One of the most important decisions when designing your restaurant’s kitchen is determining how you will exhaust the fumes from your kitchen. There are a variety of factors that you must consider before making a decision, such as zoning regulations, budget, building layouts, and the type of cooking you will be doing. This article will explain the differences between ducted and ductless kitchen ventilation systems.
In traditional kitchen setups, a ventilation system utilizes an exhaust fan to remove air from the building, which requires a duct connecting the kitchen to the outside of the building. This type of system will draw air from the exterior back into the building to circulate fresh air into the interior. This has long been a reliable method for venting kitchens as it takes the greasy cooking air and removes it from the interior. However, the downside to this method is that in some building layouts, it can be difficult or even impossible to install a ventilation duct connecting the kitchen to the outside of the building.
In cases where installing a ventilation duct is very expensive or prohibited, it's essential to understand the value of ductless systems as a potential alternate solution. We have installed many ductless ventilation systems over the years. When executed correctly, these systems can be an absolute game changer that opens up new possibilities for how you design your kitchen and what locations are suitable for your restaurant.
As the name implies, a ductless hood system allows for the ventilation of cooking fumes without needing to connect the kitchen to the exterior of the building. Rather than circulating air between the interior and exterior of the building, a ductless hood system acts as an air purifier that will suck up air from cooking, filter out any particles or grease in the air, and then release the air back into the kitchen space. For an example of a ductless hood system, we recommend looking into Giles NFPA-rated hood systems.
Like all aspects of building a restaurant, each decision will have tradeoffs. A potential limitation of using a ductless hood system is that you would not be allowed to cook with gas and would be limited to electrical stovetops. Another factor to consider is power consumption, as switching to fully electric stovetops will increase the overall electrical needs of your kitchen. This would then need to be referenced with the unit's electrical capacity, as deciding to switch to electric stovetops to save money on installing a ventilation duct might end up costing you if that decision results in a need to upgrade the unit's electrical capacity. Another limitation of ductless systems is that they generally require a higher ceiling height.
There are many different classifications of cooking within the building code, each with its requirements. The flowchart below shows how each cooking classification is categorized. Restaurants that use a ductless system often fall under a Class 4 classification.
If this all sounds a bit overwhelming, we understand. While we try our best to write these articles to help restaurant owners better understand the complexities of building a restaurant, the best way to ensure that every aspect of your restaurant is being built efficiently and effectively is to hire a professional early in the process.
If you have any questions about how to make the most out of your restaurant build, reach out to us, and we will happily work with you to ensure that your new restaurant is being built to set your business up for success.