Determining if DCKV is Right for You?

When a customer is first debating if Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) is right for their facility, there are multiple questions that come to mind. What is a good application for DCKV? What does it cost versus the lifetime payback? Does it actually slow fans down that much? What is the ability for service in the future?

All of these are valid questions. The most important thing is to partner with a company that works with your team to evaluate and determine what solution is best at the onset of reviewing the opportunity. In order to answer the above questions, the DCKV provider should be asking you the following at minimum:

  • What is the size of the hood(s) (Length X Width)?
  • What is the schedule of the exhaust fans, do they only run 8hrs/day, 12hrs, 24hrs?
  • What kind of equipment is underneath the hoods?
  • What are current utility rates for your area of the country?
  • Is there dedicated supply air to the kitchen space?

With this information the DCKV Manufacturer should be able to provide some advice.

What is a good application?

Four primary factors play a role in this answer. They include: utility rates, total fan horsepower (Exhaust + Supply), exhaust fan run hours and your geographic location.

The total horsepower is self-explanatory. The greater the HP the larger available savings. However, lower horsepower may not disqualify an application. If there is a total of 5hp between exhaust and supply, operating longer than 12hrs/day, with moderate utility rates of at least $0.08/kWh, DCKV systems can be a feasible savings opportunity.

Fan operating hours additionally play a role based on the savings, the longer the operations the greater savings. This type of savings can be compounded depending on the geographic location as significant conditioned air savings can be recognized. 

What does it a system cost versus the lifetime payback?

The cost of a system will vary based on the complexity as well as the selected technology. Two options are a temp only based system or one that incorporates additional optic sensors. Although a temp only based system may cost less, it is important to evaluate savings over the lifetime of equipment compared to a system that incorporates optics.

Assume a 12-year life cycle of equipment. For the sake of this discussion, we will evaluate the following scenario:

  • Single Hood (20ft long)                  –   24hr Fan Operation
  • 5hp Exhaust (5000cfm)                  –   $0.10kWh
  • 3hp Supply                                          –   $1.02therm
Cost Avg. Run Speed Annual Savings Simple Payback Lifetime Savings (12yrs)
Temp – Only $7,000 80.5% $3,502 2.0 yrs $42,024
Optics Based System $16,000 58% $7,865 2.0 yrs $94,380

As seen above the lifetime savings of an optic based system is greater than twice the amount of a temp-only based system. It is important for a DCKV partner to offer a solution best for the customer’s needs, perhaps a blended system would provide the largest amount of savings. For example, perhaps on a larger kitchen, there is significant savings opportunities for one or two of the hoods. However, another single hood has only a single pizza oven underneath, this is when it is important to partner with a manufacturer who has technologies that will maximize savings, such as auto-temp spans and scalability of their system.

Does it actually slow fans down that much?

In the savings example above there is a significant disparity between the average runs speeds of a Temp Only based system and that of a system including optics. When reviewing and selecting a DCKV system, it is important to have proven data of performance. Look for manufacturers that have case studies for their technologies, and significant volumes of measurement and verification. Every market sector is different regarding a 24hr average run speed. As a buyer do not hesitate to ask for examples of performance for your market being evaluated. You can also utilize third party publications such as Demand Ventilation in Commercial Kitchens An Emerging Technology Case Study, written by Fisher Nickel, Inc found here.

What is the ability for service this in the future?

One final important aspect to consider is what happens post installation. Commitment from a manufacturer to service over the lifetime of a system is very important. Does your DCKV partner go beyond the standard warranty? Certain manufacturers offer 24hr engineering technical service. Do they have a service network of technicians available to visit your site if needed? Another consideration is where would replacement parts be purchased from. Some manufacturers have components manufactured outside the United States which can delay delivery and in return create a headache for you to provide consistent service to your customers.

