Ventilation adequacy in residential kitchens

Vent hoods are often an afterthought in kitchen renovation projects — the last appliance selected by homeowners.   However, vent hoods are important:

  1. Functionally.  They remove heat, smoke, smells, steam, and fumes from the workspace.
  2. Aesthetically.  The vent hood sits at eye level and is the first thing one may notice when entering the room.

How much ventilation do I need?  Vent hood manufacturers have various formulas for determining what “adequate” ventilation is.  Use the calculator below to bound the answer!

Kitchen ventilation adequacy calculator
Fume/odor generation capacity indicator:
  Gas stove power Btu
  Electric stove width inches
Room dimensions:
  Length feet
  Width feet
  Height feet
  Area 192 square feet
    18 square meters
  Volume 1,728 cubic feet
    49 cubic meters
Throughput measurement equivalency:
  1 cubic foot per minute (cfm) = 1.7 cubic meters per hour (cmh)
Minimum recommended ventilation power
Method CFM CMH   Calculation
A (electric stove size) 360 612   CFM = electric stove width inches * 10
B (gas stove power) 400 680   CFM = gas stove btu / 100
C (room volume) 288 490   CMH = cubic meters * 10
D (room volume - alt method) 432 735   CFM = cubic feet * 15 cycles / 60 minutes
E (room area) 384 563   CFM = square feet * 2 [For 8-ft ceilings, this yields the same result as 15 cycles of room volume per 60 minutes]
F (room volume - for bathroom) 230 392   CFM = cubic feet * 8 cycles / 60 minutes


Installation considerations:

  • Noise
    • Noise comes from both the motor and from air movement
    • More turns in ducting = more noise
    • 6 sones @ 600 cfm is a reasonable noise level
    • For >1000 cfm, you need at external blower.  Blower should be placed beyond >12 ft ducting, for noise abatement.
  • Location
    • 30″ above cooking surface
    • 20-24″ projection from wall
    • Wood-covered hoods must be >36″ above the cooktop, which reduces their effectiveness.  Metal hoods are therefore preferable.

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