Everything you need to know about cooker hoods (updated)

Sometimes small things such as cooker hoods can get forgotten about until later in the design process, at which point there may be some limitations affecting your choice. With the hob/oven often the centrepiece of your kitchen, choosing the right cooker hood is an important decision and one that you will certainly want to get right. Cooker hoods aren’t just there to look pretty, they serve an essential practical purpose in your kitchen, keeping your room clean and making it a nicer place to be. Available in a vast array of sizes, colours, styles and types, it can be difficult to find the right one for you, which is why we’ve written this handy guide, giving you everything you’ll ever need to know about cooker hoods.

Do You Need A Cooker Hood?

When the air is extracted from your kitchen it needs somewhere to go. It can either be sent outside (extraction hood) or it can be pumped through a filter and recirculated back into the kitchen (recirculation hood). Below is a bit more of an in-depth explanation of the two:

What is the difference between extraction hoods and recirculation hoods?

When the air is extracted from your kitchen, it needs somewhere to go. It can either be sent outside (extraction hood) or it can be pumped through a filter and recirculated back into the kitchen (recirculation hood). Below is a more in-depth explanation of the two:

The Extraction Hood

These cooker hoods simply send the air outside through ducting. They do not filter or process it in any way. Funnelling the air directly outside is more efficient and often more effective than recirculating it back into the room. However, ducted/extractor hoods can be louder because more power is needed to push the air through the ducting. It is important to note that, because they use ducting to channel the air outside, you will need to plan a route for the ducting right from the start, especially if you want the cooker hood above an island or against a non-external wall. The ducting can often be ugly and ruin the look of your kitchen if left to the last minute.

The Recirculation Hood

These cooker hoods push the air through filters. The filters then remove any cooking smells before the air is reintroduced back into your kitchen. Most modern recirculation hoods feature a basic grease filter as well as a charcoal filter, which work together to remove grease, food smells and smoke from the air. Recirculation/self-circulating cooker hoods are often much cheaper than extraction hoods because they don’t include ducting. However, they are less effective at dealing with smells, grease, and smoke because they have to process the air, and inevitably they don’t do that 100% perfectly. You should also bear in mind that the filters will need replacing occasionally. These cooker hoods may be the best solution for anyone redoing their kitchen on a budget and can be useful if you are reluctant to design your kitchen around where the ducting can go.

How Do You Hide Cooker Hood Ducting?

Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to hide your cooker hood ducting. In an ideal scenario, your hob would be positioned against an outside facing wall so that a very short length of ducting can go up from the hood before going straight out through a hole in the wall. Where this isn’t possible, there are a few solutions you may want to consider.

Firstly, what is on the other side of the wall? If the adjoining room is a utility or cloakroom, an unsightly length of ducting which you can choose to box in may not be an issue. Failing that, you might be able to run the ducting above the ceiling through the floor space. However, this depends on how your joists are positioned as it would need to run alongside them. If you have overhead cabinets on either side of your hob, you can conceal the ducting above or inside the cupboards, although this isn’t an ideal solution. Furthermore, you will be limited on how long the ducting can be and how many bends it can have. We recommend limiting the length to 5 metres, reducing that by 1.2 metres for every 90° bend. Now you can see why it’s worth considering your choice of cooker hood early on in the design process. If you’re not sure how this fits with your plans, just give us a call to discuss.

Style & Types of Cooker Hoods

Let’s face it, the style of your cooker hood is one of the most important aspects affecting your decision. There are many different styles on the market, each with a different approach to removing food odours and airborne grease. With so many different styles to choose from, things can get confusing. The main things you need to consider are the size and location of the hob and whether you prefer the cooker hood to be hidden or made into a feature.

Integrated Hoods

This hidden style is ideal for those of you that do not wish to make your cooker hood into a feature. Integrated cooker hoods are built into your cabinets and look just like another wall unit at first glance. They are switched on by pulling a handle or pressing a switch. Some even come with a small amount of space for a spice rack! This design is available in both recirculating and extracting models.

Conventional or Visor Hoods

Usually fitted to the underside of a wall unit, these cooker hoods are more visible and obvious than the integrated type but are a little more subtle than the designer or chimney hoods. The visor hoods come with a small glass or plastic visor that extends the hood’s size. Although these cooker hoods are becoming less popular, they are still great for kitchens with limited space because they can fit under a cupboard – saving your valuable storage space.

Chimney Hoods

Chimney hoods have become very popular in recent years because of their ability to make a stylish statement. Often made from brushed stainless steel, these cooker hoods have a wide section at the bottom connected to a chimney. A chimney-style hood can bring an industrial or urban edge to both on-trend shaker kitchens and sleek contemporary designs. They can go either snuggly between two units or sit perfectly on their own as a standalone hood.

Designer Hoods

For those of you that want to make a real statement and wow your friends with your cooker hood, you’ll be looking at the designer hoods. These designs would beautifully complement a contemporary style kitchen. This style comes at a cost; these are often the most expensive type of cooker hoods, yet underneath these are still just standard cooker hoods. Having said that, they do make an immediate visual impact and are a great way to make your kitchen unique.

Island hoods

These cooker hoods are designed to complement a kitchen island hob. They can be integrated into the ceiling for a completely seamless look or suspended above the cooker to create a stylish focal point. Island hoods are designed to be viewed from any angle and do not have a flat back which you would get with a wall-mounted hood. Extractor hoods are a popular choice. However, there are a range of designer recirculation hoods available that are intended to look less like cooker hoods and more like glamorous lighting features.

Downdraft Cooker Hoods

Downdraft cooker hoods are another great and even more discreet option for kitchen island hobs. They are built into the worktop making them completely hidden when not in use. They work by drawing steam horizontally before pulling it down through the filters situated below the worksurface. They are not recommended with gas hobs and unfortunately can block your view when in use.

