Cooker Hoods – how to choose the best for your kitchen

Ask any chef or foodie about cooker hoods, and they’ll tell you that good cuisine incorporates all the senses. And the very first is smell, as the aroma of your delicious food wafts its way from the kitchen to your family or guests. As it does so, their mouths water and stomachs rumble in anticipation, until you bring out dish after dish of sumptuous, and apparently effortlessly produced, courses.
Of course, as any chef will also tell you, kitchens create a lot of smoke, steam and grease – aromas that can leave the carpet smelling like a Sunday roast days later. Great for the dog, but not for you.
Which is why, when designing your new kitchen, you need to think about the practicalities of kitchen extraction. Which kind of cooker hood will work best to keep your kitchen clear of all those bad smells, leaving just enough to keep the scent of your culinary creations floating through to the dining area? You need something to make you look like an expert in the kitchen – rather than red faced in the heat.
Cooker hoods are the key to kitchen extraction, clearing away all that steam and bad smell, leaving just enough aroma to tantalise the taste buds of your diners. Let’s go through the practical considerations you need to think about to keep your kitchen air clear.

Kitchen extraction or recirculation?

Most cooker hoods can be set to extract or recirculate the air in your kitchen. Extraction is the most effective method, bringing fresh air into your kitchen via a duct. Recirculating involves cleaning the air through a charcoal and grease filter. It all depends on the space you have available, and the position of the kitchen. For example, if your kitchen doesn’t have access to an outside wall, a recirculating cooker hood, rather than a kitchen extractor, may be your best choice.

Recirculating cooker hoods

Rather than sucking the steam, smoke and excess kitchen smells into the great outdoors, a recirculating cooker hood uses a charcoal filter to remove grease and odour, and recirculate the air back into the kitchen. They’re flexible, and can be fitted anywhere your cooker is. And because it isn’t necessary to stick a duct pipe through the wall, this device is simpler to install.
Of course, because the recirculating cooker hood is only filtering the air, rather than extracting it, kitchen heat or moisture will still remain. And the charcoal filter will need replacing every year or so.

Kitchen extractors

A kitchen extractor will take all that smoke, steam and overpowering odour out of your face, replacing it with fresh air that carries the tantalising smell of your culinary taste sensations to come. Kitchen extraction doesn’t require a filtering system, other than a grease filter, which reduces the need to maintain and replace the equipment during use. And because there is no charcoal filter, the airflow rate is higher.
However, not all kitchens allow for an extraction system, as it isn’t always possible to source a duct through a wall.

Which cooker hoods are best for you?

Whatever the size and shape of your kitchen, there’s a cooker hood that’s suited to your needs.
Over-hob wall-mounted hood
You’ve probably seen these in many a kitchen, and for good reason; their triangular shape, over the oven, does a very effective job of keeping your kitchen clear. This classic cooker hood is available in a multitude of designs, from traditional to modern, and in extraction and recirculating models. Finding the right kitchen extractor isn’t all about functionality, and from imposing to discreet, stainless steel to vintage, there’s a great deal of stylish choices out there for you to choose from.
Island cooker hood
An island adds grandeur as well as practical space to a larger kitchen, and in recent years they’ve grown in popularity. But island cookers need extraction too, and kitchen designers have responded with some very attractive cooker hood options. If you’re designing your kitchen from scratch with an island in mind, it’s important to consider your extraction options, and where ducting can be put in a joining wall. But there are also options for recirculating, particularly as islands, by their nature, aren’t fitted to a wall.
Pendant cooker hood
Pendant hoods are suspended from the ceiling like a pendant light, giving them great flexibility – they’re ideal for an island, for example. However, from a design point of view, it can be difficult to fix a duct to a pendant cooker hood in an attractive way, so this may work better as part of a kitchen recirculating system.
Downdraft cooker hood
These are the secret agents of the kitchen extraction world; only seen when required, they sit along the back of the hob, hidden within the worktop. When they’re required for a special mission, such as helping to clear the air during evening meal time, a button push calls them into action. This cooker hood slides smoothly out, sucking air from the level of your pots and pans, and either extracting or recirculating it. This invisible, slick and unobtrusive system can easily be smuggled into any kitchen design.
Canopy hood
Another discreet device, also known as a built-in or built-under cooker hood. A canopy hood can be fitted to the bottom of a cupboard, and hidden from sight when not in use. Your canopy simply slides out when required to extract or recirculate, and can be controlled remotely from a wall unit, or a hidden switch within the unit.
Ceiling hood
No points for guessing where this hood is fitted. Taking advantage of height, they suck up those odours and substances at a swift rate – great for extracting, not as effective for recirculating. Operation is automatic or through a wall mounted unit.

Filtering the bad, keeping the good

Charcoal is the magic ingredient in recirculating filter hoods, as it cleans up those nasty smells and keeps your kitchen clear of steam and grease. These charcoal filters will just need replacing every year or so. That said, if you’re looking at getting an extractor fitted, you don’t need to worry about having a charcoal filter as the fresh air will come in from outside.
The other type of filter found in both kitchen extractors and recirculators is a grease filter. Nowadays most are stainless steel and can easily be cleaned in a dishwasher.

A word about noise

Most cooker hoods and kitchen extractors have inbuilt motors, which means there is some noise associated with using cooker hood. A good way to minimise the disruption the noise will cause is to turn on the extractor at a low level as you start to prepare a meal, rather than turning it up to number eleven the moment you get a face full of singed mange tout. And of course, you can turn the extractor off if you’re eating in the kitchen – and many kitchens are designed as open plan dining spaces too these days. The sudden quiet caused by the stopping of the extractor may even tip your dinner guests off that dinner is about to be served!

What to do next?

A little research goes a long way, and knowing about the importance of kitchen extraction is vital to designing your dream kitchen to your own tastes – and of course, aroma. Our expert kitchen designers are ready to talk your ideas and needs through and taken them to the next level, with our wide range of stylish and effective cooker hoods for you to choose from.