APPLIANCE GUIDES, COOKER HOODS, HOBS (COOKTOPS)

Downdraft Extractor Vs Venting Hob – Comprehensive Comparison

A recent comment on one of my YouTube videos had me thinking: Would I choose a downdraft extractor or a venting hob (cooktop)?

Both downdraft extractors and venting hobs are great options. Offering sleek, efficient solutions for those who prefer not to have a bulky island chimney cooker hood obstructing their view or those who cannot install a ceiling hood above.

In this post, I’ll explore the key factors when deciding between a downdraft extractor and a venting hob. Giving you all the knowledge needed to pick the best option for your kitchen and lifestyle

Let’s get into it!

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Downdraft Extractor Vs Venting Hob

Before I start comparing the main factors and considerations between the two options I thought it would be helpful to quickly explain what each option is.

Downdraft Extractor

A downdraft extractor is a type of kitchen ventilation system that is designed to draw cooking fumes, steam, and odours downwards, away from the cooking area.

Unlike traditional overhead hoods, a downdraft extractor is installed directly behind (sometimes beside) the hob or cooktop and remains flush with the countertop when not in use.

When activated, it rises from the countertop and uses a powerful fan to pull air down through a vent, which is then expelled outside the home or filtered and recirculated.

For this comparison, I’ll be comparing the setup of a downdraft extractor with a separate hob (cooktop).

NEFF Induction hob and Downdraft extractor
Image – NEFF

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Venting Hob

A venting hob is a kitchen appliance that combines a cooktop (hob) with a built-in extractor system.

This design integrates the extractor fan directly into the hob itself, typically located in the centre or between the cooking zones.

As you cook, the venting hob efficiently draws steam, smoke, and cooking odours directly downward from the source, before they can disperse into the kitchen.

Hob Extractor NikolaTesla Libra Elica Venting Hob
Image – Elica

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downdraft extractor vs venting hob comparison

Design and Installation Considerations

Downdraft Extractor:

  • Worktop Depth to Fit Behind Hob: The depth of your worktop plays a significant role when installing a downdraft extractor. There needs to be adequate depth behind the hob to accommodate the downdraft unit. Typically they’ll need 200-300mm of space (depth) behind the hob for the cut-out.

    Usually, this is not a problem on a kitchen island. However, this aspect can influence the overall layout and spacing of kitchen elements.

  • Space Necessities in Cabinets or Voids for Storage: When not in use, the downdraft extractor retracts into the cabinet or void space beneath the countertop. Therefore, it’s essential to have sufficient space in this area, which might affect the storage capacity or require custom cabinetry solutions.

    It’s possible to install one in a run of cabinets against a wall. However, the unit and motor will take up space in the cabinet below if there isn’t sufficient depth. This may mean you need to use shallow drawer boxes (if you want drawers).

  • The Visual Barrier When Raised: While in use, the downdraft extractor rises from the countertop, creating a visual barrier in the kitchen landscape. This aspect is worth considering for its potential impact on the kitchen’s aesthetic and the cook’s interaction with guests or family members, especially if say opposite at some seating on a kitchen island.

  • Requirements for Extra Countertop Cuts: A downdraft extractor needs an additional cut-out in the countertop, behind the hob. Adding more elements into the countertop may detract from its appearance for some, affecting the overall look of your beautiful new kitchen surfaces.

Venting Hob:

  • Drawer Space and Cabinet Depth: The venting hob comes with its unique set of installation considerations, particularly regarding the space beneath the hob.

    The integrated extraction unit occupies significant space, often eliminating the possibility of a top drawer directly underneath the hob.

    Usually, they will take up 200-300mm of depth from the top of the countertop, down into the cabinet below.

    This factor can influence the overall storage capacity and the organization of kitchen utensils and equipment.

Performance

Both downdraft extractors and venting hobs offer the flexibility of being either externally vented or using recirculating extraction. This choice can be influenced by your kitchen’s layout and your personal preferences.

Downdraft Extractor:

  • Reduced Effectiveness for Front-Placed Pots: One notable drawback of downdraft extractors is their reduced effectiveness in capturing steam and fumes from pots placed at the front of the hob.

    This is due to the position of the extractor, which is typically behind the cooking zone. Therefore, the further the pot is from the extractor, the less efficient the extraction.

    To counter this, NOVY does a combined panoramic induction hob and downdraft extractor.

  • Extraction Power: In terms of extraction rates, downdraft extractors typically have slightly more powerful extraction.

    For instance, some Elica downdraft models show a max extraction rate of 647 m³/hour versus the venting hob’s 620 m³/hour. Neff’s downdraft at 519 m³/hour against their venting hob’s 500 m³/hour. AEG’s downdraft offers 700 m³/hour compared to the venting hob’s 630 m³/hour, and SMEG’s downdraft and venting hob both at 700 m³/hour.

    However, they are relatively comparable in terms of their ability to handle steam and odours.

Venting Hob:

  • Restriction to 4 Cooking Zones: With venting hobs, you often have to compromise on the number of available cooking zones. Usually, these hobs provide four zones, with the fifth typically occupied by the extractor. This could be a limiting factor for those who frequently cook multiple dishes simultaneously.

    The exception to this is sometimes like the Bora 3.0. It’s a modular system, so you could have 3x two zone sections (6 zones total) with two downdraft sections in between. (If you have a healthy budget!)

  • Noise Levels: When it comes to noise levels, venting hobs tend to be slightly louder.

    For example, Neff’s downdraft extractor operates at max. 62 dB versus the venting hob at 69 dB, AEG’s at 54 dB against 64 dB, Elica’s downdraft (bucking the trend) at 67 dB compared to its venting hob at 61 dB and SMEG’s downdraft and venting hob at 70 dB and 72 dB respectively.

