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Feb 2, 2012 03:27 PM

Range hood solution for open peninsula: Downdraft? Unobtrusive hood?

We're remodeling our kitchen, and in the process are taking down the wall between it and the dining room to make everything feel more open and spacious. The range (a 36" Viking drop-in 6 burner) will go in a peninsula that separates the two rooms - really, the only spot it can go due to the limitations of the space.

Now we're struggling with the problem of what to do about a hood. A big hood will make the whole point of taking down the wall moot - it'll close off the space we just spent thousands to open.

We've come up with three options:

1) Downdraft pop-up, like the Thermador 600 CFM. I know people poo-poo these, but it would save the open feeling.

2) Trying to find as unobtrusive a hood as possible. Maybe something glass. (Any suggestions?)

3) Installing a ceiling mount, in-line exhaust fan like this: Our kitchen designer said he did this in another house, and it worked well. We're a little dubious.

Can anyone make any recommendations?



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    1. We have friends who's kitchen designer made the same suggestion as #3. Almost a quote from your post. It sucked all the hot air out of the house in the winter, didn't get any of the smells, smoke, grease, etc. that you want it to get and leaves a large stained area around the vent on the ceiling. In short, it doesn't work and they are now going to have to install a vent. There are a number of reasons why this doesn't work, mostly because of the increased number of cfms (air flow) needed to make up for the added distance this is above the range top. Typical is 24 to 30 inches, these end up being 60 or more inches. The other thing is without a hood you don't capture all the things you want to exhaust. We had considered this kitchen designer, but after this fiasco we decided not to, it was a very poor idea.

      The downdraft, well people poo-poo it for a reason. Hot air goes up and you are trying to defy the laws of physics by pulling it down. We have friends with this set up and although it works much better than the ceiling vent, it still isn't very effective.

      If it were me, I'd look for option #2, without a hood exactly, you won't get as good a ventalation, but that's the best option of the three. Just don't do option #3, it really doesn't work, regardless of what the designer says. I would run very fast.

      1. a lot depends on how and what you cook. are you mainly worried about steam and smells or do you do a lot of frying and grilling where the concern is more oil/grease and smoke?

        a friend put his hood up close to the ceiling in a small soffit. works fine for the way he and his wife cook. because of the climate here, he wasn't worried about sucking precious heated or cooled air out of the room, and he did get a hood with a pretty high CFM rating (with a remote/roof mount fan for noise control.)

        Most 'serious' cooks tend to find downdraft hoods to be pretty ineffective. they pull the heat away from the pan more than trap vapors.

        i grew up in a house where it was just an exhaust fan mounted in the ceiling. But nothing in our house was ever fried, so oil and grease weren't an issue (dietary restrictions due to a medical condition.) I think i was in my teens before I found out that meat/poultry/fish could be cooked on the stovetop, ours was always either roasted or broiled in the oven.

        4 Replies
        1. re: KaimukiMan

          We grill outdoors and rarely fry. Our cooking habits are more like sautéing, soups, stews. And we live in LA so the heat is less of an issue.

          Our layout is tricky - either we put the cooktop in the island, or the sink. Always figured it was worse to have the sink in there because you've have to look at the dish rack.

          If we did do a downdraft, it would be the Thermador 13 inch one.

          1. re: janelle

            i'd go with the hood up high in your situation. as to the choice between the sinnk and the range, again it depends on you. if the dishrack is out all the time then I agree with you.

            1. re: janelle

              "Always figured it was worse to have the sink in there because you've have to look at the dish rack."

              It seems to me that there are several inexpensive or free and completely effective ways of not having to look at a dishrack in an island sink configuration vs. all of the options for venting an island range that either suck or are a compromise.
              I agree that island ranges are just for cooking shows--besides venting issues, it's messy and dangerous.

              Maybe just reconsider the island sink and how you do things re: sink use. If you don't want to look at a dishrack, either keep your "clean" dishrack in one bowl of a double bowl sink, or get a flat plastic drainboard, dry and put away your handwash stuff straight away, and stow the drainboard on edge on the cupboard when not in use.

