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Makeover Monday: How to Downdraft in an Island

October 6th, 2014 | 2 min. read

By Steve Sheinkopf

It's Makeover Monday: Every Monday we look at a professionally remodeled kitchen and/or bathroom and talk about what is good and sometimes not so good about that particular renovation. This article is designed to help you with your let's get to it.

One of the great trends in remodeling is the merging of the kitchen, dining room and living space into one room. It’s a great area for entertaining and an informal gathering space for family and friends.

However, it does create ventilation challenges. It's easy to vent a stove against a wall. You just attach a piece of duct and a wall cap. It's way harder to vent a cooking product in an island in the middle of the room.

Invariably, if you place a cooking product in your island you will have to consider a downdraft or an island hood.


Island hoods are more functional with greater capture area. Smoke rises, so it is more efficient as well. However many people like the sleek look of a downdraft. There are two types of downdrafts. Jenn-Air has the blower integral, meaning inside the unit itself. You can also buy a componentary downdraft system from any number of manufacturers with either an inside or more powerful outside blower.

Downdraft Issues

I saw this picture on a design site. I like the look of it, and as a disclaimer, I have no idea the interaction between the architect and the client. However, we could never sell this a solution. Have a look...

You are looking at a Wolf range with a downdraft built behind. The problem with a downdraft is capture area. Smoke, grease and heat are channeled and then exhausted outside your home. Downdrafts do not have any capture area, so I do not see this unit clearing 120,000 BTUs plus to the outside.

Downdrafts should be used with cooktops only, because the other problem is the downdraft will have a difficult time pulling the heat from the front burner.

The third problem is installation. You would need extra depth to accommodate the depth of the downdraft and the stove. You will have a big problem installing this in standard cabinets.

How to Downdraft

First question is should you buy one? If you like wok cooking and frying, you should consider an island hood. This is my Moms friends kitchen with an island hood. She cooks quite a bit.

island kitchen with island hood

However, for most of us downdrafting is adequate in the right place.

Video showing the Jenn-Air downdraft in action...

A couple considerations:

  1. Ducting: Large duct to handle the volume. Shorter duct runs are advisable.
  2. Consider induction (if possible) instead of a pro or high BTU gas cooktop. Induction is faster and does not emit any residual heat.
  3. Do not place a vent behind a range, especially a professional range. Jenn-Air has a gas range with an integral exhaust.

Recommended Reads

Additional Resources

Get the Yale Ventilation Buying Guide with features, specs and inside tips to every vent on the marker. Well over 70,000 people have read a Yale Guide.

view our ventilation buying guide

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Steve Sheinkopf

Steve Sheinkopf is the third-generation CEO of Yale Appliance and a lifelong Bostonian. He has over 38 years of experience in the appliance industry, and he is a trusted source of information for consumers on how to buy and repair appliances.

Steve has also been featured in numerous publications, including 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.

Steve is passionate about helping consumers find the best appliances for their needs, and he is always happy to answer questions and provide advice. He is a valuable resource for consumers who are looking for information on appliance buying, repair, and maintenance.

Despite being the worst goalie in history, Steve is a fan of the Bruins and college hockey, loves to read, and is a Peloton biker. The love of his life is his daughter, Sophie.

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