02 Sep 2015

How to choose the perfect cooker hood

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With so many well-engineered extractor hood options available, choosing the right one for your kitchen might seem an overwhelming task. Danny Lay, Sales Director at appliance specialist Caple, offers expert advice to help you specify the right hood.

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First of all, consider how powerful you need your extractor hood to be. While the type of food you cook, as well as how regularly you cook it, will help you to determine this, it is important that you don’t forget to factor in the size of the room you have as this will determine the power of the motor you require.

To be effective, a hood must be powerful enough to change the air in the room 10 times an hour. To determine this, first you must calculate the volume of your room. This figure can be worked out by multiplying the room’s length by its width and height. For example, a kitchen that is 4 x 4 x 2.5 meters has a volume of 40m³. This room volume figure is then further multiplied by 10 to obtain the optimum rate of airflow for that room, based on the need to change the air ten times an hour. Therefore a kitchen of 40m3 x 10 = 400 – this means it would require an extraction rate of 400m³/h for a cooker hood to clean the air efficiently.

There is a cooker hood to suit every kitchen and culinary need, from integrated, conventional or wall chimney to island chimney, built-under or downdraft. Choose from ducted – where moisture, grease and smells are taken outside via a vent through an external kitchen wall – or recirculated – which sucks the air back into the hood before cleaning it and recirculating it back into the kitchen. Both come with pros and cons. For example, a ducted version will require more building work and therefore costs will need to be considered because venting will need to be installed from the extractor through to the outside wall. If you buy a hood with recirculation, you will need to buy charcoal filters every six months to keep your appliance working at optimum efficiency.

Kitchen design plays a big part in the type of extractor you choose. For example, as open-plan living continues to rise, downdraft hoods have become more popular as they sit flush to the work surface when not in use and rise into position to create a spectacular cooking platform when entertaining. These appliances can be engineered to achieve high extraction rates with perimetrical extraction, which will lower sound levels and increase the pressure resulting in improved motor performance. A downdraft will be placed in an island unit or under a wall cabinet on the worktop and is out of sight when not in use, whereas a hood extractor will need to be placed above the cooktop so this will determine the type that is chosen.

Individual tastes

A statement hood makes a stylish addition to a modern kitchen. These days, cooker hoods have become fashion statements due to the creativity from product designers, lifestyle changes – where more time is being spent in the kitchen – and the introduction of raw materials, such as stainless steel and glass. Copper has become an incredibly popular colour and island hoods finished in copper is the latest trend for the home, making a striking feature if you are looking for the wow factor in your kitchen, whilst keeping the air free from cooking odours and grease.

Ceiling hoods are the least intrusive models and will suit a minimalist kitchen design perfectly. You can even buy models that will fit flush to the ceiling without the need to negotiate ceiling joists, making this a cost-effective and easier method of installation.

The latest cooker hoods are more powerful than ever but still have the ability to run incredibly quietly, which is perfect for a busy kitchen that is used by the family and for entertaining purposes. Demand for quieter appliances is growing as the trend for open-plan kitchens increases. An extremely quiet extractor can be switched on when you cook food for family and friends, meaning odours will be removed without distracting conversation.

Look for a motor choice that has been engineered to achieve extremely high extraction rates of at least 1000m³ per hour. Perfect for providing task lighting and illuminating the cooking/food preparation area below, or ambient lighting when not in use, extractors can also act as a valuable light source within the kitchen, with low energy, LED lights and halogen lighting currently proving popular.

If you’re planning to position your hood above your hob, make sure the width of both appliances matches. In general, a minimum of 750mm is best above a gas hob whereas 650mm will be required for a ceramic or induction hob, however it is always best to check with the manufacturer.

To achieve the best results when using whichever extractor you choose, we recommend switching on the extractor 15 minutes before cooking and to leave it running 15 minutes after you have finished. This will ensure that the air in the kitchen is being circulated before cooking commences and the air continues to be cleaned for a short while after, giving you the best results.

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