The History of Range Hoods From Smokestacks to Modern Ventilation

October 09, 2023 11 min read

For centuries, the smell of burnt food and smoke wafted through kitchens like an unwelcome guest. But then, a hero emerged - the range hood. Now join me on a journey through time as we explore the evolution of range hoods, from their humble beginnings as crude smokestacks to today's sleek and efficient ventilation systems. Let's take a trip down memory lane and see how these lifesavers came to be.

In this article, we'll dive deep into the history of range hoods, exploring how they have evolved from basic ventilation systems to sophisticated, high-tech appliances essential in modern kitchens. We'll explore how they evolved to become more refined, incorporating various innovative features and technologies that have transformed how we cook and live.

Let's get started.

Early Beginnings of Range Hoods

In the past, kitchens were often located in a separate area or corner of the house, away from the main living spaces. This was because kitchens used to be hot, smoky, and filled with cooking smells, which were not very pleasant. To address this issue, chimneys, and smokestacks were used to direct smoke out of the kitchen and into the outdoor air.

These early chimneys and smokestacks were typically basic structures made of materials like brick, clay, or stone, and they were either built into the walls or extended through the roof. While these structures helped remove smoke particles, they were still inefficient, often bulky, and difficult to clean. As a result, early kitchen designs often incorporated separate ventilation systems or relied on open windows and doors to improve airflow.

The arrival of the industrial revolution and the introduction of coal and other burning gas fueled the need for a better ventilation system, rapidly advancing the range hood history. This gave rise to the chimney hoods.

The Industrial Revolution and the Rise of the Chimney Hood

The Industrial Revolution had a significant impact on the development of range hoods. The smoke and fumes generated increased significantly with the rise of coal-fired factories and stoves. This led to the invention of the chimney hood, which became a crucial component of industrial and residential kitchens.

The earliest chimney range hoods were basic extractor hoods made of metal or wood, featuring a vent hood or canopy positioned directly above the cooking surface. By incorporating fans and blowers into these hoods, they became more effective at drawing in smoke and fumes, which they channeled outdoors via a chimney or duct.

The chimney hood brought about several benefits. First, it effectively removed smoke and fumes from the kitchen, making it a healthier and more comfortable environment. Second, it enabled the design of kitchens to change significantly. Before the invention of the chimney hood, kitchens were typically located in a separate room or corner of the house, away from the main living areas. With the chimney stove hood, kitchens could be located in more central and visible parts of the home, as the ventilation hood could remove smoke and fumes effectively.

The chimney ventilating hood also allowed for the introduction of new cooking techniques, such as frying and grilling, which had previously been difficult due to the smoke and fumes generated. This led to a greater variety of dishes being prepared in the kitchen and transformed cooking from a basic necessity to a creative pursuit.

The Modern Era of Range Hoods

The 1950s marked the beginning of a new era of range hoods. As household cooking habits changed and the desire for more efficient kitchen appliances grew, the range hood underwent significant improvements in design and functionality.

One of the most significant innovations that led to the modern range hood was the development of improved motors and filters. In the 1960s and 1970s, range hoods began incorporating more powerful motors, allowing for better air circulation and increased ventilation efficiency. Along with these improvements, manufacturers developed more advanced filters, such as charcoal filters, which could better capture smoke, odors, and other pollutants.

As range hoods continued to evolve, they became an essential component of modern kitchens. Range hoods not only remove smoke and fumes but also help to maintain a cleaner and healthier environment by removing grease and other particulates from the air. Modern range hoods also come with additional features, such as touch controls, carbon filters, LED lighting, and variable speed settings, making them functional and aesthetically pleasing.

The importance of range hoods in modern kitchens cannot be overstated. Not only do they keep the air clean and healthy, but they also help to prevent damage to kitchen surfaces and cabinetry from grease buildup. Additionally, range hoods have significantly impacted kitchen design, allowing for greater flexibility in layout and decor. With the introduction of ductless range hoods, kitchens no longer need to be designed around the location of a chimney or vent, making it easier to incorporate a range hood into any kitchen design.

Aesthetics and Design Evolution

The aesthetics and design of range hoods have evolved significantly in recent years, emphasizing style and visual appeal. Modern range hoods provide functional benefits such as improved air quality and ventilation and serve as a focal point in the kitchen design.

