We get this question a lot and our experienced team at ABestKitchen can answer almost any questions you have about commercial kitchen equipment, but this one is a bit tricky. With gas equipment, you almost always need a hood. Electric equipment can sometimes get around the requirement and make it practical to cook without a hood, but not always.
Hood systems serve as the ventilation for commercial kitchens. Through a combination of ducts, filters and fans they extract heat, smoke and grease that are emitted by cooking equipment. They also incorporate fire suppression systems that extinguish fires quickly and efficiently. Because water reacts violently with grease fires, most use a sequence of chemical processes that suffocate the fire, prevent it from spreading and create as little damage as possible.
Local fire and health codes dictate if equipment such as griddles, ranges and fryers require a hood. These laws vary by county and are enforced by health and fire inspectors. We have had instances where the health department required a hood system for an electric counter top fryer, while a neighboring county did not. Because of this, we can not give you a definitive answer to this question.
In some cases, it might depend on what you are cooking. If you are using an electric oven or griddle to cook greasy foods that will produce a lot of smoke, a hood may be needed. If you are using it for baked goods that will not produce much smoke, you may not need one.
Many cafes, coffee shops, delis, and other similar places use electric sandwich grills, conveyor toasters, griddles and ovens to quickly cook a variety of foods without a hood. We always recommend that ask your inspectors before purchasing any equipment you are unsure about. We would be happy to provide you with any available spec sheets and informative material to bring along.
To find out how to get in touch with your local health department check out the following website:
If you’re looking to get a piece of equipment that requires a hood, but have no way to install a system, you may want to check out the Wells line of ventless cookers or ventless hoods. These units use an advanced air filtration system that is completely self-contained and can be easily moved from one location to another. They make it possible to cook in non traditional locations or when traditional hood and duct work are impractical, restricted or too expensive.