Another important focus on the future would be, what is the adaptability of the system? Everyone has seen a kitchen space eventually be remodeled and cooking equipment is swapped out for a new concept. Perhaps there is increased heat from this equipment change, so can the originally selected system adapt to this change? Certain manufacturers have temperature probes that area initially calibrated at startup based on initial equipment. On the other hand, Melink Corporation’s Intelli-Hood, offers an Auto-Temp span, that self-calibrates, and spans based on trends of continuous data points and monitoring therefore, an equipment change resulting in an increase or decrease in heat load will be recognized and self-adjusted for maximum savings.

How to decide what works for you.

In closing, there are many important variables to consider when selecting a product including DCKV. To some, upfront cost is a primary concern, and to many other end users the most important may be what happens over the life of the system. “Will the manufacturer provide me support?” and more importantly “How much will this save me over time?” Many of us are always saving for our retirement, perhaps now is the time to invest in the savings that are available within your kitchen. Personally, I would love to save double that over a lifetime of a system for a product with the same initial payback.

Higher Education Dining Trends Impact On Energy Usage

The dining experience at Colleges and Universities across the country has changed drastically over the last decade. Although it has been about ten years since I left, it feels like just yesterday I was on campus at the University of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky University. During my tenure, the options were limited; you might find a handful of cafeterias across campus and a few popular fast food places like Wendy’s, Subway and Pizza Hut at the student union. Visiting campus now I can’t believe the changes; there are hundreds of options. The student unions have started to look more and more like casino food courts that include local options and big names. Students are seriously taking food offerings into account when considering a school, especially if they’re going to live on campus. Colleges are majorly using it to their advantage to recruit students and provide a better campus life. In 2008, NKU even constructed a new Student Union Building to compete with other local area colleges.

Over the last 7 years or so, I’ve toured dozens of higher education kitchens and the cooking operations are huge. West Point, for example, serves around 5,000 meals in a very short amount of time on any given day. All the Big 10 schools have between 7 and 10 dining halls on campus that are running for 3+ meals a day and serving a variety of options from soups and chili to baby-back ribs. With the large operations come large costs! Not just in the obvious costs including wages, salaries, and benefits, but in big time energy usage. Running the exhaust fans and the corresponding MUA units 16+ hours per day is a ton of wasted electricity. Additionally, the number of commercial exhaust hoods required to prepare the diverse food preparation means there is a ton of exhausted air and reconditioning of air required.

As schools continue to compete for higher enrollment rates and evolve with demand, they have to respond to the increased energy usage and operating expenses to ensure they can remain competitive with pricing. Many colleges and universities have tight operating budgets for their facilities, so it’s especially important to find low or no-cost ways to reduce energy expenditures. To combat these new challenges, Campus Energy Managers have started considering Demand-Controlled Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) systems to help save the electric energy being wasted on all the new fan motors and reconditioned air. These systems conserve energy, save money and make for a quieter and more comfortable cooking experience.  Energy Managers have also started engaging students and faculty in energy conservation to save on campus energy bills. At many higher education institutions, students are the biggest advocates for energy efficiency and will respond enthusiastically to educational initiatives and conservation pledge campaigns.


Could Intelli-Hood be a fit for my project?

Is energy usage a pain point in your campus kitchen? Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save you?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.


Email this case study or share it to your social media by clicking the icons below.

Lodging’s Consumer Dining Trends and Your HVAC System

Since 2010, the hotel landscape has changed drastically due to the emergence of Millennials in the marketplace. The days of long-term consistency, home-away-from-home value, and a friendly face at check-in are things of the past, and we are now seeing the need for hotel hot spots that are personalized, efficient, connected and trendy. The transformation makes hotels get creative in filling revenue discrepancies created by the quickly changing landscape, focusing more than ever on operational costs.