              1. re: splatgirl

                Yeah, I'm seriously considering this option. I hate double-bowl sinks (Unless you get a massive one - which we don't have room for) both bowls end up being too small to be really useful).

                I suppose if you got a great-looking dish rack like this one by Simple Human, it might be less unsightly:

          2. Keep in mind that the "openess" of the new arrangement will contribute to the noise level in your dining room from what ever appliances are active while eating. If your exhaust fan needs to be further removed from the cooking surface it is going to need to run harder to be effective futher aggravating the noise level.

            I'd really reconsider the island cooktop.

            IMO they're really only for cooking shows.


            1. You need to look at the math to determine if you can use option #3, and it's complicated but I have worked out a few cases for examples so you will understand what you are asking a vent to do.

              For a hood to be effective you need air to be moving fast enough to pull the fumes with it. Typically you need a capture veloicty between 0.15 and 0.20 meters/sec. Capture veloicty (V1) equals air volume (q) in cubic meters per second, devided by 2 times the distance the hood is above the surface (y) in meters squared, times the circumfrance or parimiter of the hood (c) in meters. To solve for q air volume it's q=2v1 x y² x c

              Take a regular hood situation over a cooktop where v1 remains constant at 0.20 and the hood is 0.85 m above the rangetop and the perimiter of the hood is 4.5 meters you would need a volume of air equal to 1.01 cubic meters per second. If you now move that same hood up to an 8 foot cieling height you increase the air volume required to 4.29 cubic meters per second. If your walls become your hood perimiter and for simplicity say you have a 10 foot by 10 foot room, your air volume needs to be 14.7 cubic meters per second. I'll assume your remodel provides you with a much larger space than my example.

              My point is that there is a tremendous amount of air that has to be moved for a vent in the cieling to be effective in the kitchen. Vent hoods in the US are rated for cubic feet per minute or CFM so it's difficult to make a direct comparison but 900 CFM (a good range hood) is less than half a cubic meter per second.

              18 Replies
              1. re: mikie

                Your math is still making my brain spin. I'm wondering - What if we used the downdraft (and got the Thermador which rises 14 inches high), but supplemented with an overhead vent like #3 to catch the stuff that gets missed during super heavy duty cooking (which I do rarely, but on those occasions...)? I'm just speculating here, but perhaps the downdraft would capture the grease & stuff while the excess smoke & steam would be captured by the fan?


                1. re: janelle

                  My head is spinning a bit too with all the math, but air movement is really about physics and the neat thing about physics is that most of it can be explained with math. Saves a lot of trial and error.

                  The ideal situation would be to go to a kitchen show room that has the Thermador downdraft set up with a cook top and get a real life demonstration. I know this is probably asking the impossible, but that would be ideal. I'd be concerned that the Thermador pulling air down would be hindered by a cielling vent pulling air up, I'm having a hard time seeing the advantages to this.

                  I spoke with my better half, and her opinion is to put the sink in the island given your choices. We have adult children that like to cook and when they're home they always help out in the kitchen. My wife figures with a sink in the island, someone could prep from both sides of the island and use a common sink. I'm glad she thought of that after our kitchen remodel, as I would have hated to relocate our plumbing to accomodate this idea. Keep in mind if you move the sink, you will likely need to move the dishwasher as well. We're scrapers and rincers, I never put a dirty dish in the dishwasher, so having it near the sink is a must for me.

                  1. re: mikie

                    right. i think there's a thermador showroom in LA, will go check it out.

                    besides the "dirty dishes in the middle of the kitchen" issue, my main concern with the sink in island question is how big the island would need to be. Our kitchen is 14 x 18 - one end will have the peninsula that opens to the dining room, the island will be in the middle of the room. The other end of the room has a bathroom & a small eat-in nook that pops out another 3x7 feet.... Worry that the island would have to be 7 feet long to accommodate sink + dishwasher + prep space on other side of sink... too big for the kitchen?

