If you've ever forgotten to turn on the fan while trying to get a nice crust on a pan full of fish fillets, you're familiar with the importance of good ventilation. In addition to whisking away unwanted odors, vent hoods remove moisture and grease, as well as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other pollutants that cooking can release into the air.
While these by-products may simply sound like nuisances, studies have shown that cooking without proper ventilation is one cause of poor indoor air quality that can negatively affect your health. That's why the International Residential Code and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency strongly advise homeowners to install a vent hood to capture, filter, and then expel the fumes outside through a vent in an exterior wall or on the roof.
As houses have become better insulated, and with high-BTU commercial-style ranges ever more popular, proper ventilation has become an increasingly important issue. Picking the right hood requires you to take into account the power of your range and the way you use it, but it's also a huge style decision for your kitchen.
The good news is that while range hoods are a practical necessity, the variety of available looks has never been better; whether you prefer front-and-center utilitarian stainless steel, an insert completely camouflaged behind cabinetry, an artisan-made copper chimney, or a modernist glass unit, there's a style that will work for you.
Shown: Hung from the ceiling, a stainless-steel chimney-style hood vents steam and odors from an island cooktop. Shown: Zephyr 36-inch Napoli island hood, starting at about $2,010; zephyronline.com for dealers.
Vent Hood Vitals: Important Questions to Ask
How much does it cost?
Prices vary, depending on size, functionality, and style. A basic 30-inch hood can be had for under $100, while a custom copper 60-inch ceiling-mount chimney-style one can go for more than $20,000. Most mid-priced, high-style hoods can be found for around $1,000.
DIY or hire a pro?
Swapping in a similar unit is a simple job that requires basic electrical work to connect the wiring. To install a new vent, you'll need to cut holes in the walls, ceiling, or roof and run ductwork. This could be a project for an experienced DIYer or might best be left to a contractor.
Where to buy?
You can order a variety of hoods online or find them at appliance retailers, showrooms, restaurant suppliers, and home centers.
What about maintenance?
Experts recommend cleaning the filters after every 30 hours of use—typically every month or two—to keep a hood running smoothly.
Vent Hood Parts
- Sump: Inverted area along the rim that collects fumes until the fan can exhaust them. Should be at least 1 inch deep.
- Filter: Traps grease before it can reach the blower and ductwork. Metal mesh filters are the most common type.
- Blower: Also called a fan, it moves air into the duct. Most blowers are in the hood, but they can be located "in-line," up in the duct itself, or externally (inset), where the duct terminates.
- Ductwork: The metal channel that leads the air out to the exhaust vent.
- Damper: Prevents outside air from coming in when the fan is off.
Note: Vent hoods over 400 cfm require that makeup air be brought in from the outside when the unit is on. This air can come from a supply fan, a motorized damper, or another source.
Under The Hood
Ducted or not? Venting the polluted air out of your house is always preferable to recirculating it. Recirculating fans use charcoal filters to clean the air and release it back into the house when ducting to the outside is impossible, as in many apartment buildings. When it's the only option, a recirculating hood is better than no ventilation at all, but this type should never be used with pro-style appliances.
Think about power. The amount of air the blower moves, measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm), is one of the biggest factors to consider when choosing a hood. The larger and more powerful your burners are, the more cfm you need. (See “Calculator” section below.)
Measure it right. A hood should be at least as wide as your cooking surface, but an extra 3 inches on each side can improve efficiency. The depth should cover the back burners and at least half of the front burners, though full coverage is best. The height at which the hood hangs above your cooktop will also affect how well it works.
A wall- or island-mount should be about 30 inches above the cooktop, while undercabinet-mounts, typically less powerful and with smaller ducts, should sit 24 inches above the range. If you want to place the hood higher than recommended, you'll need a wider unit—extending 3 inches beyond both sides of the range—and more cfm to compensate. (See "Calculator" section right below.)
Consider the noise. To avoid a loud fan, check the sones (1 sone equals about 40 decibels). A fan set on low typically comes in under 1 sone, but high speeds can jump to 10 or more. For a quieter unit, look for one that's 6 or fewer sones at 600 cfm.
Calculator: How Many CFM Do You Need?
Range Hood Height, Surface Area Considerations & More
As a general rule, calculate 100 cfm for every linear foot of cooking surface. For pro-style ranges, the formula is 100 cfm for every 10,000 BTUs your appliance puts out. Other factors come into play as well. For every 3 inches a hood exceeds the suggested height above the cooktop, add 100 cfm.
