If you’re in the market for a new hood for your kitchen, then you’ll want to devote careful consideration to the noise level. An excessively loud hood can be irritating – and, since you’ll be using it on a regular basis, it might over time contribute to hearing loss. The problem becomes even worse if you’re in the habit of listening to the radio (or watching television) as you cook – because you’ll need to turn the volume up in order to hear it over the cooker – raising the overall noise still further.
Fortunately it is possible to select a cooker hood that isn’t intrusive or distracting when in use.
The noise level of a cooker hood, as with the noise level of all things, is measured in dbA (‘a-weighted’ decibels). What this figure means is well beyond the scope of this article, but the important thing is that it is not a linear scale; a small change in dbA level translates into larger changes in perceived volume, with the latter doubling every ten-decibels.
If you want a thought-experiment to illustrate this, then consider a pneumatic drill, which will create a noise of around 100 dbA. If the average cooker hood puts out around 50dbA, then we can see that 100dbA is not twice as loud as 50. Rather, it is 2^(50/10), or thirty-two times as loud. If you were to get thirty-two cooker hoods and switch them on, they would produce the same volume of noise as a pneumatic drill.
So why is this important? It shows that small increments in dbA will make big differences in volume. If you’re torn between a cooker hood that generates 60dbA and one that generates 50dbA, you should always bear in mind that the former is twice as loud as the latter.
Bear in mind however, that dbA ratings are assigned to cooker hoods based on the product’s maximum setting. That means that a hood with a 70+ dbA rating would be much quieter in practice -unless you crank the hood up to full power.
Regardless of how much you do or don’t value peace and quiet in your home, when shopping, don’t be taken in by any manufacturer claims about quietness – the dbA rating does not lie!
This chart from Franke can help you learn more about cooker hood noise levels:
How can I reduce the noise of my cooker hood?
If you’ve noticed that your cooker hood has gotten excessively loud, then it might be that you’re running it too hard. This in turn might be because of the loss of suction which comes about from not cleaning the filter. Unfortunately, most people rarely – if ever – bother to change their filter, which places added strain onto the fan. Depending on the sort of hood you have installed, you’ll be able to either replace your filter, or take it out and clean it manually. Doing so can restore much of the hood’s suction, and thereby allow you to use lower, quieter settings.
You should also be aware of the effect that ducting can have on noise. Narrow ducting will cause greater levels of pressure, and may rattle as air flows through it. Ideally, you should be aiming for 6” ducting that’s smooth and rigid. This will help to reduce rattle, and extend the lifespan of the ducting.
You might also make a few changes to the way in which you use your cooker. Obviously, lower-intensity fan settings will produce less noise. For meals requiring a lot of extraction, you might therefore turn your fan on as early as possible in order to ensure that any smoke is dealt with efficiently. You might even avoid high-intensity cooking altogether. While a gently-simmering ragu might produce a waft of steam for hours on end, a sizzling steak will produce enormous amounts of smoke in just a few minutes. If you want to cook the latter properly, you’ll need more power to your fan – and that will inevitably mean more noise.
Looking for a new cooker hood?
Here’s our pick of some of our quietest models…
CDA CTE6SS 60cm Telescopic Cooker Hood Extractor Fan in Stainless Steel (48dB on lowest setting)
CDA EVP61SS 60cm Linear Touch Control Cooker Hood in Stainless Steel (45dB on lowest setting)
CDA ECP72BL 70cm Curved Glass Cooker Hood Extractor Fan in Black (50dB on lowest setting)
Image credit: flickr.com/photos/bods/4631796006