The change in buying power

Prior to 2010, the “Baby-Boomers” generation dominated occupancy demands. When Boomers were the bulk of the lodging customer base, focus was on consistency, more value for the customer’s dollar, a big screen TV, consistent food and beverage offerings, and a friendly, personalized check-in experience. Today, Millennials are all about Individualism, efficiency, mobile connectivity, creative and trendy food and beverage offerings, and online check-in. Due to this demand shift, along with the cost to build and the ever-changing consumer marketplace, developers are becoming more focused on the development of limited brand hotels. As of June 2017, “Upscale” and “Upper Mid-Scale” represent roughly 65% of all new build hotels.

In response to the change in customer wants and needs, hotels have majorly changed their strategy. Hilton developed the Tru® brand in response to these changes to make it easier and less expensive for developers to build. Marriott is doing an over-haul of their Courtyard® brand to create a hybrid solution to please guests from both generations. Previously, if you’d go to a major brand hotel on the east coast or the west coast, you could get the same exact cheeseburger. Those days are over! Hotels must now bring in local food and beverage options to not only keep customers eating at the hotels, but to provide a truly exceptional experience every time. A satisfied customer is no longer enough in any market today. With social media and other technologies, there’s now a need to “wow” customers. A good dining experience isn’t enough, it needs to be one of the best dining experiences they’ve ever had!

What does this mean for revenue?
In a recent article published by Lodging Magazine, Food and Beverage (F&B) profit margins are up roughly 5% since 2010, yet food purchases only rose by a CAGR of 2.3%. The two sources that continue to decline for F&B are “In-Room Dining” and “Mini-Bar” sales, which is consistent with the new emphasis of providing a unique social experience in hotel lobbies. Considering the decline in food purchases and the ever-changing marketplace, it is hard to imagine lodging has seen a 5% increase in F&B profit margins.

So how do all these items tie together and make for increased profit margins? How have the hotel management companies been able to make all these changes in a short amount of time and still increase profits? How can profit margins be up when we all know an ever-changing menu would make it harder to negotiate prices at a high-volume? It’s not one simple answer but I’ve personally seen the major management companies stepping up their game and working smarter. Revenue increases can’t be the main driver for the success. The operational efficiencies are where the differences are made!

Changing energy consumption is key

Electrical consumption for the typical US hotel is 50% in HVAC and 23% in lighting. Within food service facilities, HVAC systems account for 29% of energy consumption. Up to 75% of this load can be attributed to the commercial kitchen ventilation system. At Melink, we’ve seen many owners in the last 2 to 3 years begin installing a Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) system in their kitchens to help lower operational costs and solve the ever-plaguing negative air pressure issues. With the help of these owners and major brands, we’ve also developed technologies to help solve this in the ever-growing Select Service markets. Many of these projects have been packaged with LED lighting to solve 73% of the problem (per the chart below). This allows the hotel owner to take advantage of the available utility incentives, increase profit margins in the changing F&B market, show an attractive ROI to the owner, help solve air pressure issues in common spaces, and increase overall guest comfort.

If there’s one thing that’s true in this industry, it’s that change is inevitable! Management companies, owners, brands, developers, and vendors have two options: change with the market or get left behind. I’m happy to report that most of the major players are making smart and energy-conscious decisions that are ultimately improving their bottom line and increasing guest loyalty and satisfaction.

Intelli-Hood Military Base Retrofit Case Study


In effort to evaluate the potential of Demand Control Kitchen Ventilation (DCKV) technology, the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) designed, executed, and evaluated a field study. Melink Intelli-Hood® was installed in four dining facilities at Department of Defense (DoD) locations in different climate zones across the United States. These kitchens typically serve a high volume of many meals in short time periods and are excellent candidates for DCKV kitchen controls equipment to reduce energy usage of kitchen hood fans. Baseline measurements were taken before the installations and the energy savings were determined after several months of data. There were two performance objectives: demonstrate a savings of at least 30% in energy usage and maintain or improve occupant comfort.


