The importance of a good cooker hood is often underestimated. This appliance is indeed essential to ensure maximum comfort inside any kitchen, especially if it is an open space with connected living room. Cooker hoods suck up all the fumes and vapours produced during food preparation: they sanitise the air, eliminate odours and prevent them from spreading throughout the house or impregnating fabrics such as curtains, cushions, clothes. In addition to sucking up fumes, these appliances are also equipped with anti-fat filters that capture the food and fat particles produced when frying or cooking.
Due to the vast range of models on offer, it is not always easy to see which solution is best for your kitchen space. On HiFi-Tower you can find different types of models, which differ both in terms of design and operating principle. If you already have a flue in your kitchen, you can choose one of our fume hoods; otherwise, a recirculating hood can just as effectively solve the problem of unpleasant odours spreading in the house while you are using the cooker. Before you take a look at our product gallery, read on to learn more about how cooker hoods work, and make the right choice
Cooker hoods are composed of three main elements: the body, the anti-fat filters and the suction unit. The shell is the external structure - in steel or other materials - which protects and contains the engine and the filtering system. The grease filters are metal sheets or natural fibres that have the task of filtering fumes and vapours coming from the cooker hob, while the suction unit sucks in and expels these fumes. In the case of the extractor hoods, there is also a system for conducting the fumes to the flue, while recirculation hoods are only equipped with active carbon anti-odour filters.
When you are about to buy a kitchen hood, whether it is an extractor hood or a recirculation hood, you need to carefully evaluate several factors, mainly related to:
As a general rule, you will have to pay particular attention to these seven criteria before purchasing this essential household appliance:
Kitchen hoods have standard measurements and start from a minimum of 60 centimetres up to a maximum of 120. The rule is that the hood should be the same or wider than the hob, never smaller. Island hoods, on the other hand, should be twice as large. Therefore, to choose the right cooker hood, it is necessary to know the measurements of your hob.
The depth of a cooker hood can vary from a minimum of 35 cm to a maximum of 55 cm. The cooker hob, however, is not the only element to be evaluated to establish the ideal size of this appliance. Still, it is also necessary to consider how often the kitchen is used: if you use it with daily frequency, cooking even more preparations together, it is advisable to opt for a larger and more powerful model. The overall height of the hood (including the flue pipe) will depend on the length of the fume extraction duct in your kitchen.
Before purchasing such a device, it is essential to consider all technical specifications. First of all, you should determine whether you need an extractor hood or a recirculating hood. The choice of one or the other type depends on the presence of a flue, and/or the possibility of installing it. The function performed is the same for both, but what differentiates them substantially is the way the fumes and vapours are disposed of.
In the case of suction models, the flue is an indispensable element. Extractor hoods are equipped with a suction system which, after sucking up all the fumes and vapours present in the kitchen, conveys them to the kitchen. This type is recommended for large kitchens and those where cooking is often done.
Recirculating or filtering fume hoods do not require the installation of a flue pipe because they do not expel the extracted fumes outside, but filter the air and return it to the purified environment. This type is suitable when you have little space, in rooms with low ceilings and if you use the kitchen very little. Recirculation hoods rely on special activated carbon filters that help to eliminate odours produced during food preparation.
One of the main technical specifications to consider is suction capacity. This term indicates the quantity of air sucked in and expelled, or filtered, every hour from the cooker hood measured in mc/h (cubic metres/hour). A good cooker hood should suck at least 400mc/h and guarantee an air exchange equal to at least six times the volume of the room. The suction power of an appliance of this type should be evaluated, especially taking into account the size of the kitchen and the frequency with which meals are prepared. A final element to be evaluated, finally, concerns the air suction speed. Quality products make it possible to select different speed levels according to the quantity and quality of fumes to be extracted.
Cooker hoods can have a variable number of filters - from one to four depending on the size of the appliance - whose function consists in capturing unpleasant odours and particles of fat and food present in the fumes released by the food you are cooking. To put it simply, the greater the filtering power of the hood, the better the quality of the air in the room. The filtering system is composed of two different types of filters:
The former is usually available in the form of removable panels and can be made of metal with a honeycomb structure, or acrylic. Metal filters, made of steel or aluminium, are washable, while acrylic filters are disposable and must be replaced periodically. The task of these filters is to filter out fumes and vapours by preventing grease particles from accumulating in the intake duct or engine and damaging them. Active carbon filters, on the other hand, have a different function: to capture the odours produced during food preparation. To know the filtering power of a fume hood, simply read the energy label where the filtering efficiency class is indicated. This value is expressed with a system of letters ranging from A to G, where A indicates the maximum efficiency of the product.
Another - often underestimated - criterion to be considered when preparing to buy a product of this type is its quietness. The air intake system makes these appliances inevitably noisy, but the degree of noise can vary depending on the model and the quality of the hood. To be considered silent, these appliances should never exceed the noise threshold of 55 decibels, calculated with the hood operating at maximum power.
