Back on 5/24 a thread on 'budget range hoods' was started, but my Zephyr AK2100 hadn't been installed yet. I promised to review it after running it a few weeks, so here it is.
- Vents directly out the back wall, so any fan will be noisier than one with a vertical vent or off-line blower.
- 30" width, between cabs
- Headroom a problem, so needed a hood with a thinner forward profile, although stove power burners are in the front, not the back
- First range hood in 1989 Kenmore $75 special - worked fine, but got progressively noisier and harder to clean. Replaced in 2003 with:
- Second hood, Broan Allure III $300 piece of junk. Absolutely awful. Top always got greasy, and a lovely thin film of grease would always float off to the left, to gunk up the countertop and bottom of upper cabs, because the Broan's fan is on the left, not centered.
The Zephyr AK2100 fulfilled all the requirements: not too expensive (this is a modest cottage in a starter home neighborhood), higher front profile, decent cfms, vented out the back, seemed an easy cleaning process. I did not worry about noise, because so much depends on the installation, so I knew I wouldn't be able to tell until it was actually up and running.
I cook (a lot) and very often sear-roast steaks/chops. Lots of boiling, stewing, some stir-frying on our Kenmore/WP gas range. A lot of oven use, and when it's summer and you don't have air-conditioning, that range hood needs to actually WORK, instead of just make a lot of noise without accomplishing much. I wanted to wait until I'd done some heavy-duty grease/steam cooking and could try cleaning the fans, to report.
I'm happy to report the Zephyr AK2100 has been a good performer. It's not quiet, but I don't judge the noise level any higher than the Broan Allure III it replaced, and it works much, much better. There is no longer that thin, sticky film of grease on the top of the hood, which was always reappeared on the Broan within a week of being cleaned. Nothing on the countertops/underside of upper cabs, ditto.
The halogen lights are hot, but they were on the Broan, too, so nice as it would have been to have the cooler LED lights, it's okay.
The time delay is only for 5 min or 10 min, no longer. It automatically dials the fan speed back to the lowest setting, but you can dial it back up to higher speeds if you want. I have an open plan for LR/DR/kitchen, and I do find that 10 min. is not quite long enough, even at high speeds, to clean out really strong smells like nice crusty burger patties. OTOH, about 30 min of the Zephyr cleans out the air completely, even furthest from the kitchen, whereas the Broan would take several hours to accomplish the same thing. If we still had a closed-in kitchen, I think the 10 min delay would be sufficient.
Cleaning the Zephyr AK2100 consists of:
- Unscrewing and taking off the grilles (very simple, just don't lose the screws!). They can be run through the dishwasher.
- Running the fan on low, spray a degreaser 20-30x up into the area.
- Stop the fan, remove the plastic tilt-out cups (one for each fan) and clean them - also dishwasher safe plastic.
- Replace the cups, screw the grilles back in, and wipe the underside surfaces of the hood down.
Summary: very easy, won't be difficult to do this on a semi-monthly basis as it only takes a few minutes.
The one thing the Broan design had over the Zephyr is that the screens just popped in on a spring release. They should have figured out a way for the Zephyr grilles to do the same - they don't stop grease, they're only there to protect your fingers or larger objects like a kleenix or pieces of paper from flying into the fan blades.
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