How to Choose the Best Range Hood for Your Kitchen

Range hoods vent away cooking odors and filter out heat, smoke, grease and moisture


Range Hoods- Range Hoods

There are many different types of range hoods, or kitchen exhaust fans, to choose from. To help with your buying decision, it’s best to consider where it will be installed, the type of ventilation system you should use and the size that best fits your kitchen.

This guide will help you understand the difference between the different kitchen ventilation systems so you can pick the best vent hood for your kitchen.

Ventilation Systems

Range hoods are measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM) - units with a higher CFM rating move more air. It is recommended that you have a minimum of 40 CFM for every linear foot of range. For gas cook tops, you should have 1 CFM for every 100BTUs of power the stove has.

Different fan types within range hoods include rotary fans that feature blades, or centrifugal fans that are shaped like a barrel or wheel. Centrifugal fans are slightly more powerful and better suited for longer ducts.

The type of range hood you install also depends on where you want to install it and the layout of your kitchen. Remember when selecting your range hood that you need a unit that is at least as wide as your cooking surface.

  • Wall chimney hoods mount where there are no cabinets along an exposed wall. 
  • Island hoods are mounted to and vented through ductwork in the ceiling, so they don't rely on a wall.
  • Undercabinet hoods mount to the bottom of a wall cabinet. Ductwork can be mounted through the cabinet to a chase, outside, or through the back of the hood, depending on the model.

The three primary types of ventilation are external and recirculating.

Systems Description Points To Consider

Convertible Range Hood

  • Able to utilize either external vents or filters.

  • If using filters, be sure to change regularly
  • Choose to vent externally if
    possible for greater effectiveness

External Range Hood

  • Vents contaminated air outside of the house through a series of vertical or horizontal ducts.

  • Air must be vented outside of house, not into a crawl space or attic
  • Generally more efficient
  • Can be more complicated to install; typically requires a professional

Recirculating / Non-Vented / Ductless Range Hood

  • Uses a filter system to clean air before circulating it back into house.

  • Filters must be cleaned or changed regularly to ensure high-quality performance
  • Does not require ducting
  • Easier to install

Maintenance and Installation Tips

For houses that already have ductwork in place, make sure to get a range hood that has a compatible design. For new construction, determine whether vertical or horizontal positioning will be more efficient.

  • Always make sure air is vented outside the house and not into an enclosed space
  • Models that can accommodate either round or rectangular ductwork provide greater installation versatility
  • Gas ranges usually require a hood with a higher CFM rate than electrical units
  • Wash or replace filters regularly as needed. You can wash aluminum mess filters in your dishwasher as frequently as once a month. Charcoal filters aren't washable and should be replaced according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • The higher the unit's CFM, the louder it will likely be during operation. Units with lower sone ratings will be quieter.
  • Deep-frying and frequent cooking may require you to clean or replace filters more frequently
  • Convertible units generally allow for both vertical and horizontal ventilation
  • Wipe down range hood surfaces regularly with warm water and mild soap

Range Hood Features

  • Exhaust Timer: This convenient feature turns off the fan after a set period of time.
  • Halogen Lights and Nightlight: Lights make it easier to see what you are cooking. Night lights provide soft illumination when walking into the kitchen.
  • CFM: The rate of airflow ventilated by a range hood is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM) of exhausted air. Higher CFM and more airflow means faster ventilation.
  • Electronic Touch Controls: Offers precise operation and the ability to preset on and off times.
  • Variable-Speed Fan with Heat Sensors: Fans speed up to handle more heat. Most range hoods have at least two fan speeds, high and low. In variable-speed fans, sensors automatically increase speed or sound alarm when things get too hot. 
  • Quiet Operation: Features insulation for quiet operation.
  • Automatic Shutoff:. Shuts the fan off automatically after a specified period of time.
  • Self-Cleaning/Filterless Operation: Can be programmed to clean themselves.
  • Filter Monitor and Indicator Light: Lets you know when it’s time to replace the filter.