Island hoods require extra cfm to compensate for cross drafts, so calculate 150 cfm per linear foot for conventional cooktops; add an additional 100 cfm to the pro-range estimate. And consider how you cook. If you rarely grill or stir-fry at high heat, you may be able to go with a lower cfm than recommended.
Extra Features That May (or May Not) be Worth Your Money
- Multiple fan speeds: You really need only high and low settings. If you've got all the burners cranked up, you'll need more ventilation. But a low speed should suffice when using just one or two pans over medium heat.
- Heat sensors: By sensing temperature changes, some units will turn on the fan automatically or adjust to the appropriate speed.
- Remote control: This can be useful for hard-to-reach island hoods or for times when you're (briefly) away from the stove.
- Exhaust timers: After a certain period of time, typically 10 minutes, this feature shuts off the blower automatically—handy if you want to leave the fan running to take care of lingering odors.
- Built-in storage: Short on cabinet and counter space? Look for a hood with rails around the front and sides for hanging small pans and utensils. Certain designs also create a shallow shelf at the edge of the hood.
Shown: A built-in shelf and rails hold spices and utensils. IKEA Datid hood, about $680; ikea.com for stores
Range Hood Venting Options
This type takes up less visual space but cuts down on storage if the duct runs through the upper cabinet. Some hoods sit flush below cabinetry and slide out when needed. Vented combination microwave hoods can also save space, though they're less powerful.
Shown: Vent-A-Hood 30-inch DAH18, about $1,910; ventahood.com
A stainless-steel unit with exposed ductwork plays well with the commercial-kitchen look, but there are options in a variety of shapes and materials to suit any style.
Shown: Frigidaire 36-inch Gallery Premier Wall-Mount Hood, about $1,150; frigidaire.com for dealers
Usually hung above an island, it can be pricey because it's finished on all sides. Be aware: Since these units tend to be more powerful, some with internal blowers can be very noisy.
Similar to shown: Wolf 36-inch Pro Island Hood, about $2,990; subzero-wolf.com for showrooms
This slim vent retracts behind the cooktop into the cabinet below. This type tends to be less effective since it pulls rising smoke down, though some climb to 14 inches for better capture. Not recommended for high-BTU cooktops.
Shown: GE Monogram 36-inch Telescopic Downdraft, about $1,400; monogram.com for showrooms
This wall-hung type pulls in smoke through vents around its edges instead of the center, like a traditional hood. It's ideal for those who want more headroom, but it isn't powerful enough to handle a 90,000-plus BTU range.
Shown: Jenn-Air 32-inch Glass Collection Perimetric Hood, about $2,000; jennair.com for showrooms
Vent Hood Insert
The guts of the hood—a power pack and a liner—can be hidden inside cabinetry or a custom-built hood.
Similar to shown: Best PIK33 power pack, $1,350, and liner L3336S, about $230; bestrangehoods.com for dealers
Vent Hood Ducts
When it comes to ductwork, it's a numbers game.
- Choose ducting that's the same size as or slightly larger than the vent opening. The more powerful the hood, the larger the duct. For instance, a typical 400-cfm unit requires a 6-inch duct, while a 1,200-cfm model needs a 10- to 12-inch duct.
- For the best airflow, use smooth galvanized metal ducting rather than flexible or corrugated ducting. Seal joints with duct-joint mastic tape.
- Keep duct runs as straight and short as possible. Use gradual, 45-degree turns rather than 90-degree ones. The fewer the turns, the more efficient the system will be.
Noise Reduction Solutions
Worried that a powerful vent hood's overly loud whir will make it impossible to carry on a conversation while you cook? Although most blowers are in the hood, they can also be placed in different locations to help reduce the noise. You just need to specify where you want it before you order the hood.
In-line blowers are located in the ductwork in the wall or between the ceiling joists. But while the fan noise may be less noticeable, you still might hear the duct vibrating.
A better option is a remote or external blower, where the fan is placed on the roof or exterior wall with the exhaust vent. Placing the blower outside can also free up cabinet space.
Vent Hood Filter
Here's how the three most common grease-trapping methods work
The hood's blower pulls smoke and vapors through several layers of aluminum or stainless-steel mesh, catching the grease. These removable filters should be cleaned regularly—most can be popped into the dishwasher—to prevent clogs that can slow airflow.
More common on high-cfm, commercial-style units, these slat-style metal filters force the smoke to change direction several times, causing grease droplets to separate from the air and drip down into a tray that can be taken out for cleaning.
