How To Select The Right Kitchen Range Hood Fan

Learn the importance of a kitchen range hood

Learn the importance of a kitchen range hood

It's probably not the first kitchen remodel feature you're likely to consider but the range hood is important.

Your kitchen is made up of many components, some aesthetic and some practical. If you're undergoing a remodel, it's always fun and exciting to choose the cabinet's door styles and hardware, your countertop, and backsplash, and your appliances. One component, that's a little less exciting but is one of the most important appliances in your kitchen is the kitchen hood.

Your kitchen hood performs several vital functions. It is basically an exhaust fan and filter system housed in an enclosure that is designed to capture and remove unwanted and unhealthy heat, cooking odors, grease, steam, gasses and smoke. It does this by creating a rising column of air directly over your cooktop and then exhausting contaminants outside through a vent.

Your kitchen hood works to keep your kitchen and home clean while also removing unhealthy contaminants from your home. Not venting your kitchen, or choosing an improper kitchen hood can have consequences. Before you consider the aesthetics, let's take a look at the technical specifications you'll need to consider to ensure that you choose the right kitchen hood to meet your needs.

Technical considerations when choosing a kitchen hood

This first thing you'll need to consider is how powerful your fan needs to be. A range hood's performance is measured by the cubic feet of air it moves per minute (CFM). The more air the fan moves, the higher the CFM. Your needs will depend on the type of installation and the size and type of your range or cooktop. For example, an electric stove can make due with a CFM of 300 to 450, while a gas range or cooktop will need about 600 – 1200 CFM.

Next, consider the sound. A kitchen fan that is loud is often used less. Fan sound output is measured in sones. A sone is an internationally recognized measure of loudness as perceived by someone with normal hearing. Some manufacturers will use the more traditions decibel unit of measure. The typical fan has a range of three to six settings. Consider keeping the fan on the low setting (around 3 sones – about the sound of a refrigerator running) and ramp up to the highest setting (about 7 sones – the level of traffic noise) only for short periods during intense cooking.  The best bet is to turn on the fan and stand next to it in the store, before you buy, to get a real-time feel for the sound level.

Mounting level and capture area are two more specifications to consider when purchasing a fan. The standard height of the hood is between 30 and 36 inches above the cooktop. Some under cabinet - microwave hood combinations are installed at a lower height. This can affect your kitchen design. The farther the fan is from the cooktop, the less venting power it will have. Make sure to take this into consideration when planning your design and purchasing a kitchen hood.

Also, the capture area of the fan is important. In a range installation, the hood should fit exactly over the stove's surface. If you are installing a hood fan over an island cooktop, it should extend to be slightly wider than the cooking surface to be most efficient.

Next Consider Aesthetics

Once you have determined that the kitchen fan is appropriate to do the job, then consider options and aesthetics. Many kitchen hood manufacturers offer products that go beyond simply removing contaminants. A range of controls are available including electronic variable speed timers, humidistats, and dual fan light and/or fan-heater combinations. These can add another layer of functionality to the hood.

Range hoods and enclosures are available in a variety of styles suitable for any design. If you are working with a designer or design-build contractor, they can help you to choose the perfect enclosure. Often, manufacturers will offer the internal components as a kit that can then be fit into the enclosure of your choice. The exhaust fans can be located in the hood itself, or remotely using an inline, wall or roof mounted fan. These models can be housed in almost any enclosure.

Even with the same specs, actual performance can vary greatly between manufacturers. The Home Ventilation Institute (HVI) offers product certification that can help assure that any product with their seal of approval meets industry-specific standards, performs as promised and when installed properly appropriate ventilation will achieve maximum indoor air quality. When doing your research check to see if the hood you are considering has HVI certification.

Choosing the right kitchen hood might not be the sexiest decision you make when remodeling your kitchen, but it may in fact, be one of the most important. Read the specs, check for HVI certification and talk to a designer at our Tuscaloosa showroom or one of our design-build contractors. They can help you understand your choices so you can choose the perfect kitchen hood to meet your families needs.

About Toulmin Kitchen & Bath Design - We're West Alabama's award-winning, premier kitchen and bath showroom. We're experts who are known for a design-build process that makes the construction process stress-free. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a design consultation.