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How to Choose the Best Venting System for Your Kitchen

It’s easy to choose a kitchen venting system based solely on aesthetics, but having a solid understanding of the pros and cons of different products is important too. Learn more about the various overhead and downdraft venting systems and find a solution that works best for your home.

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Photo: Wolf, Sub-Zero Group, Inc.

Which Venting System is Right For Your Cooking Style?

Both your personal cooking style and the orientation of your kitchen will play a part in determining what type of vent system works best for your home. Though both overhead and downdraft vent systems add efficiency to indoor and outdoor kitchens, homeowners may gravitate to a certain vent system without considering how they use their cooktop. Is your cooktop gas, electric or induction? Are you routinely cooking with oils or burning the bacon? Do you use very tall cookware or are you a very tall person? All of these factors come into play when choosing between downdraft and overhead venting.

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Photo: Jennifer Boomer/Verbatim Photo A. From: Fixer Upper.

Downdraft Vent vs. Overhead Vent: How Are They Similar?

Both systems effectively collect smoke, steam and grease and vent them outside. They also serve to collect emissions like carbon monoxide from gas cooktops. You’ll find that all products offer a range in power, and both require some degree of maintenance related to cleaning the grease filters. Pricing varies a wide range based on the design and its sheer size for necessary efficiency (more power is more money), but if you’re looking to get a sense of cost, know that you’ll find a lot of variables between products that run $500 when compared to the $5,000 models. Both styles are available with ductless options, though, without ductwork venting to the outdoors, the circulated air tends to add humidity to the kitchen and requires extra filter upkeep.

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Photo: Jeffrey Kilmer. From: Suk Design Group LLP.

Downdraft Vent vs. Overhead Vent: How Are They Different?

The design of the two systems is the biggest differentiator. Downdrafts pull smoke, steam and grease downwards in order to vent them outside. Overhead vents collect emissions as they naturally rise. Downdraft vents are usually either built into a cooktop or installed as an accessory to the cooktop that operates independently, often even telescoping up for use and back down when out of use. Overhead venting can either drop from the ceiling as its own unit or can attach to wall space above the cooktop. If other appliances are above the cooktop, such as a microwave, you can choose a cooker canopy hood where the overhead venting is connected to the bottom of that appliance.

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Photo: Larny J. Mack. From: IS Architecture.

Advantages of Downdraft Venting

You can entirely eliminate the need for an overhead hood vent, which is sometimes the best solution when it’s not easy to vent through the ceiling or when you don't want to sacrifice upper cabinetry. Downdrafts can be installed behind a cooktop and include a telescoping design that raises and lowers out of the countertop. For $500-$1,500, you can buy a telescoping model that remains out of sight when not in use.

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