Replacing an Electric Oven
September 16, 2004 3:34 PM   Subscribe

I prefer cooking with gas over electric and would like to replace the electric range that came with my house with a new one. But I've also got high vaulted ceilings, so I'm thinking downdraft is the only way to make a hood work. Anyone ever do this kind of upgrade before? [more inside]

Here's a photo of my (messy) kitchen, looking towards the cheesy electric range. Right now there's no hood at alll, just a "filter" style blower below the microwave which doesn't really clean cooking smells, it just makes noise.

I'd like to put a restaurant style one in, with four burners and an electric stove. So I'm thinking due to the height above, I'll have to go downdraft, and looking around online, this is about the only stove I can find that fills the bill.

So now, when it comes to installing this, do you just vent stuff downwards into the crawlspace, or do you need a blower down there to push it all the way outside? Is this hard to do for a casual weekend do-it-yourselfer?
posted by mathowie to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
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I doubt you want to vent to your crawlspace: not only will you be venting tasty aromas into areas in which monsters might roam, but you'll also be pumping a bunch of moisture under your house. Not a good idea, imo.

I believe you'll want to run a duct to the outside. Whether you need a blower is likely determined by the length and diameter of the duct, and such will be described in the installation manual, n'est pas? (wouldn't surprise me if you could look it up online)

I am completely blowing smoke out my ass, of course, having only seen one of these devices once in my lifetime, and having not been kin to the installation process.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:51 PM on September 16, 2004

I can't even remember the brand, but when we had the same issue with a house in connecticut we found a range that had a ventilator that popped up with the push of a switch from the back area (where your dials and clock are) of the range.

It was as part of a convection oven. I'll keep searching and see if I can find it, but talking to someone who works at an appliance store will probably get you the answer faster.
posted by SpecialK at 3:56 PM on September 16, 2004

Yeah, I found the installation manual, and it does mention pipe diameters, lengths and such. I guess I'm still kind of wary of how much work it could be to install.
posted by mathowie at 3:56 PM on September 16, 2004

We have a downdraft vent and it does indeed involve ducting to the outside and a blower. Ours was installed by professionals.
posted by briank at 4:14 PM on September 16, 2004

You don't necessarily need a downdraft unit - many overhead range hoods can vent horizontally to ductwork in the wall. That does involve tearing into the wall more than a downdraft style ventilator. Also, like SpecialK mentioned, you can get Pop-up style downdraft units.
posted by zsazsa at 4:48 PM on September 16, 2004

Well, by the size of your kitchen, it looks like you would have to rip out some cabinets anyway in order to fit the type of range you are looking for. Either way, you will have to cut into the house and run venting. It might be easier to run a stainless steel duct up and through the ceiling to the roof (unless you have a 2nd floor above there, and then I would go through the crawl space). If you end up going through the roof, you could have an artist make a surround around the ss exhaust - make it a focal point so that all that space up there is doing something. In either case, you will need a HVAC guy and/or General Contractor to run a new gas line and test it - there are a bunch of regulations so that you don't kill yourself. Not to mention the fact that you want to make sure you seal the exhaust in the house, but also when it punctures the exterior membrane - a GC would help you there. It might be easier to get quotes for both types and see how much it will cost and how long it would take. Oh, and I always love the Sub-Z ranges.
posted by plemeljr at 4:50 PM on September 16, 2004

I grew up in a house with a contraption like the one Special K mentions. Like this.
The original installation was done as part of an entire kitchen remodel so I can't testify to the ease or difficulty of first time installation but my parents just replaced the cook top and vent and my dad did the installation himself. I think they bought both at Expo - the Home Depot appliance store.
posted by Wolfie at 4:58 PM on September 16, 2004

I installed an updraft hood with ducting in our kitchen a month or so ago (ducted up through the ceiling into the attic, then out the side of the house). It wasn't so bad, but then I didn't have to do any major hole-cutting in the exterior wall of the house because there was already a vent cap there from an old installation. I also already had the wiring done for it by an electrician, so if you have to put in a blower (which it sounds like you should), you may have to do some wiring work (as well as hiring someone to run the gas lines, as plemeljr says.)

I did cut myself on the sheet metal ductwork because I started getting a bit cocky and took off my leather gloves at one point...
posted by pitchblende at 5:04 PM on September 16, 2004

Special K's type of vent is the one I've seen. Much like Wolfie's.

It was cool. Very geeky. A must-have for any self-respecting kitchen geek. Do it. It's worth it!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:16 PM on September 16, 2004

I went round and round with this same problem when we were renovating a year ago. We looked at all kind of downdraft and hood options. Nothing fit the bill. Until we spoke to a guy who builds custom gourmet kitchens. Here's the secret about venting: hoods are mainly for cosmetic purposes.

Consider why you need a vent. Vents are made to move three things: greasy smoke, heat, and smell. High ceilings and good ventilation will take care of the last two, and as far as the greasy smoke goes, either don't cook in a lot of fat or oil, or just use lids on your pots.

We do most of our deep frying outside (this IS Louisiana, after all) and inside we cook with very little butter or oil. Works for us.
posted by ColdChef at 6:27 PM on September 16, 2004

I suggest you pose your query to the usenet board, or look at the archives on Google Groups. The subject of downdraft hoods comes up every few months, and the general opinion is that they should be avoided. First, they don't work very well, because the grease and vapors are too far away to be entrained in the downdraft, and second, the airflow pulls the heat away from the pan. People I know with Jenn-Air ranges really hate them, and the downdraft is generally cited as the single worst feature.
posted by Wet Spot at 7:22 PM on September 16, 2004

When we re-did our kitchen last year, the one thing we splurged on was a pro-style range. Due to space considerations, we had to go with a downdraft, and at the time the only one we could find was this one from Dacor. It has a pop-up vent and a big blower box that mounts outside. It rocks. Could not be happier with it.
posted by spilon at 8:34 PM on September 16, 2004

No hood ColdChef? That might work when your moniker suggests you never actually apply heat to food. Cook with little butter and oil? But you live in Lousiana? *brain explodes* :-)

Restaurants don't have hoods for decoration; if one plans on seriously cooking up some meat or fish on the stove top then a good hood is essential. Not only should its blower be sized adequately but it must also have a hood "space" -- some volume of space before the blower/duct to corral the air to be exhausted. A downdraft does not do this and will only barely work. In the kitchen I am building soon, we are oversizing the hood. 36" cooktop? 48" hood.

In the end, ColdChef is right to a degree. While we try our best to vent stove top nasties the smell of cooked bacon is a powerful force. I've not cooked in a kitchen with a proper hood for a while though and the last time I did, I do recall watching with amazement as most smoke/vapor from the stove top was sucked with abandon into the hood space.

Anyway, it looks like you can go up (a guess only as your ceiling looks sloped, suggesting a roof above) and that is the path of things warm. A tall vent pipe only helps with drafting, plus you can mount a blower on the roof, if you wish, which will reduce noise.
posted by Dick Paris at 7:59 AM on September 17, 2004

How do those pop-up vents work for cooking something in a largeish pot?
posted by transient at 8:58 AM on September 17, 2004

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