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Do You Have to Have a Cooker Hood?

When you are planning a new kitchen there are clearly certain appliances which are considered essential, and an oven and hob, whether separately or combined into a freestanding cooker or range, are certainly high on the list. One item that people sometimes wonder about is the cooker hood, which can command a high price - but how essential is it?

What Does a Cooker Hood Do?


A typical cooker hood comprises of a canopy containing washable grease filters, and an internal motor to draw air through these, either directly to the outside via an additional flexible or rigid duct, or back into the room via additional charcoal filters which take out cooking odours. Either way, the hood processes the air and radically improves your cooking environment.

Cooker Hood Venting

Hoods come in many different forms, but the basic principles of operation are the same as shown here




Do I Need to Have a Cooker Hood?


Although a hood could not really be seen as vital, and there is no regulation stipulating that you have one as such, the benefits it brings to your overall cooking experience should not be underestimated. However, UK regulations DO require that for new builds there must be a way of removing steam and condensation from your kitchen, whether this is a wall mounted extractor fan or a cooker hood. This is to prevent the build-up of mould.

Safety Considerations


Another thing to be aware of is that you CANNOT have a ducted-out extractor in the same room as an open-vented fossil fuel burning stove, so if you have a nice wood burning stove in the kitchen (most of these are open vented) for important safety reasons you will need to set up your hood to

recirculate

rather than extract, - you may end up reversing the venting action and sucking gases back into the room. The other thing to bear in mind is that the hood must be positioned at a

minimum height

of 65cm above your hob, although if your hotplate is particularly powerful this may be higher, and your cooker manual or installer will advise you accordingly.

What are the Benefits of a Cooker Hood?


Forget those nasty compact units with fibre matting installed in many kitchens twenty years ago - a proper cooker hood will transform your day. Preparing a meal will be far less onerous and stressful when all the associated heat, steam and odours are whisked away, and new users will be amazed by and grateful for the absence of cooking smells all over the house. You should always aim to extract to the outside if you can, rather than re-circulating, as it is obviously more efficient in removing steam and heat, which the carbon filters used for re-circulating will not do. Extracting is not always practical, though, and you will need to check that your preferred hood can be configured to re-circulate (most can). One compelling extra benefit is plenty of additional light - hoods also feature down-lights which make a remarkable difference, allowing you to see and focus more on what is going on, as well as providing some mood lighting for your kitchen when you are not cooking. Some hoods feature variable light levels to enhance this effect, using halogen or LED light sources for a crisp or subtle impact.

Aesthetic Opportunity


Functionality aside, one major reason people include a hood in their kitchen is that is provides an opportunity for a stunning design statement, or an enhancement of the room's traditional character. From the traditional wall-mounted canopy hood or more linear steel and glass designs, through to flush-mounted ceiling hoods or concealed downdraft extractors which rise from the worktop at the touch of a button, there is a whole spectrum of hoods which use form and finish to match or amplify your kitchen design or provide a real focal point. You can even integrate a hood into a chimney breast of overhead unit for a more discrete approach. Whether your budget is modest or generous you should find there is plenty of choice available, and it is always worth talking through the options with an experienced person to make sure you are considering all the options. Our team will be happy to help, on

01244 402975

.

Cooker Hood Array

There is a dazzling array of styles to choose from, or you can tuck an integrated hood away in a cupboard unit or chimney breast




What Features Should You Look for?


The two main aspects of hood functionality you need to be aware of are Rate of Extraction (measured in cubic metres per hour, or m3/h) and Noise level (in decibels, or dB). A rate of around 450m3/h with a noise level of under 60dB is a reasonable expectation for modestly priced chimney hoods, but you should aim a bit higher if you can. The better the motor, the higher the extraction rate, and the more work it will be doing at a lower (and therefore quieter) setting. Hoods generally have 3 speeds, and may also have boosters which give you a limited burst of performance when occasion demands.

Auto-sensing


Automatically activates the hood when heat, steam, odours etc. are detected.

Auto-timer


Allows you to leave the hood running for a short while after you have finished cooking.

Power-boost


Great for clearing the air quickly for a brief period after some enthusiastic frying.

Filter Warning


Senses when your charcoal filters (if fitted) are saturated and due to be changed.

Remote Control


Handy if you are unable to reach the main controls or are sitting at the table.

How Powerful a Hood Do I Need?


The regulations state that a hood must work at rate of 30 litres per minute, which is well below most hood specifications. For practical purposes it is recommended that your hood should replenish the air in the room 10 times every hour, so you can work out the minimum performance you need by multiplying the volume of your room in cubic metres (H x W x L) by 10 to give you an extraction rate in cubic metres per hour (e.g. 2.5 x 3 x 3 = 22.5m3, x 10 = 225m3/h). Most decent hoods will probably out-perform when it comes to the average UK kitchen, but if you have a large space it is definitely worth crunching the numbers and making sure your hood is up to the job!

How Much Do I Need to Pay?


If you are considering a hood as part of a new kitchen layout, or simply want to upgrade your existing hood, you do not have to spend a fortune to get something which will look stunning and work beautifully. As with any appliance, there is an element of "you get what you pay for", but often if you are aiming at matching your hood with an expensive cooker brand you will inevitably be paying more if you go for the same brand. There may be perfectly good reason to do so if the hood design is more suitable, but you may do better to opt for a good quality product from a lesser brand, or a non-branded alternative which will have all the features and looks you need without the pricey badge. You should find a good quality 60cm hood for £250 to £300, and a good mid-range 90cm range cooker hood will generally start at around £350 (although Rangecookers.co.uk supply an excellent unbranded high performance product - the Rangecookers Select hood range - from £235), with posher examples going up to around £1000. Much larger or more sophisticated hoods can cost anything up to and beyond £2000.

So if you have been wondering "Why do I need a cooker hood?", hopefully you are now better informed. In our opinion a cooker hood is a real boon we would not be without, and not just because it stops your house smelling like last night's dinner! Cooking in a considerably more civilised, better-lit kitchen - one not filled with steam, smoke, heat and odours - definitely transforms the cooking experience, and you will wonder how you ever coped without one.



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