A kitchen centrepiece

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The majority of customers do not understand the technology of extractor hoods and its benefits. They buy kitchen hoods mostly on their appearance, assuming that the high price ticket attached to the latest designer hoods is a guarantee of first class performance regardless of the specifications of the kitchen in which it is to operate.

“Design-led chimney hoods are the most popular choice right now. However, a general lack of understanding amongst consumers as to why a hood is needed in a kitchen means that design and appearance still tend to carry more weight than other factors,” says Jane Massey, brand manger of Siemens.

Ironically, the hood’s attributes, such as extraction rate and noise level, are becoming even more important as the kitchen becomes a focus of family life.

“The trend in modern households is to combine the kitchen with the living area creating a place that functions not just as a cooking area, but also serves as a place to socialize and to eat. The main purpose of a hood is to circulate fresh air into the kitchen to neutralise odours and create a fresher and healthier environment.  Noise is also important in such a setting,” comments Mike Jarrett, Neff sales director.

Lynn Leatherbarrow, director of operations for DR Cooker Hoods, distributing Elica hoods explains the basics: “The hood should ideally be ducted out to the outside of the house using the correct size ducting, which is determined by the ducting diameter of the hood. It must be powerful enough to change the air in the kitchen ideally 12 times per hour, at least eight times. The volume of the room can be calculated by multiplying length x width x height. An average room is 25m3; therefore the extraction rate required for the average room is 200 to 300m3h. The minimum required, as specified in the building regulations for new kitchens,  is 108m3/hr.

“When ducting out is impractical, or there is no apparent problem of condensation in a kitchen that is already well ventilated, then the hood may be installed in the re-circulating mode. In this case, the correct charcoal filter must be fitted and replaced periodically at the intervals as specified by the manufacturer.”

The market performance

“The hoods market in the UK has inevitably suffered the same negative impact as the rest of the major appliances markets, and, in particular, the built-in sector. Year on year, hoods have declined by nearly 17%, and over 25% in the last three months (Aug-Oct ’08). Only space-saving telescopic hoods (a small part of the category) have displayed any growth, and are likely to be indicative of a poor first quarter in 2009. On the positive side, consumers have demonstrated a greater understanding of the product range combined with a willingness to trade up and this could mean a fillip for value later on next year,” commented Anthony Williams, senior account manager, GfK retail and technology.

Moreover, hoods wider than 600mm were performing better, noted Richard Bowe, general manger for Fisher & Paykel. The company’s sales in this product section were up by 62%.

The choice

There are four basic types of extraction hoods:

  • 1. Freestanding hoods, usually supplied with a charcoal filter, which are available in 600 and 900mm widths. They may have a single or twin motor.
  • 2. Integrated hoods, 600mm wide. They are fitted between wall units and have a door on the front matching kitchen furniture, so the appliances can only be seen from below.
  • 3. Built-in and canopy hoods which are fitted into the base plate of wooden or metal canopies. They are available in 600 and 800mm widths.
  • 4. Chimney and island hoods. They incorporate the latest technology and design and are used as features in the kitchen. They feature halogen or fluorescent lamps and high performance fan motor systems. They sometimes come with spice racks or utensil rails.

Jane Rylands, marketing manager at Belling, describes her company’s range:  “We manufacture a wide range of extractor hoods including chimney, integrated, canopy and island cooker hoods.  By providing a wide range of hoods we can cater for every type of kitchen – from large family spaces, to small apartment kitchens.”

Extraction hoods are now accessible to everyone. Dan Greenall, marketing manager at New World says: “New World has an affordable range of chimney hoods which are available in widths from 60cm to 110cm, and all feature an extendable chimney piece and have three speed fans. The benefits of our hoods are that they can be used to extract or re-circulate air.”

Periodically new types of hoods enter the market. De Dietrich has recently launched “the downdraft extractor (DHD7000X), which adds a touch of ‘theatre’, in the kitchen: it rises, as if by magic at the touch of the controls to extract steam and fumes and then retracts to be hidden within the worktop. At 34dB (A) it is also super quiet, so ideal for open-plan living and this appliance also provides a suitable alternative to a chimney or island hood where the room has low or beamed ceilings,” explains Richard Walker, sales and marketing director of De Dietrich Kitchen Appliances.

