How to Choose the Right Kitchen Ventilation System

Posted on Friday Nov 17, 2017 at 04:58PM in Tips

Range Hoods and Ventilation

Thinking about adding ventilation or updating your current blower and range hood in your kitchen? Wondering what kind of hood to choose? Here are some things to think about...

Ventilation Benefits

  • Air filtration -  When you use the stove, chemicals and toxins are released into the air. A good ventilation system cleans the air and removes pollutants (so your house doesn’t smell like those Brussels sprouts you were cooking).
  • Your kitchen won’t feel like a sauna - Of course, cooking over the stovetop is going to make you feel a little warmer than usual, but not having a good ventilation system adds to the heat.
  • Provides additional lighting -  Most ventilation systems come with lighting, making seeing what you’re cooking a whole lot easier.
  • Not setting off the smoke alarm every time you cook -  Those without range hoods know that a smoky pan can set off alarms. Good ventilation will prevent that from happening.

Choosing a Range Hood

Photo courtesy of Spencer Mill Woodworks

Your range hood isn’t just what houses your ventilation system - it helps define the look of your kitchen. Range hoods are available in a multitude of styles geared to match the look of any kitchen. You can make yours a statement piece, have it blend in with your cabinetry, or choose a stand-alone range hood. Chimney hoods are more apparent and are placed directly above the stovetop. They can be installed next to cabinetry or stand-alone over an island. Mantel hoods are connected to the cabinetry and can be more understated.

The most common range hoods are wood   or stainless steel. Stainless steel range hoods are popular in industrial, transitional, and contemporary-style kitchens, while wood range hoods fit beautifully in traditional and rustic kitchens. With a wood range hood, you have flexibility to customize with decorative molding, trim, and corbels. You can even choose a shiplap hood, if you’d like a more rustic look.

Choosing Ventilation

Two factors you should consider when choosing a blower are CFM and sones. CFM (cubic feet per minute) is the power of the ventilation - the ideal CFM for your ventilation is determined by the size of your kitchen and cooking space. The higher the CFM of your blower, the more powerful it is. Sone indicates the loudness of the ventilation. You’ll find ventilation ranging from one to eight sones. Usually, the higher the CFM, the louder the system, although that’s not always the case. If you’re willing to spend a little more, you can get a high-CFM system with relatively low sones. Some ventilation systems to consider include Broan, Ascension, and ZLine.

Know Your Building Codes

Before choosing your ventilation system, make sure you know your city’s building codes. The codes within each city determine whether you have to have a blower and what kind you need (i.e., ducted vs. ductless). The required size of your blower also will vary depending on the size of your stove and whether it’s gas or electric - a larger stove will need more CFMs. Check with your local contractor to see what your city’s guidelines are.

Ducted vs. Ductless

Along with choosing the range hood and ventilation system, you also have to decide whether you want a ducted or ductless ventilation system (if building codes don’t require ducted). To put it simply, a ducted range hood is connected to the exterior of your home and removes the air from the house, while a ductless range hood filters the air and brings it back into the kitchen. With a ducted hood, it would be best to have it placed against an exterior wall. A ducted range hood in the center of your kitchen can be more expensive. The downside to having a ductless range hood is that it requires more cleaning and upkeep since the air is not being removed from the space.

If you’re more concerned about the appearance of your range hood than the power of your ventilation, you would most likely choose your preferred style of hood and get the ventilation that best fits the hood. If you’re a serious cook and care more about the function of the ventilation, you might choose your ventilation system first and then see what range hood design works best with it. Your builder may have a go-to brand or design he chooses for his clients’ homes, so if you have a preference, do your research and inform your builder.