modest retirement patio home in the spring. It is ALL ELECTRIC. :(

I am an avid, serious cook who uses cast iron skillets, and therefore will, unfortunately, need to choose an old-fashioned coil type range to prevent scratching a smooth top. :(

Please recommend not exorbitantly costly hoods with sufficient power and large capture area to handle GREASY steam and cooking odors.

(I currently have a Broan Allure II hood that is totally worthless... totally! The bird-cage is left rear, my large gas burner is right front. The capture area is at the rear, with the front most part of the filters barely covering the two back burners. Who designs these things?)

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First, get induction.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 4:32PM
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I also love love love my cast iron pans. But if I was building a new home, there is NO WAY I would settle for a coil electric range. While I now cook with gas, I used a smooth top electric for 14 years. That cook top was a piece of crap, but my CI pans were never an issue.

If I had to have all-electric, I would definitely go induction.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 5:26PM
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Hood affordability, effectiveness, aesthetics -- pick two. The problem is that most residential hoods are prioritized around aesthetics, so affordable ones tend to be less effective than one might want. Perhaps smaller commercial units might bear investigation.


    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 10:23AM
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kaseki... I am all about function, price comes second. Aesthetics is not even a consideration! I am a cook, first and foremost. Mine is a working kitchen, not a candidate for Architectural Digest.

After reading posts here and on Kitchens... plus other sites, I will go with the best GE coil-top stainless model. They may not be cool or trendy, but they work... and work quite well; or would no longer even be available!

As for those small commercial units you mentioned... what do I look for? Brand? CFM? Baffle vs mesh filter?

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 1:53PM
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Baffle filters retain flow rate capability as they collect grease, whereas mesh filters can clog up. Otherwise, mesh can work if routinely cleaned. Mesh filters, even clean, may have a higher pressure drop than baffle filters, so that can affect cfm or conversely affect the fan/blower needed to maintain cfm. Mesh filters tend to be located at the aperture, rather than above it, making capture somewhat more difficult.

A tour of Greenheck's website may reveal a lot of basic information, particularly in a guide they publish. (I don't have the link to the guide at hand, but I'll try to find it later.) Greenheck may have smaller commercial hoods. The link may be useful.


Here is a link that might be useful: Greenheck kitchen ventilation systems

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 7:57PM
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A tour de force that is worth viewing.


Here is a link that might be useful: Greenheck Guide

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 8:33PM
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It's a common misconception that you cannot use cast iron on glass cooktops. Of course you can use cast iron on glass! It jsut has to be smooth on the bottom, but it needs to be smooth on the bottom to work well on a coil top as well.

But, better yet, if you enjoy cooking, get induction and use your cast iron on it. You have the controlability and instant response of gas without so much heat lost to the room, and you can actually do a great sear on it with a grill pan or even hold melted chocolate without scorching it. And because you are only heating the pan itself and not the cooktop or the room, you can get by with less CFM that you would if you used gas or even a conventional electric stove. You will still need a decent amount of CFM because of the way you cook, but it will be much more affordable than the thousands of dollars that pro style hoods cost. You can get by with probably a 400 CFM "consumer grade" under cabinet hood that will cost you less than $500.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 11:21PM
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Hood vents have 2 important ratings - CFM and sones. CFM = cubic feet per minute. That tells you how much air the the hood can move. With CFM, more is better. Sones is a measure of how loud the fan is when it is operating. For Sones, lower is better since this means it operates more quietly. My bathroom fan, for instance is 80 CFM and .8 sones. It's so quiet you can barely hear it running even when the rest of the house is quiet.

I agree with the previous poster that anything that is 400 CFM will probably work fine for residential electric cook top. However, you can probably spend just a little a bit ($100-$200) more and get something in the 500-600 CFM range. Again, just be sure to check the sones or find someone who stocks them and go listen to the difference.

I would also suggest talking to your builder and/or an electrician and seeing if you can add a timer to the fan so that you can leave it running for a period of time after you are done cooking in the same way that bath fans are done. Letting the fan run for 15 minutes after you are done cooking will do wonders at reducing smells.

I would suggest getting a top quality insert and building a hood around that. It can often be much cheaper that way than purchasing the high end pre-assembled range hood. It allows you some flexibility in that you can position it properly over the cooking surface. You can always speak to the person doing the cabinets about adding the range hood to the cabinet order. One problem that I see with a lot of range hoods is that they are sold as a "unit" - external casing with a pre-installed insert - which limits how you can place the hood since the design of the visible (exterior) part of the hood dictates how it will be placed over the cook top. Since not all cook tops position burners in the same way, having the ability to adjust the functional part of the vent hood to compensate for that can make all the difference in the world in how well a given vent hood works FOR YOU.

You also need to measure the width and depth of the cooking surface and compare that to the width and depth of the insert. Since you seem to indicate that you fry a lot, I'd recommend getting an insert that's at least as wide as your cooking surface just to make sure that you catch all the airborne grease, smells, etc.

Your biggest priority is to get one that exhausts to the outside of the house. Make your builder account for that in the design NOW. And double check to make sure that the vent hood is connected all they through to the roof or other exterior surface. The last thing you want is to be blowing all that grease, moisture, etc. into the your wall space or attic where it can grow bacteria and mold. And I've seen too many sloppy contractors who will even go so far as to run the vent to an exterior wall only to have the bricklayers or roofers then seal over the opening.

