How important is a range hood?

CamGSeptember 10, 2012

Hi everyone. We're building a new house, and I have heard that we really should get a range hood. Well, if we get an range hood, I need to get a sufficiently powerful one that vents outside and isn't obnoxiously loud, and if we have a sufficiently powerful hood, we need a makeup air system, which will cost more money, and then we'll need to find another place than above the microwave in our modest-sized kitchen....

A bit about us, we hope to have a large family and cook a lot, although we'll likely use an electric range. We are building a 2,000 sf home on a budget. I intend to buy nicer appliances down the road, but it sounds like adding a real hood down the line would be pretty significant.

Does having a real vented hood really make that much of a difference for air quality/cleaning the rest of the house? We certainly fry vegetables and meat somewhat regularly. Obviously this would be nice if we had lots of money to play with, but we don't, so we have to carefully prioritize. Thanks for any thoughts!

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Yes, a real hood makes a difference. If you're building a new house, now is the time to put in the ductwork for the hood. Depending on how large a hood you put in and where you live, you may not need makeup air. From your description 600 CFMs should be more than adequate and many locales only require makeup air for greater than 600 CFMs although some of the colder regions have stricter requirements. You need to check code in your area before you proceed.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 6:04PM
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A range hood is to a range as:

o A diaper is to a baby
o A spray booth is to a body shop
o A sewage system is to a town
o Being somewhere else is to skunk farm
o Gravity is to the atmosphere
o Dark matter is to the galaxy

I've run out of hyperbole, but the importance of a hood, in my view, cannot be overemphasized if the range is indoors.


    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 7:13PM
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So, even in a kitchen with laminate flooring and laminate countertops, $500 range, $300 dishwasher, etc. (to give an idea of our budget), still a hood is sufficiently high priority in your minds?

According to our codes, I can't have more than 400 cfm unless I have a MUA as follows:

"The makeup air shall be conditioned to within 10 degrees F. of the space designed temperature during the winter heating
mode. The makeup air may be conditioned by circulation with a forced air furnace system or by other means approved by the Building Official."

Eeek, this sounds expensive if I need more than 400 cfm.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 8:34PM
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You know, without a grill or super high BTU burners you could probably make due with 400 CFMs. I have a 3-speed 600 CFM hood over a pro-style gas range and I rarely run it on high.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 9:12PM
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You can have ventilation outside without a 1000 cfm fan/hood. I have cooked for 50 years and just got a hood 5 years ago. I have cooked with a fan on the wall above the rangetop and fans, with ventilation outside under a microwave. There are MWs that have 300cfm fans.

Whether you need the hood and all the considerations that go with that depends what you plan to buy in the future, how soon you plan to do it and how much trouble it would be to do it later. When we remodeled our kitchen it was easy to put a hood in because the range was by a outside wall.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:24PM
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Well, let's put it this way:

In a sense, an older home for (re)sale is ALWAYS competing against developers' newly-built homes. They don't even have to be in the same neighborhood. Developer homes are the "floor" to RE prices. They might have $300 stoves and $20 bathroom sinks....but they will have a rangehood or microwave hood over the stove.

Guaranteed. It will be there.

Developers would no more build a home without a rangehood or some type of exhaust, than they would build a home without a DW.

If I were looking at two homes and one did not have a rangehood, nor any easy design to put one in, for me it's a deal-breaker. I was 42 yrs old before I got my first kitchen with an exhaust fan, and now it ranks up there with running water, to me.

Because here's the not-so-lovely thing about houses: whatever you put in down the road, new or replacement, will cost more. Sometimes a whole lot more! Materials (appliances, whatever) get more expensive. Labor doubles, triples, and sometimes in boom periods can't be had even by waving hundred-dollar bills.

An experienced RE agent gave us very good advice once. We had asked if it would be worthwhile putting a nice-looking wood deck over our cracked concrete patio. Seems a no-brainer, right? But she said it wouldn't pay off.

Why? Because as long as there was something there, people can visualize not only themselves in the scene, but they can visualize SOMETHING DIFFERENT there. It didn't matter that the patio is fading, cracking, and 60 yrs old. It just has to be there.

Nothing wrong with a 400 cfm fan. My first Kenmore hood was a 400 cfm and it was surprisingly efficient (just noisy in its old age).

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 10:54PM
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So many people; so many opinions and experiences!

First, check with your local building department to see if they actually enforce the make-up air standards.

Secondly, ask yourself if you want to be cleaning off the wall, cabinets and adjacent areas for airborne grease and stains that will occur above and adjacent to your range.

Third, ask yourself about the noise of an above-range hood and vent. Is the elimination of extra noise in your kitchen important?

If it were me, I'd use a 1,000-1,5000 CFM roof mounted exhause fan and an 8" round ducted hood. If there is a problem with internal air, I'd open a window!

Good luck!

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 11:11PM
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If you are on a tight budget, I'd recommend sticking to a 400 cfm externally vented hood, and modifying your cooking styles such that you don't overwhelm it.

If your jurisdiction takes MUA seriously, like mine does, a 1000-1500 cfm externally mounted fan will be STOOPIDLY expensive. I could only afford 600 cfm with an internal blower, but with heated MUA, the system set me back around $9K. And if you need heated MUA, opening a window just isn't feasible (nor code-compliant), unless you don't cook at all during the winter. My windows are frozen shut for 3-4 months, and for another 3-4 months, a blast of outside air is not pleasant while cooking.

    Bookmark   September 10, 2012 at 11:46PM
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Thanks for the thoughts.

