It's time to take ventilation seriously. If you cook a lot and own a high output range or cooktop, then take ventilation very seriously.
In this article, you will learn how to vent your kitchen range, why Make-Up Air is important, and ventilation requirements in Massachusetts. Then we will show you the five range hoods you should not buy.
So, there's a lot to cover. Let's get started with why you need proper ventilation in your kitchen.
Why You Should Buy the Right Ventilation Hood
Wooden Custom Range Hood Above a Professional Gas Range at Yale Appliance in Framingham
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that "studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times — and occasionally more than 100 times — higher than outdoor levels."
It also produces nitrogen oxides (NOx), including nitrogen monoxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), and formaldehyde (CH2O).
All of these pollutants are health risks if not properly managed. It can create problems for the most vulnerable, especially adding to the risk of children developing asthma.
When you burn food while cooking or frying, you create smoke and grease. If you are not venting your kitchen correctly, that smoke and grease stay in your house.
These gases need to be vented outdoors, but a more unfamiliar solution was developed over the last few years - banning gas ranges.
Gas Range Bans
36-Inch Professional Gas Ranges
It started in California with the KEG group, short for the California Electric group. Their goal was for the electrification of California's kitchens. They used our Induction Buying Guide as a reference tool.
Today many municipalities throughout California have bans of some kind on gas ranges. New York has banned gas ranges in any new multi-unit development.
Massachusetts has pending legislation to allow ten communities to ban gas ranges.
Unfortunately, by banning gas ranges, the country will need more power because a gas range uses 12 amps compared to 40-50 amps for an electric or induction range.
That's 20-30 amps per household, times millions of households.
However, requiring proper venting is so much easier. At least it should be. Cooking has changed over the last few decades.
Gas Range Output
When I started at Yale, an upgraded gas range had two 12,000 BTU burners and two 8,000 BTU burners for a total output of 40,000 BTU. Look at the popular Café Appliance front control range.
This range has a total output of 71,000 BTU with 21,000 BTU and 15,000 BTU burners on the front of the range at about 22 inches.
Over-the-range microwaves are only 16 inches deep, and many hoods are 21 inches, so the smoke will billow past, especially with high-volume cooking.
So, let's learn how to ventilate your kitchen the right way.
The 4 Basics of Ventilation
Venting requires exhaust, commonly referred to as CFM, capture area, and an acceptable duct run and size. That's it.
CFM stands for cubic feet per minute or how many cubes of air are evacuated out of your house in a minute.
Your typical over-the-range microwave is 350 CFM, whereas a professional hood can be 1000- -1500 CFM. A 1500 CFM exhaust is the equivalent of air from a small room exhausting out of your home every minute.
CFM is the easiest element to understand because the higher the CFM, the more you can exhaust.
You can buy three types of blowers.
- Internal: The blower is mounted inside your hood. It's a bit noisier, but you will hear the air rushing through the duct either way.
- Outside: The blower is mounted outside your house. Typically, the higher CFM blowers are outside, which is quieter. You have the visual of a large blower outside your house.
- Inline: Inline blowers are placed inside the duct itself, so you have a quieter blower without a blower on your house. Keep in mind that you must place an inline blower where it can be serviced.
How much CFM do you need? It depends on how much you cook. Wok frying, grilling, or high output cooking needs a higher CFM blower.
For most ranges, 400-600 CFM is adequate, depending on how you cook.
However, for 36 and 48-inch ranges, you should consider 900-1500 CFM, especially if you have a grill on your stovetop.
Prices for Canopy Hoods
Canopy range hoods are specially designed to remove airborne pollutants such as grease, steam, and odors in your kitchen. Canopy range hoods are often used for professional high output burners in commercial kitchens and encompass the cooking area.
Prices for Blowers
If you place a custom wood hood in your kitchen, the following are the separate prices for blowers. The controls are separate.
- Internal 600 CFM blower (P6) - $318
- Internal 800 CFM (IQ6) - $815
- Internal 1200 CFM (P12)- $499
- External 600 CFM (EB6) - $715
- External 900 CFM (EB9) - $850
- External 1200 CFM (EB12) - $1,152
In the renovation scheme, prices for the higher CFM blowers don't add that much cost.
2. Capture Area
Capture is defined by your hood's height, width, and depth. It's crucial for many reasons.
Where are the high output burners on a range or any other range? High outputs, almost without exception, are placed in the front of the range, so smoke will billow past the shallower hoods.
If you cook a lot, plan on having a minimum of 24 inches in depth for your hood.
Depth matters because smoke is retained and then exhausted. It's not immediately exhausting, even with high CFM.
3. Venting Direction
We have been writing the blog for 15 years. As a result, a high percentage of questions are always about ventilation.
Readers always start with, "Is it OK if I do X, Y, or Z?" Unfortunately, the answer to that question always seems to be no.
Venting direction is easy. You want to use gravity and run your venting up and straight out. If you are on a wall, then straight back is fine.
Venting down using multiple elbows will never work because the static flow will slow with too many elbows.
4. Duct Size
Use the recommended rigid duct size, please. You also want to have rigid piping so grease doesn't collect in the inflexible joints and cause a problem later.
How to Vent Your Kitchen Range
In the photo above, the stove is against the wall. You can vent straight up or directly back for a short duct run. Commercial baffle filters on the inside allow more air through and still trap the grease.
Venting Over an Island
The rustic kitchen range hood featured above is tall and deep. They also added six inches in width for extra capture. Here is a more mundane shot:
Venting Products to Avoid
Let's look at venting products to avoid.
If we are saying you need an excellent capture area, downdrafts have none. They always reduce the static pressure of the vent by adding at least one elbow with longer runs. Place your sink on the island and cook against the wall or buy an island hood.
2. Over-the-Range Microwaves
The over-the-range microwave centralizes your cooking and is super cheap to buy. However, it's still only 310 CFM and 15 inches deep. Burners are 24 inches in depth.
3. Slide-Out Hoods
We once lost a multi-million dollar bid because the developer wanted to use slide-out hoods. We did not bid on them because they would not work in that application. However, they spent $300,000 for us to fix the issues.
You will love the look of a slide-out hood. You slide it out, and the hood works. But you have no capture area with no coverage of the front burners.
4. Specific Kinds of Wood and Custom Hoods
Most people build a wood hood to align with the cabinets. Looks good, but you lose the capture. You also want the appropriate blower. Most are underpowered.
Here is an example of the right way to use a wooden range hood:
5. Ceiling Blowers
Mounting one of these on a ceiling may be too high to capture anything.
Read More: 4 Kitchen Hoods You Should Not Buy
When make-up was first legislated, many people complained about governmental overreach. But it makes sense. In the old days, many homes were drafty, so you turned on your hood, and air would naturally infiltrate through windows and other home areas.
Many homes now are built air-tight with better windows and more energy-efficient materials. Yet, you turn on a 1500 CFM blower and start evacuating copious air. What happens?
Air will return whether you plan for it or not. The air made up will be from your attic, garage, or furnace. That's not healthy.
For new construction, you can install make-up dampers in your HVAC. Otherwise, the law states 10 feet away from the stove on the opposite wall, so you aren't returning exhausted air.
Broan has inexpensive make-up air kits with a smart damper opening when you activate your hood.
Read More: What Is Make-Up Air?
First, as you read this, remember to turn on your vent while you cook. Every range throws off-gases you would rather not have in your home.
Venting, especially for new construction, is easy. Plan the right capture, CFM, and ducting. With the right venting, you will enjoy much better indoor air quality.
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