Information on kitchen extractor fans

kitchen image by Gina Smith from

Most modern kitchens are equipped with some sort of kitchen extractor fan. These units are not only highly functional but can be an attractive part of the kitchen's decorating scheme.

Exhaust fans don't often need to be installed or replaced, but knowing a little about kitchen extractor fans can help selection and installation go more smoothly when the time comes.


A kitchen extractor fan, sometimes referred to as an exhaust fan, is a large fan that mounts directly above the kitchen stove. The fan is encased in a metal box- or bell-shaped canopy called a range hood and is usually attached to an exhaust vent, which also concealed by the range hood. The range hood primarily serves to enhance the function of the fan and to conceal unsightly fans and vents; however, an attractive hood can also add colour and character to a kitchen.


A kitchen extractor fan has an important job to do: It must draw up all the smoke and vapours created during cooking and route them elsewhere. That's no small task, as kitchen vapours consist of not just water vapours from boiling, but also vaporised oil and grease from fried and sautéed foods. Some kitchen vans introduce fresh air into the kitchen while simultaneously removing smoke and vapours. Kitchen extractor fans are designed to reduce the amount humidity and oil in the air to prevent them from dirtying and damaging kitchen surfaces.


The most common types of kitchen extractor fans are updraft fans, downdraft fans and nonvented exhaust fans. Updraft fans are the most popular among these types, and because they take advantage of the upward motion of kitchen vapours, they're extremely effective. Updraft fans are easier to install than downdraft fans, because the ducting is installed in walls and ceilings, rather than through flooring. Downdraft fans force vapours down to venting that's usually located below the vent, often at the base of a cabinet or on the floor. Nonvented fans circulate kitchen vapours; however, the absence of ductwork means vapours cannot be removed.

Choosing a Fan

Consider budget, usage and kitchen layout when choosing a kitchen extractor fan. For most home kitchens, a variable-speed extractor works well and will operate fairly quietly. A large-capacity fan is a more appropriate choice for a kitchen that gets heavy use or for installation over a kitchen island. When kitchen layout or lack of space prevent overhead ducting, a downdraft fan may be the only viable option; however, a home improvement expert can offer advice on which fans to buy.

Installation Advice

Measure your cooking surface and make sure the hood you've chosen is at least as wide as the cooking surface. Read and follow the manufacturer's instructions before beginning installation. Install smooth-walled, metal ductwork in as straight a line as possible from the fan to the outside wall where fumes and vapours will be vented. The fewer bends there are in the ducting, the better the extractor system will function.