If you want to reduce the intensity of the noise produced by the cooker hood, you can use pipes made of sound-absorbing materials that partially absorb the noise produced by the suction fans. Since the noise caused by the air intake system, the greater the power of the appliance, the greater the noise made. Latest-generation models are equipped with insulating guards to reduce noise.
A functional cooker hood should be easy to clean and practical to use while cooking. In the first case, make sure the filters are easily removable, as they need to be cleaned often and, each time, you will have to remove them and then put them back in place.
Another aspect not to be underestimated is related to lighting; kitchen hoods - among other things - also have the function of illuminating the hob while cooking, so the type of lights, intensity and angle are critical factors. The more modern models are equipped with LED lights, which, compared to traditional resistance bulbs, emit a cooler light, illuminating the cooker hob better and with less energy consumption.
Last but not least, consider the presence of some controls that, besides indicating a higher quality of the product, make it easier to use the appliance. Among the knobs and buttons that on a kitchen hood, you can find:
Choosing which hood to install depends on the size of your kitchen, the hob layout and the wall units. Depending on the case, it is possible to opt for different types of cooker hoods. For kitchens with an island cooker, the most suitable type is undoubtedly the island extractor fan which is installed on the ceiling, just above the hob. In the case of linear kitchens or small kitchenettes, you can choose the most functional built-in or integrated cooker hoods, which are characterised by the possibility of recessing the structure in the lower part of a wall unit, so as not to require additional space for installation.
Telescopic or extractable hoods are a special type of cooker hood, as they are incorporated into the hob and opened only when necessary thanks to an automated lifting mechanism. Also worth mentioning are the models designed for special needs such as corner or ceiling mounted cooker hoods. In the absence of special requirements, the most commonly used type of cooker hoods is wall-mounted, with or without a flue.
Let's see which are the most common types and what their main features are.
Also known as "chimney hoods" due to the presence of an exposed chimney, wall mounted hoods This is the most classic of the kitchen hoods which is installed directly on the wall, above the hob, between the wall units. They can be both horizontal and vertical and guarantee excellent extraction thanks to the linear air ducting. They are suitable for kitchens positioned along the wall and with the cooker hob leaning against the wall.
Island hoods are the compulsory choice for those who have the cooking area positioned in the middle of the room, not along the walls. In this case, as well as fulfilling a vital technical function, the hood can also be a modern and refined design object that remains in plain sight. The island hoods can have a cylindrical or cubic shape or even be completely similar to suspensions of different sizes.
A further alternative when you can’t install a substructure in your kitchen, and you don't want to renounce to a sophisticated style, is represented by the inclined head-free extractor hoods. They are easy to install like a normal wall-mounted hood and give the kitchen environment that extra touch of dynamism thanks to their modern and functional design. Their reduced overall size, especially in terms of depth thanks to the oblique orientation of the surface, allow even tall people to stand in front of the cooker without the risk of inadvertently banging their heads.
This type of hood fits underneath the wall units, and the only part that remains visible is the visor with the control panel. It guarantees excellent performance at a reasonable price. The latest generation models of substructure cooker extraction hoods are ultra-thin.
As you can already guess from the name, this particular type of cooker hood is typically installed inside a wall unit, strictly positioned above the kitchenette. They can also be defined as retractable hoods and to extract them, simply pull the door to increase the smoke extraction surface. When not in use, simply close the door again to reduce the overall dimensions.
Cooker hoods are used to purify the air in the kitchen from the fumes and vapours that form during the preparation of meals and to do this they can act in two ways: by expelling the stale air outwards, as in the case of extractor hoods, or by purifying it and putting it back into circulation, as recirculating hoods do.
The suction models are equipped with an electric fan that sucks up the fumes present in the environment and conveys them towards the filters that retain all the fat and food particles. The air thus purified is then conveyed into the conduction system connected to the flue pipe and expelled outside.
Recirculation hoods have a different operation because they do not expel the air taken from the environment through the suction system, but purify it through a double system of filters (anti-fat and odour capture) and then put it back into circulation.
You are not sure about which hood to choose between suction and filtering? Let's try to clarify your ideas a bit. Both types have advantages and disadvantages. The suction models are the most widespread because they guarantee high performance, are silent, have a high flow rate and require little maintenance. On the other hand, however, they are more complicated to install, since to work they need to be connected to a flue pipe which, if it is not present, would have to be specially made with expensive masonry work.
Filter hoods, on the other hand, are much simpler to install since they only need a power socket to connect them. They are, however, noisier and require more intensive maintenance, especially as regards cleaning and replacement of the double filter system. In kitchens where it is not possible to make an evacuation hole to connect the flue pipe, the choice must necessarily fall on a recirculating hood, while in other cases you can opt for one or the other solution according to your needs and requirements.
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