                    My head reels...

                    1. re: janelle

                      Having just gone through the remodel of our kitchen I know how difficult it is to sort through all the issues. We took a pass on the first kitchen designer after checking out our friends kitchen as mentioned above. The second kitchen designer got dumped after spending an afternoon explaining all the things we wanted and our concern over loosing space only to meet a couple of weeks later to review the plans and see none of our concerns were addressed. So we struck out on our own. If you managed to land a good designer, they should be able to help with the logistics.

                      1. re: mikie

                        Well, after a 2 hour meeting with our designer and contractor this morning, we came up with the solution: Put the sink in the peninsula, with a bar height counter right behind it to address any splashing, hide some of the potential dish mess, and allow people to sit at stools and chat. The oven goes on the wall with a traditional hood. And the small island stays a butcher block work space. Whew!

                        Thanks for all your input.

                        1. re: janelle

                          Glad it worked out for you! Kitchens have to be functional for your needs, and it sounds like you have the right solution for you.
                          Just FYI, I put in a huge kitchen island (more like a continent, actually), with a DSSS and a cooktop with snorkel downdraft and couldn't be happier. But this works for us and isn't for everyone. Glad you found a solution.

                          1. re: janelle

                            That sounds like a fantastic plan that will serve you well. Congratulations and enjoy the new kitchen. We've been months without a complete kitchen and it's really nice to have it back. Well everything is there but cabinet doors.

                            1. re: janelle

                              janelle, you made all the right choices. The raised bar is the perfect solution to the mess around the sink. I've designed (literally) thousands of kitchens in the past 15 years, and deal with your issues all the time.

                              If you had kept the cooktop in the island, here's my experience:
                              The #3 option is one I have used in my one of my own homes, where the ceiling was only a standard 96", and my cooking habits tended toward steam producers like soups and pasta, rather than frying. As the kitchen was at the back of the house, we actually used a roof-mounted fan that had a duct straight down to the kitchen ceiling, rather like a commercial exterior fan, but not the roaring behemoth that restaurants must use. It did a good job, and kept the noise outside and the weather out, even up in northwest Indiana where it gets cold as the dickens in winter. The inside ceiling grille and the exterior blower each had a self closing damper inside to keep cold air from flowing back down the duct. Only one occasion gave us a problem - we had a fierce blizzard, and the snow backed up into the exterior housing, then melted and dripped inside as the relative warmth of the attic melted the snow stuck up there.
                              Otherwise, it worked just fine. If you had a high ceiling, that's another issue - the condensates have more time to disperse into the room before the fan catches them, so a glass hood (i.e. Serius) about 66" above the floor would be recommended.
                              Hope all goes well with your remodel. You'll love your new kitchen.

                              1. re: jmcarthur8

                                Thanks for the feedback. I am increasingly convinced we made the right choice!

                                1. re: jmcarthur8

                                  Snorkel downdraft. Highest one you can find. Keep your big pots at the back to capture. Works great, sinks into the countertop when not in use. Paired my Thermador 36 inch induction with Thermador snorkel downdraft with a 14 inch rise. Three kitchen designers, not one with this solution. Sigh. Works amazingly well. And yes, it vents to the exterior, down through the cabinet, under the floor between the joist spaces. I have pics posted, too. Works really well.
                                  if you look at the banner picture on the page I linked to, this is what we have. Couldn't be happier.

                                  1. re: jmcarthur8

                                    I'm interested in your opinion of option #3. The friends we have that had a ceiling vent, didn't feel it worked well at all, that it sucked all the hot air out of the house without really addressing the issues stovetop. Now, I have no idea what or how they cook and that may be where the difference in opinion on the effectiveness of such a vent lies. We've been in our house over 20 years and only had a recirculation hood that was maybe used a half dozen times, It was noisy and obvously not effective at venting anything, and other than the few times something was burnt on the stove, we saw no ill effects of not venting. We now have a very good vent that goes up a couple of feet and out the side of the house, I can actually see the vapors being drawn out by the fan. Is it possible the ceiling hood did little more than no vent at all, it just wasn't noticable because of what and how you cook? Aside from the potential differences in what one cooks and how one cooks, as an engineer I would like to know how the ceiling hood overcomes the basic physics associated with venting. You still need a certian amount of air speed to pull the vapors up to the vent. How much air did your ceiling vent move? And how much more air was that than if you had a hood at the more standard 30" above range top?