The ones that "filter" the air and then blow it back into the room are nigh useless, IMHO. I've also never had good luck with any of the downdraft models.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 10:18AM
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I had a bathroom remodel done where the contractor ran the bathroom vent into the attic...not through the attic. Sigh.

I use cast iron on my induction cooktop. No scratches yet and it will be seven years in December. I hated the radiant electric it replaced.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 10:43AM
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My mom installed a GE coil-top unit after downsizing from a Thermador. The GE is crap in my opinion, but it was cheap.

Kobe makes some nice units in the 600-700 cfm range with baffles. What's nice about getting a stronger unit is that you can turn it down when you don't need the power.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 3:23PM
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I second weedmeister's suggestions and clarify that the advantage of running, say, a 700 CFM hood on a low setting, (say 400 CFM draw) is that it will be noticeably quieter than a 400CFM hood at full power.

I've had 36" a Zephyr Cyclone hood for ten years, but I'm not sure I would recommend it to everybody, especially if you are building new. It is rated at 600 CFM but it has a flat base and is only about 20-inches deep (front to back). I got it because of the CFM rating and because it is only 5-inches tall. The height was important in my situation because I needed a short height to fit over my stove and under my cabinets in my small, old-house kitchen. There are many range hoods now that have a similar flat-bottom design which does not collect steam and vapors the way a deeper hood will. If you are building new, consider designing the cabinets to allow a deeper hood over the stove. My Zephyr keeps up only by running on high or very high settings. Those are never quiet. I will say that the Zephyr has done a very good job of separating grease from vapors. It does such a good job of separating grease from vapors that, When I re-did the over-the-stove cabinets and relocated the vent ducting this last winter, there was very little grease to clean out of the ducting.

If I were building new, where I was not constrained by existing layouts and tiny kitchens in old houses, I would look pretty seriously at the Kobe line that Weed suggested. Also, if you are a member of Costco, you might want to look at the Ancona hoods sold there. I've heard good things about them although I have no first hand experience. The great thing about Costco purchases is that they have a no-questions asked return policy so you can take it back if you do not like it. You could then swap in a Kobe or something else that you liked.

On the side issue of coil burners, my personal take is that coil burners are fine. Mature technology. Plain. Simple. Durable. Reliable. Reasonably efficient. Rather inexpensive. Well suited to constant heat applications such as cooking with cast iron and doing things like making stocks and running canning kettles.

But, if the only reason that you are sticking with a coil-burner is to avoid surface marring caused by cast-iron pans, there are a variety of reasons you might want to consider an induction range.

To begin with, as others have pointed out, cast iron is not a problem on the smooth surface of an induction cooktop. (Viking, the maker of the most expensive residential induction range you buy in the US at this time, has published a manual for the stove which forbids the use of cast iron on its induction stove because it might somehow damage the stove by retaining heat. Viking stands alone in that arrant nonsense. Every other stove maker says cast iron is fine on induction.)

Even if you have the old Lodge pans with the rough casting ring on the bottom, they'll work fine. If scratching worries you, lay down a paper towel or piece of parchment paper (some people even use silicon baking mats). As long as your pan heat stays below 450 F, they'll be fine. If you are going over that heat level, you won't be shuffling that heavy cast iron pan around and doing saute-flips, anyway.

Other induction stove extras include greater power from the burnerss and better low heat functioning, besides the and very quick adjustability that everybody mentions above. Adjustibility does not apply to heavy cast iron, of coruse. (We like cast iron because it is so stable which more or less makes it the anthesis of adjustable). Induction can be pretty amazing with other kinds of magnetic cookware.

Consider also that induction stoves can give you substantially more heat and more even heat than a coil burner and that may or may not be useful to you. AFAIK, the biggest coil burners are 8-inchers rated at 2500 KwH (figuring 70% to 75% efficiency in delivering that energy to the pan) while big induction burners can be 11" in diameter and run 3400 KwH of heat (at 84% efficiency). An example of what this means in practical terms is that you can bring a large canning kettle to boil much faster on induction than on a coil burner. It also means that you can simmer that large kettle of apple butter with heat evenly across the bottom or slowly cook down stock in a large pot without fear of bring the center.

Also consider the ovens in the stoves. AFAIK, there is only one coil burner model (a Kenmore) which has a convection fan. The others are basic electric ovens. With induction stoves you get convection functions including third element convection heating (e so-called Eurpoean or "true" convection.)

Some poeple really like convection and others are indifferent to it.

So, maybe these things will matter to you and maybe they will not.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 6:04PM
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Can I tell you all just how WONDERFUL you are!!! I'm usually over at Smaller Homes, but need specifics on this new house. How nice... you all taking much time to educate this old lady on 'technology stuff'. So, I have been reading about induction, and learning, and considering. Even took a magnet to my cookware - some ok, some not. I will now get range prices.

On the hood issue, I will look into the Kobe and others. Kaseke - great info your suggested for my reading pleasure.

Since cooking is so important to us, I believe this may be the area to spend more and cut out extras in most others. thanks again, and I'm sure I will be back for more...

    Bookmark   August 29, 2012 at 9:14PM
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I use cast iron almost exclusively on my induction (Bosch) and have not had any issues.
If I am pan searing/frying, I put out a newspaper and put the pan on top of the paper....when I'm done, I simply toss the paper and wipe up the few spatters that may have occurred. I use a small papertowel if I use cast iron and directly on the cooktop if I use the enamel coated le creuset cast iron. I think I only have 2 stainless pans (gave my friend my entire collection of All-Clad aluminum brushed).

    Bookmark   April 25, 2013 at 3:59PM
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