Category: Indoor Air Quality
You’re looking to buy a new home. You take a tour and see the bedrooms, the type of flooring and so on. Now you turn the corner into the kitchen and before you even notice the cabinets, flooring and colors you are looking to see if it is a gas or electric cooktop. For some it is gas or nothing. For others electric is fine and now for a handful of people it has to be induction. While this might not be a deal breaker, buyers definitely have strong opinions on the type of cooktop in the home. The type of cooktop can also have a direct effect on the indoor air quality of the home. Matching the ventilation and cooktop is an important consideration. Let’s take a look at each of these.
Gas cooktops utilize natural gas or propane to power the burners. An open flame provides almost instant heat allowing pots and pans to heat up very quickly. For this reason it is the preferred method for cooks and chefs. While the cooking benefits are good, it produces a lot more contaminates than electric or induction cooking. If you stop and think about it – you are starting a fire, all be it a controlled one, in the middle of the kitchen. That is going to produce all kinds of contaminates and in large quantities. To properly ventilate the area, you need a more powerful range hood, probably something in the 300 to 600 CFM (cubic feet per minute) range and one that vents to the outside. With the hood removing that much air, you might need to consider how to make that air up depending on how tight the home is (you can read more about tight homes here). In some cities like San Francisco, Seattle, Denver, New York and more, they have either banned gas appliances or there is legislation to do so in the coming years. If this becomes a nation-wide movement the need for more powerful range hoods might be decreased.
Electric cooktops are more common and utilize an element that heats up when current is passed through it. That in turn heats the pot or pan. Electric cooktops are generally less expensive than gas and are easier to install, especially if there isn’t already a gas line to the house. The negative to electric cooktops is the time it takes to heat a pan or especially boil water. For a large pot you might need to start on Monday so it is boiling by Wednesday – okay that might be an exaggeration but you get the point. While electric cooktops still produce contaminates during the cooking process, it is at a reduced rate when compared to gas cooking. Therefore a less powerful range hood can be used, something in the 150 to 300 CFM range. Even with the lower CFM it is still highly recommended that it be exhausted to the outdoors. Unfortunately a hood that the air passes through a filter and then recirculates back into the kitchen is not effective and the indoor air quality of the home will suffer.
This is a new technology that is quickly gaining steam (yes – pun intended). Electric induction cooking utilizes magnets to heat the pot or pan so the cooking surface stays relatively cool. There are some real technical things going on with terms that you need to look up in a dictionary, so for our purposes we will just go with it heats the pan and not the surface. Because it is heating the pan directly, it is the most efficient way to cook as almost all the energy is going directly to the cooking process. With gas and standard electric cooktops, a lot of the energy is lost in the heat transfer. The challenge with using induction cooking is your pots and pans must be magnetic otherwise they won’t work and since this is a newer technology, the price of induction cooktops is still very high. From a ventilation standpoint, they are very similar to standard electric cooktops. Because there is not a lot of wasted energy causing contaminates so a lower CFM range hood can be used. The other benefit is with electric and especially gas cooktops, the residual heat and contaminates being generated can last a lot long than with an induction cooktop.
In looking at all these technologies, it is important that your kitchen is properly ventilated. How much ventilation depends on the type of cooktop you have as well as how you utilize it. Matching the ventilation and cooktop is an important step as a gas cooktop is going to require a higher CFM range hood while an electric or induction cooktop will require less. Your style of cooking will also factor in. If you are cooking for 20 people every night using all the burners your ventilation needs will be different than someone who is just cooking for themselves.
For more information about matching your ventilation and cooktop as well as Air King range hoods visit the Range Hood section of this site.