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Hidden Kitchen Range Ventilation

by Chad Ludeman on January 16, 2010 · 13 comments

in Design,kitchen

One of the hurdles in designing a minimalist kitchen layout is always the ventilation above the range. If you have the budget you can have options like beautiful steel and glass hoods or flush vents that pop up from the countertop only when in use. There are even really fancy, slim new vents that mount under upper cabinets, but will run you over $1,200.

Those of us on a budget have limited options and often have to resort to tacking a fan under their cabinets or buying one of the unsightly US designed Microwave/Range Hoods.

In the 100K project we eliminated the range hood altogether by mounting a fan on the roof that was connected to a simple $50 flush mounted ceiling vent. This works great, but it’s also not the cheapest option and it can throw off the air pressure balance in a tight home real quick.

In the Passive Project our consultants advised us not to vent the kitchen exhaust outside directly, so we were looking at re-circulating fans. The kitchen layout also was simplified by putting the cooktop in the main stretch of the kitchen cabinets to free up the island for more flexibility. We didn’t want to interfere with the nice clean lines of the horizontal upper cabinets on the ply wall, so we needed to find a new solution for our kitchen ventilation.

After much research and one incorrect order, we installed the custom ventilation configuration you see below.

Recirculating Fan IKEA Hack

Recirculating Fan IKEA Hack 2

This simple setup comprises one range hood liner that is designed to be used in custom range hoods, a charcoal filter and one stretch of 8″ round ductwork. We used the Broan PM250 Power Pack for $127 as it fits easily within our upper IKEA cabinets. The toal cost was only $150 and is hidden completely in our small IKEA upper cabinets. The kit even comes with lights, where we installed some small CFL candelabras.

We use a recirculating fan in our kitchens and let our ERV handle the ventilation of the kitchen space, but we’ll talk more about that in an upcoming post. You can still vent this setup directly outside if your kitchen is located on an exterior wall or you are mounting in a tall cabinet that connects flush with your ceiling and allows for easier running or you ductwork in your ceiling.

There you have it. If you don’t mind taking up one upper cabinet (which would be eliminated anyway by normal hoods or microwaves) and you have $150 in your range hood budget, this could work for you too.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

1 lavardera January 16, 2010 at 5:07 pm

So is this just venting out of the top of the cabinet? Any guidelines as to how often the filter must be replaced?

Thanks for showing the details Chad.

2 Zafera January 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm

great info. you mention cheaper options…where can i find those?

3 David January 17, 2010 at 2:39 pm

It would be nice to do a little bit of finish work inside the cabinet so that everything is hidden and some things can be stored in there – good use every nook and cranny!

4 lavardera January 17, 2010 at 4:13 pm

I’d be tempted to add a skirt around it, to prevent steam from rolling away and eventually beating up the plywood finish. A hack with a commercial size oven pan could work.

5 Josh January 17, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Hi guys-

I am curious from a building science standpoint how you control moisture levels in the house without exterior venting? I teach BPI building analyst and envelope courses and we always counsel that as you increase the tightness of the envelope, you must pay more attention to controlling moisture levels. Do you incorporate a humidistat and then couple that with some mechanical means of controlling moisture?

6 John January 17, 2010 at 8:47 pm

how did you finish the top exhaust? Is it deflected away from the wall/ceiling with a 45/90 or vent grate?

7 chad January 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

I amended the post to clarify that we are recirculating the kitchen exhaust into the kitchen through the charcoal filter and relying on our ERV to ventilate the space. We’ll post in more detail on the entire ventilation design shortly.

I am not too concerned about the plywood as it has three coats of diamond hard poly on it that is holding up really well in the 100K bath on our plywood floors.

Making a pan is a good idea though. The stock pans sold with this kit were too big for the cabinet. I would consider having a local metal shop construct something exactly to size that would fit inside the IKEA cabinet and also fit the specific fan being used. It would probably double the cost of this project, but could add some piece of mind.

8 Syneran February 1, 2010 at 10:24 am

I love this project and I like this ventilation system :) It reminds me of the “slide out” type of under-cabinet hoods (e.g., The talk of adding a pan causes me to wonder if the slide out part could be bought separately and be adapted to your application with a relatively low cost.

In small homes, square inches matter. Could the cabinet that houses this be made with less width so that the vent sides meet the cabinet sides? That way the adjacent cabinets could be wider allowing for more “usable” storage space.

Also, there seems to be some storage space around the exhaust duct atop the hood’s air collection pan. This space is cluttered, tho, by the electrical wiring and outlet. Were the hood hard-wired, then it would “clear up” more space for storage there.

9 Chad February 1, 2010 at 11:07 am

Excellent points Syneran. We could definitely put this in a smaller cabinet and/or add storage in the wasted spaces. It would be a bit cluttered, but you could store a few seldomly used items up there. The reason we put an outlet is to both make the install easier and to allow room to easily add under cabinet lighting as these clients did.

10 Marcia May 2, 2010 at 1:13 pm

THIS is exactly what I have been looking to do. Thanks for offering the details of your solution. It appears that there are no access doors to the filters. Do you have to take off the entire visible grid in order to change the charcoal filter?

11 Trash Cans & Garbage Cans February 28, 2011 at 9:28 am

Always wanted a vent in our kitchen. Thanks for sharing the cheaper options. And teaching how to do it. Will save me bucks.

12 Shawn Preau March 29, 2012 at 4:11 pm

I know this is an old discussion but Airking makes a energy star rated hood insert that is extremely quiet. I can be cut into the bottom of wood cabinets and vented directly to the exterior. If you upper cabinets are 24″ tall, this product will fit with a 90 deg elbow directly to the exterior all inside the cabinet. It leaves enough space for led cabinet lighting transformers.

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