What’s the down low on downdraft cooktops? I’ll be honest, downdraft cooktops are a good, not great, ventilation option for your kitchen. But if you are going for a certain look, don’t cook much, want extra overhead storage or have no other option because of your kitchen layout a downdraft cooktop might be the choice for you!
A downdraft cooktop is a normal gas, electric or induction cooktop with a built-in ventilation system. It uses proximity ventilation to attract fumes and grease during cooking. The ventilation system pulls these contaminants down and recirculates the air or pushes it out of your kitchen through ducts. There’s no need for overhead ventilation or popup downdraft units that are installed behind the cooktop. It’s like having two appliances in one!
The Benefits of Downdraft Cooktops
One of the main reason homeowners want downdraft cooktops is because they have a kitchen configuration that doesn’t support conventional ventilation. Venting island cooktops can be tricky if the ceiling height is abnormal or it’s not realistic to vent through the ceiling or floor.
Other homeowners simply prefer the look or don’t need an excessive ventilation system for their cooking style. But beware! If you routinely make stir-fry or cook other foods with heavy smoke or steam output, a downdraft ventilation system will struggle to keep up. Remember, heat rises which forces downdraft ventilation to fight physics.
Downdraft cooktops also open overhead space for cabinets. In smaller kitchens, storage space is at a premium and a downdraft cooktop might be a good trade-off for you.
What to Look For in a Downdraft Cooktop
One of the most important points to consider is the kind of venting your downdraft cooktop needs. The ideal setup is to vent the air out of your house through the floor or a wall. This ensures contaminants are removed from your kitchen. If that’s not possible, you can get a recirculating downdraft, which filters the air and puts it back into your kitchen.
Jenn-Air’s downdraft cooktops have a recirculating option if venting out is not an option. This is especially helpful for remodels where adding duct work can be very costly. Jenn-Air downdraft cooktops are also very easy to clean. They have a shallow compartment with a filter. Simply remove the filter every couple of weeks, wash it in the dishwasher and wipe out the compartment.
Lastly, check the CFM rating. CFM stands for cubic feet per minute and measures the amount of air volume moved. Most downdraft cooktops max out at 350 CFM which is about the CFM of an over-the-range microwave. For most cooking styles, a 300-400 CFM downdraft cooktop will work but remember, if you’re a home hibachi chef you’ll need traditional ventilation.
We routinely host Jenn-Air demos! View our event calendar to find a Jenn-Air chef demo in your area. If you can’t make it out, check out Jenn-Air’s downdraft cooktop in this edition of the Laura Report.