Choosing the Right Fume Hood for Your Laboratory


Selecting a fume hood can seem intimidating. When working in a laboratory environment, whether it be educational or industrial, it’s not only important to have a properly functioning fume hood at your disposal and a lab worker that knows how to use it, it’s crucial to have the right one for your intended use to ensure the safety of everyone in the lab.  By considering the below questions, it will narrow down the options to choose from and help you make an informed decision.


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What application will the hood be used for?

Document what you will be doing inside the fume hood. Remember to include what solvents, chemicals and acids are used, the volume whether heat needs to be applied. This will determine whether you need a ducted or recirculating fume hood. Chemicals such as Perchloric Acid and Hydrofluoric Acid will require specific designs or filters.


What size hood is required?

Consider the space you have allocated and make sure it is placed away from doorways and air conditioners – Westlab has 6 standard widths from 2 ft to 6 ft. Also consider the dimensions of the equipment that needs to be housed in the hood. You should allow at least 6in of room behind the sash to create the safest working space. If you are using extra large equipment you may need a floor mounted hood, otherwise a bench mounted hood is most popular.


Do you require service fixtures or accessories?

Additional parts such as airflow monitors, and laboratory gas, vacuum and cold-water fixtures can be installed to suit the application. Features like these can save on the costs of electricity and increase efficiency in the laboratory.


Where is the exhaust fan (blower) located?

Will there be a dedicated exhaust fan for this hood or will it connect to a central system? If connected to a central system; will it be constant volume or variable air volume? Ducted fume hoods use the laboratory’s existing air duct system and can prove to be an expensive venture as preventative maintenance needs to be administered to ensure that nothing clogs or blocks the duct. Ductless fume hoods rely on neutralizing agents and filters to make the dangerous chemicals less harmful. Because a ductless fume hood does not dispense chemicals directly into the environment, it is also thought to be a much more environmentally safe alternative to traditional ducted fume hoods. It also does not generate a great deal of energy, unlike ducted fume hoods. A ductless fume hood will require more maintenance costs in the form of filter changes. However, ductless hoods offer a lot more in terms of mobility since they only require electric power and table space.


What accessories are required outside of the fume hood?

Will you be using existing casework to support the hood, or do you need a work surface, trolley or base cabinets? Also ask yourself if ductwork will be needed from the hood to the roof.


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After you have all these questions answered, contact Westlab and we will find the right fume hood for you! Don’t forget, a fume hood is just one part of a whole system. When budgeting for a fume hood, remember to count in the costs for the supporting base cabinet and installation of the duct work and exhaust system. As one of the most important pieces of equipment related to worker safety, using the correct fume hood for your laboratory’s purposes can prove to be a life or death decision – be sure to make it wisely.

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