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Commercial Ventilation Systems

Commercial Ventilation Systems

The equipment you choose to outfit your kitchen is a huge investment, but many restaurant owners overlook one of the most important pieces of the design: commercial ventilation systems. Ventilation is necessary for safety and is a requirement for obtaining most permits. Even more so, ventilation keeps your kitchen functioning efficiently and the air circulating constantly, filtering out impurities, dust, and other airborne particles!

The other part of the “yin-yang” relationship of exhausting your cooking line is the supply side of the air requirement. For instance, did you ever go to a restaurant or banquet hall and try to open the front door, and - even when pulling excessively hard - the door will barely budge?  Well that’s called “negative pressure.” No worries, though! While it may have felt like a gorilla hampering your efforts from the other side of the door, it’s simply the negative pressure from within the restaurant interior that seals the door and makes for a difficult entry.

If you properly balance the ratio of exhaust and supply, then the negative pressure and its related issues will be alleviated.  The HVAC of the project can then be accurately calculated to support the rest of the ventilation package, and the results are smaller ductwork, less electrical load due to the smaller Horse Power requirements of the exhaust, and air supply fans and air-conditioning heating (HVAC) units - not to mention all that heating lost to a poorly designed high velocity exhaust systems! Energy efficiency equals dollars in your pocket.  Remember it’s not what you make it’s what you keep!

When you include an Energy Management Control System you will have the fan at rest or at lower speeds when equipment at a lull and speed up when cooking is at full tilt.  That results in more energy money in your pocket as well.

Whether you’re designing a new kitchen or improving on your old one, investing appropriate time and effort in your ventilation system should take priority. Want to get it done right? Ask the commercial kitchen designer.

Commercial ventilation systems can be difficult to design, install, and implement - especially to the untrained owner. The best route is always to hire a commercial kitchen designer who has the knowledge and expertise to create the safest and most efficient kitchen for your restaurant. Here are a few components that your designer will consider when creating your kitchen ventilation system:


We’ve all seen these (or bumped our head into a poorly-placed one!); Hoods are large funneling systems above your kitchen equipment that direct the flow of air up and away from your appliances. Two main types of hoods are heat exhaust and grease exhaust hoods. These both filter air and impurities, respectively as the names imply. Equipment such as ovens should have a heat exhaust hood to funnel hot fumes away from the kitchen, and equipment that uses grease like fryers and charbroilers should have a Type I grease exhaust hood, which utilizes slotted filters to trap grease when funneling air. When grease producing cooking equipment is mixed with Heat/Condensate producing equipment under one hood then it is always a Type I hood that is required.

Some equipment has built-in ventless hood systems as well, so keep this in mind when shopping for equipment. Not all locales approve the use of ventless and it may need prior review and approval from you DOB.

Finally, when live fuel (wood or coal) is part of the repertoire then a separate hood duct and fire suppression system are required.

Seaside Courier notes an additional tip to keep in mind:

‘To determine the correct size hood system to install, remember that National Fire Code (NFC) states a commercial hood should be 6 inches larger on all sides than the equipment that is under it. Call your local Building Code Office to see if there are additional requirements in your area.’


Exhaust fans are used to propel air out of the kitchen and is mounted on the exterior of the building. The more equipment you have or the smaller the quarters it's in, the larger and more powerful fan you’ll need to properly vent your kitchen.

As air is displaced by the fan, make-up air is needed to fill the void. While some restaurants may find that there is enough air naturally, larger kitchens may need an additional fan to pump air back into the kitchen lest they risk siphoning air in from the dining area.

Fire-Suppression Systems

Code requires that fire-suppression systems be installed with ventilation systems, as ventilation systems can actually spread and worsen a kitchen fire in a matter of seconds. Triggered manually or by a breach of temperature threshold, a liquid extinguisher fills the ventilation system and halts the spread of a kitchen fire through the ventilation ductwork.

If you’re already operating a kitchen, take a look at your ventilation system and ensure that it’s getting the job done. If not, give us a call and we’ll help you create a safer working environment with the proper commercial ventilation system.


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