In place of a filter, centrifugal force within the blower liquefies grease, which is collected in a tray or a cup that's removable for cleaning. With no filters to slow the airflow, these hoods require fewer cfm than those with baffles or mesh to do the same job, often with less noise.
Hood Vent Styles
Building a custom wood mantel allows you to recess a hood insert above the stove, making it nearly invisible. The mantel can be as simple or as ornate as you want, either blending with your cabinetry or becoming an eye-catching focal point. This white-painted version with vertical planks subtly frames a showstopping cherry-red stove and creates a display shelf.
Similar to shown: Air-Pro unfinished 60-inch red oak detachable-front mantel hood, about $1,580; kitchensource.com
A swath of copper warms up stainless appliances. Paired with distressed painted cabinets, this sculptural, bell-shaped hood adds even more old-world charm.
Similar to shown: RangeCraft Miami copper hood, about $8,500; rangecraft.com
Warm Modern Look
Another option for a totally seamless appearance: Have your cabinetmaker create a coordinating custom hood and fit it with an insert. Pairing the wood grain with a band of stone mosaic tile trim—running horizontally, not vertically as it does on the backsplash—gives this kitchen sleek, earthy appeal.
Shown: Wolf Pro Hood Liner, starting at about $1,080; subzero-wolf.com for showrooms
A matching hood tops off this vintage stove. With a white finish and chrome straps and accents, it works perfectly with the circa 1930s Magic Chef range.
Shown: Modern-Aire customized PS-26 hood, starting at about $3,200; modernaire.com
- Airflow. Manufacturers tout the cubic feet per minute (CFM) of exhausted air. ...
- Number of Fan Speeds. Most of the hoods we tested offered from three to six fan speeds. ...
- Thermostat Control. ...
- Exhaust Timer.
In addition to whisking away unwanted odors, vent hoods remove moisture and grease, as well as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and other pollutants that cooking can release into the air.How many CFM range hood do I need? ›
To power your range hood, you need at least 100 CFM for every 10,000 BTUs of your stovetop. For example, a 100,000 BTU stove needs at least a 1000 CFM range hood. For electric stoves, multiply the stove width by 10. So, for a 42” electric stove you want a range hood with at least 420 CFM.What are the three types of ventilation hood? ›
- Updraft wall mount.
- Updraft island mount.
- Chef PS18 Under Cabinet Range Hood - Best to Buy in 2022. ...
- FOTILE JQG7501 30-Inch Range Hood - Best High-End Hood. ...
- Z Line KB Wall Mount Range Hood - Best Wall Mount Hood. ...
- Broan Non-Ducted Hood 41000 Series - Best Ductless Range Hood. ...
- Z Line GL1i 36-Inch Island Mount Range Hood - Best Island Hood.
Do range hoods have to be vented outside? No; range hoods without a duct, or ductless range hoods, can recirculate air back into your kitchen. However, to clean your kitchen air most efficiently, purchase a ducted range hood. Rather than relocate the cooking exhaust, it will evacuate it from your home entirely.Are ductless vent hoods good? ›
In general, a ductless range hood is better than no range hood. Ductless range hoods can be installed on your wall, over a kitchen island, or inside a custom range hood. They are also a cost-effective option for your kitchen, since you don't have to pay a contractor to install ductwork.What is the difference between range hood and vent hood? ›
Any ventilation unit is designed to control and disperse smoke, steam, and grease- or oil-related odors out of your kitchen. A range hood collects and transfers these unhealthy vapors to prevent your cooking from fogging up your kitchen.Is 300 CFM enough for a gas range? ›
The suggested CFM requirements for cooktops: “Regular” gas cooktops output 40,000 BTU's. To calculate your gas stove's BTU, add the power of each burner and divide the total by 100. So a “regular” gas system would need a 300 CFM fan.Is 450 CFM enough for range hood? ›
For high-output gas ranges or cooktops, the minimum rate of 1 CFM of ventilation per 100 British thermal units (BTU) is recommended. For example, if your high-output burner output is 45,000 BTU, look for a range hood that provides 450 CFM to best clear the air. However, the higher the CFM, the louder the hood will be.
What size range hood do I need for a 30” cooktop? With a 30” range, a 36 inch range hood is your best choice.What is the difference between a Type 1 and Type 2 Hood? ›
So to break it down as simple as possible – go with a Type 1 Hood for cooking equipment that can lead to grease and grease by-products, and go with a Type 2 Hood for other kitchen appliances and equipment that require removal of heat and moisture.What are the 4 types of ventilation? ›
- NATURAL VENTILATION.