Both performance objectives were achieved with all four dining facilities saving more than 30% in energy usage as well as maintaining comfort and noise level. No complaints were reported. Further, the following parameters were found to maximize ROI:

  • Relatively large exhaust hood systems (min. of 5,000 CFM)
  • Climate requiring significant heating and/or cooling of makeup air
  • Relatively long operating hours
  • Med-High utility costs


The following is an excerpt from the ERDC report in section 8.3:

Procurement Considerations:
Some vendors offer systems that use only temperature sensors, i.e., they do not use optical or opacity sensors. This is not recommended since the opitcal sensors provide an indication of cooking when the exhaust air has not yet reached the set point temperature.  Thus, the hoods would continue to operate at a low exhaust rate and cooking effluent would spill from the exhaust hood. Temperature-only systems are usually set to higher exhaust rates to mitigate this issue.

The following is a summary table of the energy savings results:

Before/After Energy Savings Summary of Intelli-Hood

The following are before and after Intelli-Hood exhaust fan speed graphs:

Line graph

Line graph


Line graph

Line graph


Could Intelli-Hood be a fit for my project?

Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.


Email this case study or share it to your social media by clicking the icons below.

Intelli-Hood Hiram College Retrofit


Like the majority of colleges and universities without kitchen demand control ventilation (DCV) in their dining halls, Hiram College was using inefficient hood fans to cool down their kitchens and to keep employees safe. Running at 100% capacity without any actual cooking occurring, the hood exhaust fans were wasting energy and pushing the meter higher and higher. As a consequence, Hiram experienced expensive utility bills. Below is the operation information for the kitchens:

  • Total motor power: 12. HP
  • Daily operating hours: 17
  • Days per week: 7
  • Weeks per year: 52
  • Cost per kilowatt hour: $.09
  • Climate zone: 5



Hiram pursued Brewer-Garrett (BG), a performance contractor for energy efficiency, to consult them in energy efficiency upgrades. BG evaluated their kitchens and cafeterias to identify four areas with high energy consumption. BG recommended four Energy Conservation Measures (ECMs) for these spaces, all of which fell into their 15 year ROI program. Having seen successful ROI performance with Intelli-Hood kitchen hood controls in previous projects, BG included the technology as 1 of 4 ECMs for Hiram.



Hiram College Savings Results with Intelli-Hood


The following is a typical one day variable fan speed graph using Intelli-Hood:

Typical fan speed graph using Intelli-Hood kitchen hood controls



Here are a before (navy) and after (green) reductions in kilowatt hours, heat load and exhaust volume:

hiram college demand control kitchen venilation before and after reductions


The Brewer-Garrett team commented on their impression of Intelli-Hood and working with Melink:

“You guys have the optimal product for smoke sensing. The cooking sensing technology identifies heat and/or smoke more accurately than other manufacturers. Melink also provides a very thorough turnkey solution, which was very helpful.”

– Eric Betz, Brewer-Garrett, electrical engineering manager

“We appreciate the fast turnaround and positive purchase experience. Also, the Melink installers were courteous and knowledgeable. All Melink personnel were readily accessible and eager to help when called. As far as the system itself, it is well thought-out and high quality. The display is easy to read and use.  Also, I like the ability for Melink to remotely monitor and fine tune with their Remote Access service.”

– Jon Erdmann, Brewer-Garrett, senior project manager



Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.


Intelli-Hood South Korea Hospital Retrofit Case Study


Faced with the industry challenge to reduce operating costs, Daegu Catholic Hospital in Daegu, South Korea sought after promising opportunities to reduce energy usage.

  • Total motor power: 170 HP
  • Daily operating hours: 17
  • Days per week: 7
  • Weeks per year: 52
  • Cost per kilowatt hour: $0.088



Energy savings graphic

Below are the before (navy) and after (green) reductions in kilowatt hours, heat load and exhaust volume:



Could Intelli-Hood be a fit for my project?

Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.


Email this case study or share it to your social media by clicking the icons below.