There has been a shift from practical range hood designs to more stylish and contemporary designs that blend seamlessly with modern kitchen decor. Today's range hoods are available in many styles, including sleek and minimalist designs, industrial-inspired designs, and decorative designs incorporating intricate details and finishes.

Modern materials and manufacturing techniques have also significantly impacted range hood design. Stainless steel, once the dominant material for a range hood body, has given way to a broader range of materials, including glass, wood, and even concrete. These materials not only provide greater aesthetic appeal but also allow for far more customization and flexibility in design.

Some emerging trends in range hood design include using wood accents and natural materials to create a warm and inviting look and integrating smart technology for greater functionality and control. There is also a growing demand for range hoods that are environmentally friendly, using energy-efficient LED lighting and recycled materials.

Different Types of Range Hoods

With the advancement in range hood technology, there is continual addition to the different range hoods available today. Some of the notable range hood types are listed below:

  1. Wall Mount Range Hoods

    Wall-mounted hoods are the most common type of range hoods. As the name suggests, they are mounted on the wall above the range, and they vent outside through the wall. Wall-mounted hoods come in various sizes and styles and are suitable for most kitchen layouts. However, they are often ducted range hoods, requiring extra ductwork to install in your kitchen.

  2. Under-Cabinet Range Hoods

    Under-cabinet hoods are another popular type of range hood. They are installed underneath a cabinet above the range and usually ducted through the wall or the cabinet above. These range hoods are ideal for smaller kitchens with limited space and are more affordable than other range hoods. However, under-cabinet hoods may not be as effective as other types of range hoods since they are smaller in size and are often ductless hoods.

  3. Island Range Hoods

    Island hoods are perfect for kitchens with a cooking range installed on a kitchen island. Island hoods are suspended from the ceiling and designed to vent outside through the roof or wall. They are available in various styles and can add a unique design element to your kitchen. However, island hoods require a more complex installation process and may be more expensive than other range hoods.

  4. Downdraft Range Hoods

    Downdraft range hoods are unique range hoods installed behind or underneath the cooktop rather than above it. They work by drawing smoke and fumes down and through a duct beneath the floor. Downdraft hoods are ideal for kitchen layouts where traditional venting may not be possible and can be hidden when not in use. However, downdraft hoods are less effective than other range hoods and may require additional installation costs.

Modern Technological Advancements in Range Hoods

Range hoods have come a long way in recent years, thanks to technological advancements which have made range hoods more efficient and easier to use. Here are some of the latest developments in range hood technology.

  1. Smart Control Features

    Range hood smart control features provide greater convenience and automation in the kitchen. This feature allows the range hoods to connect to other smart home devices and be controlled through a central hub or app.

    Some of the more advanced smart control features available on range hoods include motion sensors that automatically turn on the hood when they detect movement in the kitchen. This is a convenient feature that ensures that the hood is always on when you need it.

    Another range hood smart control feature happens via sensors that can detect the level of heat and smoke in the kitchen and automatically adjust the fan speed accordingly. This helps to ensure that the hood is always working at the optimal level. Smart range hoods can also send alerts to your phone when it is time to replace the filter. This helpful feature ensures that your hood is always working at its best.

  2. Energy-Efficient LED Lighting

    LED lights use less energy than traditional bulbs and can last up to 25 times longer, so they don't need to be replaced as often, reducing maintenance costs. In addition, LED lights produce less heat than traditional bulbs, which helps to keep your kitchen cooler and reduces the load on your air conditioning system.

    Range hoods with LED lighting typically have multiple lighting settings that allow you to adjust the brightness and color temperature of the lights to suit your needs. Some models even have a dimming feature that lets you control the intensity of the light.

    LED lighting also enhances the aesthetics of your kitchen by providing bright, even illumination to your cooking area. The lights are positioned to provide maximum coverage of the cooking surface, allowing you to see clearly while cooking. The color temperature of the lights can also be adjusted to create a warm or cool ambiance in your kitchen, depending on your preferences.

  3. Wireless Connectivity

    Wireless connectivity is a feature that allows the range hood to connect to your home network through Wi-Fi. This feature is available in some of the latest models of range hoods and provides a convenient way to monitor and control the hood from your smartphone or tablet.

    Wireless connectivity is especially helpful when you are away from the range hood and need to monitor or adjust it remotely. For example, if you are cooking in another room, you can use the app to turn on the range hood and adjust the fan speed without going to the kitchen.

