Updated: Sep 20, 2020
A hood fan is the most underrated item in the kitchen. It single-handedly removes grease and odours from the air. Unfortunately, with all the good intentions that this appliance has – it is usually unsightly. Due to the size of traditional hoods, most designers are challenged in determining ways to incorporate the hood design or disguise it. However, most recent innovations have made this merchandise nearly invisible with different integrated options.
Recently I was given the opportunity to tour a multi-million dollar home in the Ottawa downtown core from a loyal builder client of Appliance Canada. The home was luxury at it’s finest and I was overwhelmed by the attention to detail. My years in appliances made me instantly migrate to the kitchen. The design was modern with a fresh appeal – but what hit me the most – no visible hood. It was just a clean space that brought attention to the core elements of a kitchen.
One option that is growing in popularity is the downdraft vent.
A downdraft is completely unobtrusive until it is in use. It is integrated into the countertop. The actual downdraft extends above the countertop by 8 to 19 inches when the button is pressed. For the best ventilation results, you want it to be high enough to cover the tallest pots that you use. The downdraft circulates the air and removes grease – with many of the models offering dishwasher safe removable options. Some vent air externally which is always more efficient but others use a charcoal filter to recirculate the air internally.
In lieu of a bulky ceiling-mounted hood, a downdraft vent could easily be concealed behind a 30” or 36” professional range. Popular on kitchen islands, they are slim retractable designs inserted at the back or sides of cooktops. At the press of a button, downdrafts elevate or descend creating a seamless design. They come in a range of sizes to match a variety of stovetop dimensions and are compatible with gas, electric and induction cooktops.
There are a few caveats… the amount of space required for the blower/motor mechanism is substantial. This is why these are typically useful in islands or peninsulas where these components could be hidden. Although they clean the air, at the present time, traditional hood fans tend to be more effective with the amount of CFMs (cubic feet per minute) - the volume of air being exhausted through your hood. Also, another common complaint is that downdrafts steal heat from gas burners making it difficult to maintain heat consistency.
A downdraft may not be able to be integrated into an existing home as the extracted air needs to be ducted to outside through the floor. In these circumstances, a recirculating model may be required. So, as we always advise at Appliance Canada… check with your builder. They will need the specs to ensure that it could easily be implemented into your design space.