    Despite these differences, it’s important to note that the variation in noise levels is relatively minor and these are at max settings.

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Cost

When considering the financial aspects of both downdraft extractors and venting hobs, there are several key factors to keep in mind, including the initial purchase cost, installation expenses, and long-term running costs.

Both Downdraft Extractor and Venting Hob:

  • Additional Accessories for Ducted Versions: For both types of systems, if you opt for a ducted (vented out) version, remember that you might need additional accessories like a ducting kit. This can add to the overall cost.

    However, it’s important to note that not all models require a separate purchase of these kits; some come with them included. Always double-check this detail when making your purchase to avoid unexpected expenses.

Downdraft Extractor:

  • Higher Overall Cost: Downdraft extractors generally present a higher overall cost. This is due to the requirement of two separate appliances (if you opt for a hob of similar specification) and the complexities involved in the installation, including an extra worktop cut-out. (A cut-out can cost around £100)

    These factors collectively contribute to a more significant initial financial outlay.

    Of course, you could try and find budget options for both, which could end up costing slightly less. But I’m trying to be fair and compare similar models.

  • Higher Running Costs: In terms of running costs, downdraft extractors can be more expensive. This is because you are essentially operating two appliances – the hob and the extractor.

    For instance, a main 5-zone hob typically consumes around 7.4 kW, plus an additional 13 amps for the downdraft unit. Verses 7.4kW total for a venting hob that combines everything. Over time, this increased energy usage can add up, affecting your electricity bills.

Venting Hob:

  • Budget Considerations with Fewer Choices: With venting hobs, one of the cost-related considerations is the limited range of available models. While this might not directly impact the initial cost, the fewer options could affect your budget considerations, especially if you are looking for specific features or designs.

    The restricted selection might also influence the overall fit with your kitchen aesthetics and functionality needs.

Product Range And Type

Downdraft Extractor:

  • Wider Variety of Options: When it comes to downdraft extractors, there’s a comparatively broader selection of separate hobs to choose from. Not so much the downdraft extractor, definitely lots of choice when it comes to cooktops.

    This variety allows for greater flexibility in terms of features, sizes, and design aesthetics. It’s particularly advantageous for those who are looking to achieve a specific look or functionality in their kitchen.

  • Mix and Match Flexibility: An added benefit of opting for a downdraft extractor is the ability to mix and match different brands and models. This flexibility can be crucial for those who have specific preferences for certain brands for their cooktop but aren’t too bothered about the downdraft, or vice-versa.

  • Make and Model: The effectiveness of extraction is also influenced by the style of the appliance. As I mentioned above, NOVY has a panoramic induction hob/downdraft extractor that brings your pots and pans all in line with the extractor, making it more efficient at catching everything as there are no ‘front zones’ to the cooktop.

    Whereas NEFF’s new model, while very powerful and aesthetically great, has the extractor at the base of the downdraft and then clear glass above, which I found not quite as effective. Maybe it was just me? 🤷‍♂️

Venting Hob:

  • Growing but Limited Selection: The market for venting hobs, while continuously expanding, is still relatively limited compared to the variety available for separate hobs. This limitation can be a consideration for those seeking specific features or styles.

    However, it’s worth noting that as the popularity of venting hobs increases, more manufacturers are entering this space, gradually offering more choices to consumers.

    There are some great options these days!

  • Make and Model: Similarly with venting hobs the make and model can impact the effectiveness of the ventilation. Historically, I’ve always favoured Bora venting hobs. I’ve found their extraction to be great.

    However, newer models from NOVY (such as the Novy One & Novy Up) raise the central extraction unit so it is closer in line with the top of your pots and pans, potentially helping to catch more fumes and increase the extractor’s effectiveness. A bit like a venting hob/downdraft hybrid.

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downdraft extractor vs venting hob: Quick Comparison Table

FeatureDowndraft ExtractorVenting Hob
Design & Installation
Countertop RequirementsRequires extra countertop cuts; needs worktop depthLimited impact on countertop design
Space UtilizationRequires cabinet/void space for storageLimits kitchen drawer space; take up cabinet depth
Visual ImpactCreates a visual barrier when raisedMore integrated, less visual disruption
Performance
EffectivenessLess effective for front-placed potsUniform effectiveness across all zones
Cooking ZonesDoes not affect the number of cooking zonesTypically offers 4 zones, the 5th for extraction
Extraction PowerComparable in different modelsSlightly less powerful but similar performance
Noise LevelGenerally quieterTends to be slightly noisier
Cost
Initial Purchase & InstallationGenerally higher due to two appliances, complex installationFewer model choices can impact budget considerations
Running CostsHigher due to two separate appliances (hob + extractor)Potentially lower than downdraft extractors
Product Range
Options AvailableWide variety; flexibility to mix and match brandsLimited range, but expanding

downdraft extractor vs venting hob: Which Is Better?

When it comes to choosing between a downdraft extractor and a venting hob, the decision ultimately hinges on your specific kitchen setup, requirements, particular appliance model and personal preferences.

What would I choose? Personally, I would choose a venting hob. 👍

Its sleek, integrated design offers a cleaner aesthetic fitting more seamlessly into the kitchen.

While both options are similar in extraction effectiveness and noise levels, for me, the venting hob stands out for its potential cost-effectiveness, especially when considering the additional expenses involved in installing a separate hob and downdraft extractor, like cabinet modifications and extra countertop cut-outs.

For me, the slight compromise of losing a fifth cooking zone in a venting hob wouldn’t be a significant issue. Ultimately, its simplicity and efficiency align with my personal style and preferences.

However, it’s important to consider that every kitchen has different needs and what suits one might not suit another.

As I said at the start, both are great options. You do what’s right for you! 😃

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Author

Michael from Kitchinsider.com

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.