Kitchen Hoods Buying Guide-How To Choose The Perfect Electric Chimney For The Indian Kitchen
Types of Electric Chimneys AvailableClick thumbnail to view full-size
Exhaust Fans Vs Electric Chimneys In The Indian Kitchen
Indian cooking involves a lot of frying masalas, tadkas, and needless to say, the kitchens can be filled with smoke and you end up with watering eyes and the grimy tiles behind your stove show what you have been cooking. Being an Indian housewife for the last 27 years, and having cooked some super delicious meals for my family of three and hosted parties for 25 or more every year, I can vouch for the fact that whipping up some traditional or exotic meals that are very Indian, leave your kitchen grimy and full of fumes and a multitude of odors. Particularly in the hot summers. Indian cooking includes a lot of frying and use of ghee and oil which contribute to the fumes and grime. I was fortunate that both my motherinlaw and my mother had graduated to the modern kitchen of those times where an exhaust fan was a must. So, since then until now, I have had an exhaust fan put to good use in my kitchen. Yes, this serves to remove the fumes, odor and the grime settles on the blades which need to be cleaned regularly. Mine is a 2-way fan that can alternate in bringing in fresh cool air from the outside as well.
Now, I am building my second home and designing my dream kitchen. The modern modular kitchen complete with a hob and chimney. Yes, an electric chimney ! But, having seen a lot of brands for electric chimney advertised, I decided to visit the showrooms displaying the electric chimney, to decide on what suits my budget and what brand has more sales and the best after sales service. Also a free delivery to my home and free installation. But, after visiting I realized that all are good in terms of looks, and the sales personnel tell you that their brand is the best. So, I decided to make my own inferences and I learnt that choosing an electric chimney according to your needs, your kitchen size and your budget should overrule all else,and oh..., the best after-sales service too. I also spoke to a few housewives who use the electric chimneys in their modern kitchens to get first hand information. So, here is what I found out and want to share with you.
What Kind of Electric Chimney Will Suit My Kitchen
Exhaust fans and electric chimneys perform the same function in your kitchen-that of removing fumes. Chimneys eliminate smoke in a more organized manner when compared to the traditional exhaust fan. Chimneys can cost between Rs. 4,000 (basic models) and Rs.1 lakh (hi-tech) or more. The most sold are between Rs. 9000 and Rs. 25,000. Branded ones are better in terms of home delivery, free installation and quick after sales service.
Points to bear in mind while shopping for a kitchen hood - Functionality, pricing and filters. Your kitchen décor and budget also matter.
An average Indian home can invest in an electric chimney with or without a hood. Having a hood only adds to the elegance, with no particular function, and will cost less. Both need a PVC exhaust pipe and the hood serves to cover this. Larger homes will require the hooded ones for more suction power. Air suction capacity refers to the motor's capacity to suck the odor and oily vapor and is measured in m3 per hour. A higher capacity suction power is ideal for an Indian kitchen. For example, an apartment with 2-3 rooms can use an electric chimney with 500 m3/h suction power, the maximum being 650 m3/h. An apartment with 4 rooms or bigger rooms will need anything between 650 m3/h and 1000 m3/h suction power. Ideal would be one that has 800 m3/h.
Without hood the maximum suction power available will be 250 m3/h to 650 m3 /h, while those with hood will be 500 m3/h to 1600 m3/h.
Choose an electric chimney that best fits your kitchen - A spacious kitchen will require more suction power. A designer chimney, one with hood will add to the décor.
The electric chimney is available in standard sizes of 2 ft and 3 ft. A chimney should be placed above the stove or hob at a height of 2 feet and should cover the entire stove for maximum efficiency. So, if you have a hob or stove of 2 feet, you would be advised to go in for a chimney of 2 feet, but if you wish to go in for a hob or stove of 3 feet, the 3 feet chimney would suit you best. Remember, it is not the size of your family that comes into the picture while selecting your electric chimney, but the size of your home and kitchen.
Several brands of electric chimneys are available in the Indian market - Kaff, Gilma, Sunflame, Deeshe, Glen, Faber,...... Most have offers going when you purchase a chimney from them. For example, Gilma offered a free stove with a particular electric chimney during the last month. A great time to buy would be major festival times such as Ugadi, Diwali,New Year when maximum discounts are available clubbed with free gift offers. Faber and Kaff are the world leaders in electric chimneys. But they might be a drain in your budget. Sunflame, Glen , Kaff, Deeshe,Techno are good in terms of brands and after sales service. Incidentally, Deeshe was the first Indian electric chimney company, way back in 1991. Faber and Gilma have a pathetic after sales service.
2 Types Of Filters Available In Electric Chimney
Aluminum Cassette Filters -The aluminum mesh filter is a multi layer metal filter, made of 3-7 layers of aluminum mesh for effective purification. It retains the grime from the fumes.
All brands have this on certain models. Easy to clean but needs cleaning once every 15-30 days, depending on your usage. Use warm soapy water for easy cleaning, a detergent will help remove stubborn grime. Needs to be replaced once in 2-3 years, with regular cleaning. Can be cleaned in dishwasher too. Some say this type of filter is not good for the Indian kitchen as the masala particles with oil stick to the mesh filter and subsequently do not perform well.
Baffle Filters - This filter is an improvement on the aluminum cassette filter. Uses the cut and chop method of separating oil from the masala fumes, leaving the filter in good usable condition. The suction power of the chimney does not get affected even if there is oil collected in the lower layer. Needs cleaning once every 5-6 months.These need to be changed every 4-5 years as well since they get rusted with use. Baffle filters are supposed to be 30 % more efficient than the aluminum mesh filter. But choose one that is easy to remove and wash yourself rather than wait for a technician to do the job. Some brands have these made of steel that are heavy and cannot be opened by a normal person. One has to depend on the trained technician to do it. Faber's chimneys are easier to open, but the steel thorns inside can be injurious while washing. Aluminum baffle filters are also available which are lighter but can be drawn back into the hood or rattle when in use.
Most consumers prefer the aluminum cassette filter type as they are easy to clean and cheaper. But the baffle filters are excellent for the Indian kitchen since we have more of frying masalas and tadkas to do everyday.
Auto Clean Chimneys - Fix it, and forget about cleaning it. These filter-less chimneys are available in the market today, with zero maintenance. Make sure that the motor is sealed so as not to allow any dust or smoke to get in. A turbine blower made of aluminum non-stick is provided to prevent oil clogging. An oil collector is provided which can be removed for easy cleaning. Altogether low or zero maintenance. Which is my choice for my new kitchen.
Do use the comments box to let me know what kitchen hood you use and whether you are satisfied with it ?