The modern kitchen is equipped with important pieces that are designed to accomplish a variety of tasks. There’s the stove whose key role is to cook, refrigerators to keep food cold and the knife whose key role is to chop. But, with all these tools in your kitchen, other types of equipment that are definitely a must-have in any kitchen setting are the kitchen exhaust systems.
Regardless of its design, a kitchen exhaust system is a key component in any kitchen setting as it allows contaminated air to escape through the ductwork to the exterior. This means that greases, odors, fumes and airborne combustion products can be sucked out with ease leaving the air inside clean and fresh.
For those homeowners that are enthusiast cookers, you know how airborne greases can damage your expensive kitchen equipment when it gets to contact. For the case of commercial kitchens, you are aware of the possibility of fire hazards when you don’t have the right kitchen exhaust systems. So, with the right exhaust system, you’re able to take care of fumes, greases, and gases from your kitchen to keep it clean.
Kitchen Exhaust Systems: An Ultimate Guide
But, What Exactly is a Kitchen Exhaust System?
Now, kitchen exhaust systems are often known by so many names. Some call them kitchen filters, vents, grates, louvers, hoods, and vent-a-hood among other names. Now, despite their many names, exhaust systems have three components that can easily define them.
The hood is considered the first line of capturing contaminants. It’s the noticeable part of the kitchen exhaust system that lies above your stove, fryer or cooktop. Its main purpose is to suck contaminated air then funnel it through the vents into the exhaust system where it’s ducted to the outside.
Standard exhaust hoods are made of stainless steel with a thickness of about 16 to 18 gauge to prevent gases, greases, and odors from escaping to the atmosphere.
Now, there are two types of exhaust hoods available in the market. One is the Type I hoods that are typically installed above the stove or fryer to suck smokes and greases. The second is the Type II hoods that suck out excess heat and moisture from your kitchen.
About the Type I hoods, there are two main categories involved which are the wall canopy hoods and the island exhaust hoods.
- Wall Canopy Hoods: Are Type I hoods that are usually mounted on one side of the wall just above the stovetop.
- Island Exhaust Hoods: These ones are also Type I hoods but are mounted on the top of the stove rather than being on the side.
The next component that comes after the hood is the ductwork. The ductwork is done on the inside of the hood where it vents the exhaust fumes to the outside of the building.
Note: How you connect the ductwork will greatly depend on the design of the building.
That’s the reason why some designs have vertical ductwork that goes straight to the rooftop while others have a varying degree of vertical and horizontal ductwork that twist and turn through the artic to the outside.
As we all know, grease, whether solid, vapor or liquid, is highly flammable. In fact, it has inherent chemistry that qualifies it as a hydrocarbon. Due to this reason, the ductwork you employ should have a high fire-resistant rating that can help to prevent fire accidents in case of an excessive buildup of grease.
The ductwork used can either have its own fire-resistant rating or you can use a metallic duct that’s field fabricated. A field fabricated ductwork usually consists of 16-gauge carbon steel that has been fabricated with certain fireproofing materials such as; Rockwool, ceramic fibers, calcium silicate, endothermic materials and intumescent.
Finally, the last component that makes up a kitchen exhaust system is the exhaust fan. Depending on the design, exhaust fans can be designed to rest at the top of the building, mounted on the side of the wall or can be placed inside a Pollution Control Unit (PCU) where it can be less susceptible to damage.
So, with the exhaust fan mounted on the outside, sucking out greases, odors, steams and kitchen contaminants are much easier as air has to pass through the ductwork, the air purifier and finally out of the building.
What are the Benefits of Kitchen Exhaust Systems?
Exhaust systems are known by so many names such as extractor fans, exhaust plumes, fume extractors, and electric chimneys among other names. They’re installed in kitchens to serve the purpose of removing greases, odors, smokes, and humidity from the interior atmosphere. If you’re wondering why exactly you need an exhaust fan in your kitchen, here are four main benefits of having one.
Controlling Humid Air
This is one of the key reasons why an exhaust system is installed in your kitchen. Steam and constant humidity are some of the key players that recuperate the growth of mold and mildew in your kitchen. Thankfully, an exhaust system in your kitchen, whether mounted on the ceiling or high on the wall, can help to pull out humid air and moisture from the kitchen atmosphere leaving it dry and unfavorable for mold to breed.
Regulating Steam and Odors
Regulating steam, odors, and fumes are one way of guaranteeing kitchen cleanliness to the maximum. If vaporized greases and steam from your food are not sucked efficiently, they can easily stick on the walls or on top of other kitchen appliances resulting in damages. So, to avoid these damages, a kitchen exhaust system is an absolute necessity.
Removal of Excess Heat
Although a kitchen exhaust system doesn’t actually cool your kitchen like how a fan or an air conditioner does, it does play a pivotal role in removing hot air and excess heat from the kitchen. Remember, hot air coming off your cooker and heater rises causing damages to your ceiling, overhead lights and walls. So, to prevent such damages, an exhaust system is mounted on the ceiling to take care of the excess heat by sucking it up through the ductwork to the outside.
