An outdoor kitchen is the perfect space for cooking and entertaining. Even though you’re cooking outside, you’ll still need a range hood for proper ventilation to enjoy a smoke-free atmosphere.
What Are Outdoor Range Hoods?
Outdoor range hoods are kitchen exhaust fans built for outdoor kitchens, usually made of corrosion-resistant stainless steel. Referred to also as barbecue or outdoor vent hoods, they are installed most often in an enclosed or open patio to cover a barbecue grill.
Barbecue hoods can either be mounted on the wall or hung from the ceiling over a grill or outdoor kitchen island.
Do I Really Need an Outdoor Range Hood?
Here are some really good reasons to have one:
- Outdoor grills create more toxins, heat, smoke, odors, and grease compared to indoor ranges, and you don’t want to expose family or guests to this type of environment. The outdoor hood acts the same as an indoor one, drawing these elements away from the grill to keep the air in the outdoor living space clean, fresh, and healthy.
- If cooking equipment is located near or under a combustible covered structure, local codes might require a vented hood.
- Some family members or guests may have lung problems such as asthma or other lung conditions, and you don’t want smoke or contaminants to harm them.
- An outdoor vent hood prevents a build-up of grimy residue that causes damage and discoloration to the surrounding furniture, countertops, and covered structures. It also reduces your cleaning time.
Choosing an Outdoor Range Hood
Outdoor hoods are larger and need more power than indoor ones in order to clear the heavier cooking exhaust from barbecue grills. Here are some guidelines for choosing an outdoor range hood:
- You’ll need a hood with a fan blower that has a high CFM rating (cubic feet of air moved per minute) anywhere between 1200 and 2000 CFM. You may be cooking for several hours, especially for large gatherings, and your range hood has to be able to handle that amount of smoke and grease. Some people use a double grill, and only the high-CFM hoods have the power to vent two grills at the same time.
- The range hood has to be large enough to cover at least six inches beyond each side of your grill. Otherwise, most of the cooking exhaust will get past your vent hood.
- Get one with a quiet motor so it won’t drown out conversation or an outdoor television.
- You may want to see what you’re cooking when the sun goes down, and some models have built-in lights that will help you tell when food is done to perfection.
- Make sure the hood is rated for outdoors, and made from high-quality, durable stainless steel that’s heat and scratch resistant.
- Look for filters that are easy to remove and dishwasher safe (e.g. baffle, mesh, or honeycomb).
The manufacturer of the outdoor range hood will have specific instructions about the mounting height but, generally, an outdoor hood should be installed between 36 and 42 inches above the cooking surface. This distance protects the hood from a very hot grill, while at the same time permitting it to capture the smoke. There will also be enough room at these height ranges to open the grill lid.
For outdoor hoods you’ll have to install ductwork that vents away from the outdoor cooking area, so you’ll need the room for it and a proper place to vent. Ductless hoods may lack the power and size to vent cooking exhaust from a barbecue grill.
You’ll need to determine the required length of the ductwork, and the number of elbows. The air won’t move smoothly if you use too many elbows or run the ductwork too long (over 30 feet). Be sure to use the rigid type of ducting, which is more durable and usually made of higher-quality materials.
The size of your ductwork should be based on the hood’s CFM. Outdoor hoods rated 1200+ CFM need at least a 10-inch diameter duct, with a 12-inch diameter recommended. If the ductwork is too small, and the air movement is restricted, the range hood won’t operate efficiently. Grease and pressure build-up will shorten its life.
Maintaining an Outdoor Range Hood
An outdoor range hood needs to be cleaned frequently — twice a month or every 24 hours of use.
Check the filters every 2-3 weeks, especially if the grill is used consistently to cook greasy foods. You can clean the filters in the dishwasher when there’s a grease build-up. Place them in the bottom rack, and don’t use harsh cleaners or ones containing bleach.
When the dishwasher load is finished, use a soft towel to wipe the filters completely dry. With stainless steel filters, wipe in the direction of the grain.
Inside the Range Hood
- Remove the filters. Inside the hood there will be one or two blowers, wiring, and the circuit board.
- Because of the circuit board and wiring, don’t spray a cleaning solution directly on the stainless steel. Instead, for a quick wipe, wet a soft cloth or paper towel with a small amount of water. Use glass cleaner for mild dirt buildup, acetone for tougher grease, and a product like Soft Scrub Multi-Surface Cleaner for the toughest grease stains.
- If using acetone, make sure the area is well-ventilated. Wet a soft cloth with the acetone, and wipe the surface, going with the grain. Then wipe off the acetone and reapply if needed. After the grease is removed, take a soft cloth soaked with a solution of warm water and mild dish soap to remove the acetone and any greasy residue. Rinse with clean water, and dry with a paper towel or cloth.
- Only use Soft Scrub if the other solutions aren’t working. Make sure it doesn’t have any grit in it so you don’t scratch the stainless steel finish.
Apply the Soft Scrub to a soft white plastic pad, and then use long, back-and-forth strokes in the direction of the stainless-steel grain (no scrubbing). Wipe away the residue, then use glass cleaner to give the surface a shine.
- Make sure the filters are dry, then put them back in the hood.
Outside Range Hood Surface
Use the same cleaning solutions and methods for the outside of the hood, depending on the amount of grease build-up. You can spray a solution directly on the surface if you prefer.
Another product you can use for the outside is a degreaser specially formulated for stainless steel. Spray it on, and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Rinse with warm water, then wipe the surface dry with a cloth or paper towel.
For repair and maintenance to all your major appliances, contact C&W Appliance Service. Call us at (214) 855-1496 or (855) 358-1496 or submit our online service request form.