The Different Range Hood Blower Types and Which To Choose for Your Kitchen

November 22, 2023 13 min read

Choosing the right range hood blower for your kitchen is a critical decision when it comes to creating an efficient and effective ventilation system. A blower is a crucial component in range hoods, and with several blower types available on the market, it's essential to understand their distinct features and benefits in order to make a well-informed decision.

In this guide, we will explore different types of range hood blowers available on the market today, discussing their features, benefits, and limitations. By understanding the various options, you can make an informed decision when selecting the right blower for your kitchen.

Now, let's delve into the fine details of blowers and explore each range hood blower type to determine which best suits your kitchen ventilation needs.

What is a Range Hood Blower?

A range hood blower is a critical component of a range hood system responsible for extracting airborne contaminants, smoke, odors, and grease generated during cooking. The primary function of a range hood blower is to create airflow and suction and capture the pollutants at the source, preventing them from spreading throughout the kitchen and the rest of the house.

The working mechanism of a range hood blower involves two key components: the fan blades, which generate the airflow, and the motor, which powers the rotation of the fan blades. The fan blades are designed to create a pressure difference when rotated, resulting in air movement. As the air passes through the blower, the rotating fan blades increase the velocity of the air, creating a suction effect.

Types of Fans Used in Range Hood Blowers

Range hood blowers utilize different types of fans to facilitate the extraction of air and pollutants from the kitchen. The main types of fans used in range hood blowers are:

Centrifugal Fans

Centrifugal fans are a popular type of range hood blower fans known for their high efficiency and powerful performance. They are commonly used in under-cabinet and wall-mount range hoods and are designed to create a high-velocity airflow using centrifugal force. It consists of an impeller, which is a rotating wheel with curved blades enclosed in a housing or scroll.

Axial Flow Fans

Axial flow fans are designed to move a large air volume at lower pressures. They feature a propeller-like design, with blades that rotate around an axis to push or pull air parallel to the shaft. Axial flow fans are ideal for range hoods used for residential kitchens or situations where the focus is on moving a large volume of air rather than overcoming high resistance in the ductwork.

Mixed Flow Fans

Mixed flow fans combine the features of both centrifugal and axial flow blowers. They have an impeller design that combines axial and radial flow characteristics. Mixed-flow fans generate moderate pressure while maintaining a high flow rate. They are commonly used in applications where a balance between pressure and airflow is required, such as over-the-range microwaves, HVAC systems, and cooling of electronic equipment.

Crossflow Fans

Crossflow fans, also known as tangential fans, utilize a long, narrow wheel with many curved blades. The wheel draws air in parallel to the axis and then forces it to change direction by 90 degrees, resulting in a broad, uniform airflow. Crossflow fans are particularly effective in range hoods with extended hoods or canopies that cover a wide cooking area.

Regenerative Fans

Regenerative fans, called side channel fans, operate based on the regenerative or radial impellers principle. These blowers use high-speed rotating impellers with multiple blades to create pressure differences. As the impellers spin, the air is drawn in and expelled through an outlet. They are commonly used in range hood blower units where there is a need to overcome higher resistance in the ductwork or when operating in systems with longer duct runs.

Types of Range Hood Blowers

There are several types of range hood blowers available in the market, each with its advantages and applications. Let's explore some of the notable ones in great detail:

External Blowers

External blowers, often referred to as remote blowers, are located outside the kitchen or living space in separate areas like the attic, basement, or exterior wall. They often have strong airflow capacity and are ideal for large kitchens or those with intricate ductwork systems. Additionally, locating the blower motor outside the cooking area significantly diminishes the noise produced during operation, resulting in a quieter and more pleasant cooking environment.

Advantages of External Blowers

  1. External blowers produce less noise than internal blowers as the noise generated during operation is further away from the cooking area, resulting in a quieter cooking environment.
  2. External blowers offer flexibility in installation locations as they can be placed in the attic, roof, or any other suitable outdoor area. This versatility allows for more efficient venting and accommodates various kitchen layouts.
  3. External blowers provide more design options for different types of range hoods as they eliminate the need for bulky internal blower compartments. This allows for sleeker, more streamlined hood designs, giving the kitchen a modern and aesthetically pleasing look.
  4. External blowers can be used with various range hood types, including wall-mounted range hoods, island hoods, and downdraft hoods, making them suitable for different kitchen configurations.
  5. Maintenance of external blowers is generally more accessible as they are outside the kitchen. Regular cleaning and maintenance can be performed without needing access to the range hood's internal components.

