What You'll Learn
A simmering pot of soup. A sizzling pan of onions. These aromas are wonderful, but the moisture, grease, odors and heat their preparation produces aren't as pleasant. Some of these cooking by-products can be destructive. Steam, for instance, will condense on windows and inside exterior walls, leading to rot. And carbon monoxide -- the result of combustion from a gas range -- is life-threatening if it builds up. The best way to protect yourself and your home is with good mechanical ventilation. In an island or peninsula cooktop installation, the hood extends down from the ceiling. This unit, the Luna from Abbaka ($6,479), is specially designed for heavy-duty use. It's equipped with a remote-mounted ventilator with four-position speed control. Venting Options Basic wall-mounted units start at about $50. In the $200 to $400 range, you'll find hoods equipped with multiple lights, timers and easy-clean surfaces. For a little more money, you can get a slim hood that slides out from beneath the cabinetry above the range and is practically invisible when not in use. Another style integrates the vent system with a microwave that's installed on the wall over the range. Downdraft systems present an unobtrusive option. These "pop-up" models usually are incorporated into the range and remain even with the cooking surface until needed, when they rise 8 to 10 in. above the cooking surface. In other models, the vent is located on the surface of the range near the burners. Downdraft units must work harder to remove air from the kitchen, and they can be ineffective on the burners that are farthest away and on steam and odors from tallstockpots. The fan (some use more than one) pulls the air through a filter and down into the plenum. From there, the fan moves the air through ductwork beneath the floor or along the cabinet kick space. This arrangement makes a downdraft unit more expensive to install. Still, in some situations, a downdraft vent may be the best choice. For example, when the cooktop is located on an island or peninsula, an overhead range hood can be impractical or fill what was designed as open space. Cooktops that include downdraft ventilation at the rear start at about $900. Separate downdraft units retrofitted to existing cooktops start at about $600. Another option is to put the vent hood on center stage in the kitchen. Trimmed with tile, wood panels or stainless steel, a range or cooktop hood can be the focal point of a big kitchen. Such semicustom and custom hoods run from $800 to $2,000, or even more, depending on the power of the exhaust system and the details of the design. One type of vent hood you should avoid is the recirculating range hood. "These aren't really ventilation systems at all," says Dale Rammien, director of the Home Ventilating Institute, a trade organization that represents manufacturers of ventilation equipment. At an average cost of about $50, a recirculating hood seems a bargain because it doesn't require ductwork. But it doesn't really provide ventilation -- it merely pulls the cooking effluent through a filter and sends its back into the room, noxious gases and all. "They do next to nothing to filter the air," Rammien says.