Okay, so if you've been following along...I mentioned that one of the most overlooked items in kitchen design is often lighting, the second, I think, is ventilation.
There are a few goals of good ventilation: Proper ventilation covers the entire width of the cooking surface, removes the smoke and steam efficiently and provides good lighting for the pots below. It also keeps that annoying smoke detector from going off!!
Seems simple enough, but it's a little more technical than that...
As you can see by this image, smoke and steam don't go straight up--they billow out. This is why it's so critical to have a ventilation system that both covers the area AND has adequate capabilities. ...and this is where it gets a little confusing. In order to pick the proper vent, you first need to determine what kind of cooktop you'll be using. For instance, will you be cooking with gas? Electric? If the answer is gas, what are the BTU's of each burner?
The general rule of thumb is to add up the BTU output of each burner and divide by 100. (A 5-burner gas cooktop with a total of 60,000 BTU's should require a 600 CFM motor)
That means that the hood can pull 600 cubic feet of air through its duct each minute, ensuring that the smoke and steam are cleared from your kitchen and purified in one way or another.
Over the years, I've heard many people tell me, "Well, we don't do a lot of frying"...that's not truly important. Even steam can be your enemy in the kitchen! I've heard that the amount of steam coming off a pot of spaghetti once a week for a year would equal over 5 gallons!! ...and the steam, if not contained, will travel throughout the kitchen and rest everywhere: on your cabinetry and walls (risking damage to your paint finish)
and attracting dust in the air (this is what truly creates that 'grimy' feeling)
The best way to use your hood is not simply for the lights; you need to turn the blower on too. ...and people: make it your religion!! Turning the hood on as soon as you turn on the burner gets the flow of air moving in the right direction BEFORE you begin cooking, so it doesn't have to work overtime to catch up to the cooking you've already begun!
Great, so we know we need a hood. But what kind?? Well, there are many options as far as styling is concerned, but my best wish is for something that is actually larger than the cooking surface and nearly as deep, too, so it can collect the steam as it expands beyond the pot. I also want it to be easy maintenance so I'll be more inclined to use it! Many hoods offer filters that have multiple layers of mesh (if you can see through it it's not doing as much as it could)
that pop out easily and go right into the dishwasher. (I can do that!!)
My hood even has a light that blinks to let me know when they need a bath!!
Wait! What about microwave hoods??? Yeah, I get asked that a LOT! Microwaves are necessary items in the kitchen, but my favorite place for them is NOT above the cooktop or range. Here's why: Most folks use microwaves to reheat leftovers...which come from the fridge. I'd rather place it adjacent to or nearby the refrigerator. Here's my logic: Busy families do a multitude of tasks each day within their kitchen. And many members of the family do them simultaneously. While one is emptying the dishwasher, another is prepping a meal, and yet another is heating something up. In order to eliminate cross traffic from these locations, I prefer to have the microwave away from the cooktop and the dishwasher typically on the opposite side of the sink & cooktop.
Think about it: if you're trying to cook and a burner is on, do you really want (or do you want someone in your family) to reach over that hot stove to retrieve something hot out of the microwave??
Additionally, microwave hoods are typically no deeper than 16-17"--so they're not even covering the front burners of your cooktop (which is why all that steam surfaces on the door of the microwave) Side note:
moisture is bad for electronics (which is why the keypads on those microwaves begin to fail after a bit)
...and lastly they usually have a CFM rating that is less than 300. Did I mention those filters?? Nevermind. It's clear I don't care for them. You do your homework and decide for yourself!
But let's say we agree and we need a hood, what kind?? Well, there are MANY options:
This one is very subtle looking. Nice for a clean look. When you pull that glass portion forward you're effectively covering the front burners and protecting the finish on the cabinetry above. When not in use it recesses back into the cabinet façade.
this one is beautiful. (the ventilation is in the form of a "power pack" self-contained unit that fits into the wooden hood we've designed for our client) It makes a statement. A striking focal point to the room. Oversized for the cooktop, but perfectly to scale with the space. Here's a picture of the "power pack" before it's installed:
...then there are some amazingly unique designs out there....
Just plain fun!!
That crystal hood actually has filters that go in the dishwasher, but also THE OUTSIDE goes in the dishwasher too!! (okay, so it's not oversized as I prefer, but they show it over an electric cooktop (which is typically a lot less output, and what a statement!!)
Downdrafts!! You missed Downdrafts!!! No I didn't, I saved them for last. You want your cooking in the island, but hate the obstruction of an island hood. Yes Virginia, you can do a downdraft. ...but please bear in mind a few things:
The ideal downdraft needs to come up OVER the height of your pots so that it can collect the smoke and steam off of the top. The filters should come out and go into the dishwasher like before, and the duct work must travel the shortest distance to get outside, with the least amount of turns and connections possible. (each elbow and every 10 feet of ducting reduces your CFMs.)
...oh, and you might want to cook more on the back burners than the front to help gravity along. Even the hood manufacturers admit that they are only 60% effective....but for some folks that's the sacrifice they are willing to make.
Whichever you decide, consider it carefully. The underdog of your kitchen will be your hood as it keeps you in the clear for years to come!