Best type of range for a tight house?
We are in the planning stages of a super-insulated house that we hope to building in the coming year. I’m having trouble deciding what type of range we should get. Electric is out of the question because of its lack of efficiency and inconvenience. Propane has always been my preferred choice for cooking, but I don’t understand how to provide adequate make-up air for a gas range in a tight house. There is obviously no way of direct-venting a range and because the amount of make-up air is constantly fluctuating as one turns burners of and on and up and down, it doesn’t seem that a sophisticated “hole in the wall” is a great solution either. This has led me to look into induction ranges. I even bought a fairly inexpensive single burner induction cooker so that I can see what it’s like to work on. It’s great to cook with, although a lot of our pans don’t work with it, so we’d be looking at spending a bunch of money there. Plus, the units themselves are fairly pricey. I really don’t have any problem with good old gas as long as I can find a way to give it adequate make-up air. I’m interested in hearing what others faced with this dilemma have done.
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What's your ventilation system? Why do you think you need make-up air for a gas stove? Will you have a range hood?
Don't know if you've already seen this, but Marc Rosenbaum did a nice job looking at the net efficiency of various types of cooking appliances; his empirical evidence (and personal experience) points to an induction cooktop being a big winner:
Thriving On Low Carbon
Overall, some type of point source exhaust for cooking is definitely recommended, whether or not combustion is involved.
I should have made it clear that we plan to have a hood vented to the outside with a make-up air system for that. But I have been thinking that the hood fan and the stove have separate requirements-- that we need to account for the oxygen needs of our range. Maybe I'm over-thinking it. I just don't want to end up with a situation where the gas range is starved for air or is polluting our indoor air.
I am aware that induction burners are great from an energy standpoint... and obviously from an air quality standpoint. On the other hand, we've had a gas range and oven for years and I've always been amazed at the minimal cost of running it. I know that gas appliances have no place in a net-zero home, but with the up-front cost of induction it seems that the pay-back is quite long.
I vote for over-thinking.
I think if you are planning to build a super-insulated house that will be carefully air-sealed, it makes sense to avoid burning hydrocarbons with open flames on your cooktop. Advantage goes to induction on all counts--no carbon monoxide or other combustion byproducts, no dependance on the ethically questionable gas industry (poisoning groundwater with hydrofracturing), sleek user interface (easy cleanup glass surface) and the top choice of many professional chefs.
We finished a superinsulated, passivehaus tight home and went induction and have loved it. Not only is it very efficient but since you are not burning gas, outside make up air is not needed. Venting to the outside seemed counterproductive to building a superinsulated, tight house, so the vent goes through a grease trap and then some replaceable activated carbon filters to help reduce odor, and the air is recirculated inside. My wife who has a much better sniffer has been pleased with the results. From a very practical perspective, it has been much easier to keep clean than any of the other cook tops I have had, and I think I have used them all. It boils water faster than anything out there and simmers great. Costs remain an issue, and as mentioned you have to have cookware that magnets can stick too, but these are becoming more common and cheaper. We found some really nice, and reasonably priced ones at Ikea. Hopefully as these type of cooktops become more common their prices will drop as well.
You should install a hood regardless of what type of stove you choose. There is unwanted humidity, cooking odors and possible carcinogens on charred foods. Also, if you install a stove that requires over 400 cfm hood, you must provide make-up air equal to the amount extracted per code. There are a couple of threads here at the GBA about make-up air in kitchens.
Obviously, the considerations of type of stove and hood fan are connected issues, so I see why this conversation has gone in that direction. I have read the past discussions about hood fans. It seems that there is a real split between those who feel strongly that hood fans need to be vented externally with sufficient make-up air and those who believe that kitchen hoods can have a good filter and direct the filtered air in the direction of an outlet for the HRV as Kevin O'Meara seems to have done. But what about the concerns with humidity and carcinogens and bad grease in the HRV ducts? Are these overblown and perhaps influenced by codes that haven't kept pace with new ways of doing things?
No one advocates hooking up a range hood to an HRV. Every HRV manufacturer specifically prohibits the practice.
What Passivhaus builders are doing is installing a recirculating range hood connected to a good filter. In many cases, Passivhaus builders also install a ceiling-mounted grille in the far corner of the kitchen, as far away from the range hood as possible, and connect this grille to the exhaust side of an HRV. This set-up provides mechanical ventilation without clogging the HRV core with grease.
Such a set-up may or may not meet local code requirements, and may or may not satisfy your local building inspector. When in doubt, discuss the issue with your local building department.
What you're suggesting is what I had in mind. I first saw this discussed here (about a minute or so into this video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_NDTqq3Euz4&feature=player_embedded#!
It seems to make sense to me... and the exhaust for the HRV seems pretty close to the outlet hood. Do you see issues with a setup such as this?
I suppose your satisfaction will depend on the type of cooking you do. If you like to roast a lot of meat at high temperatures, the recirculating range hood might disappoint you.
Bite the bullet and go induction. It fits your home choice perfectly.
Induction kicks serious butt.
I've been a gas stove user for ever, and we recently moved to a house in an area of CT where getting propane would've been too expensive to justify, so we went induction.
It's as responsive as gas, since it doesn't use an element that slowly dissipates heat like a traditional electric. And getting a pot of water to boil in 90 seconds is handy at times (even if it's more of a gimmick).
BTW, you can purchase metal plates that will allow you to use an induction cooktop with conventional cookware... about $30 a pop, IFRRC.