Island stove top with vent

An Island stove top with vent is a bold design statement that brings the room’s cooking area into the spotlight — but properly venting a cooktop in this prominent location is not easy. Local building codes may vary in terms of specific requirements for cooktop venting; most requirements, however, fall in line with a few simple vent design guidelines. Today, we discuss how to vent island cooktop, how to vent an island stove and the island electric stove top with vent

Island stove top with vent

Because an island cooktop sits in the middle of the kitchen, venting it with an overhead range hood is more challenging than installing a hood over a cooktop that sits against a wall. Free-hanging hoods are typically much more costly than wall-mounted hoods — a wall-mounted hood can usually be installed for less than $1,000, while a free-hanging hood may cost well over $10,000. A less expensive option is a downdraft vent that pulls the cooktop’s exhaust down into the island cabinet rather than venting through the ceiling.

Cooktop Requirements

The minimum amount of ventilation airflow required by a gas cooktop varies depending on the BTU output of the cooktop. A general guideline is to divide the total BTU output by 100 to determine the flow rate of the ventilation system in cubic feet per minute. For example, a cooktop with an output of 70,000 BTU would require a ventilation system rated at 700 cubic feet per minute. Electric cooktops require 200 cubic feet per minute of airflow for each foot of the cooktop’s width; for most electric cooktops, 400 cubic feet per minute does the job.

Code Requirements

In California, codes requirements as laid out in the ASHRAE Standard 62.2 require that kitchens incorporate a mechanical ventilation system that can move 100 cubic feet of air per minute if the system is operated intermittently. In the case of a continuously operated system, the system must achieve five air changes per hour. These requirements are minimum standards, and if your installed cooktop requires more powerful ventilation, the cooktop requirements supersede the code requirements.

Ducting Options

Local building codes may require that cooktop hoods deliver their exhaust outside the house through ducts rather than simply recirculating the exhaust back into the kitchen. Codes may also specify the materials used to construct the duct work. Typical specified materials include stainless steel, galvanized steel or copper. Always check with your local building authority to find out the requirements in your area before you install a cooktop or ventilation system.

Do I Need to Vent Cooktops?

When cooktops are not vented and exhausted, the ceiling, or cabinets above the cooktop, will become soiled and stained by grease and steam. Although it is a desirable option, a regular kitchen cooktop does not need to be vented and exhausted to the outside. A downdraft cooktop and grill must be vented from the kitchen to the outside, following manufacturer’s specifications.

Venting Cooktops

Most kitchen cooktops, when installed under a space saver microwave, will be vented because the microwave has a built-in vent and exhaust system. The vent and exhaust system on a microwave is recirculating and self-cleaning. Filters are intended to be replaced on a regular basis. Microwave vent and exhaust systems are designed to handle normal kitchen cooking steam, smoke and grease. The vent and exhaust system of a microwave can be vented or exhausted to the outside to accommodate heavy kitchen use.

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Oven exhaust hoods serve the same purpose. Island cooktops do not need to vented and exhausted unless required by local building codes. The location and design of kitchens in high rise residential buildings often make it impossible to vent and exhaust kitchen cook tops. Downdraft cooktops and inside grills must be vented and exhausted to the outside in order to avoid buildup of dangerous fumes. A downdraft cooktop is designed with a grate to suck smoke and grease down, and to the outside through a crawl space, instead of out of the air. A built-in cooktop grill is a natural-gas-fueled grill that is incorporated into a kitchen range, usually between the burners. A vent system, which removes dangerous fumes, grease and smoke to outside the house, should be included when these type of cooking appliances are installed.

Warnings

Never install a bathroom vent fan over a cooktop. Do not tap into a clothes dryer vent to exhaust a cooktop. These vents are not intended to handle steam, grease and other kitchen exhaust. Both of these scenarios create serious fire hazards and are in violation of National Building Code Regulations, as well as manufacturer’s specifications for vents and cook tops. When adding any exhaust features to your kitchen, always consult with a local building code official and a qualified HVAC contractor for advice and regulations.

Power options for stoves and ovens

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The Kenmore 41313 range has a smooth electric cooktop and an electric oven.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Electric

The heat output from electric cooktops is measured in watts. Output varies from stove to stove and burner to burner, but the output generally falls somewhere between 1,200 watts for low heat on a small burner and 3,800 BTUs for high heat on a large burner, though we’ve seen outliers at both ends of the spectrum. There are different types of electric cooktops from which you can select:

Smoothtop (glass-ceramic cooktop)

These cooktops are made of smooth glass-ceramic with heating units under the surface. A built-in sensor lets you know when a burner is still hot. This is important with smooth electric cooking surfaces, because the burner doesn’t always turn red if the heat is low.

Keep in mind that this type of cooktop is prone to scratches, and not all cookware is safe to use on the surface (the appliance’s manual will give you those specifics).

Electric coil

These burners convert the electricity that runs into the coil into heat. These cooktops contain thermostat sensors that notify you when a burner is on, but not necessarily whether it is still hot. Electric coil stoves are notorious for uneven cooking because of uneven distribution of the coil.

In short, it is hard to keep the coil perfectly level, which can make all of the food in the pan slide to one side. In addition, electric coil stoves are slow to heat and slow to cool. But ranges with this type of cooktop are cheaper than comparable models.

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The Kenmore 95073 range has an induction cooktop and an electric oven.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Induction cooktops

Induction burners use the heat created from electromagnetic energy to cook your food. An element just below the surface of an induction cooktop creates a magnetic field. When you put a piece of cookware containing iron on top of that magnetic element, it causes a vibration of sorts that converts to heat through a series of magnetic interactions with iron (you can read more about the science behind induction here).