Disadvantages of External Blowers

  1. External blowers are more expensive than other blower options, as purchasing and installing an external blower and any necessary ductwork modifications can be higher than other blower options.
  2. External blowers need adequate outdoor space for installation, which may be challenging for homes with limited outdoor areas, especially in urban or densely populated settings.
  3. External blowers are situated outside the kitchen, which exposes them to various weather conditions like rain, snow, and extreme temperatures. These factors may impact their performance or necessitate installing additional protective measures.
  4. Retrofitting an existing kitchen with an external blower may pose challenges. It may require significant kitchen layout, ductwork, and venting system modifications, making it sometimes less practical or cost-effective.
  5. Although external blowers generally operate more quietly than internal blowers, there is still a possibility of noise transfer from the blower to the indoor living spaces, mainly if the blower is located near open windows or doors.

Inline Blowers

An inline blower, also known as an in-line fan or duct fan, is a type of range hood blower installed within the kitchen ventilation system's ductwork. Unlike other blower types, which are integrated into the range hood or located externally, the inline blower is specifically designed to be mounted within the duct.

The primary function of an inline blower is to boost the airflow within the ductwork and overcome any resistance or pressure drop caused by long duct runs, bends, or other obstructions. By enhancing the airflow, the inline blower ensures that the ventilation system maintains a strong and consistent airflow.

Advantages of Inline Blowers

  1. One of the primary advantages of inline blowers is their ability to provide a quieter kitchen environment. By placing the blower away from the range hood, noise and vibrations generated by the motor are minimized, resulting in a more peaceful cooking experience.
  2. Inline blowers offer flexibility regarding installation options as they can be placed at various positions within the ductwork, allowing for customization based on the kitchen layout and space constraints.
  3. Inline blowers are particularly beneficial for larger kitchens or kitchens with demanding ventilation needs as they can accommodate larger and more powerful motors compared to integrated blowers.
  4. Inline blowers provide a space-saving solution as they eliminate the need for a bulky blower integrated into the range hood, allowing for more compact and streamlined ducted range hoods.
  5. Inline blowers are ideal for kitchens with long duct runs, multiple bends, or complex ventilation configurations. Their strong airflow capabilities and ability to overcome air resistance make them effective in challenging range hood ventilation installations.

Disadvantages of Inline Blowers

  1. Inline range hoods require more complex installation and often require professional expertise. The blower's external venting and remote placement can make the installation more challenging and time-consuming.
  2. Inline range hoods can be more expensive than range hoods with integrated blowers. The need for additional components, such as the remote blower and extra ductwork, can contribute to the higher cost.
  3. Depending on the design and installation of the inline range hood, there is a potential for airflow restrictions within the ductwork.
  4. The remote placement of the blower in inline range hoods can make maintenance slightly more challenging, as accessing and cleaning the blower or ductwork may require additional effort or specialized tools.
  5. While inline range hoods generally provide quieter operation within the kitchen space, noise can be transferred through the ductwork. Vibrations or noise generated by the blower can be transmitted to other building areas through the ductwork.

Built-In (Internal) Blowers

Built-in blowers, also known as internal blowers, are integrated directly into the hood itself. Unlike external blowers located outside the kitchen, built-in blowers are designed to be concealed within the range hood structure. This integration offers several advantages, making them a popular range hood venting option.

Advantages of Built-In Blowers

  1. Installing built-in blowers is a straightforward process, and they are mounted directly into the range hood, either at the top or back, depending on the model. 
  2. Since they are integrated directly into the range hood, they eliminate the need for additional space or external housing. This particularly benefits kitchens with limited space or those who prefer a clean and streamlined look.
  3. Built-in blowers operate with relatively low noise levels compared to external blowers. The integration within the range hood structure helps to minimize noise and vibration.
  4. Built-in blowers feature multiple fan speeds, enabling you to adjust the airflow to match your specific cooking requirements. This adaptability proves advantageous when dealing with different cooking methods that generate varying levels of smoke, steam, and odors.
  5. Built-in blowers are concealed within the range hood, which provides a seamless and cohesive look in the kitchen. This integrated design ensures that the blower remains discreet and doesn't disrupt the space's overall aesthetic.

