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Brand: Elica / Vented / Wall Chimney / Canopy / Made of Stainless Steel / Glass / Halogen Light / 371 CFM Blower Power

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      16.02.2009 01:45
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      The Clean Air act

      What is the deal with extractor fans these days? I don't remember seeing them when I was growing up, in fact my parents still don't have one, but if you tried to build a kitchen now without one the supplier would look at you as if you were speaking a foreign language.
      Anyway, the point is extractors are now an essential part of any new kitchen and more and more they are becoming design focuses in their own right. Small, discrete models can be used where space is at a premium but when you're looking at putting together a larger, more open plan kitchen the choice becomes quite impressive and the opportunity to make a statement almost irresistible.

      I say almost irresistible but what I mean is totally irresistible and the chance to throw another large glass/steel appliance into the design mix is just too good to miss. And boy did we have some fun choosing one. An extractor pretty much has one fairly straightforward job to do so the choice comes, almost entirely, down to an aesthetic one. Joy be unconfined.
      But let me wind back a bit. I know full well that there may be some backwoods types out there who will be wondering what the fuss is about and just what these contraptions do to earn their purchase prices so let me give you a little background.

      What are extractors for? ~
      Extractors act to remove the moisture and odours generated by open cooking on a hob. This is beneficial as it will stop moisture building up in the cooking area, possibly damaging other units and dirtying the surrounding walls. It also stops smells lingering and spreading through the house.
      Extractors work by sucking up the air above the cooking area and then disposing of it; this is achieved in one of two ways. The ideal method is for the air to be drawn from the cooking area and vented directly to the outside via ducting. Where external ducting is not an option some extractors will recycle the air, passing it through filters before returning it to the kitchen. Clearly this is a less satisfactory solution and denies you the opportunity of sharing your wonderful cooking smells with the neighbours.

      The Choice~
      There is no shortage of choice when it comes to extractors, from small budget models that hide away discretely for a hundred pounds or so to really fancy ones with multi-coloured lights and remote controls (don't ask me why) for well over a thousand. Most manufacturers that would come to mind supply models and there are very good ones produced by brands such as Neff and Bosch, but we found ourselves looking down a different route.
      During our early research into our new kitchen we not only looked at the normal high street showrooms, but also paid a visit to a local high-end bespoke supplier. Not that we intended to fork out the kind of money they ask for but they are a good place to get fresh, contemporary ideas regarding design and appliances. What we found, alongside the wide range of units, materials and features, were a selection of extractors from a single manufacturer. That manufacturer was Elica and all the extractors looked the business. The bonus being that they were broadly equivalent in price to the premium brand German models.

      From the beginning we were drawn to a particular model called the Om (no, seriously). This is a spectacular design, a million miles from any other extractor and guaranteed to grab the attention in any kitchen. Big, black and square it leans away from the wall over the hob and dominates everything around it. However, as big as we liked to think our new kitchen was going to be there was no way it was going to be big enough to accommodate this monster so, reluctantly, we wound ourselves back in and looked further down the range.
      Having reined in our design ambitions we decided to go for something modern that would enhance the look of our kitchen without over-powering the surrounding appliances. Following the design cues from the other major appliances it would have a brushed steel finish but to lend it a lighter touch there would be elements of glass present as well.

      Even after narrowing it down this far we were still left with several options, largely concerning the design of the glass mantle. These could be tilted from front to back, straight across, arched or straight with downward curves at either end. We finally plumped for the final model in that list, the Artica. All these models are available as wall mounted or for use over an island.
      Specifications~
      3 speed illuminated soft push buttons
      2 x 20w halogen lamps
      90cm wide
      Airflow to 800 m³/h
      43-61 dB(A)
      £650

      Look and feel~
      With its slim steel flue and glass mantle this is a discrete appliance, regardless of its large size. The horizontal mantle all but disappears in profile and the fan housing angles pleasingly into the flue to give it a simple, uncluttered aspect. On the front fascia are four small buttons, the first controls the downlighters while the others allow you to choose from three power settings. The underside of the extractor has a stainless steel cover, which opens to reveal the mesh filter, and the two powerful downlighters.
      It should go without saying that I didn't install this myself but my builder informs me that no problems were encountered. On delivery there was a small ding in the flue but replacement parts were supplied within a week.
      The glass is a sturdy half centimetre thick, well made it has no imperfections. A slight tinting takes it a step away from absolute clear.
      In use~
      In all honesty extractors aren't very exciting in use, in fact they are rather perfunctory. Like a good referee they should be virtually unnoticeable as they go about their business and as I alluded to earlier they are as much about how they look when you're not cooking as they are about how they work when you are.

      But, to satisfy your thirst for technical guff let me first talk about the appliance in operation. As you already know there are four buttons on the front, everything the extractor does is governed from here. When you push the button with the light bulb icon the two halogen downlighters turn on. These are very bright and provide excellent coverage for the whole cooking area. The next button along has a fan icon with one concentric speed indicator, selecting this will turn the extractor on at its lowest speed setting. At this level the noise output is unobtrusive but is powerful enough for most cooking. Next button along has another fan icon this time with two concentric speed indicators, selecting this moves the extractor to the medium speed setting. The noise is a little more noticeable now but it will cope with more pungent cooking. The final button has another fan icon but now with three concentric speed indicators, I'll let you work out what selecting this achieves. At this level the noise is approaching jet engine proportions and you'll notice loose items on surrounding worktops being slowly pulled in, this setting is generally reserved for when my wife cooks.
      Not in use~
      This model was selected as much for its ability to complement and enhance our kitchen as for its performance and as such it has been a success. The brushed steel chimney and machine housing blend well with our range cooker and fridge freezer, the glass softens its impact and makes it less dominating. The downward sloping ends of the glass mantle create a framing effect over the range and they work well together to provide a focal point in the kitchen.

      Six months on I'm very happy with the Artica. It has gone about its duties impeccably, and aesthetically has transferred well from the showroom to the home. I have no reservations about this model, and by extension Elica as a brand, so will happily offer my recommendation.

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    • Product Details

      Short name: Elica Artica 90