What Type of Cooker Hood Do You Need?
Depending on your culinary prowess, cooking on a hob can produce a host of tantalising (or not so tantalising) aromas. What you can smell are tiny particles of your food, made airborne by heat. The bad news is that these particles will happily spread throughout your home and condense, causing unwelcome odours to seep into cushions, and moisture to work its way into walls and porous furniture.
A cooker hood helps solve this problem. They’ll suck up that smoke and airborne grease and ensure your kitchen is clean-smelling and pleasant to cook in.
Cooker hoods come in a range of different shapes, styles and sizes, suited to all budgets, situations and tastes. To the uninitiated, the choice on offer can be bewildering.
Types of Cooker Hoods
Extraction Cooker Hoods
Extraction cooker hoods - also known as ducted cooker hoods - are those which suck up air and release it outside. They thereby clear the kitchen of the smoke, steam and grease that cooking produces.
Of course, in order to do this, extraction hoods require an opening to the exterior of the building. This comes in the form of ducting run – a pipe through which vented air will travel before being vented outdoors. The thickness of this pipe is important; wider ducting runs will be able to transport a greater volume of air before the pressure within builds to unacceptable levels. More powerful hoods will require thicker ducting; a 150mm-wide tube is often cited as the minimum requirement.
Other factors will play a role in determining the efficiency of a pipe. Shorter ducting with fewer bends will be more efficient than long ducting with many bends. Where possible, opt for inflexible ducting – this will offer smoother airflow, and therefore a more efficient hood.
Recirculation Cooker Hoods
Rather than removing air from the kitchen and sending it outside, a recirculation hood will purify the air and (you’ve guessed it) recirculate it back into the kitchen.
This has a few advantages. A recirculation hood will not require a ducting run, and can be installed without making alterations to the wall behind.
There are also some disadvantages to recirculation cooker hoods.
A recirculation hood requires charcoal recirculation filters to remove airborne carbon. These filters are what prevent smoke from being circulated around the kitchen. Over time carbon will accumulate on the filter, eventually rendering it ineffective. A charcoal filter will therefore need to be replaced regularly (if you do a lot of high-heat cooking on the hob, once a month is about right). You can view our replacement charcoal filters here.
Can recirculation cooker hoods remove water vapour?
While smoke particles are a few microns wide, water molecules are many thousands of times smaller than that. A recirculation hood is therefore unable to filter water vapour. Consequently, it is unable to remove steam from your kitchen.
Which is Better: Ducted or Recirculation Cooker Hoods?
In terms of effectiveness, ducted cooker hoods undoubtedly come out on top. Ducted hoods are not suitable for all kitchens, however, and installation can be costly (particularly if an opening needs creating).
Recirculation hoods are a more practical solution for many homeowners. They are quicker and cheaper to install, and can be installed anywhere.
The best type of cooker hood for you really comes down to how your kitchen is setup, and what you can afford. In many cases your choice will be dictated by the type of hood that’s currently in place.
If you have the means to install a ducted hood, then do. If not, choose a recirculation hood. The most important thing is that you have some form of cooker ventilation.
Styles of Cooker Hoods
Chimney Cooker Hoods
A chimney cooker hood consists of a wide funnel which tapers off into a chimney. This chimney then extends upwards into the ceiling, mimicking a real chimney. It’s in this chimney that the ducting is stored. Of course, the ducting within this chimney does not have to go into the ceiling; it can just as easily disappear into a hole in the wall, disguised by the shape of the chimney.
Canopy Cooker Hoods
Canopy hoods are designed to form part of a structure which overhangs the hob. The main body of the hood itself can then be disguised by a cupboard, or similar object. This allows you to lessen the visual impact a hood might have on your kitchen. If you have an older kitchen with a chimney above the stove, you may be able to fit the hood into its base, and run ducting all the way to the roof.
Ceiling Cooker Hoods
Ceiling hoods, as you might expect, are built directly into the kitchen’s ceiling. They have an obvious advantage – they consume far less space than other forms of cooker hood. That said, they also require more extensive modification to a kitchen – and are therefore mostly restricted to new builds and extensive redesigns.
Some designs of ceiling hood are made to mimic a light fitting – they’ll hang downwards, and catch smoke and steam on its way up from the hob. Some are even retractable, and will descend mechanically at the flick of a switch.
Island Cooker Hoods
If a hob is built into an island unit in the centre of a kitchen, rather than adjacent to a wall, then a different sort of hood will be required – one which sprouts downwards from the ceiling, independent of the kitchen’s walls. This sort of hood is called, imaginatively enough, an island hood. Large and often imposing, an island hood will make an eye-catching centrepiece for any kitchen. For those who prefer something a little more discreet, a ceiling hood might be the better option.
Integrated Cooker Hoods
Integrated hoods are built into a cabinet above the hob. They’re designed to blend seamlessly into the rest of the kitchen, and usually come with a door that can be opened upwards whenever the hood is required. They’re distinct from canopy hoods in that they are made to look like a kitchen cupboard, rather than sitting just underneath (and within) one.