I guess the choice is not between a hood and nothing over the range, but I a vented hood vs. a OTR non-vented microwave (with a recirculating fan and filter). Almost every house I've been to has the latter, including quite expensive ones. But my impression has been that these really don't do much. And even if I found a vented OTR microwave, I understand it would not be very effective, and they are much more expensive than normal counter microwaves.

So it sounds like a 400 cfm hood would do alright, without an MUA. I suppose on the rare occasions that we would "overwhelm" it (not sure what that would be, but I understand the idea), we will just have to deal--it would be better than never having a hood, and I think that's the alternative.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 8:34AM
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Also, the range will be on an exterior wall, so the vent should be relatively inexpensive, I imagine?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 8:50AM
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I suggest you put the duct work in to accomodate a good ventilation system even if you don't do a lot of high-heat cooking. You could put in a budget hood now, then later if you or someone else wants more powerful burners and higher cfms, the ducts will accomodate the it.


    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 9:37AM
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On a scale of 1-10, IMO an external vented range hood is an ELEVEN! All those cooking odors DO permeate nearly everything in your house, including you and your clothes. The oily/greasy steam residue deposits it's self all over the kitchen. I think mine is 450cfm. My stove isn't one of those professional style gas bad boys. It's electric. 600cfm would have been ideal, but cost and some other reason kept us from going that high. It's been 10 years since we remodeled. I don't even know what Make up air is! No codes out here in the country. Was that even an issue in 2002?
Really, if you have to cut back on something else, please do yourself and your new home a favor by installing a range hood. You'll be glad you did.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 11:27AM
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Heres a helpful article listing reasons to have a hood installed above your stove.

Here is a link that might be useful: Reasons to have a range hood

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 11:46AM
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"Being somewhere else is to skunk farm " -- ROFL!!

The first time I took my hood apart to clean the innards (Ventahood with squirrel cages), I was disgusted by how much grease was up there - and I don't cook that much! And I'd only had it a year! But I run it when I cook so much as a boiled egg. I run it when re-heating pizza in the oven, so I don't smell pepperoni and garlic in my bedroom. I run it when the toaster oven on the counter next to the range is on - hate the smell of dark toast everywhere. Prior to that I had a cheap recirculating vent that was totally useless.

I would take a 400cfm externally vented unit in place of a recirculating fan any day.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 12:53PM
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A quick look on AJMadison you can buy a 400 CFM 30" under cabinet hood for about $300. The duct work should be negligible in a new build.

What do you have now? I have a lousy recirculating hood. My stuff gets greasy and I don't fry a lot.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 4:03PM
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Also, if your budget is super tight there is a "Valore" 400 cfm on sale at Costco now for $160. Don't know how good it is, but you could upgrade later.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2012 at 4:54PM
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My custom cabinet maker sold me a Broan PM250 for venting my 36" gas cooktop (GE PGP976DET). I think this is inadequate. I don't understand all the calculations involved or MUA stuff. Can I get a minimum CFM recommendation? I think I have read here maybe 400.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2013 at 1:09PM
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250 cfm of recirculated air would not be very effective. I can only assume that a custom cabinet maker would pick such a minimal device because he lacks any knowledge about ventilation, or the cost is included in the entire cabinet buy and he wanted to minimize the portion going to someone else.

Without more information, I can't determine whether this device is even in scale with the rest of the kitchen costs.

400 cfm would be a minimum for normal cooking over 36 inches, and probably inadequate for searing or wokking. And on that note, I notice that this device is only 20 inches long. Two of them side by side might be long enough, but they still recirculate the air.


    Bookmark   February 25, 2013 at 11:34AM
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I became involved in a discussion on Houzz regarding a homeowner who lacked the 1/2 inch necessary to install a 30" vent because of some mistake DH had made. I mentioned that ideally it should be a 36" vent hood above the 30" range and if any changes were made they should be made to accommodate a 36" hood. Well, all kinds of designers asked me where I got this idea. I just knew it from doing a few kitchens but I got a quote from Vent-a-Hood, too. Is this no longer a consideration in kitchen design? I think it's really important. Especially on fish night.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 2:48AM
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As noted in many threads on this forum, rising cooking effluent expands and to capture it, the hood has to overlap the areas of potential pans used on the stove. 36-inch hood is just a rule of thumb for a 30-inch range. The actual value depends on hood height. Also, the front-to-back distance has to provide the same overlap at the range front (back too for island/peninsula applications). See my Clippings for various related references to win your argument.


    Bookmark   March 7, 2013 at 1:10PM
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I just went through all this in my kitchen remodel, and ended up installing a air make up unit. My wife had her heart set on a bluestar hood, with the 1200cfm fan, because her new kitchen is all white, she did not want any grease in her house or on her new cupboard's. Where I live did not enforce the laws, and are pretty lax in this department, but .... I I went ahead and built to what was going to be the best for years to come.

The song and dance was, our home is all hot water heat. mua is provided 99% of the time via a forced air furnace linked to the hood fan in most newer homes......our area req. that anything over 400 cfm be linked to a means of air being returned into the home. In the area where I live the law did not req a mua system if you had hot water heat when our home was built.

The solution was to install a stand alone mua system in our kitchen attic, the cost was staggering, and took a huge bite out of our budget....not to mention all the extra work. If it was me, I would suggest you make sure all the wiring, duct work, in place for the future, cause it will cost much more to do later. This is one of those, " it's going to cost HOW much????" kinda things.....when you want to change it down the road.

side note,...on high our friends next door can hear that fan in their living

    Bookmark   March 10, 2013 at 11:23AM
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