Updated: Oct 12, 2016
Downdraft Ventilation Reviews:
- What is a downdraft ventilation system?
- Benefits of downdraft vent vs range hoods
- How much do downdraft vents cost? Which should I buy?
We just replaced our kitchen countertops and in the process also took out the old cooktop and put in a new Kenmore Pro 6 Gas Burner. Our old cooktop was a 4 burner with the downdraft ventilation system in between the 2 sets of cooktop burners. The 6 burner unit from Kenmore eliminates the flush mount downdraft and forced us to consider either a ceiling mounted hood or go with a telescoping downdraft vent. Unfortunately we thought we were going to only have to spend about $1700 on the cooktop but now we are looking at an additional $900 for the telescoping downdraft since the hood is not feasible for the island configurement. Without much of a choice, we went with the Kenmore Elite downdraft ventilation system so that our cooktop can function properly.
Why do you need a downdraft ventilation system? Many people don't realize that kitchens needs a good source of ventilation. Commercial kitchens found in restaurants are all about vents and minimizing things like condensation and humidity not to mention all the grease and odors associated with cooking. If you like to cook in your kitchen, then having a downdraft system is essential. The venting system in your kitchen works to reduce those cooking by-products and extract them to the exterior through proper venting. A kitchen ventilation system will trap things like cooking grease and grim and keep it away from any nearby furniture. My wife cooks almost daily with her catering business and we have trouble keeping things like window sills free of grease yet they are 15 feet from the cooktop area. You would be surprised how those things can travel through the air unnoticed. Health concerns are another reason why you should want a good ventilation system in your kitchen. Ultra-fine particles that are released into the air during the cooking process can harm your body if you are exposed to them non-stop. Stovetop ventilation designs allow you to get something that fits into your current kitchen configuration and looks great. Down below we go into a buying guide for downdraft ventilation systems.
The video below shows the basic functions of the new Kenmore Elite downdraft vent system so you know what to expect:
What to look for in downdraft ventilation?
Choosing a downdraft ventilation system - A downdraft ventilation system is designed to draw gas fumes downward. Downdraft vents are used most often when overhead hoods or venting is not a practical solution. As in our case, if you have a kitchen island with a cooktop, you are probably going to have to get a downdraft system unless you already have a hood system in place. The two types of ventilation are flush-mount and telescoping. The flush-mount downdraft vents are often built into the range or cooktop (like with our Amana) or right into the countertop itself. They carry vapors and fumes downward, out through the base of the cabinet and out the ducting. Experts say that the flush mount vents are less efficient than the telescoping or overhead models. You would rather not have the heat "pulled away" from the cooktop, but whatever works.
The telescoping downdraft ventilation systems are what you see in many homes, especially those with gas 6 burner cooktops located in the middle of the kitchen. They extend into the air (only when needed) and then disappear behind the cooktop when not in use. The salesguy I spoke with at Sears mentioned how efficient these are compared to the flush mount style. Great for larger pots that sit higher up on the cooktop. The one drawback to the telescoping vents is that they take up space in your cabinet below the cooktop and some people say they are noisy. We can't imagine anything being any noisier than our current downdraft ventilation, but we will see once it's in place.
In terms of price, the telescoping downdrafts are $500 to $2000. Overhead hoods will probably cost you more plus you may need to reconfigure your ceiling or ducting to get them in place properly. What are the top brands - We found Frigidaire, Electrolux, Kenmore, Broan, Maytag, Bosch, GE, Whirlpool, DCS, and Thermador. Which brand is best? It's hard to say, talk with your installer or certified salesperson and see which one fits and works with your current or new cooktop setup. Downdraft ventilation reviews - Want to read up on what others have to say about these systems? We found dozens of owner reviews and comments on websites like Epinions, Buzzillions, MySears, Gardenweb.com (forum), and of course at Amazon.com. You can find them at Home Depot, Lowes, Sears, or online at sites like Amazon.com. You can browse the best selling downdraft ventilation systems here.
Best Downdraft Ventilation:
The downdrafts that we looked at were the 36" variety to fit our cooktop. The 30 inch downdraft ventilation systems are also available from most manufacturers. We saw only stainless steel options, so not sure what else is available. They tend to come with high end cooktop units which feature stainless steel materials. The quiet remote blowers are ideal to keep the noise levels down. Get one with multiple speed controls so that you can have the blower perform at the right level. Multiple blowers are available on some units. Check out the top rated downdraft ventilation systems online here. Compare prices, see specs and features, and view photos to see what they look like fully raised.
To check out how to use a downdraft vent system - click the image below to go to video.
Downdraft Vent Installation:
Installing a downdraft ventilation system is probably better left for the professional. With our kitchen remodel, we are having a local countertop company lead the project and they have an electrician who will be doing the downdraft ventilation installation. Sears had recommended that we use their install crews, but part of our deal with the countertop company was that they would install the cooktop and vent system as part of the total fee. The entire project was actually purchased through Costco, so I am hoping with their customer service reputation, that if anything goes wrong we are in good hands. Our contractor has assured us that installing the downdraft systems is not hard and since they are templating the countertop to fit the downdraft and cooktop, everything should fit smoothly and function just fine. I will update this review after we have had it installed for a few months and see how things are working out.
As we mentioned before, some homeowners can get a range hood and not have to go the same route we did with a downdraft system. Range hoods create a grand feel to any kitchen but they are not always practical given your kitchen configuration. We found that many homes not originally designed with range hoods have a hard time accommodating them after the fact. It all comes down to where your cooktop/range is located in your kitchen. If it's against a wall, then you can probably look into range hoods. If it's on a center island (like ours), range hoods are not the best solution given location and pricing. Some of the top sellers are made from Broan, AKDY, and Z Line. Many hood systems with exhaust fans sell for over $1000, while most are $300 to $800. Keep in mind installation is a big expense on these units. It will be more costly if your house is not already setup for the range hood system. Talk with your local kitchen shop and they can give you some estimates.
More videos and resources are here on our Downdraft Ventilation Resource Page.
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