Find out which type of rangehood is best to extract steam and cooking smells from your kitchen.
Get rid of steam and cooking smells.
Cooking steam can really add to household condensation and moisture build-up, and kitchen odours can linger if not dealt with promptly.
Removing odours and moisture from where they’re produced is the best way of dealing with the problem and a rangehood is the most effective way of doing this.
But the rangehood market is large and there are many types and models. Which type of installation and product should you choose and what factors do you need to consider?
When you put in a rangehood, it can be installed in ducted or recirculating mode. In our product database, each model is listed by the mode it was tested in. This means most models have two sets of test results because they can be used in both modes.
In ducted mode, smells and steam (which can be greasy from frying) are blown outside. It is now illegal to duct into the ceiling cavity, because the build-up of grease can be a fire hazard and the moisture can cause condensation and rot.
In recirculating mode, air is passed through a carbon or charcoal filter and recirculated back into the kitchen. This eliminates cooking odours and grease, but not moisture. This goes back into your kitchen, so it’s a second-best option.
Installing in recirculating mode is cheaper as no ducting is required, but you may need to buy a recirculating kit. You’ll also need to replace the carbon or charcoal filters.
How often you change the filters depends on how much and what type of cooking you do. Cooking that produces mainly steam means your filter will last longer than it will with high-fat cooking that produces strong smells. Manufacturers recommend replacing the filter every three to six months.
Rangehoods perform better in ducted mode. Also, it’s best to use rigid ducting if possible because flexible ducting has ridges which can impede airflow and affect performance.
For some people, ducting won’t be an option though – for example, if you live in an apartment, or if installation in ducted mode is just too expensive.
There are six types of rangehood available: fixed, tilting, sliding, canopy, undermount and downdraft. All usually come in 60cm and 90cm widths.
Shaped like a flat box, they’re fixed permanently to the wall or under a high cupboard. Some have a small, hinged visor. They can be fitted to a new or existing kitchen. DIYers should find these easy to install.
This type of hood works well with a couple of pots steaming away, but it will miss quite a bit of the steam if you’re using all four stove-top elements. And because they always stick out, they can get in your way.
These are mounted between cupboards and have a front panel that tilts open. The panel can be matched to your kitchen décor. To use the hood, you swing the front panel out over the cooktop.
Tilt hoods are more effective than fixed ones at removing large quantities of steam. So if you often cook with all four elements at once, a good tilt hood may be a better option. Controls on tilt models are usually somewhere behind the tilting front, and are a little harder to use than the front controls of fixed or canopy models.
Tilt hoods are usually considered for new rather than existing kitchens, because of their built-in nature. But if you’re getting new cupboards done, or don’t mind having to reconfigure your existing cupboards, they are worth considering.
These are designed for kitchens in which you want the hood to be out of the way when it’s not in use.
Generally they’re mounted under cupboards and have an extension that slides out – the fan and light come on automatically. They tend to be less efficient at collecting steam because of the smaller steam collection area.
Canopy hoods are large and comparatively expensive. Once confined to commercial kitchens, they have joined a range of other high-quality cooking equipment that has found its way into domestic kitchens.
While other types are usually ducted through the wall, most canopy hoods have a vertical flue that takes cooking fumes out through the ceiling or wall.
The hood itself is usually made of stainless steel or glass, and can be deep and rectangular, or curved. Some are fixed to the wall while others hang from the ceiling. All the canopy rangehoods in our test were wall-mounted models.
With a more powerful fan, bigger chimney and greater width, canopy hoods often have a higher airflow than fixed types. They usually have additional features such as electronic controls, glass shelves, a rail for hanging implements and three or four fan speeds.
Also known as powerpacks, undermount rangehoods are hidden away above the cooktop, which makes them an unobtrusive choice. However, because they don’t necessarily cover the entire cooking area, they may not work as well as a canopy rangehood – depending on where your saucepan is located.
Downdraft hoods are unobtrusive and stylish extractors that are recessed into the back of the cooktop. They rise up when required, sucking in moisture and smells and pulling them down and out through the duct. We don’t currently test these models, but they tend to be more expensive and less effective than other types.
All rangehoods are noisy, especially if you are using the higher fan speeds. Noise is going to be an important consideration for purchasing, so take note of the noise results in our tests.
Some models are quieter in recirculating mode and others are quieter in ducted mode, so make sure you check which results you are looking at.
Our current average noise levels for ducted mode on the lowest fan speed is 50 decibels, and on the highest speed it is 66dB. In recirculating mode these figures are 54dB and 65dB respectively. Some models tested go above 70dB on the highest fan setting.
Bear in mind that 65dB is around three times as loud as 50dB, so it’s a significant increase in noise level as you go up the fan speeds. A level of 60dB is about as loud as a normal conversation between two people at a distance of one metre.
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