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Jan 17, 2011 10:53 AM

Suggested Solution: PROBLEMS with Pop up vents, Retractable Down Draft Vents.

We are hearing here repeatedly and on other web sites as well: These vent systems have perpetual problems. First, they suck serious heat away from the gas burners. Secondly, they are located too low to affectively vent the tops of pans and pots.
The built in down draft vents in the middle of stoves and tops are worse then the pop ups. ie. like Jenn-air.
So what if we did this on new or remodeled kitchen islands:
1) build in a " box" behind the cook top or stove. The box would be fire proof, wide enough for the pop up fan and say, 8" above the counter.
2) the eating space around the island would also be raised 8" above the counter top.
3) the pop up is installed in the box.
Now allowing 2" in height for the burner and 9" for the pop up vent, when the fan comes up, it is about 6" to 15" above the burner and the bottom any pan or pot.
There should be two benefits: Better exhaust pattern above the pot or pan and no sucking the heat directly from the burner.
Whatdoyathink???? Will this work? It is my own design so I'd appreciate your ideas and feedback.
I'm getting ready to build the island and I just might do this.

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  1. Why go to all that trouble of making a pop up, etc? Why not just put a vent in the wall behind the stove at whatever height you want?

    Also, a vent behind the stove would need a quadzillion CFM to create enough draft to pull smoke and steam from the front burners (vacuum isn't directional), which would then pull heat from the front burners.

    1. Hmm. I'm not sure. I think the extra height might work better, but fine tuning that counter top might be a pain. It seems like a lot of work to make it work a bit better. I'd also be worried about the box. That is a high splatter zone, so it will have to be protected well from oil. Essentially, a good back splash is needed.

      Also, once you add in some custom box and back splash, you need to think about counter issues. (i.e., the space between the cook top and vent). Mine is tight, but you wouldn't want some custom job leaving a gap that would become a crumb and food magnet.

      Pop ups aren't the best, but if the layout of the kitchen is such that you can't do anything else, they are the best.

      I have a pop-up and actually like it (with reservations) as ATK says. If you don't abuse the cooking process, it vents just fine. I use grape seed oil for high heat cooking and manage temps better, but it still works fine. I have a Frigidaire Professional. Sometimes it doesn't do the job an overhead would, but 85% of the time it works fine. My cook top is on an island in the middle of the kitchen so there is no other option outside of other high cost renovation.

      With that said, one problem I have had is that thermal loss (regular heat) is significant. Installers/builders etc don't always know how to insulate these types of systems and my island drawers are chilly to say the least.

      If you live in a cold environment (as I do), make sure any downward vent system has good insulation. When I take my pans out of the island drawers to heat up they are cold and it takes longer to heat up.

      Also, on a really really cold day (in Minnesota) the motor to raise the vent won't work because it is so cold. I have to help it out...

      I personally would take a good look at the extra customization cost, but also consider that space from the cook top to the vent. If you customize and that area becomes a space to collect food and grease splatters, then you might not be satisfied.

      Also,once you start moving the vent (even centimeters) away from the cook top it also will become less effective. If a custom box moves it a half inch away from the burners, then it might reduce that 8-inch vertical advantage.

      Just some thoughts.

      1. several years ago we did a very large kitchen addition with a peninsula style countertop where the cooktop was to go. we wanted an open look so were seriously looking at the various downdraft systems. we also had a couple of friends who had downdraft systems (both jennair and thermador types). our research basically verified that downdraft systems were extremely inefficient. the friends were not serious cooks, so to them it did not matter, but we cook a lot and function was important.

        when it was all over, we decided on a ceiling mounted hood - GE Monogram. this left us with a relatively open look, great exhaust, the added benefit of having halogen overhead dim-able lights, and two racks for hanging frequently used cooking utensils. it was a relatively costly solution ($1400 for just the hood, if i recall correctly), but very attractive. we have had numerous positive comments on this "sexy" (as a couple of people have referred to it) hood.

        the downside is the cost of replacement parts. GE wanted $41 for a small fuse - which i found on the internet for 4 for $5! last week, though, (it has been 8yrs or so) the circuit board went out. GE wants $345 for it and another $95 to install. i've been looking for alternatives, but so far no luck. in the past couple of years i have seen ceiling mounted stainless hoods for a lot less money, so it would probably just be better for me to get a new one, but i don't really want to go through the installation again. need to make a decision soon...

        as to your idea of building a box for a downdraft. it sounds do-able. my concern would be the aesthetics and the size of the "box". if you do wind up doing this, i would love to see a photograph of the results. good luck.

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