    In addition to the app, some range hoods with wireless connectivity support voice command through virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. With this feature, you can control the range hood using your voice without using the app.

  4. Noise reduction

    Traditionally, range hoods were loud, producing a lot of noise when in use. However, with technological advancement, range hoods are now designed to produce much less noise while providing efficient ventilation. To reduce noise, range hood manufacturers have made a few changes to the design and construction of the hoods.

    These changes include using quieter motors that produce less noise than older models. These motors are designed to operate smoothly and efficiently, reducing the noise produced. Also, range hoods are now constructed with materials that help to absorb sound, such as sound-dampening foam or noise-reducing panels. This insulation helps reduce the noise produced by the range hood. Some range hoods now have noise ratings as low as 40 decibels, which is about the same as a quiet library.

  5. Auto Cleaning Feature

    Range hood auto cleaning feature is a new technology that makes it easier to clean the hood without much effort. This feature is available in some of the latest models of range hoods and is gaining popularity due to its convenience.

    Once activated, the range hood cleans itself with steam or high heat. The moisture or heat breaks down and removes the grease and grime accumulated in the range hood. The cleaning process typically takes around 20-30 minutes.

    After cleaning, the range hood will automatically shut off, and you can wipe away any remaining residue with a cloth. The auto-cleaning feature saves time and effort compared to traditional cleaning methods the range hood, such as scrubbing with soap and water. 

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 Range Hood Accessories and Upgrades

Range hood functionality can be enhanced through the use of several accessories and upgrades. Some common accessories for range hoods include:

  1. Grease Filters

    A grease filter is a common accessory for range hoods that helps to remove grease and other particles from the air as it passes through the hood. It is typically made of aluminum or stainless steel and features a series of layers or mesh panels that trap the grease and other particles as they are drawn into the range hood.

    Grease filters are important because they help prevent the buildup of grease and other contaminants in the range hood and ductwork, which can pose a fire hazard and decrease the hood's efficiency.

  2. Heat Lamps

    Heat lamps are a popular accessory for range hoods that can keep food warm while you prepare the rest of the meal. They are typically installed above the cooking surface and emit a gentle, radiant heat that helps to keep food at a safe temperature without drying it out or overcooking it.

    Heat lamps are handy for keeping food warm during meal preparation or holding food until it is ready to be served. They are often used in commercial kitchens but can also be a useful addition to a home kitchen, particularly if you do a lot of entertaining or like to prepare elaborate meals with multiple components.

  3. Inline Blower Motor

    An inline blower is a type of range hood accessory that can be used to increase the power and efficiency of your range hood. Unlike traditional range hood blowers, which are located inside the hood itself, an inline blower is installed in the ductwork that connects the hood to the home's exterior. This allows for more powerful and efficient ventilation, as air is drawn through the hood and expelled outside more quickly and effectively.

    Inline blowers are handy for larger or more powerful range hoods or for situations where the hood needs to be installed in a location where traditional venting is not feasible. They are also useful for kitchens with particularly heavy cooking needs, as they can help to remove smoke, odors, and airborne particles more effectively than traditional blowers.

  4. Extension Kits

    Extension kits are range hood accessories that can increase the height and reach of your range hood. They are particularly useful for kitchens with high ceilings or hoods installed over cooktops that are taller than average.

    Extension kits usually comprise extra ductwork and mounting hardware to increase the height of the range hood. They can use them with different types of range hoods, such as under-cabinet, wall-mounted, and island hoods.

  5. Backsplash

    A backsplash is a standard accessory for range hoods installed behind the cooking surface to protect the wall from heat, moisture, and food splatters. It can be made from various materials, including tile, stainless steel, or glass, and can be customized to match the style and decor of your kitchen.

    In addition to protecting the wall from damage, a backsplash can also serve as a decorative element in your kitchen, adding texture, color, and visual interest to the space. Many range hoods come with built-in backsplashes, while others may require a separate accessory to be installed.

Final Thoughts

Range hoods have come a long way since their inception, with early models being simple and ineffective compared to modern designs. Range hoods have become crucial in modern kitchens, improving air quality and reducing cooking-related health hazards. As technology advances, we can expect to see even more efficient and innovative range hoods in the future.

For more information on ModernCopper range hoods, reach out to one of our design specialists, or shop our collection of custom range hoods.