Integrated hoods are ideal for smaller kitchens. Rather than dominating the room, as other types of hood tend to do, an integrated hood will blend seamlessly into the surrounding décor.
Instead of sucking air upwards, a downdraft extractor will channel it down behind the hob. This frees up the space overhead for cupboards, windows, and decorative items.
Downdraft extractors are typically formed of a panel at the rear of the hob, just tall enough to peer over the lip of your pots and pans. Some can be concealed in a worksurface, and brought up when needed, in much the same way that a retractable ceiling hood might descend.
They make an excellent alternative to an island hood, as they remove the need for a large structure that would otherwise block the view in the centre of the room. They also look the part when they’re in action – the smoke is sucked away into a thin slot, creating an interesting reverse waterfall effect.
Wide selection of cooker hoods available with free & fast delivery when you buy online today at Ship It Appliances. Don’t miss out!
What Size Cooker Hood Do I Need?
Your hood will need to be at least as wide as your hob in order to catch all of the air drifting upwards from your cooking. But the cooking doesn’t always end at the edge of the hob; larger pans might extend a little farther, and sometimes you might place steaming saucepans to one side. What’s more, hot air doesn’t move directly upwards – rather, it’s buffeted from side to side throughout its trajectory.
As is so often the case, you’ll want a little bit of breathing room. Opt for a hood that’s a little bit wider than your hob. So, for an 800mm-wide hob, you might go for a metre-wide hood.
Things are complicated further when we consider that certain types of hob require a wider hood than others. In the case of ‘cold’ hobs, which generate heat inside the pan through induction, vapours are dispersed over a wider area, and so a wider hood is often called for. By contrast, ‘hot’ hobs, like gas hobs, generate heat in a much smaller area, and so can get by with a slightly smaller hood.
Of course, you need to consider aesthetics, too. If you feel that a larger or smaller hood would look better in your kitchen, then go for one – it’s your kitchen, after all. That said if you want to avoid having to replace the entire thing, or endure a roomful of smoke every time you fry a steak, it’s wise to plan ahead – don’t allow the look of the hood to impact its functionality.
How High Should the Cooker Hood Be from the Hob?
You also need to consider the height of the hood. This is one area where we can make quite specific recommendations.
For an electric hob, the hood should be at least 650mm above the hob; for a gas hob, this number rises to 750mm.
When considering height, you should be sure to measure from the hob to your ceiling to find out whether your new hood can fit in the gap. While many hoods are height-adjustable, the range of adjustment is usually quite limited, so make sure you get it right at the planning stage.
Calculating Cooker Hood Airflow
The airflow of a cooker hood - or its extraction capacity - tells you how much air it will extract per hour.
Why is extraction capacity important?
Because the larger your kitchen, the higher the airflow you will need in order for the cooker hood to operate effectively.
Ducting also plays a part here. Ducting that is longer or has more bends than standard will affect the performance of a cooker hood. A higher extraction capacity can help counteract this.
To work out the airflow of the kitchen extractor fan required, take the volume and multiply it by 10. This is so all the air in the room is replaced 10 times per hour. This means if your kitchen has a volume of 30m then the air flow needed for the room will be 300 m/h. Using these calculations you can ensure you install the best and most efficient extractor fan possible.
Choosing a Quiet Cooker Hood
Cooker hoods are noisy - there’s no escaping that - however some hoods make more noise than others.
The higher the extraction rate, the noisier your cooker hood will be. This is an important consideration for many households because the noise from a cooker hood can be quite intrusive. If this is a major concern, you may want to invest in a cooker hood with a lower extraction rate.
Another thing to look for is the hood’s decibel rating. Many cooker hoods have noise levels higher than 65dB. If noise is a concern, we recommend choosing a hood with a noise level of 55 decibels or less,
Another useful tip is to use your cooker hood on the lowest setting and start running it before you begin cooking (needless to say, higher settings mean more noise), and leave it on for 10 minutes or so after you’ve finished. This will mean you can whip up a meal without having to shout over an extractor fan.
Other Useful Cooker Hood Features
While all cooker hoods are designed to offer effective ventilation for your home, some are equipped with additional features that you might find useful.
24 hour Extraction
24 hour extraction ensures your cooker hood runs every few hours throughout the day, to eliminate any residual odours. If you have pets or people in your household smoke, this feature is particularly beneficial.
On some cooker hoods this feature is called ‘Clean Air’.
Auto Shut Off
Auto shut off keeps the hood running for a few minutes after you’ve turned it off; it will then switch itself off fully.
Perimeter extraction is a ventilation method that pushes air through small crevices in the cooker hood. It is considered to be more effective than other types of extraction.
Filter Warning Light
It is important that you clean or replace your cooker hood’s filters regularly, to keep the appliance working effectively. A filter warning light tells you when the filters are getting too dirty, so you know when they’re in need of maintenance.
Some cooker hoods come with a boost function, which allows you to briefly increase its extraction power. This is especially useful when cooking particularly smoky or pungent dishes.
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