Cooker hoods are the unsung heroes of your kitchen appliances and you should really put some thought into it before you buy. Grease from cooking can be a right pain to scrub away, especially if it gets onto difficult to reach places like the ceiling, so here is a guide to what you should look out for and how to ensure a sufficiently powered hood.
All cooker hoods can be split up into 5 main types; Integrated, Chimney, Island, Ceiling and downdraft.
The term integrated is used to describe appliances that are fitted into your kitchen cabinets. In the case of hoods, there are two main options
1. Fully Integrated
These fit into a cabinet above the hob and have a door or panel on (to match the kitchen unit doors). Usually you pull it open to reveal the hood filters to extract air while you are cooking and then it neatly slots back into place when you are finished. This Luxair 60cm extractor is an excellent hood, with very high extraction.
These are installed into the bottom of a cabinet above the hob. They are on show all the time, but can have various profiles, some being completely flat like these canopy hoods, or some with part of the body on display like these.
By far the most popular and widespread type of cooker hood. These attach to the wall and have a panel that covers the ducting up into the wall or behind the top of the wall units. There are many styles and finishes available such as standard triangle pyramid designs, flat panel designs and a number of glass options.
If your hob is in the middle of the kitchen on an Island, then you will need a chimney that is attached to the ceiling and is finished on all sides. There are a number of good options for Island hoods, although ducting can be an issue as you have to run the ducting behind your ceiling. Island hoods cost more than the basic wall hoods as they have to look great from every angle. Again there are a number of designer options you can go for and this is often more of a consideration than for the wall mounted versions as it may very well be the centre piece of your kitchen. Remember not to go for style over substance, as quite often something that looks great or funky may not have the biggest motor inside.
These are becoming more and more popular, as the extraction rates are high, and as the distance away from your head is increased, they seem to run much quieter than the sound levels states. 60db next to your head while cooking is very different to 60db on the ceiling. Most ceiling hoods are ducted out, and although you can actually recirculate if you duct back into the room and add a charcoal filter, ducting is the best option.
Relatively recent in the extraction market, downdraft hoods are another alternative. Here you have the motor installed in the cabinet and then then the hood pulls up from the worktop. While it’s a really tidy solution, installing ducting can be a challenge so most downdraft hood installations recirculate back into the room. Opinions are mixed so far on these. They do offer very impressive extraction rates, but the additional expense mean so far they haven’t been widely taken up.
Ducted or recirculating?
There is a simple mantra with installing cooking hoods, ‘if you can duct, always duct’. All cooker hoods run more efficiently and quietly when ducted outside. However, it isn’t always possible so recirculation may be your only alternative. When recirculating, you place an additional filter made out of charcoal in the cooker hood to remove grease and impurities, but mainly odours which would otherwise circulate back into the room. The chemical properties of the carbon in the filters mean that other particles readily attract and attach to them, but there is a finite absorbability, so you do need to replace them. Costs of replacements can be anything from 10 to 40 pounds. The continued efficient running costs of a recirculating hood may well be greater than the cost of installing ducting in the first place.
Grease filters need to be cleaned on all hoods, look out for ones which are dishwasher safe then you can simply pop them into your dishwasher and then back into the hood.
What extraction rate do I need.
For normal usage, say a couple of bubbling pans, a rate of 10 air changes per hour will be sufficient. So we need a motor capable of changing the volume of the air in your kitchen completely 10 times in 1 hour.
First, work out the volume of your kitchen. Multiply the length, width and height (all in metres) together to get the cubed volume(m³). Then multiply that number by the number of air changes (we decided on 10) to get the extraction rate required. Heavy usage you could maybe work out 12 air changed, or light usage maybe 6 or 7. Cabinets and furniture also skew the volume as they take up air space.
Your kitchen is 2.4m high and 4m x 5m in size.
2.4 x 4 x 5 = 48
Then multiply that by the 10 changes per hour
48 x 10 = 480
So you are looking for an extraction rate of 480m³ for medium usage.
It is recommended that you choose a hood that achieves that on the a mid setting, so it will run quieter during standard use and you are able to use a higher setting on the occasions you are using all the rings at once.