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How Much Does a Fume Hood Cost?

The American physicist Burton Richter once said, “Modern science is fast-moving, and no laboratory can exist for long with a program based on old facilities. Innovation and renewal are required to keep a laboratory on the frontiers of science.” Time and again, his words have been proven correct.

To conduct proper research, your lab should be equipped with equipment that is sleek, cutting-edge, and safe.

That said, recognizing the need for new equipment is only half the battle. Because many labs order equipment in bulk, they frequently are issued a non-itemized bill that consists of merely one lump sum. This is inconvenient for the buyer and makes it very difficult to compare prices across different suppliers.

If you are in the market for one specific piece of lab equipment, like a fume hood, it would stand to reason that you should be able to determine just how much money that was going to cost. To make matters more complicated, most labs operate on a budget and need to know with relative accuracy how much something is going to set them back. 

In this article we are going to get to the bottom of the question: how much does a fume hood cost? First, we will define exactly what a fume hood is, the pros and cons of different types of fume hoods, and how the different features can impact cost.

We will also discuss ways to reduce costs and price ranges for fume hoods at the end. 

What is a fume hood?

When you were in school, you probably noticed that your science classrooms were slightly different than your other classrooms. Specifically, the tables were topped with black laminate, and there was likely a giant wooden slab at the front of the room that the teacher stood behind.

But another thing you probably noticed was a glass box attached to one of the walls. Usually it was in the back of the room.

This was the fume hood.

A fume hood is a type of local ventilation device that is designed to limit exposure to hazardous airborne materials like fumes, vapors or dusts. The ones in schools typically had glass on three sides, but in most laboratories, that isn’t necessary.

The bottom of the fume hood is usually situated at a standing working height, and the front features a glass panel (or sash) that flips up and down.

There are two main types of fume hoods: ducted and ductless.

We will cover the differences between those two, but the main objective of a fume hood is identical for either type. It is designed for protection.

It protects the user from being exposed to toxic chemicals, it protects the product or experiment from being tainted or altered by ambient air, and it protects the environment from the toxic materials inside the fume hood. In some instances, the fume hood can protect people from fire and smoke as well.

This may not seem noteworthy now but will prove to be later, as fume hoods that are explosion proof consistently cost more than those that aren’t. But before we get to that let’s go over the differences between ductless and ducted fume hoods and how those differences affect their cost.

Ducted

A ducted fume hood is the most common variety of fume hood. In the majority of designs, conditioned air that is heated or cooled is drawn from the lab space into the fume hood and then dispersed via ducts into the outside atmosphere. This kind of fume hood is seen as more convenient because filters aren’t a factor, though one drawback is that its high energy output (3.5 times as much as a home) can drive up costs.

Let’s look at the maintenance requirements as well as the pros and cons of ducted fume hoods.

  • Maintenance
    • Lab staff responsibilities are greatly reduced, as they aren’t forced to spend time on managing, ordering, inventorying, or replacing filters. Engineering responsibilities, on the other hand, are sizable. Procedures are performed within the hood and specific parts are required for safe ventilation, such as an extract blower and ductwork.
  • Pros
    • Purchase price
      • The initial up-front price of a vented hood is usually cheaper than a ductless hood, however, the subsequent cost of the maintenance factoring in the engineer’s time and materials typically drives up the total cost above that of a ductless hood
    • Filter Price
      • None, because they are not used.
    • Air quality
      • One of the chief benefits of using a ducted fume hood is that whatever fumes are generated in it get expelled to the outside and diluted by other air in the atmosphere. The laboratory air is free from fume contamination when using an effectively working vented fume hood.
  • Cons
    • Location
      • Because a ducted fume hood has to blow the air outside, there is a narrow array of options of where to put it due to building codes and how the building itself is structured.
    • Labor Costs
      • While the high air quality is one of the best things about a ducted hood, the significant and extensive costs of putting it in is one of the worst. HVAC experts, maintenance workers, and possibly engineers will have their hands all over the installation, and they will have to consider a number of factors including: how the hood fits with the current air system, how the site needs to be prepared, what materials will be needed, what the physical requirements of the hood are, how it meshes with the laboratory layout, and how to operate within local building codes. After it is finished, professionals from the Maintenance Department or the Environmental Health and Safety Department will probably need to be called upon to remedy any issues.
    • Energy Costs
      • As we’ve discussed above, a ducted hood continuously blasts conditioned air (heated or cooled) out of the building. This leads to a demonstrably higher energy bill than a ductless fume hood.

