How to Select the Correct Fume Hood for Your Lab
Fume hoods are critical pieces of equipment in any laboratory – they provide safe, effective hazard management by venting out fumes and vapors at workstations. This guide explores key factors for choosing the right fume hood for your lab.
Whether you’re a lab manager, scientist, or engineer, this guide provides the information you’ll need to make an educated decision about your lab’s fume hoods.
5 Questions to Answer When Selecting a Fume Hood
What Are the Types of Fume Hoods?
|Type of Fume Hood||Function||Uses|
|Add Air||Introduces air into the hood to maintain stable face velocity||Commonly used in labs with high-volume processes that generate fumes and particulates|
|Airfoil Bypass||Uses airfoil technology to optimize hood performance and to keep air flowing constantly||Ideal for labs with a variety of processes from light-duty to high-hazard|
|Canopy||Extends over the entire workspace to capture and remove airborne contaminants from above||Commonly used in industrial settings where large-scale processes create fumes and particulates|
|High Performance||Advanced design elements feature maximum containment and protection||Suited for high-hazard work including dangerous chemicals and radioisotopes|
|Low Bench||Provides a low-height work surface for work that generates fumes or particulates||Ideal for applications that produce fumes or particulates near the floor level|
|Perchloric Acid||Designed specifically for use with perchloric acid||Suited for labs where perchloric acid is used for digestion or distillation|
|Snorkel Exhaust||Provides localized exhaust ventilation for individual workstations||Ideal for light-duty work like small-scale chemical reactions|
|Thin Wall||A lightweight design that maximizes workspace and minimizes the hood size||Best for light-duty labs with limited space|
|Variable Air Volume||Face velocity can be adjusted for the specific process being performed. Energy efficient.||Ideal for labs with a wide range of processes from light-duty to high-hazard|
|Walk-In||Provides a large enclosed work area for processes that release significant amounts of particulates or fumes||Commonly used in industrial settings for large-scale chemical reactions|
What type of fume hood is best for my lab?
The type of fume hood you install in your lab depends on which chemicals and processes the lab conducts. Consider the type of ventilation required, the size of the hood and lab, and the specific features and certifications you’ll need.
- Chemical Compatibility: Ensure the hood’s material is compatible with the chemicals that will be used in it. This prevents contamination and damage to the hood while also ensuring safe operation.
- Face Velocity: Face velocity measures the speed of airflow over the workstation. A high velocity provides greater protection but requires more energy to function. Choose a fume hood that provides adequate protection for your specific processes and chemicals.
- Sash Height: The sash height affects airflow through the hood and the user’s access to the work area. Choose a sash height that creates sufficient access and protection.
- Energy Efficiency: If you plan on using the hood for long stretches of time, it’s important to consider its energy efficiency. Energy-efficient hoods save money on operational costs and reduce environmental impact.
- Certifications: Look for fume hoods that are certified by reputable organizations such as the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). These certifications indicate the hood has been tested and meets safety/performance standards. A certified hood means it provides adequate protection and efficient performance.
How important is sash height?
Sash height is the height of the moveable window or panel located at the front of the hood – it provides access to the workstation. Proper sash height affects the hood’s effectiveness and airflow, as well as the user’s access point.
A higher sash height allows better workplace access but creates reduced airflow. On the other hand, a low sash height features improved airflow but may make it difficult to access the working surface. Ideally, the sash height should be set high enough to allow access but low enough to benefit from strong airflow.
What are key safety features to look for?
Safety is the top priority when choosing a fume hood. There are several basic considerations to keep in mind to keep workers and the general public safe from harm.
- Proper ventilation: Ensure proper airflow to prevent hazardous fumes and gasses from building up around the workstation. It reduces the risk of exposure to harmful substances.
- Emergency sash closure: A closeable sash prevents the release of hazardous gasses in an emergency situation. The sash should be able to close quickly and easily in case of a power outage or other critical situations.
- Alarm system: If the fume hood isn’t properly functioning, the user needs to be immediately altered. Built-in alarm systems allow quick remediation of issues with the fume hood’s functionality.
- Backup power source: When the power fails, the danger level inside a laboratory skyrockets. Fume hoods should have access to a secondary power source to avoid leakage of dangerous chemicals if the primary electrical source is lost.
- Materials of construction: Ensure the materials used to build the fume hood are compatible with its intended chemicals. Otherwise, the hood will become damaged and compromise both effectiveness and safety.
How does the fume hood's size affect its performance?
A fume hood’s size determines the volume of air that can move through the hood. The hood should be large enough to accommodate the equipment and processes, but not so large as to decrease its efficiency by occupying valuable floor space and requiring unreasonably high energy demands.
Can fume hoods be retrofitted?
Fume hoods can be retrofitted in a cost-effective way to improve their performance. Common retrofit options include ventilation, energy-efficient lighting and new sash systems.
Please note: It’s important to consult with a fume hood specialist prior to making any changes. Specialists can assess your current hood, make suggestions for retrofitting and ensure the retrofits are completed to industry standard.
If you cannot retrofit or repair it, it’s time to replace your fume hood with a new one.
Contact PSA Today
PSA Laboratory is a turnkey fume hood distributor, installer, and inspector. Once you’ve determined which hood or hoods are right for you, don’t hesitate to reach out to have your questions answered or to place an order.