Intelli-Hood Stadium Retrofit Case Study


Faced with the industry challenge to reduce operating costs, Gillette
Stadium sought after promising opportunities to reduce energy usage.
Other stadiums in the country had selected Demand Control Kitchen
Ventilation (DCKV) for their kitchen hoods based on promising estimated
savings and available utility incentives. The Gillette Stadium team also
decided to take advantage of the opportunity.

  • Total motor power: 41 HP
  • Daily operating hours: 14
  • Days per week: 7
  • Weeks per year: 50
  • Cost per kilowatt hour: $0.10
  • Climate zone: Marine


Gillette Stadium selected Intelli-Hood® to be installed into the hoods in
the Club and Players kitchens. The team capitalized on utility rebate
incentives that expedited the payback projection by 1.5 years. After
operating for some time, the two kitchens were tested and proved to
have reduced exhaust fan speed dramatically. In the Players kitchen the
fan speed was reduced by 66 percent and in the Club kitchen the speed was
reduced by 55 percent. Combined, the average fan speed across both kitchens was 60 percent.

Energy savings graphic

Below is a sample graph of the varying exhaust fan speed for one day at the Club Kitchen:

Gillete savings graphic


Could Intelli-Hood be a fit for my project?

Are you curious how much energy Intelli-Hood could save within your commercial or industrial kitchens?  Submit an energy savings estimate request form at the bottom of our Intelli-Hood page to get started.


Email this case study or share it to your social media by clicking the icons below.

Melink Launches Financing for Intelli-Hood® Kitchen Ventilation Controls


CINCINNATI – Dec 30, 2016 – Melink Corporation is offering an innovative new program, Melink Finance, to help provide financial options for customers seeking to implement energy-saving projects without large up-front capital commitments. The goal of the program is to allow customers to purchase Melink’s Intelli-Hood® kitchen ventilation controls and use energy savings to pay for the equipment cost on a monthly basis. 

The Melink Finance program can be tailored to meet customers’ cash flow needs based on their particular individual situations. For instance, there are deferred payment options and seasonal payment structures to match the customer’s revenue stream if the company’s existing budget is depleted. The program seeks to shift the cost of energy saving projects from large capital expenditure allocations to the operating expense side of the ledger. This shift will allow customers to have more flexibility in project timing and capture available utility incentives before they expire. 

“Our mission is to save as much energy as possible for our customers, and this program allows us to remove financial barriers in support of our customers energy savings goals,” said Randy Miles, vice president and general manager of Intelli-Hood. “This allows them to take advantage of operational cost savings on day one and provide an immediate ROI. Essentially, we can create a net positive cash flow transaction on the first day by having the energy savings exceed the monthly payment for the controls. This will allow our customers to achieve their profitability and sustainability goals while preserving capital expense.”

For more information on Melink Finance, please contact
Luci Feie at 513-965-7300 or [email protected]

About Melink Intelli-Hood

Melink Corporation is the pioneer in demand control kitchen ventilation controls, having  launched Intelli-Hood in 1990. Melink’s patented Intelli­-Hood HVAC controls package visually monitors the level of cooking activity and automatically instructs the exhaust fan to operate only as fast as necessary. Intelli­-Hood is installed into new or existing commercial hood systems and transforms a
basic stainless steel box into an intelligent energy­-saving machine.
Melink has installed Intelli-Hood controls on more than 30,000 kitchen hoods around the world. Additional information and resources may be found at www.intellihood.comIntelli-Hood is one of four business offerings from Melink, a global provider of energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions for the commercial building industry. The others are HVAC Testing & Balancing, Solar PV Development and Geothermal HVAC. For 30 years, the Cincinnati-based company has been helping organizations save energy, increase profits and make the world a more sustainable place. Melink’s corporate headquarters is LEED Platinum andNet-Zero Energy, and its vehicle fleet consists of all hybrid and electric
cars. To learn more about Melink Corporation, visit or call 513.592.3391.