These cooktops are safer than gas or electric burners because they don’t use flames or direct heat — induction burners won’t start to heat if you put something on them that doesn’t contain magnetic material. Induction cooktops are also more efficient and heat things quicker than other types of burners (the ones we’ve tested have boiled a large pot of water in an average of 6 minutes).

There are a few downsides to induction cooktops. You have to make sure you have cookware that will work with the cooking surface, and ranges with induction burners tend to cost more money than comparable electric or gas ranges.

Electric ovens: This type of oven uses a heating element that is either visible on the top or bottom of the oven, or hidden. Our baking tests show that they often cook more evenly than their gas counterparts.

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The SMEG C30GGRU is a gas range, so it has a gas cooktop and oven.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Gas

Gas cooktops

Both home and professional cooks have valued gas stovetops because of the how uniform the heat output is. An open flame surrounds the bottom of your cookware, which evenly distributes the heat around it. This heat output is measured in BTUs (British thermal units). Like electric models, the power range varies from model to model, but the output generally falls somewhere between 5,000 BTUs for low heat on a small burner and 18,000 BTUs for high heat on a large burner. We’ve seen burners on high-end ranges get as low as 800 BTUs and as high as 20,000 BTUs. If you’re a speedy cook, be aware that our cooking tests show gas cooktops tend to take longer to boil large pots of water than electric or induction cooktops.

Gas ovens

When it comes to gas ovens, we’ve seen in our cook tests that they have a harder time producing even baking results than electric ovens.

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The Dacor ER30DSCH has a gas cooktop and an electric oven.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Dual-fuel

Some ranges use two types of power: gas for the cooktop, and electric in the oven. These dual-fuel ranges are a good compromise for folks who want the direct heat of a gas burner but the even cooking of an electric oven. However, these hybrids cost more than traditional one-power-source ranges.

Design styles

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The Kenmore 97723 is an example of a freestanding range.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Freestanding

Freestanding ranges are designed to fit anywhere in a kitchen. Oven controls are often located on a back panel that raises up above the cooktop. These are less expensive than slide-in models.

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The Samsung NE58K9850WG is a slide-in range, so it doesn’t have a back panel and sits flush with surrounding countertops.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Slide-in

These ranges don’t have a back panel and are meant to fit in flush with the surrounding countertops. Slide-in ranges are often more expensive than freestanding models because of the mechanics that go into putting all the controls up front.

Drop-in

Drop-in ranges are similar to slide-in models — they sit flush with the surrounding countertops and all the controls are located at the front of the unit. But this type of range looks like you dropped it between two cabinets because of a strip of cabinetry you place beneath the appliance.

Bonus features

The search for an oven or range can resemble a visit to a car dealership — there are always opportunities to upgrade. Assess your needs and decide if these bonus features are worth throwing down more money for an appliance.

Wireless connectivity

Companies have become more proactive in including wireless capabilities such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and near-field communication (NFC) in their ovens and stoves so you can control your appliance from your smartphone. For example, you could begin to preheat your Wi-Fi-enabled oven on your way home from the grocery store, so it’s ready for your frozen pizza by the time you get home.

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The GE PHB920SJSS induction range has built-in Wi-Fi and works with Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated virtual assistant. You can give voice commands to this Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker to control the range.Chris Monroe/CNET

Manufacturers have also started to connect appliances with smart-home products to add some automation and voice control in the kitchen. For example, GE’s Wi-Fi-connected ranges work with Alex and Google Assistant, so you can give voice commands to control your appliance. And Jenn-Air wall ovens work with Nest Learning Thermostats ($269 at Amazon) so you can automatically lower your home’s temperature when the ovens get hot. 

Convection fans

Convection fans are built into the back of oven walls. They circulate the heat in the oven so hot air is more evenly dispersed, which means your food will bake more evenly. You’d want convection fans if you’re baking food like cookies on more than one oven rack at the same time. Midprice ovens will have at least one convection fan. Some ovens have what’s called “true” or “European” convection, which means there’s a heating element that surrounds the fan that warms the air as the fan blows. Read more about the science of convection here.

Special cooking modes

Your basic oven can bake and broil. But as the price for ovens increases, you’ll see that there are more cooking options. For example, ovens with convection fans will have modes for convection baking and convection roasting, which will enable the fans and heating elements. Some ovens also come with cook settings for specific foods, such as pizza or turkey, or food preparation methods, like dehydration or bread proofing.

Bottom drawers (baking/warming/broiling)

Some ranges come with a bottom drawer that can serve one of many purposes depending on the model. Some range ovens offer a baking drawer, which enables a person to use the main oven to roast or broil, and the baking drawer for smaller dishes, so you can cook more than one thing at the same time using different temperatures. A warming drawer will keep food warm, but it won’t cook the food. Some ovens have a broiler drawer, which functions like a traditional broiler and must be watched just as closely to ensure that food does not burn.

Temperature probes

Temperature probes plug into the wall of your oven, and you use them to monitor the internal temperature of meat as it cooks. The temperature displays on the control panel of your oven, so you don’t have to open the door to see if your dish is done.

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The KitchenAid KFDD500ESS range has two oven cavities, so you can bake two dishes on different temperatures at the same time.Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Double ovens in conventional space

The ovens on some ranges have dual baking chambers, which give you the flexibility of double wall ovens without the need for more space. These ovens allow the convenience of simultaneous cooking at different temperatures. Some ovens come with a divider that allows you to split your single oven into two unique temperature zones that will remain separate as long as the divider is in place.

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