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Preliminary Kitchen Ventilation Investigation

by Chad Ludeman on July 14, 2008 · 8 comments

in Building Science,Design,HVAC,kitchen

The task of figuring out exactly what we are going to do for kitchen ventilation has been on the back burner for some time. As ground breaking is getting closer, this needs to be nailed down. Here are our criteria for the kitchen or cooktop ventilation:

  • Exhaust flow rate that accomplishes 5 kitchen air changes per hour (LEED req) or 400-500 cfm.
  • Energy efficient operation
  • Quiet operation
  • Slim/modern design
  • Cost effective

Meeting all of these criteria on a budget is no easy task since most decent looking stainless steel range hoods range from $500 – $1,000 and tend to be ineffective and noisy. If we didn’t have the quiet criteria things would be a lot easier, but quiet has been on the list for some time in my head for a couple of reasons. For starters, a quiet range hood is perceived as a higher-end feature in a kitchen that the majority of developers ignore altogether. Secondly, I have observed many not using their range hoods at all. When asked why, they say that it is too loud and drowns out conversation during cooking or bothers others in a nearby room. What good is adequate ventilation built to LEED standards if people don’t use it due to the noise?

OK, back to our research. At first seach it was not clear what the alternatives were to the traditional designer range hood that would fit our modern aesthetic. Luckily I found an HVAC site with a thorough description of kitchen ventilation systems and all of the components that go into a quietly operating system.

After reviewing the site above it is clear that the components we need to meet all of our criteria are as follows:

  1. A built-in hood liner with washable grilles and sometimes lights
  2. ductwork
  3. An inline or roof mounted fan
  4. A backdraft damper to keep outside air leaking through the ductwork when not in operation
  5. A silencer to quiet the metal ductwork

This sounds like a complex and expensive system at first glance but it appears that if the components are chosen carefully, the total cost will run about $500. While not cheap, the quality and effectiveness will far surpass the standard range hoods on the market.

Dayus Ceiling Air Filter Grille ImageOne of the options I liked most at were their Dayus Filter Grilles that could be mounted flush with the ceiling above an island cooktop like we have. This would maintain an open ground floor with unobstructed views from the living room to the back doors for less than $60. This is a bargain compared to some of the hood liners that start at $500 and would be a prominent fixture on the ground floor.

Next time I’ll try to spec out the exact components and prices of each to be used in the 100K House.

If you enjoyed reading this post I can promise you'll love our new writing over at Postgreen Homes. Yeah, we know that's the same thing your favorite band said and their new album is nowhere near as good as their early stuff, but seriously, we are actually still getting better.

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Hidden Kitchen Range Ventilation | 100K House Blog
January 16, 2010 at 3:00 pm

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Christopher July 14, 2008 at 2:08 pm

I’ve been following the blog for quite some time. I am impressed with thoroughness of all the documentation. Great job. I am currently building a LEED registered house in South Philly and I am in the process of selecting the various ventilation equipment. The Fantech and AirScape products seem like a great solution at a good price. Thanks!

2 chad July 14, 2008 at 2:25 pm

Looks like a great project and blog Christopher. I’d love to stop by the site sometime to see your progress. It’s nice to see others doing true green renovations in Philly. Greenwashing is on the rise in the City of Brotherly Love right now…

3 tracy July 15, 2008 at 1:18 pm

What’s great is not only are you looking at strong design with your green building but you are also thinking about sound levels, an aspect of design, especially in a home, that makes a big difference and can easily get overlooked. Right on!

4 Roxanne July 16, 2008 at 6:10 pm

Good topic. I’ve been meaning to do a blog topic on this very topic because when I researched kitchen ventilation for our kitchen, I found little consistent information about there. We have an island cooktop, so we originally looking for a island vent. Most island hood require 30″ between cooktop and vent in order to work as designed. Most installations you see are NOT done that way- they have much more space between cooktop and vent. If they are installed as specified, they are placed in an awkward position for anyone moderately tall. If they are installed higher, then they don’t work as well as they should. We ended up with a Bosch downdraft, with a remote blower. I like the idea that the vent is closer to the food and pulls the fumes/steam/grease away from a person cooking. It’s very quiet and seems to work well so far. Time will tell…
I would be leary of any solution that puts the vent too far above the cooktop. Fumes & vapors will escape before making it to the vent.

5 goran December 24, 2008 at 10:12 am

I saw a nice looking glass and stainless Arietta hoods at HomeDepot for between $349 and $399 (30″, 36″).

Problem is the 100K house probably needs an Island mount, and that costs $699.

The roof fitting and in qall ducting are extra.

Reviewers claim they’re quiet in the lower two settings, and loud at the third.

I agree, quiet is the key. Working in the kitchen should be a peaceful, rejuvinating experience. You do have to be careful its not too quiet, otherwise theres a risk of leaving it on when you go to work. Perhaps a lighted switch is in order. Cleaning vents in a 10′ ceiling may be a challenge, but anyone over 5’5″ should be able to do it by standing on the 36″ high stove.

6 chad December 24, 2008 at 2:50 pm

goran – These aren’t bad. I actually called the company the sells the flush mounted ceiling option the other day. They assured me it would work with a properly sized fan and they have done it many times on island applications with ceilings even higher than 10′. That’s the route for us at only $60 plus a filter.

7 RangeHoodInc September 27, 2010 at 12:56 pm

Great article Chad!

In regards to the noise level, it all depends on the quality of the fan inside the range hood. More specifically the motor of the fan. Most of the research that we’ve done concludes that the quietest you can get with a range hood is 25db. In addition, making sure that your filters are always clean so that your motor doesn’t have to always work too hard putting wear and tare on it’s components.

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