What Are the Pros and Cons of Downdraft Ventilation?

updated May 13, 2022
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Q: Are downdrafts as effective as range hoods?

I’ve considered buying one instead of the conventional range hood, in order to maximize space in the kitchen and also to create a more modern, minimal look. But I am worried that downdrafts are not as effective in exhausting the odors and fumes while cooking in comparison to range hoods. Any advice?

Sent by Elena

Editor: Elena, I am in a funny position of wishing I could give you feedback on a downdraft ventilation system. See, I have one in my old rental kitchen (the pop-up action was a major surprise, on moving in) but it doesn’t actually work. You can see it in a video here:

• Video: Secret Surprise Kitchen Appliance

The fan motor seems to be broken, although we’re not really sure. It’s totally ancient and hasn’t worked for years — it probably broke at least a few years before I moved in.

It definitely has a sleek look, but it is hard to see how it would suck in all the humidity and grease that is generated by regular cooking.

Readers, do you have any direct experience with downdrafts, or advice for Elena?

Related: Good Question: Do I Absolutely Need a Range Hood?