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Vent a Hood vs ???

panchoandlefty
14 years ago

OK, I have read old threads. A couple of people are VERY outspoken about their preference for certain brands of vents (particularly Modern-Aire).

My local appliance guys have strongly suggested Vent a Hood for my island install and I just want to make sure I am not making an expensive mistake. I believe they like it because I need a custom liner with high CFM internal blower on an island. It has enough depth to offer good coverage.

Are there people who really like their VAH hoods, particularly with an ISLAND install?

I am looking at the Vent a Hood Pro 48" liner w/ 1200 CFM (TH448PSLESS). I can get it for $2500, which is a good price for this system. I get the impression that most systems, including MA, are gong to cost about this much (+/- $200ish) once hood + motor/blower are purchased.

http://www.ajmadison.com/cgi-bin/ajmadison/THPSLE.html

The install is slightly complicated. We are replacing an inadequate Gaggenau 600 CFM island downdraft with a NEW custom island hood installed in the ceiling.

Here is the tough part:

My house is a 3 story split-level, built into the side of a steep hill. The kitchen is on a middle floor, with bedrooms above and below. There is no crawl space, nor do we have an attached attic. Duct will vent 25 ft off the ground, out of the side of the house. About 10 ft of duct between appliance and wall. Liner must have internal blower.

The island will have a 30" induction cooktop (Bosch) and a 15" Gaggenau grill (LOTS of smoke). My husband loves and uses the grill frequently in our current kitchen.

1) I need at least 46" width + significant depth for island

2) High CFM (900+) because of island instal and smokey grill

3) Noise isn't a HUGE issue- Grill is rarely used when we have guests. I can handle the noise while grill is in use.

Thanks

Comments (21)

  • sfjeff
    14 years ago

    As you asked "vs ???" I would also consider Independent, Prestige, and Modern-Aire as options.

    I believe Vent-A-Hood produces a good product. I'm not convinced that it is a superior product to its competition in the same price class. Its unique grease catching approach makes it easier to sell and, in my opinion, harder to clean than competing baffle-based hoods.

    1200 CFM should not be a problem with any of those makes. (Though, unless they use the same fans, hard to compare one manufacturer's CFM to another.) I'd find a manufacturer that can work the ducting details with you as 1200CFM hoods generally want something like a 10" round duct, which you probably can't get into the thickness of the floor.

    I'm curious why you've ruled out an inline or external blower.

  • clinresga
    14 years ago

    sfjeff is right on target. The brands he mentions are smaller dedicated hood companies. Their products are generally well made, well designed, and much more customizable.

    I am a VAH detractor, I'm afraid, based on my comparative experiences with our 42'' supposedly "900 cfm" VAH, and our 64'' Modern Aire liner with 1200 cfm Fantech blower. It's night and day, Kia versus BMW, hype vs performance.

    I'll stop there but will mention one more time, that many appliance companies shill VAH because they are the only hoods they sell. Here's a test. Tell your appliance guys that before you make a decision you'd like to compare the VAH to another brand that they carry. Ask them to explain why the VAH is superior. Post their reply here and you'll get feedback from a different point of view.

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  • panchoandlefty
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    Clinresga, my appliance guys do sell several other hoods. We talked about GE, Thermador, Gaggenau and Broan. They have 2 big displays with some other "vent-only" brands. Will have to go in and re-check the manufacturers.

    In fact, they said they sell fewer of the VAH hoods than anything else. For WALL installs, my guy said I had many more choices, but for MY island, he felt VAH was the best option because the pro model had more depth than most other hoods. Also, I want to install slightly higher than 30" so width and CFM are important to compensate.

    I don't think an external blower is an option for my install. Correct me if I am wrong, PLEASE.

    Also, maybe I don't understand the difference between an internal blower and an inline blower. Aren't they essentially the same thing? I mean, if I only have 10 ft between the hood and the exterior wall, effectively, what is the difference? I can't run the duct up to the roof, only along the kitchen ceiling and out.

    So far as an external blower, I don't think I have anywhere to put it.

