Installing ducted fume cupboards can be a minefield with many different options and directions of solution. One of the main issues many clients have is getting a solid estimate of what a project will cost without going through the process of obtaining quotations, site surveys, and meetings.
This article addresses this as clearly as possible to help you understand ballpark costs and what you should budget for your new fume cupboard installation.
The cost of fume cupboards can vary greatly depending on the type, size, accessories and control system. With this in mind, it's helpful to understand the cabinet types and their typical cost ranges.
Typically the base cost for a Walk-In fume hood will be higher than that of a benchtop because of more complex manufacturing processes and additional complexity such as double sash arrangement and structural rigidity.
Bench top fume cupboards are the 'bread and butter' of fume hoods and are typically manufactured in a wide range of materials from mild steel, to stainless steel, to polypropylene which is one of the main defining factors in the base cost of a cupboard.
As seen above, there is a significant variance in the price range. Below are some of the reasons for this and an idea of what makes the biggest difference.
The materials that a fume cupboard is built from can significantly impact the cost. Not only from a raw material perspective but also from a cost of manufacture perspective. Not all materials are so easier machined and require more skilled labour.
Below are the typical materials used in fume cupboard manufacture and some considerations why one might be used over another.
Mild steel has traditionally been one of the most popular materials to build fume cupboards from. This is due to the low cost of materials and the ease of production, and mild steel is also the cheapest way to manufacture a fume cupboard carcass. Fume cupboards built from mild steel would be at the lower end of the budget costs defined above.
Stainless steel is much more difficult and expensive to work with and is not typically used to manufacture entire fume cupboard carcases unless for very specialist applications. A Stainless steel fume cupboard would be at the top end of the budget range.
Polypropylene carcass fume cupboards are a newer technology than the traditional steel method. Typically polypropylene linings have been used by manufacturers to try and limit corrosion. Still, recently, more clients have opted for a 100% polypropylene welded carcass due to the flexibility of design and the longevity it generates. However, due to the complex manufacturing process and material cost, the initial outlay on a polypropylene carcass will tend to lean towards a higher price range.
Not all fume cupboards are lined, but many traditional cabinets have a lining to try and enhance longevity and corrosion resistance. These include:
HPL (High-Pressure Laminate)
HPL, or Trespa as it's sometimes known, is the most common material to install on the inside chamber of a traditional fume cupboard. Typically Trespa has better chemical resistance than the coated mild steel it covers. Trespa is an excellent cheap option, but the downsides are that sealant is required to join it, and over time this can break down, ingress occurs, and chemicals will begin to damage the fume cupboard carcass. It also means that cleaning can quickly become a problem.
Glass is also used as a line to protect the cabinet's carcass and increase chemical resistance. Whilst the chemical resistance is good, glass is by its nature, fragile and in some cases, can etch when certain chemicals are in use. The benefit of using glass is similar to HPL in that it's a cheap option.
Again, the reason for installing a polypropylene lining is the same as glass and HPL, to increase chemical resistance. Whilst polypropylene is by far the best material from a chemical resistance perspective, the issues come when trying to seal between the fume cupboard's metal carcass. Some level of sealant has to be used and always breaks down over time, allowing for the same ingress as HPL and glass. This is the most expensive option that increases the budget but only works as a solution for a limited time.
When it comes to choosing between a lining material (if a traditional fume cupboard is your starting point) the lining costs will typically be HPL, Glass, and Polypropylene in order of price.
All of the options above apply to a traditional fume cupboard style built from coated mild steel. When building from a solid material like stainless steel or polypropylene there is no requirement to line the cabinets because of their inherent chemical resistance.
Another consideration when budgeting for a fume cupboard is your chosen control system. These range from basic units that will do the bear minimum such as airflow alarm, airflow monitoring and power v's a more advanced system that has control for VAV (Variable air volume), service timers, multistage alarm systems, calibration control, larger touch screen interface etc.
Typically the control system can range anywhere from £500-£2000, depending on the level of control required.
When choosing a control system, it's worth considering all the people that may have to interact with controls, including lab technicians, facilities management teams, and external contractors. A system that allows more control could enable the laboratory to run more efficiently and sustainably.
Now we have talked about the primary considerations when it comes to the fume cupboard itself; it's now time to look at the installation.
Installation, by its nature, is one of the more complicated areas to budget. This is because it all depends on external factors such as distance from the fume cupboard to the fan, fan positioning, laboratory location within the building, and the fume cupboards on a dedicated system or on a common extract system.
With this in mind, below are some rules of thumb that can be used to give a guide. It should be said that every installation is different and could be significantly different to the one below.
1 x Fume Cupboard on 10m of extract duct & fan - £6000-£9000
1 x Fume Cupboard on 20m of extract duct & fan - £8000-£12500
The complexity of multi-cabinet installations increases significantly, so we have not included actual cost estimates for this.
As a conservative rule of thumb, if you look at the cost of the unit, you are installing and adding 75% - 100% to it. This will give you a reasonable estimate of the installation cost.
Many other factors contribute to an accurate budget for a fume cupboard installation, not all of which we can cover in this article.
Hopefully, this has given you an insight into what might affect the cost of your next installation and why you might choose one option over another.
Here at TION, we pride ourselves in helping clients navigate the journey of finding the right specification for your process down to the final installation and sign-off. You can speak with any of our team of fume cupboard enthusiasts, who will be more than happy to advise.