Commercial kitchen ventilation is by far one of the most complicated elements of any heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC). In fact, the HVAC system makes up around 25 percent of your restaurant’s energy usage – and at least half of that goes to the kitchen ventilation.

There’s more to commercial kitchen ventilation than a couple of exhaust fans

Typically, a commercial kitchen ventilation and extractor systems installation is comprised of ductwork, an exhaust hood, some sort of make-up air and a fan system. Each of these elements works in harmony to maintain a fine balance between make-up air and exhaust air.

The make-up air is that fresh air that takes the place of the contaminated air that has been vented. The exhaust air contains the heat, grease and particulates that tend to be created during cooking and have to be removed from the entire building.

Cooking appliances can be classified as extra-heavy duty, heavy, medium and light, depending on how much smoke and grease they produce and how much heat they generate (referred to as the thermal plume). Appliances like electric ovens and gas are usually thought of as light duty while under fired broilers and gas ranges are heavy duty.

A well designed commercial kitchen ventilation system makes a big difference between a hot, smoky kitchen one that is pleasant to work in. What’s more, it can save you a significant amount on maintenance and energy costs.

How to Choose the Kitchen Exhaust Hood

So what exactly do you need to know when choosing a system? Keep these points in mind:

1. The system needs to be the right size for your facility. A system that is too big isn’t going to work efficiently and could cost you unnecessary money. However, a system that is too small isn’t going to work at all.

2. Try to create a full energy-recovery ventilation system. Create a system that will be able to use exhaust heat from the kitchen in order to pre-heat the hot water and incoming make-up air. This sort of integrated system could potentially save you a large amount of money in the long-run and the payback period will be fairly short.

3. Make sure you install demand-control ventilation. This can sense elevated carbon dioxide levels and heat and will then activate your exhaust fan when needed.

This smart sort of system will make sure that the ventilation system doesn’t run unnecessarily and therefore save you money. The paybacks periods will range from around 11 months to 3.2 years depending on the size and complexity of the system.

4. This is not a DIY project. Installing a commercial kitchen ventilation system is certainly not a weekend project. You need to get the professionals in, including a kitchen designer, architect and engineer, who have the experience with commercial systems. They will be able to determine the right size and functionality of your ventilation system.

So if you are planning on installing a new ventilation and extractor system, get the professionals to help you with advice, design and installation.