If you've never heard of a venting hob, it's because they've only recently become widely available. They're also known as extractor hobs, cooktop extractors or hobs with vents. Different manufacturers prefer different names for the appliance.
A venting hob is an induction or ceramic hob that features its own extractor to draw down steam, smoke and oil particles, set into the centre of its surface. This means that the hob doesn't need to be paired with a separate extractor hood.
Why have an extractor in the hob instead of a hood?
People are rethinking traditional kitchen layouts with the aim of making the kitchen a more social space. This idea has taken off during the spread of Covid-19, as people have been spending more time at home and using spaces in their homes differently.
Now that people are working and learning at home, they want their rooms to be more flexible to accommodate family members who are sharing an area while doing different things, or create a more communal environment.
One crucial aspect of this redesign is the creation of a large counter or island in the centre of the room.
Key elements of the kitchen – such as the sink and the hob – are being relocated from counter space around the edge of the room into the centre island.
This means that the person cooking or using the sink won’t have their back to the room and can chat to family or guests while preparing food. In open-plan homes, it also means they can talk to people in the living room or watch TV.
If the hob has its own extractor, the design of the kitchen can be much more flexible and fluid. There’s no need to factor a huge extractor hood into the layout of the room, which can be awkward if you want your hob on a central island. (And painful if you hit your head on it.)
As you might imagine of a product created to take its place in the centre of a kitchen, venting hobs are design-led appliances that make the most of new technology and high quality materials. In other words, they're about as far removed from the functional ugliness of a traditional hob as it's possible to be.
Which companies make them?
They are now available from many appliance brands including AEG, Siemens, Neff, Elica and Bosch.
German company Bora is something of an innovator in this area, focusing on designing and producing venting hobs. It began manufacturing them in 2008 and has just won the Plus X special award for best product for the Bora X Pure, its latest hob with inbuilt extractor fan (pictured above and below). The X Pure is also the recipient of an iF Design Award and a Red Dot Design Award.
Meanwhile, Smeg has the Hobd, which it calls a “one-piece hood and hob combo” (pictured at the top of the article). Some of the models are available to buy online, for example the HOBD482D which is in stock at the Long Eaton Appliance Company for £1,469.
Hobs of this kind often make use of other innovative features, such as flexible cooking zones. The Hobd4 has four single cooking zones that can be converted into two larger zones. The Bora X Pure has similarly oversized cooking areas that can handle even the largest pans. (Giant paella, anyone?)
It's hard to buy the Bora X Pure online but you can contact a stockist like HandMadeKitchens to order one. And there are plenty of extractor hobs available from other high-end brands.
Marks Electrical is selling AEG's IDE842431B combo induction hob in black for £1,859. It's pictured below. It has four heating zones but its bridging function allows you to control two zones as one, for larger pans. It will fit into a space of 80.5 x 49 x 21cm.
Meanwhile, Elica has launched its own extractor hob, which it calls an "aspirating induction hob" - the NikolaTesla One. Like the AEG hob, it has a bridging function which allows you to control two zones as one, for larger pans. It's currently available from Donaghy Bros for £2,315.91. Its dimensions are 83 x 51 x 21cm.
Neff's T58TL6EN2 induction hob with integrated ventilation system is available from John Lewis for £2,459. It has flexible cooking in the form of its FlexZone: place your pans anywhere in the induction zone and they'll heat up. It also comes with the TwistPad Fire, a removable, illuminated dial for easy control of the heat zones.
Venting hobs tend to work by induction. Induction hobs have some major differences to gas or electric. If you're thinking of buying an induction hob and haven't used one before, we've got advice on what you should consider in our article, Should you buy an induction hob?