Ductless (also called recirculating or filtered)

Ductless fume hoods generally have a fan mounted to the top of the hood. Air is absorbed through the front opening of the hood and through a filter. The air is then passed through the fan and fed back into the workspace.

With a ductless fume hood, it is extremely important that the filter medium be able to effectively remove the specific hazardous or noxious materials that are being used inside the hood. Because different filters are required for different materials, ductless fume hoods should only be used when the hazard is well known and isn’t subject to frequent changes.

Here are the maintenance procedures and pros and cons of ductless fume hoods.

  • Maintenance
    • Laboratory staff must become familiar with the filters used in ductless fume hoods and learn how and when to change them. They also need to maintain accurate records of the face velocity measurements.
  • Pros
    • Location
      • Unlike the ducted fume hood, which needs to be able to blow its air all the way outside, the ducted hood can be placed almost anywhere. It is freestanding and can be moved around with relative ease if necessary.
    • Labor Costs
      • While the ducted fume hood requires significant outside involvement (engineers, HVAC experts, maintenance workers) to install, the ductless hood does not. This significantly lowers the labor costs associated with using it.
    • Energy Costs
      • Because of how a ductless fume hood works (recirculating filtered air back into the room) the user is not saddled with the immense energy costs of constantly pumping out conditioned air. There is a minuscule energy cost to power the lights and blower fan in the hood, but that is nothing when compared to a ducted hood.
  • Cons
    • Purchase Price
      • A ductless fume hood is customarily more costly than a ducted hood when labor isn’t factored in.
    •  Filter Price
      • Filters are one of the most important pieces of a ductless hood, and they can run anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a thousand dollars apiece. Since they have a lifespan, they will need to be installed, replaced, and purchased repeatedly.
    • Air Quality
      • Because the air is passed through a filter and recirculated back into the room, it is impossible to make it 100% pure. Though the filters work very well, using chemical bonding processes to purify the air, some impurities are inevitable.

Now that we’ve gone over the two different types of fume hoods, their pros and cons, and the costs associated with each, let’s take a brief look at how to reduce fume hood costs.

  • Constant Air Volume (CAV) or Variable Air Volume (VAV) System
    • CAV systems are constantly drawing air out of the room regardless of whether the hood is being used or not
    • VAV systems greatly reduce the exhaust rate when the hood is not in use, using considerably less energy than CAV
      • Switch to a VAV system if you are currently employing a CAV system, you could lower energy costs by as much as 75%
  • Lower the Sash
    • Assuming you have implemented a VAV system, you should make sure that everyone working in the lab knows to lower the sash when the hood is not in use. You could post signs or begin everyday with a saying that rhymes and is easy to remember like, “lower the sash to save some cash.”
      • One Harvard study found that making the effort to consistently close the sash saved the lab upwards of $200,000 in energy costs.
  • Optimize Ventilation Rates
    • Bringing in an expert to analyze your current ventilation rates could pay dividends.
    • The types of chemicals you use, the age of your lab, and the type of hood you use could all have effects on how well (or poor) your hood’s ventilation system is performing.

Price of Fume Hoods

Now that we’ve covered what a fume hood is, ducted and ductless fume hoods, their costs, their pros and cons, and ways to reduce costs on fume hoods, it’s time to dig into how much fume hoods cost. While there are innumerable variations, attachments, features and sizes of fume hoods, there is a relative price range by size that would be useful for reference.

Fume Hood Sizes, and High- and Low-Price Averages

  • 4 Foot Fume Hood
    • Low-Price Average – $5,263
    • High-Price Average – $24,602
  • 6 Foot Fume Hood
    • Low-Price Average – $7,979
    • High-Price Average – $56,809
  • 8 Foot Fume Hood
    • Low-Price Average – $9,966
    • High-Price Average – $66,383

Now that you understand the anatomy of a fume hood, the different types of fume hoods, and their related costs, you should be able to make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing a fume hood for your laboratory.

Need a Fume Hood?

For more information on pricing, different options and help selecting the right fume hood for your facility, reach out to us at today by phone at (866) 222-7494 or contact form today! And check out our blog for information on fume hoods including other types and fume hood safety precautions too.

Questions? Concerns? Want to start today? Get in touch. 866.612.7312

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