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The Best Downdraft Ranges and Cooktops For 2020 (Reviews / Ratings / Prices)

Steve Sheinkopf  |  December 10, 2020  |  5 Min. Read

Ventilation  |  Downdrafts

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If you wanted to read this article about the tons of brands for downdrafts, you would be disappointed.

JennAir and KitchenAid (both owned by Whirlpool) are the only companies still actively manufacturing downdraft cooktops.

It's worse for ranges with the same product marketed by JennAir and KitchenAid.

I will show you tons of venting ideas, including downdrafts and other options.

This post will also answer whether downdrafts work and that nagging question for all Bostonians: Make-Up Air. Yes, it's a real regulation, and some inspectors take it seriously.

Then you will look at downdraft cooktops and alternatives. Then ranges and their alternatives.

So there is a lot to learn. You also need to understand venting and how to vent. You may want to consider downloading our free Ventilation Buying Guide with more technical information.

So let's get started.

Do Downdrafts Work?

Cattura Downdraft - BestBest Cattura Downdraft 

 

Maybe is the short answer. Downdrafts can have enough CFM. They start at 330 to 1200 CFM. However, unlike a range hood, there is little or no capture area.

You are also reversing the flow of the smoke, so you do need better CFM.

When there is excess smoke from frying or woking, smoke is channeled and then exhausted. It isn't immediately evacuated.

For example, in a commercial kitchen, the vent is always huge. It is much bigger than the range to capture all the heat and smoke.

Downdrafts do exhaust somewhat.

They cannot handle vast amounts of smoke or heat, and they should always be considered the last option, especially with higher output (over 15,000 BTU) burners.

Do not place a downdraft behind a pro range. I know it's tempting because you see it on Houzz and other publications. It will not exhaust effectively.

Sub-Zero-And-Wolf--Island-HoodSub-Zero And Wolf Island Hood

 

You should either install an overhead hood or place the cooking where it can be more easily vented if possible.

Do You Need To Vent Your Range Or Cooktop?

Nope. You do not need to vent.

However, all that heat, grease, and smoke stays in your kitchen and house. We have all been in that house that smells like old fish.

That lingering odor is due to poor ventilation.

Broan says 4 gallons of grease stays in poorly ventilated kitchens.

I'm not sure how accurate that statistic is, but venting is important for the overall environment of your home.

What Is Make-Up Air?

In the state of Massachusetts, any new construction with any vent of 400 CFM or greater, you need to "Make-Up" that air with an equal return.

With tighter tolerances for air, removing 400 cubes of air (the C in CFM) creates an unhealthy environment in your home.

Now, it's easy to comply in the planning stages. Typically, you just add an air return to your HVAC system.

Make-Up Air is much harder after your construction is done, so be careful.

Many of the out-of-the-box solutions are under 400 CFM. Ironically, that is also bad news, because they may not be able to handle the output.

Best Gas Downdraft Cooktop

There are only two - KitchenAid and JennAir. The KitchenAid and JennAir are available in 36 and 30 inches. Then again, they are the same unit with a slightly different style. If you had to choose one, check out the JennAir. 

JennAir Gas Downdraft Cooktop JGD3430GS - $2,099

JennAir-Gas-Downdraft-Cooktop

This JennAir cooktop has 17,000 and 15,000 BTU burners and over 300 CFM.

Best Electric Downdraft Cooktops

JennAir Electric Downdraft Cooktop JED3430GS - $1,999

JennAir-Electric-Downdraft-Cooktop-JED3430GS-1

This electric cooktop is incredibly similar to gas with only four smooth top burners. My advice is to buy it with a package of JennAir appliances for a better overall discount.

Electric cooktops with downdrafts are better than gas because electric doesn't generate the heat and smoke of gas.

Pro Tip: If you can, try to shop around promotional holidays to buy appliances. You will save 10-35%.

Best Cooktop Downdraft Alternatives

All of the downdraft cooktops are, in my opinion, dated.

Any cooktop can be a downdraft by adding the downdraft separately.

These componentry downdrafts are better as well in CFM. You can buy them at 600 or even 1200 CFM.

They also raise 9 inches over the cooktop to exhaust the steam, and every brand markets this separate downdraft.

Cattura Downdraft - Best-1Raised Downdraft Ventilation For A Cooktop

 

So this is a better option because it allows you the ability to buy induction or another gas cooktop and incorporate a separate, more powerful downdraft option

Best Gas And Electric Downdraft Ranges

JennAir Electric Downdraft Range JES1750FS - $3,299

downdraft-range-JES1750FS

KitchenAid Electric Downdraft Range KSEG950ESS - $2,969

Kitchen-Aid-downdraft-range-KSEG950ESS

JennAir and KitchenAid have the only downdraft ranges, and it's the same product. The gas is not gas but dual fuel or a gas top over an electric oven.

Dual fuel is better for baking because of its dry, even heat. However, gas is moister and better for roasting and broiling.

Once again, electric is ok, but the vent of the gas is underpowered for the two high powered burners

Best Electric And Gas Downdraft Range Alternatives

Best Cattura

Have a look at this. The Best Cattura is advertised as a range downdraft.

Best Cattura Downdraft - Kitchen-1Best Cattura Downdraft Range

 

We wrote an article on the Cattura. It is not an easy install. You can vent it from the back or side and is an alternative to the downdraft range.

Once again, we do not recommend placing a downdraft behind a pro range or any high BTU cooking surface..like they did in this picture.

Island Hoods

Zephyr Hood Lucé-island_2 (1)Zephyr Island Hood

 

Back in 1986, when I started at Yale, you had the Broan Chuckwagon and other awful venting solutions, now island hoods are attractive.

Island hoods are 4 sided unlike wall hoods. They are available in a ton of styles. You can also build yourself a wood hood and add a blower later.

You should consider an island hood because it is only directing rising air. Unlike downdrafts, hoods do not have to pull air in another direction.

They can capture volumes of smoke and grease as well.

You should first try to incorporate a hood first before thinking about a downdraft.

Best Downdraft Cooktops And Ranges Key TakeAways

The best downdraft ranges and cooktops are the alternatives mentioned in this article more than the built-in units.

First, check the placement of the cooking. A hood should be your first choice. Even an island hood works in the middle of the kitchen.

Consider separating the downdraft and the cooktop for a much better overall unit.

The Best Cattura should only be used if your contractor, cabinet installer, cabinet designer, and plumber sign off. The installation is not easy.

Remember: Downdrafts are last-resort options only.

Additional Resources

Download the Yale Ventilation Buying Guide with features like ducting, the proper CFM for professional ranges, downdrafts and much more. Over 700,000 people have read a Yale Guide.

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Editor's Note: This article was originally published on April 2, 2020 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve is the third-generation CEO of Yale and a lifelong Bostonian. He currently resides in Boston, one mile from where he was born. Despite being one of the worst goalies of all time, he is a huge hockey fan of college hockey and the Boston Bruins. The love of his life is his daughter Sophie.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications such as the New York Times, Consumer Reports, The Boston Globe, Bloomberg Radio, the New York Post, The Wall Street Journal, and Entrepreneur, for his knowledge of how to buy appliances and appliance repair.

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