- MECHANISED FANS. In some cases, a natural ventilation solution isn't possible due to the design and location of building. ...
- EXHAUST VENTILATION. ...
- SUPPLY VENTILATION. ...
- BALANCED VENTILATION. ...
- SMOKE VENTILATION.
Type II hoods are often called oven hoods or condensate hoods. They are not intended for use above grease producing appliances. Type II hoods are exhaust only hoods meant to remove heat, moisture, and odors and are primarily used over non-grease producing cooking appliances.How do I choose a hood? ›
How to Choose The Right Range Hood - 2021 Buyer's Guide - YouTubeWhat is the difference between a range hood and an exhaust fan? ›
The range hood requires pipes that connect to a duct to transport the dirty air and foul odor away from the kitchen to outside. The exhaust fan effectively gets rid of the moisture in the kitchen that arises due to an increase in moisture and vapor from food preparation, a feat that the ductless fans cannot.Which range hood is easy to clean? ›
Stainless steel is a popular choice for range hoods because it's long-lasting, easy to clean, and requires little maintenance. A stainless steel hood will also match many other kitchen appliances, utensils, and stainless steel cookware.Are expensive range hoods worth it? ›
It is worth it in the long run to buy a more expensive, higher quality hood. You won't have to spend as much extra money on replacement parts down the line. Not to mention that a low quality hood could break down after a few years. Then you'll have to buy a new hood – and that won't be friendly to your wallet.What is the best height for a range hood? ›
Range Hood Height: The recommended mount height from the cooktop to the hood bottom should be between 24” and 30”. You can use this information to determine how tall your range hood should be to connect with your ductwork.How high should a range hood be above a stove? ›
In general, most installations require a distance from 20" to 24" between the bottom of the hood and the cooking surface. Over a gas range, this distance should be between 24" and 30", unless otherwise specified. For further information, please refer to the installation manual of your model.
Generally, in the U.S., you don't have to vent a residential gas range to the outside. But, we recommend that you buy a range hood to vent contaminants from your gas range to outside your home. It will dramatically improve your indoor air quality and reduce the risk of long-term respiratory problems.Does an electric stove need a hood? ›
Do I need a range hood for an electric stove? Yes, but it does not need to be as powerful as a range hood for a gas stove. Even though an electric stove is not as powerful as a gas stove, it can still produce a lot of heat and grease. Buy a range hood that is at least 600 CFM for your electric stove.What is the most powerful ductless range hood? ›
The best ductless range hood is the PLJW 185. It is a versatile convertible range hood that is quite powerful. At just five inches tall, it runs at an impressive 600 CFM – the most powerful range hood on the market for its size.What's the point of a ductless range hood? ›
A ductless range hood, also called a recirculating range hood, is an excellent way to improve the air quality in kitchens without a duct system. These hoods clear the air by filtering out smoke and particles before recirculating the clean air throughout the kitchen.What type of duct is best for venting a range hood? ›
Rigid duct is the best type of duct to vent your range hood. It requires a one-time installation and little to no maintenance as long as you clean your range hood filters. Most rigid ductwork is made from durable stainless steel, as opposed to rigid ductwork which is aluminum or flimsy plastic.Why does a gas stove not need to be vented? ›
These pollutants include carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and formaldehyde. The study found that gas burners are often used without the support of a vented range hood and this greatly increases the risk of deadly gas buildup.Do range hoods have to be vented outside? ›
Do range hoods have to be vented outside? No; range hoods without a duct, or ductless range hoods, can recirculate air back into your kitchen. However, to clean your kitchen air most efficiently, purchase a ducted range hood. Rather than relocate the cooking exhaust, it will evacuate it from your home entirely.How high should a vent hood be over the stove? ›
For the professional gas cooking ranges, the most common range hood is the 18” canopy wall hood. This type of range hood should be installed at the height of 30” to 36” above the cooktop. A different kind of range hood for professional gas cooking ranges is the vent hood insert/liner.How do I choose an exhaust fan for my kitchen? ›
Look at the CFM of a fan at the expected maximum air resistance (static pressure). Exhaust fans with a higher CFM need to be more energy efficient. Find the horsepower rating to give you the most energy efficient operation. An underpowered motor will wear out too quickly and requires too frequent maintenance.What type of duct is best for venting a range hood? ›
Rigid duct is the best type of duct to vent your range hood. It requires a one-time installation and little to no maintenance as long as you clean your range hood filters. Most rigid ductwork is made from durable stainless steel, as opposed to rigid ductwork which is aluminum or flimsy plastic.