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A long-time contributor to SeriouslySmoked. Jim has had a lifelong relationship with the art of grilling, passed on from his father and grandfather to him.
Doug is a hardcore barbeque enthusiast and connoisseur. While he spends most of his time on editing and research, he sometimes moonlights as a product tester for particularly interesting things he comes across.
People who love to cook know that keeping your cooking space clean is essential. Grilling burgers, hotdogs, or steaks produces intense heat and smoke, and it’s important to use proper ventilation.
Adding a vent hood is a great way of upgrading your outdoor grill. Besides keeping the area clean, it also helps eliminate the strong smells and toxic fumes that grills can produce. If a grill is located in a semi-enclosed area, such as under a porch or in a covered patio, adding a vent hood becomes especially important.
Many companies offer outdoor vent hoods and will install them for you. However, these are generally expensive. Building your own DIY outdoor grill vent hood is much cheaper and customizable.
Why Should You Install a Vent Hood?
It might seem a bit unnecessary to install a DIY outdoor grill vent hood on a grill that is already outside. However, if you are hosting a party for friends and family, they’ll thank you for not filling the space with smoke when they’re trying to enjoy the fresh summer air.
The reality is that an outdoor grill vent hood is essential to protecting your outdoor entertaining space.
The benefits of installing a vent hood for your outdoor grill include:
The fumes produced by grilling can contain toxic chemicals which are unhealthy for you to breathe and can cause damage to surfaces over time. For new homeowners or those who have recently completed a patio renovation, the smoke may cause deterioration and permanently stain the walls, costing your more money in repairs down the line.
Make the most of your money by protecting your home and family with a DIY vent hood for your outdoor grill.
1. Choose the Right Hood Size
When building a DIY outdoor grill vent hood, ensure you are taking proper sizing into consideration. It's important that the hood covers a sufficient area on top of the grill. It’s recommended that the range should be at least 12” larger than your grill. For example, if the range of your grill is 48”, the range of the hood should be 60”.
A ventilation hood that is smaller than the grill or the same size won’t work. The smoke will escape and stick to the surfaces of your outdoor grilling area.
2. Leave Enough Space above the Cooktop
It’s also important to leave enough space between the cooktop and the ventilation hood. The recommended distance is between 36” and 42”. Building your vent hood closer to the grill is risky since the intense heat can damage the hood. If you build the hood too far away from the grill, you also run into problems because the smoke will escape.
3. Choose Between a Ducted or Ductless Hood
There are two main types of exhaust hoods, either ducted or ductless. Ducted hoods have conduits that take the smoke away from your kitchen. Usually, these are installed indoors, but they are also useful on outside grills.
Ductless hoods work with filters that clean and recirculate the air back into the kitchen. When building a DIY outdoor grill vent hood, it makes more sense to simply use a ducted hood to take the fumes away from your grilling space. Since your grill is already outside, it’s more efficient to do a bit of extra work and use a ducted hood.
4. Use Rigid or Semi-Rigid Ductwork
It’s crucial to choose the right ductwork materials for your vent hood. The two common types are rigid and flexible. The rigid style is usually made of stainless steel, which is much more durable and better at conducting air. It requires a one-time installation and almost no upkeep, making it a low-maintenance option. The only regular maintenance necessary is cleaning the filters.
Flexible ductwork is made from cheaper materials than stainless steel, such as plastic or aluminum. It doesn’t last long, it’s difficult to maintain, and it simply is a bad idea for a ventilation hood you use often.
5. Use an Appropriately Sized Duct
When considering the power your vent hood should have, you’ll need to examine your grill’s BTU output. The general rule is that for every 10,000 BTUs, your vent hood should pull a minimum of 100 CFM (cubic feet per minute).
For a vent hood pulling 400 CFM, the minimum duct size will be 4”. If you have a larger vent hood capable of 1,200 CFM, you need a large duct that is, at minimum, 10” in diameter. Ideally, most outdoor vent hoods should be rated for 1,200+ CFM.
It’s critical to ensure that the duct size you use is appropriate for the vent hood’s CFM; otherwise, your vent hood cannot operate at its maximum efficiency level.
6. Consider Vent Hood Extensions and Duct Covers
If your outdoor kitchen counters are extra deep, you may need to consider investing in a vent hood extension. This closes the gap between your vent hood and the wall of your house to make the finished DIY project look polished and professional.
Your wall-mounted vent hood requires vertical ducting that is clearly visible up the side of your home. This may be undesirable and detract from the backyard aesthetic you’ve worked so hard for. To remedy this eyesore and maintain good ventilation, you can simply cover them up with vent hood duct covers. These covers are designed to help the ducting blend in with the rest of your setup.
When setting up a grill for the first time, many people skip the ventilation hood. It’s not as exciting as the grill itself, and people want to avoid the hassle of installing it. It’s also an additional expense.
However, people passionate about grilling know how important it is to have a quality vent hood to go with your grill. If you’re planning to grill for years to come, it’s crucial to install an outdoor vent hood to preserve your home, outdoor space, and the health of your loved ones.
Another tip: If you are interested in making your own DIY grill gazebo in your yard, installing a vent hood to go with it would be advisable.
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