Typical Cooker Hood

Cooker hoods can be unobtrusively recessed above the range or designed as an eye-catching focal point in the kitchen. Whatever their shape and size, they all play a vital role, acting as a filter for odors, grease, and steam and creating a healthy and hygienic environment in the kitchen.

range hood
range hood

A typical cooker hood is either vented, extracting fumes and smells to the outside, or recirculating, filtering air, and returning it into the room. Each type has its advantages and drawbacks, and there are specific situations where one or the other type is the only practical option.  


Common Cooker Hoods On The Market

Cooker hoods are also known as range hoods in the US and called kitchen hoods or extractor hoods – the terms are interchangeable. There is a wide variety, some designed for wall mounting, others as extractors over island hobs.

The most popular include:

Integrated range hoods are built into the cabinet above the range. They are only visible when pulled out over the stove when needed. An integrated hood perfectly serves the purpose perfectly in a kitchen with limited space or where a minimalist, uncluttered look is desired.

Canopy hoods, also known as visor hoods, are one of the most popular cooker hoods and are simple but effective extractors. Built under a kitchen unit, they are also visually unobtrusive but can also be installed as a freestanding unit in materials such as stainless steel and glass to form a centerpiece in the kitchen.  

Chimney cooker hoods are wall-mounted extractors in which the canopy is connected to a vertical chimney piece that draws the exhaust gasses up from the cooker and either vents them outside or filters and recirculates them.

Island cooker hoods are designed to draw steam and fumes from island hobs and take several forms:

  • Ceiling extractors, as the name suggests, are incorporated into the ceiling directly above the hob and are most effective in kitchens with low ceilings.
  • Chimney island extractors, with the metal chimney extending from the canopy up to the ceiling and possibly connected to a vent to the outside
  • Suspended island canopies, hanging over the cooker, and recirculating the exhaust air back into the kitchen once filtered.          


Because in most American kitchens, the range, or hob, is built into a work surface against a wall, rather than the less common island hob, the integrated canopy and chimney hoods are the most common.


Very few new kitchens are without a cooker hood, as homeowners have realized how important they are in preventing fumes and grease, making the atmosphere in the home not only unpleasant but unhealthy.

Are All Range Hoods Recirculating?

range hood
range hood

As we mentioned in the introduction, some hoods are unvented or recirculating, while others are vented or ducted, extracting air from the kitchen to the outdoors. We’ll examine these in detail.

Advantages Of Recirculating Cooker Hoods

  1. They are easier to install, as they can simply be mounted above the cooker with no ducting required and no knocking through walls.
  2. Recirculating hoods are generally less expensive to purchase and certainly cheaper to install.

If the kitchen has no external walls, as, for example, in a condominium,  and where regulations may not allow kitchen fumes to be vented, recirculating hoods still allow for grease and fumes to be filtered out.   


Disadvantages Of Recirculating Cooker Hoods

  1. Recirculating or unvented cooker hoods are nowhere near as effective as vented hoods. While the air is filtered through charcoal filters and grease filters, not all the impurities are removed, so some smells and moisture are returned to the kitchen.
  2. Although they are cheaper initially, unvented cooker hoods may end up costing more than vented hoods because the filters need to be replaced regularly, depending on the amount of cooking that’s done and the type of cooking.
  3. Unvented hoods tend to be noisier, as the fan needs to pump the air through the filters instead of the easier task of extracting it to the outdoors.

Advantages Of Vented Hoods  

  1. Because the greasy, steamy, and smelly kitchen air is totally removed and expelled to the outside, vented cooker hoods are much more efficient and effective, which is why they are the preferred choice in American homes as well as in large commercial kitchens.
  2. Maintenance of ducted or vented cooker hoods is a lot easier and less expensive, as there are no filters that need to be replaced.


Disadvantages Of Vented Hoods

  1. Installation of vented cooker hoods involves mounting the ducting, leading it to a suitable position, and breaking through an exterior wall. So, it’s more costly, complicated, and bulkier than an unvented extractor.
  2. Care must be taken to prevent wind from blowing through the vent, preventing the kitchen air from being expelled and getting “blowback.”


What To Do If The Range Hood Does Not Draw Air

Whether you have a vented or unvented cooker hood, there are only two reasons why it doesn’t draw air from the kitchen into the hood:

  • The filters in a recirculating hood need to be removed regularly and cleaned in the case of aluminum mesh or steel filters and replaced in the case of charcoal filters. If these filters are allowed to get clogged up, they are no longer able to function, and air cannot pass through them.
  • With both a vented and unvented system, the other reason for no air being drawn through is the failure of the fan. There may be an electrical fault, or the motor may have seized, but if you don’t hear it, that needs to be investigated and repaired.
  • In a vented cooker system, if the duct is too long with too many elbows between the cooker and outdoors, it will reduce the airflow to the point where it is ineffective. You’ll need to check the design in this case and make the necessary changes.


Installing Range Hood Vents – Skills And Precautions

Installing a vented range hood and positioning the ducts and vents requires some skill, but more importantly, it needs some preventive planning.


Ensure You Have Planning Permission

You may require a permit to install a vent that draws kitchen fumes outdoors. This is particularly the case in high-density areas. The pollution levels would be unbearable if all the kitchens vented to the outdoors.


Make Sure Your Design Is Going To Work

Manufacturers recommend that the total length of ducting should be at most twelve feet if you want the hood to work efficiently. The ideal width of the ducting is 6 inches, but 5 inches will also work. Avoid more than two or three elbows in the venting and keep them 18 inches apart to ensure a good airflow.  


Be Sure Not To Cut More Than A Hole In The Wall

Be very careful when installing a vent in the outer wall that will not hit a stud or cut through wiring or water supply, which will result in a costly repair.


The Results Of Inward Vs. Outward Ventilation

We are confident that outward or ducted ventilation is the better way to remove steam, smells, and grease from the air in your kitchen. Simply put, removing the air will always be more effective than filtering and recirculating it.


Inward ventilation or recirculation cooker hoods are initially cheaper. In some cases, as we’ve mentioned, they are the only permitted system, so they certainly have their place. But be prepared to have a reduced level, but not elimination, of the pollution in the kitchen.  


Also, be aware that inward ventilation hoods require more maintenance, are noisier, and generally are fine in small kitchens but cannot handle the extraction of fumes in larger and busier kitchens.  



Conclusion And Recommendation

If you have the budget, the planning permission, and access to an exterior wall, a vented cooker hood is, without question, the better option. If not, install a recirculating cooker hood because it’s a better option than not having an extractor. It will make your kitchen a much healthier place to work, eat and entertain.  


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