With the kitchen increasingly becoming the focal point of family life, the ambiance is extremely important. The quality of the air in your kitchen is influenced by many things, including humidity, grease particles, dust, smells, smoke and waste heat. It is advisable therefore to ensure that “used” air is regularly cleaned and or replaced.
Of course, relying on natural air movement (warm air rises and fresher air enters via windows, doors and cracks) or a traditional exhaust fan is an option, but in no way does it remove the fumes from the kitchen entirely. Also, there is the added disadvantage of your ceiling and walls being stained with food particles over a period of time
By installing a chimney you can actively ventilate your kitchen, achieving appropriate ventilation whatever the weather or size and shape of the room. Hoods are the multitaskers of the kitchen. Now there are a wide range of hoods available to choose from- Wall mounted, stand alone to Island chimney, Stainless steel to glass finishes, various suction speeds, mesh filters to baffle filters etc.. The key lies in choosing the right one for your kitchen. Here are a few terms/options that you will come across while buying one.
a) Suction-Measured in metre cube per hour. Means how much air will the chimney be able to suck out of your kitchen and throw out of your house.
b) Filter-Chimneys generally come in two types-
Baffle filter- It is a metallic anti-fat filter which uses the cut and chop technology.
Both filters pretty much perform the same function and need to be cleaned at regular intervals.
[ Energy-saving tip! ] Clean the grease filter often. This way you’re keeping the function of the hood and saving energy since the hood doesn’t need to use as much energy with a clean filter compared to a greasy one. It’s easy to keep the grease filters clean since they are dishwasher-safe OR use a plastic brush and warm soapy water to clean
c) Fan/Blower- This is attached to the motor and ventilates the air. Make sure that you look for a model with metal blades for longevity rather than plastic. Also if a model has about 2-3 speed settings it can be adjusted to what you are cooking.
d) Motor- The higher the wattage the more the capacity. Make sure that you get a model where the motor is encased rather than it being exposed as grime and oil sticks onto it reducing its efficiency.
e) Noise levels- The higher the suction power and speed setting the more the noise generally, although there are some new models with super quiet technology. If possible ask the dealer to turn on the unit to judge it. That said, there will always be some noise when the chimney is on and it may vary due to site conditions despite being the same model.
f) Ducting- this is the pipe that connects the blower and throws the air out. Generally available in PVC and aluminum. A 4’ to 6’ pipe is generally given with the chimney. If your duct hole is further than that then additional piping can be purchased at an extra cost.
Now coming to the duct hole-Generally a hole slightly larger than 6” diameter in required to be cut in the wall from the area that the pipe goes outside the house. If you do not have this done already, the dealer can be contacted and the masonry work is done at an extra fee. Also make sure that the duct has the least amount of bends from the chimney to the duct hole as this reduces the efficiency of the chimney and increases the noise levels.
Now that you know the basics, here is a simple guide as to what to take into consideration while buying a chimney/hood for your home.
Style of cooking – If you can’t live without your tadka and your fried samosas, do consider one with a higher suction power. Frying spices releases a huge amount of heat and fumes which will fill up your kitchen and most likely your house if the suction power on your chimney is not enough. Anything more than 800m3/hr should do the job.
Number of people – For a household of four with normal Indian cooking a hood with a suction of 800m3/hr and above is ideal. Further features like filter type, number of speeds, design etc are also helpful in making a decision.
For a large family, where more than 2 burners are on often, a suction power of 1000m3/hr or more is required. Generally a 90cm chimney is ideal. For one or two people where there is not too much of cooking a basic straight line chimney is enough. The straight line chimney has the option of being fitted with a duct or without. Suction powers on these chimneys are generally about 400-450m3/hr
NOTE- for a hob that is more than 60cm, the chimney should always be 80-90cm wide, otherwise the fumes will go outside the chimney area and your house will still not be properly ventilated.
Budget – for those looking for a chimney under Rs. 5000, the straight line chimney is an option, but not advised for those who do a lot of cooking or a large family. For Rs. 10-18,000 good models in the 60cm width are available with about 800-1000m3/hr suction. For Rs. 18,000 upwards models in 90cm width with higher suction powers are available. The above prices are a general approximate and vary from company to company.
Aesthetics – There are a lot of decorative chimneys which do complement the look of your kitchen. Chimneys are now in different colours, materials and textures. If in case you have a simple design or a neutral colour for your kitchen cabinets, you can bring in some life with a decorative chimney and make that the focal point of your kitchen.
There is a lot of scope to add to the aesthetics especially if your kitchen has an island cooking counter and requires an island chimney.
That being said, look for functionality first and aesthetics after. Yup, that’s about it!