Improves Your Property Resale Value
One of the major improvements in most real estate investments today is to have a modern attractive kitchen. One of the things that can affect the value of your property is a kitchen exhaust system. Having the right exhaust system can improve the value of your property while a poorly designed hood can only lower the quality.
Types of Kitchen Exhaust Systems
Kitchen exhaust hoods come in a variety of designs from simple exhaust fans to the complex ceiling and wall-mounted units. Whether it’s a residential home kitchen or a commercial enterprise, you will definitely require to set up a vent hood to suck out contaminated air from the kitchen to the outside atmosphere.
Now, if you’re less acquitted with exhaust systems, finding the right extractor fan that can take care of your venting requirements can be challenging. Thankfully, this section has taken care of that by keeping you informed with six of these common kitchen exhaust systems in the market.
Under-Cabinet Range Hoods
The under-cabinet exhaust system is typically found in almost any residential kitchen making it one of the most common types of air vents in the market. Just as its name suggests, this type of range hood is mounted just underneath your cabinet close enough to your cooker or heater.
What makes this type of exhaust system so popular is its immense versatility and easy installation that lets it mount in almost any kitchen space. However, though, you need to calculate the dimensions of the under-cabinet before you can select the right range hood to install.
Once you’ve mounted the hood, proper ductwork will need to be considered which will have to go through the cabinet to the attic and finally to the exterior wall.
Wall-Mounted Range Hood
Another exhaust system that’s quite common in most modern kitchens is the wall-mounted range hood. Unlike its previous under-cabinet counterpart, a wall-mounted model doesn’t mount beneath your cabinet but rather mounts on the wall meaning you have to remove one cabinet to create some room.
Sometimes, instead of removing a cabinet to pave way for this type of installation, you can simply install it during the initial construction project where it tends to fit and blend perfectly with the rest of the cabinetry around it.
Unlike the under-cabinet hood, this one is very easy to duct to the outside as you only need to create the ductwork vertically to the ceiling or through the wall to the exterior opening. Now, unlike most other range hoods, this one offers one of the best decorative elements thanks to its ability to add some extra looks to your kitchen.
Island/Ceiling Mounted Hoods
Sometimes your kitchen can be an island design where the cooker is located somewhere at the center of the kitchen. In such a design, you can’t expect an exhaust system to be mounted on the wall or under the cabinet as it won’t be effective.
Therefore, the only option is to mount the hood on the ceiling at the center of the kitchen just above the cooker. With these kinds of range hoods, the hood is designed to hang far down near the cooker and is supported by vertical ductwork that goes through the ceiling to the outside of the building.
For maximum efficiency, it’s highly recommended that you select a hood with a wider opening. However, Island mounted hoods are considered sleek, stylish and elegant though they tend to be a bit more expensive than the rest of the exhaust hood designs.
Downdraft Vent Hood
If your kitchen is lacking enough space at the top, you don’t have to worry as there’s a smart solution for that. The downdraft vent hood is one of the best solutions for such cases. Although it’s less common as compared to most of its counterparts, the downdraft vent hood works in a very interesting mechanism where it sucks odors, fumes and vaporized greases from your cooker through the vents just beside your cooker to the outside.
However, though, these range hoods are only usable if you have a cooker around. Besides that, they’re excellent space savers and are highly recommended for small kitchens thanks to their excellent ventilation capabilities and eye-catching designs.
Wall Ventilation Fans
Another excellent option that’s quite common in most residential kitchens is the wall ventilation fans. This type of exhaust system is quite helpful in a situation where the kitchen ventilation system is very poor. However, comparing it with its counterparts such as the wall-mounted, under-cabinet and island hoods, this type of ventilation system is not efficient enough to suck out odors and fumes.
Although they’re quite weak, these exhaust hoods are really helpful when it comes to removing odors and smokes. To guarantee their efficiency, you have to match the size of the exhaust hood with the stove to reduce the messy look on the surface and reduce any chances of fire accidents.
Ventilator Power Pack Hoods
In case you don’t like any of the above exhaust hoods, then you might like the flawless design of the ventilator power pack. Always open to ample design customizations, this type of vent hood can fit in almost any kitchen setup without having to interfere with the existing cabinetry.
When setting up this range hood, you don’t have to remove any cabinets to create space. Instead, all you need to do is to find the right space where you can mount this extractor hood. Although they’re compact, these hoods have very high CFM rating that makes them the best for busy kitchens
Types of Commercial Kitchen Exhaust Hood Systems
So, if you’re operating a commercial kitchen or a busy residential kitchen that holds large cooking projects, then perhaps you might need to consider mounting a commercial kitchen exhaust system to take care of the high cooling frequency.
Also known as Type I commercial hoods, these exhaust hoods are specifically designed to exhaust greases, smoke, odors, and oils from your kitchen. In addition to that, these mega hoods can remove heat and moisture from the interior atmosphere to reduce the risks of mold, mildew and bacterial contamination.
Their design comprises removable baffle filters that help to extra oils and greases through the ductwork to the outside to reduce any chances of fire hazards.
