December 5, 2023

What is Commercial Kitchen Ventilation? Why is It Needed?

Commercial kitchen ventilation refers to the system of equipment and techniques used to remove smoke, grease, heat, and odours from a commercial kitchen environment. It is an essential component of any commercial kitchen to ensure a safe and comfortable working environment for kitchen staff and maintain air quality standards.

What Is the Purpose of Commercial Kitchen Ventilation?

The purpose of commercial kitchen ventilation is multi-fold and serves several important functions. The following are the key purposes of commercial kitchen ventilation.

Removing Airborne Contaminants

The primary purpose of commercial kitchen ventilation is to remove airborne contaminants generated during cooking processes.

This includes smoke, grease particles, steam, heat, and odours. By effectively capturing and removing these pollutants, ventilation systems help maintain a clean and healthy environment for kitchen staff, preventing the buildup of hazardous substances in the air.

Improving Air Quality

A properly designed and functioning ventilation system helps improve indoor air quality in a commercial kitchen. By removing smoke, grease, and other pollutants, it reduces the risk of respiratory problems and provides a more comfortable and pleasant working environment for kitchen staff.

Ensuring Fire Safety

Commercial kitchens are prone to grease fires, and proper ventilation plays a crucial role in fire safety. By capturing and extracting grease-laden air, ventilation systems help minimise the accumulation of flammable substances in the kitchen.

Additionally, some ventilation systems incorporate fire suppression features, such as fire suppression hoods or automatic fire suppression systems, to further enhance safety and prevent the spread of fires.

Controlling Heat and Humidity

Commercial kitchens can become extremely hot and humid due to the intense cooking activities. Ventilation systems help remove excess heat and humidity from the kitchen, creating a more comfortable working environment for the staff. This also prevents the condensation of moisture on surfaces, reducing the risk of mould and mildew growth.

Compliance with Regulations

Commercial kitchen ventilation is subject to various building codes, health regulations, and safety standards. These regulations often specify requirements for minimum airflow rates, hood design, fire suppression systems, and filtration.

By implementing a properly designed and maintained ventilation system, businesses can ensure compliance with these regulations and avoid penalties or legal issues.

Main Elements of a Commercial Kitchen Ventilation System

The main components of a commercial kitchen ventilation system include:

Exhaust Hoods

These hoods are installed directly above cooking appliances, such as stoves, grills, fryers, and ovens. They capture and contain the heat, smoke, and grease-laden vapours generated during cooking.

Exhaust Fans

These fans are responsible for drawing the contaminated air from the kitchen and expelling it outdoors. They create negative pressure within the kitchen, ensuring that the airflow is directed toward the exhaust hoods.


The ductwork carries the captured air and contaminants from the exhaust hoods to the exhaust fan and ultimately to the exterior of the building. It is important to ensure that the ductwork is properly sized and installed to maintain efficient airflow and minimise the accumulation of grease.


Air Filtration

Filters are used in the ventilation system to remove grease particles and other contaminants from the air before it is expelled outdoors. Grease filters are typically located in the hoods, while additional filters may be installed in the ductwork or exhaust fans.

Makeup Air Units

As the contaminated air is exhausted, fresh air needs to be supplied to replace it. Makeup air units provide a controlled flow of fresh air into the kitchen, ensuring proper ventilation and maintaining a comfortable environment.

How is Commercial Kitchen Ventilation installed?

According to Donnington Facilities LTD, installing commercial kitchen ventilation involves several steps to ensure proper functionality and compliance with regulations. While the specific installation process can vary based on the kitchen layout and the type of ventilation system being installed, here are the general steps involved.

Assessing the Kitchen Layout

The process starts with evaluating the kitchen layout and identifying the optimal locations for the exhaust hoods, ductwork, and exhaust fans. It’s vital to consider factors such as the placement of cooking appliances, the path of the ductwork to the exterior, and any structural or space limitations.

Determining Ventilation Requirements

Calculating the required airflow rates based on the size of the kitchen, the types of cooking appliances used, and local building codes and regulations. This information will help determine the size and capacity of the exhaust hoods and fans needed.

Designing the Ductwork System

Designing the ductwork system that will transport the captured contaminants from the exhaust hoods to the outside of the building. While doing so, the appropriate size and material of the ducts are considered, as well as any necessary bends, transitions, or dampers for efficient airflow.

Installing the Exhaust Hoods

The next step is installing the exhaust hoods directly above the cooking appliances while ensuring that the hoods are properly sized to effectively capture the contaminants produced during cooking. All the manufacturer’s instructions for installation must be followed, including proper mounting, sealing, and electrical connections.

Inaugurating the Ductwork

Putting the ductwork system in its place based on the designed layout. This involves connecting the exhaust hoods to the ducts using appropriate connectors, joints, and fasteners. After that, securing the ductwork to the building structure ensures proper support and alignment.

Installing Exhaust Fans

Installing the exhaust fans at the end of the ductwork system creates negative pressure and facilitates airflow; the fans must be suitable for the kitchen’s size and ventilation requirements. Again, the manufacturer’s instructions must be followed that include electrical connections and proper venting to the exterior.

Placing Filters and Grease Collectors

Placing grease filters in the exhaust hoods to trap grease particles and prevent them from entering the ductwork. Additionally, consider inaugurating grease collectors or drip trays beneath the exhaust hoods to collect and contain the grease for easier maintenance and cleaning.

Connecting to External Ventilation

Establishing a connection between the exhaust system and the external ventilation point. Typically through an exhaust vent or stack on the building exterior. Ensuring that the vent is properly sized and positioned to allow for the efficient discharge of the contaminated air.

Installing Makeup Air Units

Installing makeup air units, if required, to provide fresh air to replace the exhausted air. These units help maintain a balanced airflow and prevent negative pressure in the kitchen. Installing the units in appropriate locations and connecting them to the outside air source.

Testing and Balancing the System

Once the installation is complete, conduct thorough testing to ensure the proper functioning of the ventilation system. This includes checking airflow rates, verifying proper capture and containment of contaminants, and adjusting the system as needed for balanced airflow. Making any necessary adjustments or corrections to optimise performance.

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