What Are The Alternatives To A Cooker Hood

Standalone Extractor Fans

In some cases, perhaps if you don’t cook regularly or are unable to find a solution that works with your design, standalone, wall-mounted extractors can be used. Since, like a bathroom extractor, they don’t use any ducting, you will need to put them directly on an outside wall. You will likely need more than one, and they won’t be as effective as a specially designed cooker hood.

Venting Hobs

The latest and most exciting addition to the kitchen extraction world is the venting hob. The venting hob includes a recirculating extractor built below the cooktop. The vent is usually located centrally so that it draws vapours evenly from across the cooking surface. These cutting-edge hobs have been designed to ensure the vent is protected from food spillages and can be easily cleaned. State-of-the-art venting hobs allow you to position your hob anywhere in your kitchen without having to worry about extraction.

How To Choose The Best Cooker Hood For Your Kitchen

We have a few other important pieces of information which you might find useful when choosing the right cooker hood for your kitchen…

Do You Have A Suitable Wall For An Extractor Hood?

If you love cooking and experimenting with different dishes, then the most effective option when it comes to removing steam, smoke and cooking odours is the extractor hood. However, extractor hoods either need to be situated on an outside wall or near enough to an external wall to run the ducting outside. You will need to factor this into your kitchen design from the outset. If this isn’t possible, then you may have to find an alternative solution.

What Size Cooker Hood Do You Need?

Ideally, your cooker hood should be wider or about the same size as your cooking area. However, with designer pendant style hoods, this isn’t always possible. Many appliance brands will sell cooker hoods to match their range of hobs. If you opt for a chimney style hood in between cabinets, you will also need to check that the chimney isn’t taller or shorter than the cupboards on either side.

What Extraction Rate Should You Choose?

The extraction rating of your hood is easily overlooked, but it can make a big difference to how well the cooker hood works in your kitchen. If your cooker hood does not have a high enough extraction rate for your kitchen size then you will find that it takes a long time to clear any bad smells, or even that they never really clear. In the specification of all cooker hoods, it will have a m3 per hour number. This number shows the amount of air it processes per hour. We generally recommend that you purchase a cooker hood that will filter the air in your kitchen at least 10 times per hour. A good way to work out if the rate is right for your kitchen is to work out the volume of your kitchen (length x width x height) for e.g. 4m x 3m x 2.5m = 30m3. If your kitchen hood says 300m3 per hour, then it will filter your room 10 times per hour (300÷30=10) or once every 6 minutes.

Cooker Hood Noise Levels

Just like extraction rates, most cooker hoods also come with a noise rating that’s measured in decibels. The majority of cooker hoods are rated at around 60-70 decibels (dB). If you plan to cook while entertaining or socialising, you may want to invest in a quieter cooker hood with a lower dB rating.

The Grease Filters

These days all cooker hoods, both recirculating and extracting, come with grease filters. The filters usually sit underneath the hood and are the first point of contact for the air being sucked in. These filters ensure that the worst bits from the air are removed before the machine processes everything. It may also be worth considering how easily you can get replacement filters and how expensive they are before you buy the cooker hood.

How Easily Can You Replace The Charcoal Filters?

These filters can only be found on recirculating cooker hoods. Other than the grease filter, the charcoal filter is what removes the smells and smoke. Replacing charcoal filters can be quite fiddley in some models, this may be something you want to check before you buy the cooker hood. As with the grease filter, it is also worth looking into how easily you can find replacements for the charcoal filter and how expensive they are.

Cooker Hood Lighting

Think about how you use your kitchen – often you have your back to the main light source when you’re at the hob, which is why most cooker hoods come with lights. The extra light will give you clear visibility when using your hob and can be additionally useful when checking that your food is properly cooked. Most cooker hoods come with LED lighting. It is worth looking at how easily you can replace the bulb, as some units can be a little bit tricky to open.

Should You Consider A Smart Cooker Hood?

This may be something that you’ve never thought about, but how you control your cooker hood is an important consideration. The latest cutting-edge technology can allow you to control your cooker hood from an app on your phone. These state-of-the-art smart extractor hoods can also regulate the level of extraction themselves by sensing and responding to the amount of vapour or smoke rising from your hob. Furthermore, the app will let you know when to change the filters to ensure your cooker hood is always operating at its best.

More traditional cooker hoods are available with buttons or touch-sensitive controls. You may want to consider which you prefer. Using the touch-sensitive controls might be a little bit tricky when you’ve got wet or sticky hands – as you probably will get in the kitchen.

How To Clean And Maintain A Cooker Hood

It’s not a particularly fun task, but as a piece of equipment designed to capture grease and smoke, it’s not surprising that your cooker hood will need cleaning and maintaining. Make sure you keep hold of the instruction manual so that you know how to remove the components and only remove the components when the hood is switched off.

Grease filters are often made from a ceramic or fleece material and will need to be changed every 4 to 8 weeks. In recirculating hobs, carbon filters will need changing every 9 and 12 months. The metal mesh filter should be soaked overnight in warm soapy water to loosen the grease. A toothbrush can be handy for getting into the mesh to clean it. You should also wipe the hood itself. Make sure you use products specifically designed for cleaning stainless steel if your hood is made of this material. You must dry everything thoroughly before reassembling your cooker hood.


Contact Us For More Information

We hope this guide has helped you, but if you would like to discuss which cooker hood would be best for your kitchen, just give us a call. You can contact our Cambridge showroom on 01223 904150
to speak to your local kitchen designer or email us at info@cambridgekitchens.co.uk.