Cooking produces pollutants such as smoke and grease and if these aren’t vented out of your kitchen, they accumulate on surfaces and leave odors. An overhead or updraft cooktop vent is typically considered the most effective system homeowners can install, because they trap pollutants as they rise from your cookware. However, a downdraft system can be a good alternative when an overhead vent installation isn’t possible.
Design and Appearance
Downdraft systems are a venting option that allows you to keep the vent out of view. They pop up only when in use, rising about 8 to 10 inches above the top of the cooking surface, although some models may rise slightly higher than this. In some cooktop models, the vent is integrated into the surface of the cooktop near the burners and doesn’t rise above, so it always remains unobtrusive.
How They Work
Downdraft vents work by pulling the air across the cooking surface and drawing smoke, steam and grease down through a filter and into a duct that carries it beneath the floor or along the cabinet kick space and outside your home. Downdraft vents are typically integrated into the surface of your cooktop, and not purchased separately like range hoods with an updraft vent system.
Because a downdraft vent doesn’t typically rise more than 10 inches above the cooking surface, it is too short to effectively pull vapors rising from a tall pot. Because of their design, downdraft vents work harder than updraft systems to remove air, and are usually ineffective at drawing steam, odors and smoke from burners that are farthest away, and from tall stockpots. Steam and hot air produced by cooking typically rises, and a downdraft system essentially fights the natural laws of physics. It can effectively remove pollutants, but only those nearest to the vent.
While downdraft vents aren’t the ideal ventilation system for all kitchens, they can be an effective solution for certain situations. For example, downdraft ventilation is often used when an overhead hood isn’t possible, such as in kitchens with cathedral ceilings, where the ductwork would be so long it wouldn’t be able to vent effectively. They’re also useful in an island cooktop for homeowners who want to keep the kitchen open and not obstructed by a hood hanging from the ceiling. Downdraft vents are effective when used for grilling, frying, and other cooking applications where you use shallow pots and pans.
About the Author
Renee Miller began writing professionally in 2008, contributing to websites and the "Community Press" newspaper. She is co-founder of On Fiction Writing, a website for writers. Miller holds a diploma in social services from Clarke College in Belleville, Ontario.
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