Cooker Hoods Explained

Cooker hood

Cooker hoods are designed to remove smoke, smells and airborne grease from your kitchen to keep it fresh. They all have different features; some are more efficient and certain ones will also remove steam, so it’s important you make the right choice. Here’s how.

Choosing the Most Appropriate Type

If you’re designing a new kitchen, you can adapt your design to accommodate a particular type of cooker hood. Otherwise, for an existing kitchen, the choice may depend on the current layout.

The main styles are:

  • Visor — A traditional design that takes up little space and is often the cheapest and most basic
  • Canopy — Generally concealed beneath an overhead cupboard or in a canopy housing and so is hardly noticeable
  • Chimney — Fits against a wall and has a large canopy and chimney above so it’s generally installed as a feature but requires plenty of space. Some newer models have a vertical format that angles out from the wall and so protrudes less.
  • Integrated — Concealed behind a cupboard door and so is completely unobtrusive and pulled out to activate.
  • Island — Applies when you have a cooking island and is attached to the ceiling directly above it. It creates a stylish feature but tends to be the most expensive.
  • Ceiling — Fits flush to the ceiling and so is unobtrusive but requires a remote control to operate.
  • Telescopic — Similar to a visor hood but is extended when in use and has a flat profile at other times.
  • Downdraft — Hidden in the worktop when not in use and rises when needed with air channelled down towards it.

The hood you choose should generally be as wide as your hob and can be wider if you have the space available. It should be positioned about 75 cm above the hob although ceiling-mounted ones will inevitably be higher.

Where the Air Goes — Extracted or Recycled

All cooker hoods work in a similar manner up to a point, in that a fan draws air into the hood and then passes it through a filter that traps the grease. However, extracting hoods remove the air outside through ducts while recycling hoods pass it through a charcoal filter to absorb the cooking smells before re-introducing the air into the kitchen.

Recycling hoods are therefore easiest to install but have a reduced extraction rate due to the level of processing. Extracting hoods are most suitable for a cooker installed against an external wall since the duct can go straight out. For island and ceiling hoods, the ducting has to run in the direction of the joists while ducting is generally through the floor for downdraft hoods, which makes installation more complex.

When buying an extracting hood, you will need to also buy the necessary ducting. However, this type has the added benefit of also removing steam and so reduces the level of condensation in your kitchen.

Getting the Performance Required

Since the purpose of the cooker hood is to remove smoke and smells, you want one that will do this efficiently. The recommendation is that a cooker hood should be capable of changing the air in a kitchen about ten times an hour.

To determine the required extraction rate for your kitchen, calculate the room’s volume (height x width x depth) in cubic metres and multiply by ten. Compare this to the published extraction rate for each cooker hood and choose one with at least this rate. For island and ceiling cooker hoods, go for a higher rate (at least 800 cubic metres per hour) since the hood will be positioned further away from the hob.

If your chosen cooker hood can either recycle the air or duct it out, you should normally add 30% to the required extraction rate for recycling. Similarly, extraction may be reduced for a ducted hood if the ducting is long and has several bends.

Cooker hoods are generally relatively quiet in operation but some are noisier than others, typically the larger and more powerful ones. Check the noise rating if this is important and also check the energy efficiency rating if you’re looking for cheap operation.

Other Things to Consider

Though most cooker hoods have similarities and the main considerations are price, performance, size and type, they do have other features that may affect your decision:

  • Most hoods have one or more lights to illuminate the hob and you may want LED versions for energy efficiency.
  • Consider the accessibility and simplicity of the controls and if a remote is provided or necessary to make operation easier.
  • Choose a style that fits in with your kitchen or get a concealed version.
  • Determine if the grease filter is easy to remove and clean, and if replaceable filters are needed and their cost.
  • If you regularly cook smelly food, consider a cooker hood with a high-power boost option for quick removal.
  • For recycling hoods, check the costs and frequency of replacement for the charcoal filters.

Aside from this, your budget will be an obvious factor and you’ll generally be swayed towards a model that will look really nice in your kitchen. However, make sure it will do the job.