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The kitchen is often the focal point of the modern home. An essential part of an attractive and functional kitchen is the range hood or cooker hood. A cooker hood is installed above the stove to collect and vent smoke or other fumes and odors from the air above the cooking surface. Cooker hoods come with many options, such as varied types of lighting, fans, and filters.
For ideal efficiency, a cooker hood needs to be at least as wide as the stove it covers. Since the idea is to remove smoky air, it also needs to be equipped with a good exhaust system. This is the most important part to consider. Cooker hoods with a good exhaust system quickly draw smoke and vapors up from the cooking surface and out of the house through ductwork. Some prefer to forego the hassle of ductwork and opt instead for a recirculating exhaust.
Instead of venting smoky air outdoors, these cooker hoods recirculate the air through a filter which removes impurities and deposits the air back into the kitchen. These filters must be cleaned or replaced periodically. Many home improvement experts advise against installing recirculating cooker hoods, for the reason that no filter is quite as effective as removing the smoky air from the house altogether, and many are quite ineffective. Filters are also present in cooker hoods which vent the smoke outdoors. These are needed to keep airborne grease from collecting in the ductwork and becoming a fire hazard.
The efficiency of an exhaust fan depends on how it is designed. An axial exhaust fan is shaped somewhat like a ceiling fan. It is less expensive than a centrifugal fan, which is more barrel-shaped. Centrifugal fans move more air and are quieter in operation than axial fans. Some higher-end cooker hoods include timers to shut off the fan after a specific amount of time has passed.
Lighting is included in most cooker hoods, in the form of one or two incandescent or halogen bulbs. This type of feature adds another light source to a kitchen and can make it easier to see the food under the shadow of the hood itself. Often there are adjustable settings to brighten or dim the lighting, such as for use as a kitchen night-light.
Counter space is at a premium in any kitchen, leading some to install a microwave above the stove, equipped with a small exhaust system on the bottom. What is gained in counter space, though, is lost in smoke-capturing ability. No microwave-mounted fan will remove smoke and steam as well as even a rudimentary cooker hood, but the convenience and space savings make it worth the trade-off in some cases.
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