    Our house is extremely contemporary. On the side of the house from which the vent will emerge, there are 48 casement windows, in 4 rows. The duct will come out between 2 windows, basically on the top and center of the 4 rows. I don't want to mount anything on the exterior wall of the house, at least in that area. It is a dramatic view.

    Furthermore, while the vent leaves the house 25 up from the ground, on the side of my house, this is still a middle floor so the roof is another 15+ feet up.

    The roof is metal and a VERY steep pitch. We do not have an attic in the house, just a tiny crawl space at the very top of the house, where the roof peaks. There is NO way to run something from the kitchen to that space, nor could anything be on the roof itself.

    Does this help explain?

    To some extent, I am pinched for time. My cabinets will arrive from Hemnrybuilt/Seattle soon and will be installed on Halloween. I'd like to have the vent on-site for the install.

    So basically, I have 2 weeks to get something here.

    Stephanie

  • clinresga
    14 years ago

    Stephanie: several comments.

    In general you are on the money. Your constraints are substantial. Perhaps the biggest is your timeframe. Two weeks means you are totally restricted to off the shelf hoods. That rules out many of the smaller companies that may not carry your exact hood size and configuration and typically build to suit. For example, my favorite, Modern-Aire, quotes a minimum of 4 weeks for their custom hoods (which is pretty fast, but not fast enough it appears).

    IMHO that's too bad, as I think these are typically the best hoods out there in many ways. Check this one out:

    Modern-Aire PS30 Island hood

    You are also limited by the short duct run and the need to vent out a wall. That really does rule out any type of external or inline blower (the latter is not the same as an internal blower: with both external and inline blowers, the actual fan and motor are not located in the hood itself, but at a remote location. An inline is typically installed somewhere along the duct run, most commonly in the attic, while an external blower mounts on the outside of the roof or wall). These have huge advantages from a noise standpoint but do not sound possible for you. Not enough room in your ceiling for an inline, and you can't mount an external on the wall without it being seen.

    I will make the point that even without an external blower, you will still have some sort of backdraft damper and vent visible on the wall. I am not honestly sure how much worse an external blower like this one:

    Abbaka external blower

    would be versus the louvers you'll have to mount over your duct as it exits the wall, something like this:

    Louvered Shutter

    But that's an aesthetic call only you can make.

    The rest of my objections are based on my highly biased opinions on the Vent a Hood blower system. To get to higher cfm capacities, VAH uses not a larger blower, but more little blowers. That to me is inefficient and noisy. I don't find the two squirrel cage blowers on our VAH 600 cfm (or "900 cfm equivalent" in VAH-land) hood to be particularly effective, and they certainly are noisy, and hard to remove and clean versus the baffles on our MA hood. So, to me, VAH is noisier, more expensive, and underperforms products from small dedicated hood companies like Prestige, Independence and Modern-Aire. Lots of VAH fans out there though, who I am sure will chime in.

  • guadalupe
    14 years ago

    Your doing a grill on an island you should be doing remote or in line blower and do not hang the hood above 30" off the cooking surface, if you use an internal blower you will have drifting.

  • clinresga
    14 years ago

    I am not at all sure what lupe means by "drifting." That's a popular sport in Japan involving sliding cars around a racecourse...

    At any rate, I think you've made it clear that using an external blower will be a major challenge. That should NOT affect the performance of a hood. There is no conceivable reason that I know that an internal blower would affect capture function of a hood. That's almost exclusively dependent on the hood size, depth, baffle design, and mounting height, and the cfm's exhausted by the blower. Whether the blower is in the hood or located remotely should have no significant effect.

    If the ventilation experts (kas, are you out there?) are reading, they can see if I'm missing something here but outside of noise (which I do think is a big deal) there should be no performance hit with an internal blower.

    Indeed, as much as I love our setup with an inline blower, this is a quote from Jeff Herman at Modern Aire, who I am a big fan of:
    "If pure performance is the most important then our internal blowers are the best way to go, they are louder in comparison to [clinresga's] set up, but are moving more air then the inline or exterior blowers at 1200CFM. Our internal blowers compensate for higher static pressure loads and do not slow down when connected to ducting making them a great choice for super long duct runs or duct runs with many turns or transitions"

  • panchoandlefty
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    Clinresga, you rock.