Disadvantages of Built-In Blowers

  1. Due to their compact design and integration within the range hood, built-in blowers may have lower power and airflow capacity than external blowers.
  2. Built-in blowers are located closer to the cooking area, and this proximity means they may be exposed to higher heat levels. The increased heat can put additional strain on the blower motor and components.
  3. Their proximity to the cooking surface also increases maintenance times as grease and oil particles accumulate much faster on the blower, reducing its efficiency over time.
  4. Built-in blowers are designed to be installed within the vent hood structure, limiting their placement options. This restriction may not allow for alternative installation locations that could optimize airflow.
  5. Built-in blowers are designed to fit specific range hood inserts, making changing or upgrading the blower without replacing the entire hood difficult. This lack of flexibility can be inconvenient and costly if you wish to enhance the ventilation system in the future.

Recirculating Blowers

Recirculating blowers, also known as ductless blowers, are a type of range hood blower that operates by filtering and recirculating the air within the kitchen instead of venting it outside. They are often found in ductless range hoods that push the polluted air through a series of filters and release it back into the kitchen space.

The main components of a recirculating blower include the fan, filters, and a ventilation hood. The fan is responsible for drawing the air from the cooking area into the blower unit. The air then passes through one or more filters designed to trap grease particles, odors, and smoke. These filters typically include a mesh or baffle filter to capture grease and charcoal filters to absorb odors and other airborne contaminants.

Advantages of Recirculating Blowers

  1. Recirculating blowers are relatively easy to install since they do not require ductwork for ventilation. This makes them a suitable option for kitchens where duct installation is challenging or not feasible.
  2. Recirculating blowers offer design flexibility, as they do not require ducts or external ventilation. This allows for more freedom in selecting hood styles, materials, and configurations that complement the kitchen decor and personal preferences.
  3. The absence of ductwork installation and modification makes recirculating blowers more cost-effective than other ventilation options.
  4. In colder climates or during winter, recirculating blowers help retain heat in the kitchen by recirculating the filtered air back into the space.
  5. Recirculating blowers are an excellent option for apartments or rental properties where modifying the existing infrastructure for ductwork installation may not be permitted.

Disadvantages of Recirculating Blowers

  1. Recirculating blowers do not provide the same level of air quality improvement as systems that vent air outside. The recirculated air may still contain allergens, cooking byproducts, and other pollutants, albeit in reduced concentrations.
  2. The filters in recirculating blowers require regular maintenance and periodic replacement to ensure optimal performance. Failure to clean or replace the filters as needed can result in reduced efficiency and compromised air filtration.
  3. Recirculating venting filters air back into the kitchen, leading to less effective removal of excess heat and humidity, potentially causing discomfort and condensation issues.
  4. Recirculating blowers can generate noise and vibrations during operation, although the noise level can vary depending on the specific recirculating range hood model.
  5. Recirculating blowers may accumulate grease on the filters and internal components over time. This buildup can affect the blower's performance and increase the risk of fire hazards.

 

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Factors to Consider When Choosing a Blower

When selecting a blower type for your range hood in the kitchen, there are certain factors that you should consider to ensure that you choose the right one. These factors include:

  1.    Kitchen Size

The size of a kitchen plays a crucial role in determining the type of blower that should be used in a range hood. In a compact kitchen, where space is limited, and there might not be enough room for large or powerful blowers, it's best to opt for a compact blower. Inline or under-cabinet blowers are often suitable for small kitchens due to their compact design and lower CFM (cubic feet per minute) ratings.

A medium-sized kitchen offers more flexibility in terms of blower options. The choice will depend on cooking habits, the appliances' heat output, and the kitchen's overall design. Internal or inline blowers, as well as insert blowers, are commonly used in medium-sized kitchens. While large kitchens typically have a greater volume of air that needs to be ventilated, and more powerful blowers are required to handle the increased airflow, so external or remote blower systems are ideal for large kitchens.