So, if your busy kitchen is calling for something more than just an ordinary range hood, here are three commercial-grade extractor hoods that might be of help.
Standard Design Commercial Grade Hoods
One of the smart commercial extractor hoods options in the market right now is the standard design hoods. Perfect for both commercial and residential use, these hoods are mounted just above the fryers, cookers or stoves to remove large amounts of greases, odors, moisture and steams to keep your kitchen atmosphere dry.
What makes them so special is the fact that they do all these without facing any mechanical damages. However, to maintain a perfect working order, you have to service them regularly by replacing the steel filters to improve efficiency.
In situations where you’re unable to vent contaminated air from your kitchen to the outside, a ventless exhaust hood might seem to suit the situation. These hoods are designed to suck out greases, vapors, odors, smokes, and steam from your kitchen and instead recycle clean fresh air back to your kitchen.
For maximum efficiency, these hoods are fitted with three steel filters that are assigned to perform a particular task. The first two filters filter out greases and ash while the third filter screens out smokes, vapors and other small contaminants from your kitchen.
Finally, we have the exhaust-only hoods. Unlike other hoods, these ones are quite different in terms of their operation. Since they don’t have any filters, they work in a straightforward form where they suck greases, odors, steams, and vapor from your kitchen at high CFM to exhaust them directly to the outside.
How do you Install a Kitchen Exhaust System?
As we’ve already mentioned, a kitchen exhaust system is an effective way of dealing with stubborn greases, vapor, odors and small debris from your busy kitchen. Now, following major improvements in most housing projects, contractors are designing new housing property with exhaust systems already pre-installed during construction.
Sadly, not all houses have extractor hoods already built on them. And because you’ll require an exhaust hood in your kitchen, you’ll inevitably need to have one. So, if you’re the one we’re talking to, here’s a simple step-by-step procedure on how you can install a solid kitchen exhaust system.
- Step 1. Do Planning:
Before you commence the process of installing an exhaust system, you first need to do some calculations regarding the ceiling exhaust hole you’ll need to cut. You also need to consider the length of the piping and the type of range hood you’ll need to mount.
Make sure the hood you select is wide enough to cover the entire stovetop. Also, ensure that the type of exhaust hood you select has the right CFM rating to allow the unit to suck as much air contaminants as possible.
- Step 2. Readying the Vent:
Once you’ve figured out everything, the next step is to mark the walls and the ceiling where you’re going to mount the hood and the ductwork. To do this, use the instructions in your product manual to determine where exactly you’re going to mark spots on the wall. Using a drill, cut the holes gently. To ensure that you don’t mark the holes wrongly, you can consider using a water level just to make sure the holes are as straight as possible.
- Step 3.Check for Obstacles:
Sometimes the drilling process can be a smooth one and other times, it can be quite tough. What do we mean by tough? Supposing you come across obstacles such as piping and wiring, then you have to figure out a way of working around them.
- Step 4. Drill the Holes:
The drilling process will heavily depend on where you’re mounting the exhaust hood. If the hood is a wall-mounted model, you’ll have to drill the holes for the screws on the wall. On the other hand, if the hood is an under-cabinet, then you’ll have to drill the holes beneath the existing cabinetry. When you’re done, drill one more hole for the wiring.
- Step 5. Back to the Ceiling Hole:
Once you drill the wall mounting or under-cabinet holes, locate a spot on the ceiling just above the cooktop (where you’ll fit the exhaust hood) and drill a hole according to your intended ductwork.
- Step 6. Connect the Ductwork:
Now, inside the attic, connect every part of the ductwork together carefully using duct tape. This will help to prevent the leakage of any contaminated air from your kitchen to the attic just above.
- Step 7. Cut an Exhaust Wall:
While still on the attic, select a spot where you’ll drill the exhaust hole. Use a cordless drill to drill the hole then use a vent cap to seal the exterior wall. Use silicone to seal any seams between the cap and the wall. Also, use the duct tape to seal any seams on the curved areas of the ducting pipe.
- Step 8. Connect the Wires:
Once you’re through with the ductwork, the next step is to do the wiring. Here, you only need to run the cable from the wall to the inside of the hood where you’ll connect the fan.
Note: from this point, you have to observe extreme care as any wiring issues can damage your exhaust hood or cause an electrical fire hazard. Therefore, it’s okay if you can contact an electrician to do the wring for you.
- Step 9. Reattach the Filters and the Front Grille:
So, once you’ve completed the entire project, reattach the filters back on and attach the front grille. Turn the main power on and switch on the fan to test its performance.
As you can see, having the right exhaust system in your kitchen is key if you’re really looking to get rid of odors, smokes, vapor, and greases. Whether it’s intended for commercial or for residential use, understanding the various aspects of these ventilation hoods is quite critical as your kitchen can never be at its best without them.
Although most people confess loving their decorative characteristics, exhaust hoods have a lot under their belt. Therefore, to ensure that they perform at their very best, it’s imperative that you pay special attention to their design mechanism to keep your facility both safe and clean.