Commercial ventilation systems 101: What every restaurant kitchen needs

(BPT) - Running a restaurant or food service business is complex. Business owners need the right restaurant equipment to cool, cook and properly store food - but a safe and successful kitchen requires more than that. One of the most important pieces to keep a kitchen functioning smoothly, and the most necessary to obtain proper permits is having the right commercial ventilation system.

A commercial ventilation system may not get the attention a nice new griddle or shiny reach-in cooler may receive, but it's just as essential. Commercial ventilation systems help to treat the air in cooking spaces by filtering out contaminants like smoke, carbon monoxide, grease, and other airborne particles. It will also remove heat and boost fresh air flow, creating a safer, more comfortable work space for employees. Finally, proper ventilation can help reduce HVAC costs - something that captures the attention of every restaurant manager.

The right equipment for the right person is key, and this is especially important with ventilation as there are many codes and regulations that are strictly enforced. Keep in mind each food service establishment will have unique demands for their ventilation system, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The best bet is to speak with experts who have years of experience in the food service industry, like those at ACityDiscount, who can offer qualified, personalized advice. Visit to learn more.

These are the main components of a quality commercial ventilation system:

There are two main types of hoods: heat exhaust hoods and grease exhaust hoods.Heat exhaust hoods vent smoke and fumes from equipment that produces high levels of heat, such as double-stack convection ovens or pizza ovens. Grease exhaust hoods have additional slotted hood filters that trap grease, exhaust and soot, which are necessary when operating griddles, deep fryers and char-broilers. ACityDiscount carries both hood varieties as well as restaurant equipment with built-in ventless hood systems.

Expert tip: 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
An exhaust fan helps to properly vent a commercial kitchen and is mounted on the roof or wall of the building. Larger kitchens may need more powerful exhaust fans, depending on how closely their equipment is placed. ACityDiscount carries exhaust fans with upblast or downblast exhaust so they filter air out and away from critical areas while still aligning with local codes.

Make-up air
Air circulation in a commercial kitchen is critical for employee/customer comfort and optimum equipment function. An exhaust fan draws air out of a kitchen and that air must be replaced or compensated. Sometimes there is enough air circulation naturally, but other times a make-up fan is required to prevent air from being pulled from other areas such as dining rooms. Make-up air fans are mounted in an area close to the exhaust fan and they work to pump fresh air back into the kitchen. This air creates a flow of fresh air that helps keep a kitchen smoke free while increasing the efficiency of the exhaust fan and hoods.

Fire-suppression systems
Most local codes require a ventilation system to be equipped with a fire-suppression system, and all local codes required. Cooking is the leading cause of all restaurant building fires, according to the FEMA Topical Fire Report Series. A fire-suppression system connects to the hood system and helps prevent fires from spreading. The piped system is activated by high heat or can be turned on manually to dispense a liquid-suppressing agent that extinguishes fires quickly.

When it's time to equip your restaurant kitchen with the essentials, don't forget the importance of commercial ventilation systems in helping employees and equipment work in a safe environment. From cleaning air to lowering utility bills, a commercial ventilation system is a kitchen necessity and a wise investment.

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