Miele’s latest hood not only incorporates the latest filtration technology but also addresses the height issue: “On the motorised height-adjustable DA 424 V island cooker hood, the high performance motor is controlled by two push buttons that lower or raise the canopy by 12 inches over an island hob. Sturdy slide tracks, concealed in the telescopic chimney section, allow the canopy to be retracted to a depth of 28in or fully extended 40in down,” says Neil Pooley, product manger at Miele.

Neff has just added a new shape into its collection of designer extractor hoods, namely a ‘cube’.  The new D96K8 is a 35cm wide cube style chimney hood finished in stainless steel. Designed to be wall mounted, the cube chimney hood offers an extraction rate of 760m3/hr with   a minimum noise level of  49dB and can be ducted or re-circulated. The D96K8 can be positioned in tandem with another cube hood for double the extraction and double the visual effect. 

The technology

In terms of technology, all companies strive to make their hoods progressively more powerful but simultaneously quieter.

Extraction rates vary from around 200m3/hr to over 900m3/hr (see box below). The manufacturers try to help customers make the right choices. “Electrolux gives guidelines in its company literature to indicate what size  of room each hood is ideal for. For example: the more powerful AEG-Electrolux DD9663-M with 970m3/hr is suitable for rooms up to 20m².  Hoods like the AEG-Electrolux HD6470M with extraction of 470m³/hr is suitable for rooms up to 12m²,” says Penny Rumford, product specialist manager, Electrolux Major Appliances. “Generally, chimney hoods are more powerful – simply because they are most likely to feature the more powerful motors.”

Miele’s most powerful models have an extraction rate of 1,450m3 per hour.

The Belling DCH 900 chimney cooker hood has an extraction rate of 470m3/hr while the Belling DIH 900 island cooker hood has an extraction rate of 650m3/hr.

Not only the power but also the extraction technology is constantly progressing. The De Dietrich DHD797X canopy hood features automatic extraction. “Sensors in the base of the hood detect steam and fumes from the pans beneath, and the hood will automatically activate and then regulate the extraction level as required. Five minutes after cooking has finished, the hood will switch itself off,” explains De Dietrich’s Richard Walker.

Meanwhile, the KitchenAid Box Hood, with an extraction rate of 690m³/hr, has a perimeter extraction, meaning that the vapours and fumes are extracted along the perimeter edge underneath the hood.  This ensures improved results, with 10% better grease filtering
and a noise reduction of 10%.

Noise levels have also been reduced considerably, “as hoods have been developed to ensure that they no longer drown out polite conversation.  The Stoves 900K-line has a low noise level of only 51dB, which is not bad when you consider that a normal level of conversation is around 60db,” comments Jane Rylands.

However, Miele’s Neil Pooley maintains that the level of noise depends also on fan setting and the type of ducting the consumer chooses: “For example the DA 5394 wall mounted cooker hood, with 125 mm ducting, has a decibel rating of 41-66 dB, depending on which fan setting is being used.”

The need to consider the noise of extraction hoods before the purchase was reflected by The Electrolux Noise Report which found that 33% of those buying cooker hoods wished they had taken noise in to account to a greater degree when they bought each item.

Good looks

Design is of key importance for customers choosing an extraction hood.

“Designer hoods are becoming increasingly popular as consumers seek to make a style statement or focal point of the cooking area with a hood. Designer hoods are invariably chimney hoods or island hoods. Yet, not everyone wants to see their cooker hood – and here options include integrated, canopy and telescopic hoods. Down-drafts are also a good option for island units,” explains Electrolux’s Penny Rumford.

Stainless steel continues to be the favourite finish but it is increasingly twinned with glass. “Angled hoods are also very popular, increasing head room in the cooking area.  It doesn’t matter how efficient or quiet your cooker hood is if it keeps bruising your forehead,” comments Ken Humphrey, Bosch brand manager.

There are also many extractors which don’t look like extractors, such as Whirlpool Evolution hood, Baumatic Segreto hood or some models in The Elica Collection which “represents the pinnacle of the entire Elica range. These unique cooker hoods, including models created by David Lewis, create a stunning focal point for contemporary kitchen design,” says Elica’s Lynn Leatherbarrow.

Educate and sell

Since the customers’ understanding of extractor hood technology is still very poor, the retailer’s role here is to be a trusted advisor who knows their stuff well. This includes the reasons why extraction is needed, what factors affect the performance of the hood and what level of extraction is required.

Moreover, at present there is no common industry agreement on how to measure noise levels, so the comparisons between models are not straightforward for the customer. Until a common rating of energy and noise of extractor hoods is introduced, the retailer’s product knowledge and guidance have to be available for reference.

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