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For those who love to cook, the kitchen is an all-important part of the home and a well-chosen range hood helps in making the gourmand experience a perfect one.
Range hoods are as important as the cooking range itself, as it keeps the kitchen free from unpleasant odors, smoke, grease, moisture, heat and dirt. It also keeps furnishings and walls in good condition and ensure proper ventilation. Options vary from simple, traditional units to more complex systems with all the bells and whistles.
Choosing your range hood
Consider how much and what kind of cooking is going to happen in the kitchen to fully utilize what you would be buying. If small, regular meals are cooked, a fuss-free, cabinet mounted range hood would do nicely. But if a lot of activity is expected, a high-end, heavy duty range hood would take care of you better.
The amount of available space in the kitchen and over the range would also have great bearing. Choosing the right size would ensure that the unit will work efficiently so take careful measurements of the cooking range and how much space there is for mounting. For maximum efficiency, the range hood should measure at least as wide as your range and be 3 inches longer on both sides.
Personal style can also be taken into account as there are a lot of options in the market today. Glass, stainless steel or even those with special paneling to match kitchen cupboards are all available to enhance the kitchen experience.
Exhaust is a primary concern as the proper range hood should suction all the smoke, steam and odor instantly away from the kitchen. There are three options available for this: vented, re-circulated and convertible.
Vented or ducted range hoods suction air out the home, ensuring all irritants are completely gone. This type can even draw mildew outside, highly improving the quality of air you breathe indoors. This so far, is the best recommendation as it removes everything it’s supposed to. However, space for the duct is needed as well as an open area for the exhaust outside.
The non-vented, duct-free or recirculating range hood works with filters to trap irritants as air is sucked in and filtered air flows back. No ducting is required but typical charcoal filters are non-washable and have to be changed and cleaned regularly for maximum efficiency. This type is normally used at apartment blocks, small kitchens or homes with no space for venting exhaust outdoors.
Convertible range hoods that can switch from ducted to non-ducted are also available.
Range hood types
With kitchen needs and spatial considerations, there’s bound to be one that would suit you perfectly. Undercabinet hoods are mounted under cabinets over the kitchen range. Chimney hoods come with a flue mounted on the wall above the kitchen range and can either be ducted or non-ducted. Pro Hoods look like undercabinet hoods but are bigger, sleeker and more powerful. Island hoods are designed to hang from the ceiling for rangetop islands.
The more compact types are downdraft or updraft hoods, typical hidden hoods that can pop up when needed to pull irritants horizontally across the kitchen range. This is a good idea for small kitchens and another option for island cooktops if hanging a hood from the ceiling is not your style. However, these are not designed to be installed behind ovens as you need a certain distance between units for proper function. Power packs, slide-outs or inserts are also built to be hidden in the cabinets above the range and come with many options that could work with what cabinets you have.
Range hood power
Measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute), the power of the range hood determines how much air is being removed from the kitchen. For heavy cooking with a lot of smoke or strong aromas, a range hood with 350 CFM would do a good job. Try to find a range hood that can offer multiple speeds with the lowest number being the normal operating speed, to maximize cost and efficiency.
Where you live and what you prefer would have you think of the level of noise coming from your range hood. Choosing rigid or semi-rigid ducting reduces noise especially if in an apartment building.
Also, the higher a range hood’s CFM, the louder it normally would be. The sound it makes is measured in “sone” and one sone is about as loud as a refrigerator humming. Bear in mind though that a range hood exhaust fan with low sone levels has a higher quality fan than one that has a higher sone.
There are range hoods in the market that offer high suction at low operational noise.
Ducted hoods use aluminum filters for grease before the smoke and the smells are sucked outside. These should be washed regularly especially if the cuisine is heavy on oil. Non-duct hoods use charcoal filters that need to be replaced every so often, as they are non-washable. Some hoods come with indicator lights to let you know that filters need to be maintained.
Consider other peripheral functions that may come in handy for you and your lifestyle. Auto-shutoff is a handy pre-set to shut off the fan after a timer goes off. Those equipped with automatic heat sensors can turn itself on or adjust the blower to a higher speed when it detects a higher temperature. Food, quality lighting is also important so choose the best that can double the lighting of your cooking area. Options include the number of lights (one to four lights), type of bulb (incandescent, fluorescent, halogen or LED) and available level settings. Check if all exposed surfaces are easy to keep clean and maintain. A remote control for convenience would alsp be a useful feature!
In a nutshell, if you make regular use of your kitchen, a range hood is a good investment for the utmost culinary experience. Choosing the right one depends on a careful study of your needs, your budget and your space to ensure that you don’t waste your resources.
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