Range Hoods Buying Guide

Range Hoods
  • Getting Started

  • Over time, cooking can take a huge toll on your kitchen. By investing in a range hood, you eliminate grease, moisture, heat and odor in the air. The main purpose of range hoods are to capture smoke, odors, heat and humidity at the source before it spreads to the rest of your home. This has become a very wise investment and you should consider your options carefully when buying.

  • Budget

  • Buying a range hood is no different from investing in any other appliance for your home. You want the best as long as it’s in your price range. You can purchase a $50 non-vented hood or spend thousands on a particular style you want. It all just depends on what you like and more importantly what you can afford. Buying a range hood is a smart investment in your kitchen, so when you do purchase, make sure you’ll like having it around for a long while.

  • Types

  •     •  Under cabinet hoods attach to the underside of the cabinet above your range and could be called wall-mount if they mount to the wall instead of the cabinets. Under cabinet hoods are offered in many styles and strengths and most can be ducted or non-ducted. Starting as low as $50, these basic units recirculate the air back into the kitchen, trapping a portion of the grease and odors in replaceable filters. The performance of under-cabinet models is boosted significantly when ducted out-of-doors. Ducted models are priced from $175 to $250, not including installation.

        •  Wall-Mount hoods are similar to under cabinet hoods, the only exception being that they mount to the wall instead of the cabinets.

        •  Downdraft hoods are hidden in the cooktop and pop up when in use to pull the steam and smoke horizontally across the range. They're a popular choice for islands since they don't require traditional installation that may block lines of vision. These try to reverse the direction of rising smoke and fumes and exhaust them through ducts running beneath the floor. While they can be used anywhere in the kitchen, their main application is in islands where it may not be possible to route ductwork through the ceiling.

        •  Pro hoods look like under cabinet hoods but bigger, and are more professional-looking and have more power than a typical under cabinet type. These are great if you cook often and prefer the look of a bigger hood. They can be ducted or non-ducted. They come in a variety of styles to support the exhaust choice.

        •  Wall-mounted chimney hoods combine form and function in a moderately priced appliance. Unlike under-cabinet models, these units are installed against the wall of the kitchen. They are called "chimney-style" because their shape and pyramidal base with a rising rectangular column resembles the shape of a home chimney. You can expect to pay between $500 and $700, not including installation.

        •  Ceiling-mounted chimney hoods are also called "island hoods.” These are mounted to ceilings and vented through ductwork in the ceiling. These higher end models are dramatic in scale and placement, and come in sleek European glass styles, chunky pro-style stainless, and basically everything in between. These range from $1,200 and $2,500, not including installation. They lack a wall or cabinets alongside them to help funnel fumes, so should be wider than the cooking surface.

        •  Custom built-in hoods are designed to blend in with your home's kitchen cabinetry. Built-in ventilation is installed into a section of the wall. Instead of a chimney-style hood, it relies on "power packs" or modules that are mounted and ducted in a non-obtrusive manner.

        •  Ductless hoods are typically an option on some hoods, whether under-cabinet, wall or island. This type of installation directs steam, heat, and smoke away from the stovetop but back into the kitchen. Its main filters can trap oil and grease droplets dispersed into the air above the range, and in most cases an optional carbon filter is available to reduce odors. These usually aren’t highly recommended because it will take the smoke and odors being generated by the stove and spread them throughout the kitchen and the rest of the home.

  • Exhaust Options

  • Vented or Ducted - One option is to duct the hood to the outside, which is recommended in order to completely remove the irritants. If your range hood mounts to an exterior wall, the exhaust ducts will be shorter and more efficient. If your range hood mounts to an interior wall or island, keep in mind the longer distance that the air needs to be forced, and consider a more powerful unit. Proper installation of ductwork is critical to the efficiency and overall performance of the range hood. While many people hire a professional to install their ductwork, you can purchase materials and accessories and do it yourself. Exhaust should never be ducted to an attic or basement. Make sure the size of the duct is the same as the duct attachment at the hood. 

    Non-vented, Duct-free or Recirculated - These three terms are interchangeable. They mean that the air is pulled through a charcoal filter to trap irritants and flows back into the kitchen. With this option, it's important to change your filters every few months to ensure the hood performs effectively. This option requires no ducting.

    Convertible - These are hoods that allow either option, ducted or non-ducted. For the best ventilation results duct to the outside.

  • Features

  • Airflow - The power / airflow for range hoods is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute)More airflow means faster ventilation, but it doesn't guarantee better smoke capture and removal in your kitchen.

    Number of Fan Speeds - Most hoods offer from 3 - 6 fan speeds. A minimum of two speeds is recommended: a high-speed setting to use when cooking and a very low and super quiet setting to use after cooking to continue to ventilate the space while eating.  Any more than three set speeds can be too many.

    Thermostat Control - A built-in temperature sensor in some models automatically turns on the fan if the temperature below the hood gets too high. This feature is available mainly on over-the-range microwaves. The main purpose of the thermostat is to protect the microwave electronics from being damaged by high temperatures. If the temperature under the microwave is too high, the exhaust fan comes on to draw away the hot air and pull in cooler air from the rest of the kitchen. This feature isn’t recommended on range hoods because if you are cooking with oil and your pan catches on fire, the exhaust fan will come on drawing more air to the fire, and could make the situation worse.

    Exhaust Timer - This turns off the fan after a set period of time.

    Change filter indicator lights - Alerts the user to the need for cleaning or changing the filter.

    Heat sensors - Will automatically adjust the blower to high speed when the range hood detects excessive heat.

    Lighting is included in most hoods with options that include incandescent, fluorescent, halogen or LED bulbs. Your range hood may have 1 - 4 lights to illuminate your cooking area. Hoods with a low light level setting are great for nighttime operation.

  • Filters

  • A ducted hood uses aluminum filters to trap grease before the smoke and odors are forced outside. Wash the aluminum mesh grease filters in your dishwasher every month depending on usage, and wash them more often if your cooking style generates significant amounts of grease (frying foods or wok cooking). A non-duct hood uses charcoal filters to trap grease and other smaller molecules so they don't blow back into the kitchen. These charcoal filters aren't washable but need to be replaced every few months. Some hoods have filter indicator lights that will alert you when you need to change your filters.

  • Sound Level

  • The sound that a range hood makes is measured in sones. The higher the CFM, the higher the sone rating is likely to be. Look for sone ratings to find the quietest hood at normal operation levels.

  • Summary

  • When investing in a range hood for your kitchen there are many options to consider. Take your time while shopping to ensure your final pick is what you want and has everything you need. Also, you need to try your best to stay within your budget and make sure that you will be happy looking at the hood you purchase. After all, you’ll be seeing and using it each time you cook up a meal.