                                    1. re: mikie

                                      mikie, I wish I could answer your questions with the specs on the fan, but it was 1995 when we installed that kitchen, and I divorced that particular husband six years later. He still has the house, my sons cook there regularly when they visit, and they are still satisfied with the fan. If I had to guess, I'd say at least 600+ cfm, but it is a guess, that's all. I agree with you that the efficacy of the fan would depend strongly on the type of cooking done in that kitchen, and it may not be sufficient for some cooks, but I do know that when I made enough smoke to set off the smoke alarm in the hall next to the kitchen, that fan would pull the fumes out with no problem. As I said, a higher ceiling would make a difference - as would an open kitchen like the ones that are popular these days. That kitchen was 12' x 20' and had 3 doorways leading to adjoining rooms, rather than the great room type we have now.

                                      I agree with janelle about wanting to avoid any type of hood when you spend that much money opening up the room. Even the glass hood makes a visual barrier that takes away from the openness of the room. I like her final solution of keeping the cooktop along the wall and bringing the sink out into the room instead. That's what I have now myself, and I like having access to the sink from the backside if I need to, even though there's a raised bar behind it.

                                      As I am not an engineer, I design a kitchen based on the specific needs of the clients' storage and cooking habits, and on my experience cooking in my own kitchen for 40 years. I have to admit that the cubic feet of air moved in any given residential structure is beyond my expertise, and I would refer a client to an appliance manufacturer's rep for advice on the products the client is interested in, if we have a situation that is questionable and a potential for fumes that may overwhelm.

                                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                                        Thank you for your honest response. Engineers are a strange bread, we put a lot of faith in numbers. I know I've read manufacturers literature referencing how much more air is needed if a hood is raised higher than the reccommended height and it's substantial. I did some of the math in a post above. The people we know that had such a vent have a huge, I mean huge open kitchen, easily well over 500 sq ft. That too probably didn't help. Their range top is on an island, but I don't think the vent was directly above the range top. That didn't help either in my opinion.

                                    2. re: jmcarthur8

                                      Thanks, jmcarthur8... This description of your ceiling fan solution sounds perfect for my situation. What brand of fan did you choose?

                                      1. re: ridervb

                                        I wish I could tell, but it's on the roof of a house I left to my ex 10 years ago! I don't have that long a memory. I do recall that it looked like a flying saucer sitting on the roof.

                                  2. re: mikie

                                    Dear God this makes me feel better. I thought I was alone in my frustrations with our designer. DH and I just had the exact same experience with our designer at our first viewing of the designs she came up with.

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      I don't want to bad mouth designers, as I'm sure there are many good ones out there and a few who frequent CH have always been extremely helpfull. But it's critical you pick the right one. One designer we spoke with, wanted to put in a galley sink system, these are either 5' or 7' long, I don't have a 7' streach of cabinet in my kitchen, much less that much I can give up to a sink. This was before she even looked at a drawing of the currrent layout or came to the house. We had several meetings with the designer that made a presentation and I don't think he heard a word Mrs. mikie had to say. However, I heard a lot on the way home ;) It just seems that they get a design theam that works and want to use it for everyone. And with kitchens, one size does not fit all!

                                      1. re: mikie

                                        That galley sink system sounds crazy!
                                        We are into this with the design fee paid. It's early in the process, so I wonder if we cut ties (and I'm about *this close*) if we could get some of our money back.
                                        We're just scared to go forward with such an enormous project when the ground is shaky already.