    I looked a little a Modern Aire. My problem was that by the time I was seriously looking, I was so overwhelmed by other aspects of the project that the process seemed too complicated. Seemed like a lot of chatter about contacting this person or that person...

    I'm in Oklahoma. My cabinets are custom, shipping from Henrybuilt in Seattle. They have been amazing, but it has been a lot to manage. They are sending wood panels with which my carpenter can build a hood on-site, during install. Doing something stock just seems the simpler route, even if I am giving up some benefit.

    We already have a louvered exhaust vent on the other side from the existing downdraft. Not a big of a deal. It is high enough up that, when painted, it isn't too noticiable since it lays flat. The external blower would be installed right above my bedroom window.

    I will have the MONDO sized hood. 1200 CFM, so 3 of the boxes. I don't think it will be on full power that often.

    Stephanie

  • mrclancy
    14 years ago

    Buy anything but VAH they are poorly built, the magic lung fan does not come close to mesh or baffle filters when it comes to capturing grease. in short VAH sucks but not in the way it should!!

  • Buehl
    14 years ago

    My Vent-A-Hood works very well...I have absolutely no regrets. It's not too loud, it captures & exhausts smoke/grease/steam/odors very well, and it looks great! I find if fairly easy to clean...not as easy as removing a mesh screen, but not difficult either. (I have a wall hood, not an island, though.)

    I think you've already done enough research to realize that you need the higher cfms and a deeper & wider hood b/c of the island installation. Good luck!

  • clinresga
    14 years ago

    Stephanie: sounds like you may be locked into a VAH. I'm obviously more in the mrclancy camp than the buehl camp, but would never deny that there are many happy VAH owners. Still if there's any wiggle room in your decision, you might look one more time at MA or equivalent. Will slow you down by a couple weeks but you will get a hood that is
    1) custom built to exactly your specs--they custom build each hood
    2) equipped with real baffles, as seen in 100% of restaurant hoods
    3) will with the proper blower installed way outperform the VAH while running much more quietly
    4) will allow the use of a continuously variable speed control, mounted remotely (can I tell you how much I love reaching over to the wall beside my hood and tweaking the blower speed to exactly what I want -- versus craning my neck under the VAH and trying to figure out how to choose settings on (in your case) THREE separate switches, each with a hi-lo setting--"let's see, we'll try fan 1 on lo, fan 2 on hi, and fan 3 off???")
    5) will avoid the need to unclamp and wiggle down not one, not two, but three individual fan housings and then laboriously hand scrub out the greasy interiors using a scrub brush, then letting them dry on the countertop overnight (remember, I own a VAH!) -- versus grabbing the baffles, throwing them in the DW, and pulling them out and slipping them back in, a 1 minute job. (I know, some VAH owners put theirs in a DW but search older threads in which VAH owners who did so found the paint peeled off the housings--so I hand wash mine).

    So, may be too late, and you'll be fine no matter what as long as you have decent ventilation, but figured I'd give my rant one more time.

  • panchoandlefty
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    I don't think it is too late. The hood isn't touching anything else, so we can move forward. I won't have countertops for a few weeks, so I would not be using the cooktop/grill.

    It is just a matter of hassle.

    I don't need a custom hood, just a liner. The outside will be wood, built by my carpenter.

    For some reason, the vent overwhelms me in ways the other appliances did not. Plus, I'm just worn slick at this stage in the remodel.

    My Henrybuilt cabinets arrive in the morning.

    Stephanie

  • sfjeff
    14 years ago

    I'd take the time to call Modern-Aire, even if just to understand their perspective. They are great people there with what I believe to be an excellent product and the desire to make sure you have a product that meets your needs, not that of the company's sales quote or profit goals. Catch Jeff if you can when you call.

  • panchoandlefty
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    I didn't call because, on the MA website, they don't have any island (as opposed to wall) liners shown. I assumed that meant they were not stocked.

    I'll find out.

  • clinresga
    14 years ago

    Stephanie: they build gorgeous island hoods. The website has been recently under construction and the page links are not live yet, but below is the link to their Island Hood page.

    If you call, our favorite folks are Patrick and Jeff but many of the staff are very helpful.

