xApril 14, 2005,
x2:13 PM EDT
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Tour the Elica Optica Hood from Zypher

The tale of the hood has been a long one. Read on for the drama or scroll down for the pictures.

Almost a year ago we selected a Gaggenau hood and ordered it, along with other appliances. It was the first item to arrive and we asked The Great Indoors to hold it until the order was complete. Months later, we rented a truck, drove 70 miles to the store and found that they had "lost" the hood. They promised to get another.

Weeks later, after having to follow-up repeatedly, we gave up, demanded or money back, and resumed looking for a hood that would fit in our kitchen of strong straight lines. We weren't encouraged.

Finally, we found a Miele hood with blue accent lights, the color of our existing lights! We ordered it (from a local store) and got a call a few days later about the lights. Miele had told them that the lights were yellow, not blue. I disagreed and was asked to prove that I was right and Miele wrong.

Armed with the power of Google, I found lots of examples of the blue-lighted hood for sale -- in Europe. Yes, Miele said, the lights are available in yellow and blue in Europe, but the U.S. only gets yellow. I asked if the lights had the same electrical specs so that they could be changed out in the field. No, according to Miele, there are no blue lights in the States.

One British website gave the impression that the lights were field servicable. I contacted them to order the blue light kit. They sent back a terse response that they may not sell Miele components to American addresses. After the same failure with other European web merchants, we threw in the towel. There would be no Miele hood for us.

For our next failure, we turned to Faber, an Italian company recently purchased by The Franke Group. We found several attractive hoods at Sadly, only a small subset of their hoods are sent to the U.S. market. The only good part of this experience was that it ended sooner than the Miele mess.

Finally, when at our kitchen designer's offices to pick up a replacement part, we relayed the sad story described above. They suggested that we look at Zephyr. I told them that we had and did not like any of the hoods for this use. The owner handed me a catalog of Zephyr hoods and they knocked our socks off. Here was a collection, not just contain one attractive model, but a large set of beautiful hoods.

I asked how Zypher could go from having nothing that we wanted to having many that would work. He told us that the hoods weren't from Zypher at all, but rather from the Italian firm Elica. Elica wanted to get into the U.S. market without having to set up shop here and so they and Zephyr had partnered. The Elica hoods would be sold in the U.S. as Zephyr's Elica Collection beginning in January 2006.

We contacted Zypher immediately and were directed to the distributer that handles their sales in our part of the country. They told us that Zypher hadn't yet selected which stores would carry this line, but would by mid-January. We called back then and learned that the start-up of the Elica collection was delayed until mid-March. Disappointment set in again. Until...

The distributer asked me which hood we wanted. "The 36" Elica Optica wall mount," I told him. "That's weird," he said, "Elica shipped over one hood to test the distribution channel and that's the one that we have." !!! He asked were we live and then asked if we knew of Gerhard's Appliances. Since Charles Gerhard IV had sold us our refrigerator, we knew them well.

I asked Charles to call the distributer to order our hood. He called back to tell me that there would be Elica hoods until March. I told him to call back and ask them for the test shipment. It worked! To the best of our knowledge, we made the first retail sale of an Elica hood in the United States.

On Friday, March 10, 2006, the hood was installed. It looks great. Sadly, the woe was not yet complete: the hood didn't work. Until it's fixed, the chimney cover isn't fully attached and the lights don't yet work, but it looks good hanging on the wall as you'll see below.

The repairman came less than a week later and found the problem quickly. Apparently, one must connect the power cable that's hidden under the circuit board cover. (As Homer would say, Doh!) Anyway, it all works and looks great.

The Name:

The Front:

The Controls:

The Underside:

More Underside:

(Fingerprints everywhere -- we must buy stainless steel cleaner!)

The Top:

(Please ignore that temporary microsoft microwave shelf.)

In Context:

In Context:

The End