  1.    Kitchen Layout

The kitchen layout determines the placement of the range hood and the available ventilation options. There are various kitchen layouts, including open, galley, U-shaped, L-shaped, and island kitchens, and each layout has its unique ventilation challenges.

In kitchens with an open layout, where the cooking area is not enclosed or separated from the rest of the living space, inline or remote blowers are commonly used due to their ability to minimize noise levels in the kitchen. A closed or galley kitchen layout typically has walls or partitions separating the cooking area from the rest of the house. In this scenario, both internal and external blowers can be suitable options, depending on the size and ventilation requirements of the kitchen.

U- and L-shaped kitchen layouts typically have more contained spaces, allowing for better ventilation control. Moderate to high-powered blowers may be suitable depending on the size and specific requirements. Finally, island kitchens have a range or cooktop situated on an island, which poses unique challenges for venting. Remote blowers mounted on the roof or walls may be necessary for effective venting in island kitchens.

  1.    Cooking Habits and Frequency

Different cooking habits and frequencies generate varying levels of smoke, odors, and heat, directly impacting ventilation requirements.

If your cooking habits primarily involve occasional light cooking, such as simmering, boiling, or sautéing, a few times a week or less, you may not generate a significant amount of smoke or odors. In this case, a lower-powered built-in or inline blower can adequately handle the ventilation needs for light cooking. Moderate cooking activities like grilling, stir-frying, or baking most days of the week often produce moderate levels of smoke and odors. A built-in or inline blower with higher airflow capacity can handle the ventilation requirements effectively.

If you frequently engage in heavy cooking, such as deep frying or wok cooking, or use high-heat cooking methods or commercial cooking scenarios, such as in restaurants or catering businesses, you generate a substantial amount of smoke, grease, and odors. A powerful blower is necessary to eliminate these contaminants effectively. High-powered built-in blowers or external blowers are suitable options for heavy cooking.

  1.    Noise Level

The noise level of a blower is an important consideration when selecting a range hood for your kitchen. Excessive noise can be disruptive and unpleasant, particularly in open-concept kitchens or homes where the kitchen is adjacent to living spaces. Different blower types have varying noise levels, and choosing the appropriate blower depends on your preference for a quieter kitchen environment.

Inline blowers are typically quieter than other blower types and are known for their noise reduction capabilities since they are situated away from the kitchen and closer to the exterior. Built-in blowers produce moderate noise levels, depending on the specific model and power capacity. External blowers can generate considerable noise due to their high airflow capacity, but like remote blowers, they are often equipped with noise reduction features.

When selecting a blower, it's essential to review the manufacturer's specifications, including the noise rating in decibels (dB). Additionally, consulting with professionals or reading user reviews can provide valuable insights into the actual noise levels experienced by users.

  1.    Cost Considerations

Cost considerations are essential when choosing a blower for your range hood. The price of the blower is influenced by various factors, including its range hood type, power capacity, features, and brand.

Internal blowers are typically the most affordable option among blower types as they are integrated into the range hood and require less complex installation. The cost of internal blowers can range from $100 to $500, depending on the CFM rating and additional features like variable speed settings or noise reduction technologies.

External blowers are generally more expensive than internal blowers due to their higher power and quieter operation. The cost of external blowers can range from $500 to $2,000 or more, depending on the CFM rating, motor efficiency, and noise reduction features.

In-line blowers are often more costly than internal blowers but less expensive than external blowers. Their price range typically falls between $300 and $1,500, depending on the CFM rating, noise level, and the need for additional accessories like dampers or insulation materials. The length and complexity of the ductwork installation can also influence the cost.

The price range for recirculating blowers can typically range from $100 to $500, but it's important to note that these are approximate figures and can vary based on the specific product and retailer.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right range hood blower is crucial for ensuring adequate kitchen ventilation because it directly impacts the performance of the entire ventilation system. A well-designed ventilation system with the right blower type not only enhances air quality but also aids in controlling excess heat, moisture, and grease buildup.

Homeowners should understand the importance of selecting the right range hood blower for their kitchen, as investing in a suitable blower type is an investment in their well-being and the long-term performance of their kitchen ventilation system. So, let's prioritize proper range hood blower selection and reap the benefits of a healthier and more efficient cooking environment.