Range hoods come in different styles for both aesthetic appeal and function. The best choice for you depends on the layout of your kitchen, whether you have ductwork, and how much power you need, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM).
If this is your first range hood purchase, the most important thing you need to know is that they come in two functional styles: ducted and ductless options.
Ducted Range Hoods
Range hoods that attach to ducts use an exhaust fan to pull air through a filter, through ducts, and expel the air through a vent outside.
- Ducted range hoods are more efficient. Since smoke and steam are expelled outside your home, very little escapes and the air in your home stays cleaner.
- This type of stove hood is less expensive than ductless hoods.
- Easier to maintain. You can clean the filter instead of replacing it.
- There are circumstances where installing ductwork is impossible or expensive.
- Retrofitting ductwork in a house built without it can be expensive.
- It’s far more difficult to move a ducted range hood and stove if you decide to remodel.
Ductless Range Hoods
When adding ductwork is not practical, ductless range hoods are installed. These types of range hoods pull smoke and cooking particulates through a carbon or fabric filter to remove particulates, grease, and smoke, then recirculate the air back into your kitchen.
- Can be installed anywhere, giving you more kitchen layout choices.
- Can be moved during a remodel.
- Good quality models efficiently clean the air.
- Filters cannot be cleaned and must be replaced.
- Air is recirculated, so it’s wise to open a window during use.
- Depending on placement, the recycled air can blow back into your face as you’re cooking.
Range Hood Styles
Under-Cabinet Range Hoods
It’s quite common to see range hood fans recessed under cabinetry for a seamless integration, with or without a protruding hood.
- Under-cabinet range hoods look like an extension of your cabinets. They can be recessed and low-profile, which works great if you’re putting a high-tech appliance in a homey country kitchen or going for a sleek minimalist look.
- They can be either ducted or ductless. With ducted range hoods, the upper cabinet usually conceals the ducting.
- Range hoods have the potential to make a statement in your kitchen, to stand out as a unique feature. Under-cabinet range hoods are designed to be virtually invisible.
- Recessed controls are more difficult to reach.
Wall-Mounted Range Hoods
Range hoods may be mounted directly to an interior or exterior wall. They usually have a chimney and prominent hood. Rather than blend in, they stand out. They can be enclosed in a facade to match and enhance your kitchen decor, or match your kitchen appliances. Stainless steel is a popular choice today for major kitchen appliances, such as dishwashers, ovens, and refrigerators.
- Wall-mounted range hoods draw the eye, making the stove a focal point in the kitchen.
- While they are usually ducted, they can be ductless hoods built with a chimney facade for effect.
- The large hood typical of this design helps capture air from a larger area.
- Once the kitchen layout is finalized and the wall mount installed, changing the location in the future would be problematic.
- Wall-mounted hoods are usually more expensive to install than under-cabinet models.
- Since they stand alone, they take up more wall space.
Island or Ceiling Mounted Range Hoods
A stovetop mounted on a freestanding island presents a special challenge for range hood installation. The most common solution is to attach the chimney of the hood to the ceiling, so the range hood hangs over the island.
- This type of range hood looks stunning, and provides a clear focal point for the kitchen.
- Because it is not restricted on any side by cabinets or walls, a ceiling mounted range hood can pull in more air.
- Because they hang in the center of the room, they may restrict line of sight to family and guests while cooking.
- Installation can be pricey.
Microwave Range Hoods
Mounted under a microwave, this common type of range hood is very efficient in a small kitchen. Similar to an under-cabinet mount, these range hoods are usually low-profile and may be either ducted or ductless hoods.
- Mounting a microwave over the stovetop saves countertop space.
- It’s an efficient use of a small kitchen area.
- A microwave over the stove interrupts the design of the kitchen without enhancing the design.
- If your range hood does not have a ventilation system and relies on recirculating air, the fan will blow out at face level while you’re cooking.
Downdraft hood ventilation works differently from range hoods, and the most frequent installations are with kitchen island stovetops. They come in two varieties, a popup version usually installed in back of the cooktop or a flat version that’s actually part of the cooktop, built in. Downdraft hoods are a vented system that pulls the steam and smoke downwards and expels it outside through ductwork.
- Downdraft hoods are easy to reach, so they’re easy to clean.
- They are compact and unobtrusive. When not in use, popups retract flush with the countertop.
- With a built-in unit, if something goes wrong, you may have to replace the entire stovetop.
- These types of ventilation fans are less effective than traditional range hoods.
What To Consider When Buying a New Range Hood?
When you decide to buy or replace your range hood, style is not the only consideration. We’ve talked about whether you need a ducted or ductless range hood style. Here are a few other things to think about.
Range Hood Size
Simply put, the size of the range hood should be about the same measurement as your stovetop. Cooktops are made in different sizes, but the most common ones measure 30 inches wide, or 2.5’. Measure your cooktop and look for a range hood that matches the stove you have – or the one you want to purchase.
Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM)
To meet the recommended CFM requirements for a standard size stovetop, you’ll need a range hood with 250 CFM. If you have a different sized stove, an island stove, or other considerations, check our blog post “How Many CFM Do I Need For My Range Hood?”
Noise Level (Sone)
Sone is the term for the noise a ventilation fan makes while running. Normal conversation noise falls at about 4 sone, so a good rule of thumb is to find a ventilation fan that measures 1 – 4 sones. You can adjust the level and still chat comfortably while you’re cooking.
Type of Controls
Old range hoods, much like televisions and microwave ovens, were controlled by twisting knobs. More modern versions have digital controls and more options available.
The most common type of filter for ducted hoods is a metal mesh screen, very easy to pop out and clean. Ductless range hoods that do not vent to the outside generally require a carbon or fabric-style screen to collect the grease, smoke, and particulates that waft up from cooking. They need to be regularly replaced.
Some range hoods are equipped with a thermostat and heat sensors that detect rising heat levels and automatically adjust the fan speed when the stove gets too hot.
The faster the fan goes, the louder it will be. Range hoods with variable speed controls allow you to adjust the speed for quieter operation and turn it on high when things get a little smoky.
Modern advanced range hoods have timers to automatically shut off the exhaust fan after a certain amount of time.
Almost all range hoods have lighting, but the type of lights and settings vary. With some, you can adjust light levels. Find out what kind of light bulbs the range hood you’re interested in uses and whether they are readily available because light bulbs need to be changed more often than almost anything else in your house.
Like most new kitchen appliances, your range hood will have a warranty. Read the terms and make sure you’re covered for defects and common issues. Robam range hoods, for example, come with a 5 year limited warranty on parts and a lifetime warranty on the motor.
Brand / Awards
Since range hoods are important to the air quality in your home and are very rarely replaced, choose a brand you can trust. Robam’s A831 range hood is installed in more than 50 million kitchens around the world.
Robam has won many awards since it was founded in 1979, including recent awards such as reddot, iF product design award, and a 2019 Guinness World Record for range hood sales.