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Is there a more visually discreet alternative to a range hood for ventilation? Maybe a system in the wall that sucks in odors, etc?

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    Some stove tops come with embedded vent systems that pull air down into the surface and into vent ducts below. Probably less effective, though. – Daniel Griscom May 19 '16 at 16:18
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    I've seen some that are retractable and come up/out from a surface. Those are quite slick. – BrownRedHawk May 19 '16 at 16:28
  • The problem is the accumulation of grease and dust on the vent and the surrounding area. By encasing the vent in a hood it's largely hidden from view. – isherwood May 19 '16 at 17:01
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    Downdraft venting tends to be loud to be effective, IME. The standard over the range hood works with the direction that most of what you are trying to vent is trying to go, so it does not require as much airflow for the same effectiveness. I'd much prefer a large hulking hood that was effective and quiet to a vent that either does not work effectively, or which is annoyingly loud. – Ecnerwal May 19 '16 at 17:45
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Retractable Downdraft Range Hoods:

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(source)

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Inset Downdraft Range Hood:

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(source)

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    I have one like that bottom picture, and I know why the lid is on that pot. Without it, the steam just rises, and does not get pulled into the exhaust. So I end up with lids on all my pots, skewed or otherwise lifted a bit to make it possible for the exhaust to pull the steam/odors/smoke out. I wouldn't buy one like it again, but that's getting off-topic. – Tim B May 19 '16 at 17:46
  • @TimB - I've never had one, I didn't say they worked ;) Thank you for attesting. – Mazura May 19 '16 at 17:56
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    I almost refrained from commenting, but another answer mentioned effectiveness of that style, but your answer was more complete in that it had pictures, including one that illustrated my point. :-) Since the question was about alternatives, I figured effectiveness of them was fair game. – Tim B May 19 '16 at 21:07
  • Functionality goes out the window when you start talking about aesthetics. – Mazura May 19 '16 at 23:30
  • Yeah, it seems like an inline downdraft vent would have to move a lot of air to be effective. That's fighting a lot of basic physics. – Shimon Rura Aug 19 '16 at 20:39
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I am planning a vent near the cooktop with an inline fan on a 6" duct under the floor running to the outside.

This especially makes more sense when you have an island kitchen with the cooktop and high ceilings. Then you don't have some monstrosity hanging from the ceiling.

Good luck!

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It wouldn't be as effective but an extractor fan mounted near the cooker would be one way to do this (either in an outside wall or the ceiling) . I did this myself in a rather awkward kitchen with an interior window over the hob, and it was certainly better than nothing despite not being as near the hob as I would have liked. You need to consider the air inlet position as well if you do this - it should be the other side of the source of steam/odour.

If you can put up with a cupboard over the cooker, there are almost completely concealed cooker hoods,including recirculating models. This might be tricky to arrange if you've got an island cooker, but then an extractor in the ceiling might be a good idea.

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    "Recirculating" == "Useless" for a range hood, as far as I'm concerned. – Ecnerwal May 19 '16 at 17:48
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    @Ecnerwal, I'm with you on that. The people who built our house put a recirculating hood on an outside wall. There's no excuse for that. We've put a proper one in. – Chris H May 19 '16 at 18:26
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"Down Draft" ranges and cooktops exist. They of course still require appropriate venting but it can be hidden.

Different styles suck the air down into the cooktop or have a small retractable vent that pops up when in use.

Some people say they work great and others say they are useless. I suspect its largely dependent on the type of cooking you are doing. I imagine if you are frequently dealing with high heat (and thus a larger amount of smoke) or really smelly food, then they won't work as well but for your basic boiling water or low heat cooking it will work really well. IMO, they probably would work as well as any non-commercial hood would normally work.

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