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Mar 11, 2009 06:19 AM

vent/hood craziness in nyc?

Every apartment I've ever lived in in NYC uses all-gas ranges. And there has never been a hood/vent or any type of recirculating vent over the range. What on earth do people do? Also, every apartment I have lived in never even had an electrical outlet up top over the range in order to install some type of hood or even a microwave. I've cooked like this for years, even without a window in the kitchen. And yes, I've set off my carbon monoxide detector a few times.

Now I'm in a new place, and I just wanted to replace the old range with a more powerful one like a Wolf or a GE. I am in the same bind, except now I do have a kitchen window. There is no way for me to install a hood/vent/micro over the range without doing a big $$$ renovation. I talked to Wolf, and the woman said they definitely recommend a vent, but it's not required to purchase. And she was horrified when I told her of all the cooking I've done without a vent.

Am I just the freak case and everyone else has an easy enough time installing a vent? I thought this was one of those typical NYC issues that everyone had. Any advice? This whole idea of just getting a better range has turned into such a stressful and complicated issue!

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  1. How many do you usually cook for? If only a few, why not consider a good toaster oven? They preheat fast, don't heat up the whole kitchen, have convection functions, do an excellent job all around. I barely use my trophy oven these days....

    4 Replies
    1. re: fauchon

      I don't necessarily cook for a large group, but I do do a lot of cooking, and...massive amounts of baking. I would never be able to just use a toaster oven on its own, and I don't think I even have the counterspace for one! :)

      1. re: calypsogirl

        The window should help . . . What size range are you doing? Have you considered dual-fuel? This would at least reduce your CO emission concerns as only the rangetop would be gas. I can't believe I'm even suggesting that as I LOVE the open burners/ infrared broiler in the all-gas (AG) Wolf but DF might be considered in your situation. However, I think your window will handle the CO. It won't do anything for the grease particles, though. But you're probably used to that if you've been cooking on gas without ventilation for years ;-) I say go for the AG Wolf! You will love it.

        1. re: koigirl

          I was going to go for the all-gas 30 inch Wolf. The oven that's there right now is all all-gas as well.

          I can't do dual-fuel without having to run new electrical, which would be a mess. And I was acutally into the all-gas in the first place. I hope to one day put up some kind of hood when I get the chance to do a major reno. I just want to be able to get by for awhile! Oh the grease particles. I became best friends with those in my old apartment. :)

          So does your Wolf get super hot? Is the oven door very hot when you bake?

          1. re: calypsogirl

            The Wolf does get hot, especially when you use the oven at over 400 degrees. The door is well insulated and doesnt get hot, and the heat vents out the back of the cook top. It's pretty warm though. In a small closed kitchen I think you'd probably notice it.

    2. I have a house, so maybe the larger space makes a difference. When I moved in there was a downdraft vent for the (gas) cooktop. I never used it. When I replaced the stovetop (no renovation) I couldn't get another downdraft style to fit in the space, so I skipped it. Never missed it. Did a complete gut renovation and added a hood because "I should" and never use it (except for the light--I like that). Just don't like the noise. So I know I'm in the minority, but I don't see the hood as the be-all-and-end-all.

      1. They have lots of gas cooktops with built in vents, although I don't think they are terribly effective and the cooktops themselves are really whimpy. I cooked without a vent for years until fairly recently. Just lots of smoke and lots of grease to clean up. And, by the way, I hope you mean you set of your smoke detector, not the CO detector...

        2 Replies
        1. re: bnemes3343

          I'm not able to get a downdraft...not exactly sure why, but it's not compatible with the oven I want.

          And yeah...CO2 detector. with a gas range without any ventilation. There was no window in that kitchen. And it was a tiny range, 20 inches. I just thought that the majority of people in NYC lived this way.

          1. re: calypsogirl

            I think you need access to the floor below your stove for a downdraft to work. And they aren't very good anyway. The majority of the stove/cooktops, new and renovations in Hoboken, have a vent built in above the rear of the cooktop. They don't actually vent to the outside, but filter the air. The problem is the cooktop itself is horrible. One moderately high output burner and 3 whimps. I'd rather get a real cooktop and just leave my window open.

        2. I guess I would need to see a pic of the kitchen to see why installing a hood is a problem. Usually the space over the stove is free of cabinets, or has a cabitet that allows space for a microwave and/or a range hood.

          First things first -- let's figure what you need the hood for. (I would suggest most people don't need a hood in the first place.)

          If your concern is with CO building up in your unit, your best bet is just to open a window. A properly operating natural gas appliance shouldn't produce much CO (CO is a product of incomplete (read: wildly inefficient) combustion). Most homes are "leaky" enough that a gas cooking stove just isn't that big of a deal. An aggressive exhaust fan can actually CAUSE CO problems by backdrafting -- pulling exhaust gases from furnaces, h/w heaters and laundry dryers.

          Commercial kitchens, which have very aggressive exhausters, also (should) have equally aggressive make-up air units that push outside air in and maintain positive static pressure.

          What a hood IS good for is managing smoke and grease. The question is whether you can put up with a recirculating hood (air is drawn into hood, passes through a filter, and then spewed back out) or if you need an hood that exhausts outside. This has a lot more to do with cooking style than with stove output. If you are regularly setting off the smoke detector with your stir-fry or blackened catfish, a recirculating vent will probably not be very satisfying.

          2 Replies
          1. re: MikeB3542

            Well right now I have some metal cabinets over the range. The distance from their base to the range top is 30 inches. The installation instructions for Wolf, Viking, GE etc. all require a minimum of 30 inches from the countertop to the bottom of the ventilation hood. So if I were able to put one in, then the base of the hood would be too close to the range top.

            But then, I also don't have an outlet up there. So that means I'd have to put in a new line, right? I'm not sure exactly what that would entail, but in my last apartment, this was the same issue. An electrician said I would have to remove the backsplash and the line would have to run there to the box. Is there a lot of "destruction" necessary in order to run a new line in general?

            1. re: calypsogirl

              30 inches of clearance from the top of the range to the underside of the cabinet is practically a standard. Your most basic hood is going to be 6 inches deep, so that leaves you with a net clearance of 24 inches. I think it is unreasonable for a stove intended for residential use to demand more than 24 inches. My guess is that they require 30 inches of clearance between the stove and anything that is combustible. See the following:


              As far as the electrical goes, your fate is in the hands of the electrical gods. NYC has codes that must be followed. Where code permits it, there are products that allow electrical lines to be surface mounted to the wall (eg. Wiremold). Further a decent electrician should be able to fish lines around without demolishing walls. The box should be in (or behind) the cabinet -- the vent will most likely be hard-wired and not a plug-in . Code will determine whether they can run the circuit off a nearby box or if it has to be home-runned back to the main breaker/fuse box.

              Have courage! Remember, this should be fun!