Cooking produces grease, moisture, heat and smoke that can damage cabinets and walls over time. The use of ventilation is imperative in protecting your cabinets and removing these cooking by-products from the air in your kitchen. Ventilation can be in the form of an updraft range hood or downdraft vent.

With downdraft systems, as shown in this video, a telescopic downdraft vent rises up from the countertop and draws cooking vapours to the back of the cooktop and downward away from the cooking surface. Downdraft ventilation is a great option in installations where an overhead hood is not desired or is not a viable option. Unlike range hoods, downdraft designs often are integrated into the cooking appliance, and they can be aesthetically more pleasing for islands as the vent retracts underneath the countertop to remain unobtrusive when not in use.  When needed, the vent raises up from behind the cooktop surface, extending typically 8 – 19 inches, capturing smoke and steam from tall cookpots. The controls for this type of vent can be surface mounted on the countertop at the side of cooktop for ease of access.

An updraft range hood can be under-cabinet, wall or ceiling mounted.  An updraft system basically involves an enclosure positioned above the stove top which extracts cooking by-products and either blows them outside or recirculates them, if ductless, under the hood.   These systems are cost-effective because hot air rises. These updraft systems offer sleek designs with flat or lightly curved glass or metal panes that can be tucked away when not in use.

Ductless range hoods filter out grease and some pollutants, but not all. They operate by filtering the air they suck in and then blowing it back out into the room by using a re-circulation process. The filter often contains activated carbon or charcoal which helps to remove odor and smoke particles from the air, which can then be cleanly recirculated back throughout the kitchen.  A ductless hood has the advantage of being a bit more versatile and can be installed just about anywhere; therefore, being perhaps more convenient than a ducted system, at least with respect to the installation process.

Ducted range hoods operate by extracting and blowing the moisture, grease, smoke and cooking by-products up through the exhaust duct and out of the house. Ducted hoods tend to be more efficient for getting rid of humidity and steam from the cooking area due to the fact they are not actually filtering and recirculating the air, but rather are venting it out of the kitchen completely.  A ducted hood must be installed in an area where there is a duct system that goes from inside the kitchen to the exterior of the home or building. This can potentially limit the areas in the kitchen where you can position your range and hood.

Above all, keep in mind, irrespective of the type of ventilation you choose… it is only effective if you use it!

You should turn the fan on a few minutes before you begin cooking and leave it running for 15 minutes after you finish. Even if only boiling water, a ducted hood will remove unwanted heat and humidity from your kitchen.  To ensure optimal efficiency, follow the recommendations supplied from the manufacturer, regularly cleaning the grease filters and/or replacing the charcoal filter.