    Here is a link that might be useful: Modern Aire Island Hoods

  • panchoandlefty
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    That is the thing. I don't need a whole hood, just a liner/blower. Henrybuilt sent wood panels for my carpenter to build cabinet to frame the liner.

    On the MA site, they do have beautiful island hoods, but so far as liners, they are all for wall installation.

    That is why I ended up with a VAH in the first place. A lot of manufacturers don't make island liners for custom wood cabinets, EVEN THOUGH they make a good product for a wall application. Or, if they do have a liner for island install, it is really a modified wall mount hood so it isn't wide enough.

    I'll call MA and get the skinny.

    Stephanie

  • clinresga
    14 years ago

    They custom build hoods for an incredibly small upcharge. I cannot imagine they can't build a liner--that's super easy--to your exact specs. Give them a call! Email me if you have trouble getting through.

  • tanem
    14 years ago

    Clinresga- what exactly is your affiliation with MA? You have bashed vent-a-hood consistently on this forum. How is it that you know the where-abouts of MA's employees? Why would you want someone to e-mail you if they can't get through to MA? You're sounding alot more like SPAM.

  • sfjeff
    14 years ago

    I'll vouch for him.

    If you've taken the time to read his posts, he's owned Vent-A-Hood and spent a lot of time working with M-A on his current, custom hood. That is a way that you end up knowing internal resources, that may not want their non-public email addresses or phone numbers posted broadly.

    I'd say that he's outspoken in his views about Vent-A-Hood, supports them with first-hand experience, and states his awareness of his bias against them, and his reasons for that position. I'll take well-supported opinion based on first-hand experience over "Brand X is the best/worst" statements any day.

  • panchoandlefty
    Original Author
    14 years ago

    I also read a lot of old posts before starting this thread.

    Clinresga isn't on the MA payroll, though he probably should be. He had a VAH hood in one house, a MA in another and liked the MA much better.

    With any small, custom shop, you get to know the staff.

    Through the design/build of my kitchen, I've exchanged over 100 emails with my designer at Henrybuilt Seattle. I know her kid's birthday, who to call if she isn't there, etc... These projects foster these relationships.

    I believe he is a guy with a strong opinion, but not a pro.

    Stephanie

  • clinresga
    14 years ago

    tanem: it's a fair question. Thanks, sjeff and stephanie for vouching for me.

    I am a big fan of MA--but also of other small dedicated hood companies. It is based on my personal experiences--I only began making these observations after buying my MA hood (at full price!), having already owned a VAH hood.

    I do feel strongly about this subject, but it's mostly because I feel I can speak to a "minority" opinion that otherwise might get drowned out by the VAH crowd. Realize that VAH sells hugely more hoods than MA, Prestige, Independent, Metallo Arts, etc. Therefore, on a forum like this, questions about "what hood should I buy" tend to be flooded with VAH owners. They are happy with their hoods, which is great, but most of them can only speak from their experience with their one VAH hood, or at most, with their VAH hood compared with their prior OTR MW or downdraft unit. Thus, the VAH looks good to them in comparison. I had the same reaction going from my lousy downdraft jenn air, to our VAH.

    What I can speak to, that many others cannot, is how the VAH compares to a custom product like the MA hood. Not only speaking from experience, I've even tried (perhaps amateurishly) to quantify my opinion by measuring sound levels generated by my two hoods. That is one of the few posts I know of that attempts to do more than just offer blind opinion.

    I will say it again, I do not have any financial stake in MA, receive no special consideration (and let me tell you, after our kitchen reno, I am NOT going to be in the market for many years to come). What I do hope is that small American companies, who still take pride in their products, will continue to compete successfully with the big corporate guys. And, I will state it again as clearly as I can: it's not just Modern-Aire! If you are looking for a hood, you really owe it to yourself to check out Prestige, Independence, and Metallo Arts too. And I am confident that there are other companies out there as well. And, finally, I would never claim that someone who in the end chooses a VAH, or a Broan, or a Viking, etc etc made a bad choice--hey, I own one! So, tanem, please take what I say with many grains of salt, but know that I'm not shilling or spamming. Thanks.