I will never forget the call.
The head of the maintenance division of my largest customer had an issue with a vent over one of his clients grills. It was not moving the smoke out of the three season porch. Would I look at the unit and installation?
So I brought a couple of sausages (for grease and smoke) to cook and see where the smoke traveled.
It was a really beautiful house, but I could see the problem before I even turned the grill on. The hood could not even handle the two sausages. The smoke covered this beautiful Italian style sunroom/porch.
All I could think of was how much was this going to cost us for such a poor installation. Lucky for me, this job was supplied previously by someone else. The contractor spent $40,000 on a custom hood, high CFM blower and redesigning the duct and end cap.
Problems with Venting Grills
Grills singe and sear meats, which creates a ton of smoke. The average BTUs of better grills has increased as well. Together, heat and smoke really create a problem for undersized hoods. Most of the time this is not an issue, because you just open the grill when you are outside and the smoke escapes into the atmosphere.
However, enclose the grill and you have potential issues, especially in a three season porch or even in the house itself with a small pro grill.
How to Vent an Outdoor Grill
Fortunately, you use the same principles as interior ventilation (I cover all this in the Ventilation Buyers Guide). You have to consider capture area, CFM and lastly proper ducting.
This customers first issue was the shallow hood. When his client cooked, the smoke would bypass the hood and head into the room. A large volume of smoke is always chambered by the hood and then the blower pushes the smoke to the outside. A big blower and a shallow hood will not work.
So, the first step is to specify a deep hood of 27 inches or greater. Smoke from sausage or burnt meat will stay in the hood and not spill over into the room.
If there is some exposure to outside elements, you also need the hood to be outside rated. Outside rated hoods are all steel and will not rust. Best has two styles.
Best Hood WPD38136
Best Hood WPD39M36
CFM (cubic feet per minute) is a measure of blower speed. This translates to how many cubes of air are exhausted per minute. For a grill enthusiast with a professional 36 or 48 inch grill, I would recommend a big enough blower.
Best manufacturers a 1,500 CFM blower. I would certainly look at those or even a commercial restaurant blower.
The most efficient way to duct is straight up. Think about it. Smoke travels straight, so this way the blower is working most efficiently. Yet many people will plan the vent as an afterthought with tons of bends and turns. Bending the vent reduces the flow of the smoke. So remember straight up, or if necessary, straight back.
Ducting specs have to be accurate as well. I have been on jobs using dryer duct for cooking applications. This will not work. Dryer duct is 4 inch round pipe, but for exhausting cooking should be 6-10 inch round piping. For grills, it should be 10 inch round to handle that volume of smoke.
Next time you grill watch the amount of smoke emitted. I am not advocating that a grill enthusiast change their plans. If you love to grill and want an outdoor grill in your house (and who wouldn’t after this winter), then plan accordingly.
Specify a larger hood shell with adequate CFM and the right ducting. You do not want your house covered in smoke and grease.
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