Since 1938 Barber & Haskill has been a family owned business serving the Barrie, Midland and Orillia areas. We are dedicated to providing you with the best in products, services and pricing.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Do I really need a range hood?

A question that customers raise with me from time to time is: do I really need a range hood, or will an over-the-range microwave do? 

First off, I think it is a good idea to get some kind of ventilation directly over your range to remove the odours, grease and steam from the room. A vent system will protect your cabinetry, walls and other surfaces from harmful steam and grease.  These are things that can discolour, de-laminate and cause other expensive damage to your kitchen if it is not properly addressed.  Also, very few people like the smell of fish, onions or other foods to linger in their home.  The vent system removes those odours before they have a chance to spread throughout your home. 

Okay, back to the question at hand:  range hood or over-the-range (OTR) microwave?  The fact is – nothing works better at clearing a kitchen of smoke, steam or odour than a range hood.  The OTR microwave just can’t compete.  Its ventilation feature is just an added convenience, and it does not perform well compared to a purpose-designed range hood.  True, there is a filter that will retain some of the air-born pollutants and reduce staining and moisture damage, but the purpose built design and capture area of range hoods stands alone in its performance.  Microwaves are good for microwaving things.  The only real advantage of putting it above your range is as a space-saving measure, creating more counter space in your kitchen.  But I don’t think that is a good trade-off – more counter space versus improved indoor air quality and clean cabinetary.  In my experience, virtually all of the issues I have ever come across regarding proper range ventilation can be directly related to OTR microwaves.

When it comes to picking your range hood, there are thousands of options.  You can choose from canopy style, liners, under-cabinet style, pro-style downdraft and the afore-mentioned OTR microwaves. And prices range from $59 all the way up to $5,000.  Because of this wide variance in options and price, I would recommend you work with a store and salesperson that you can trust, one that will take all of your concerns into consideration.

It is very important to explain your goals and what you expect from your ventilation system.  Is it just for looks? (Some of them are beautiful).  Is it purely for function, convenience or some combination of these? Having open conversations with a knowledgeable salesperson will be the first step to making sure you get the best ventilation product to fit your needs.

Some people have asked me if it is mandatory to have a ventilation system above their range.  In my experience, the answer to this is usually no, but not always.  For example, if you are using a powerful gas range you may be required to have a range hood.  It is best to check your local building code for the answer.

My thought on this is: If your goal is to keep your cabinets and walls clean and not to have those cooking smells lingering long after the meal is over go with a purpose built hood.  If d├ęcor or getting your microwave off your counter is more important, there are lots of options that will work for you including the popular over the range microwave.


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