Are you looking for the best range hood for your kitchen? Or maybe you’re just curious to learn more about the different types available? Although ventilation is the last thing people choose when shopping for appliances, it is the first thing everyone notices when they walk into your kitchen.
A range hood is an integral part of your kitchen, both technically and aesthetically. These staple appliances remove smoke, grease, fumes, and filter the air. They also provide illumination for everyday cooking, as well as a soft dim accent light for ambiance.
But because range hoods are eye level, they are often the first thing your guests will notice when they walk into the room. Interior designers use this opportunity to make a design statement.
In this article, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about range hoods, from functions and features to differences in design. We will answer questions such as how high you need to place them above your stove. We’ll talk about our picks for the best brands on the market.
Why Do You Need a Range Hood?
A range hood is an appliance that is hung over your cooktop. They serve five distinct purposes, including removing smells, smoke, and grease, illuminating your cooktop, and adding an element of design to your kitchen.
If you’ve ever cooked broccoli or fish, you know how important it is to vent the smell properly. This is where a good range hood shines, as it’s able to eliminate the majority of the smell from your kitchen. When you’re cooking up something delicious, you’ll want your guests to appreciate the smell of roasted garlic or sauteed peppers and onions. But not to fear! Undoubtably, some elements of the smell will escape in your kitchen when cooking, but the aroma will be less potent. In the end, your home won’t end up smelling like asparagus all night.
Picture this - you’re cooking up a pound of greasy bacon on a Sunday morning, when suddenly, the smoke seems to take on a life of its own. You run around the house opening windows to prevent the smoke alarm from going off and waking up everyone else in the home. One way to prevent this unnecessary chaos is to install a range hood. When turned on, the ventilation can circulate clean air and remove smoke. This prevents the smoke alarm from going off unnecessarily.
Speaking of greasy bacon, have you ever walked into a home with grease buildup on the walls or kitchen cabinets? Without proper ventilation, grease particles from cooking are released into the air and attach themselves to the backsplash, walls, curtains, and more. This results in unsightly grease stains all around. Range hoods trap grease in their filters and prevent it from being dispersed throughout the kitchen.
Illuminates Your Cooktop
Looking to add an extra source of light to your kitchen? A range hood illuminates your cooktop (and your whole kitchen, really), giving you extra light when you need it most. Besides being functional, this adds a stunning and sleek design element to your kitchen.
Adds an Elegant Design Element to Your Kitchen
A range hood can also become the focal point of your kitchen design. Because the vent hood is usually eye level, it will catch your guests’ attention as soon as they walk into the room.
Why Might a Range Hood Be the Wrong Fit?
A range hood will not be the right fit for your kitchen if you're low on space. For example, if you live in a small apartment and don't want to compromise on space, you may alternatively opt for an over the range microwave. This set up will free up space on your countertop that would normally be occupied by a countertop microwave. An over-the-range microwave serves as a two-in-one appliance, suitable for cooking as well as ventilation. In addition, you will benefit from its lights to illuminate your cooking surface.
If you have a 24 or 30-inch stovetop, an over-the-range microwave is a great option for you.
Range Hood: How to Shop Like a Pro?
There are many things to consider when shopping for a range hood. That's why we've curated a list of these considerations to guide you through the process.
1) Mounting Type
2) Venting out vs Recirculating (a.k.a. duct vs ductless solutions)
3) Decorative Style
4) Proper Sizing
5) Blower Location
6) Filter Type
1) Mounting Type - Wall, Island, Downdraft, Cabinet Insert
Wallmount Range Hoods
Wall mounted range hoods are, as their name suggests, placed on the wall above your stovetop. Wall mount hoods are one of the most popular types on the market, and are likely what you picture when you think of ventilation. You may choose this type if you’re looking for an appliance that will become a focal point of your kitchen design. There are four styles of wallmount hoods: under cabinet, slide-out, chimney, and pro style.
Under cabinet range hoods account for 95% of all hoods sold. If you live in an urban apartment, you probably either have an over-the-range microwave or an under cabinet hood.
Under-cabinet hoods are the perfect choice if you have kitchen cabinetry above your cooktop. They are a little more discreet than wall mounted or island range hoods, but still add an elegant touch to your kitchen.
Slide-Out Range Hoods
Slide out hoods, quite literally, slide out from below your cabinets. These low profile hoods are often found in apartments. Because they're easily hidden, they're a great option for a minimalistic kitchen.
Large kitchens typically feature a classic style chimney hood. Keep in mind, this design style means that you will need to sacrifce kitchen cabinets above your cooktop. Chimney style hoods are a classic and elegant focal point that will capture your guests' attention the second they walk into your kitchen.
Pro style give your kitchen a professional and sleek look. Pro style hoods are typically larger than other styles of range hoods. The coolest part about this style is that you can often order when in custom colors. For example, with a BlueStar pro style range, you can send a color sample to the factory and they will match it for you. This creates a unique, one-of-a-kind range hood for your home.
Island Range Hoods
Island Range hoods hang from your ceiling and are a great option if your cooktop isn’t positioned against a wall. This type is most appropriate if your stove is located in a center island. Island ventilation is definitely a visible and prominent design statement.
Flush Ceiling Mount
Have a center island where you often entertain guests? Flush ceiling mount range hoods allow you to properly vent your kitchen without obstructing the view of those sitting across from you. This discreet design epxression helps keep the focus on other aspects of your kitchen.
Hood Insert or Built-In Range Hoods
Looking for a seamless look in your kitchen? Hood inserts are designed to make your range hood blend in with the rest of your cabinetry. However, it's important to note that hood inserts are not the same thing as hood liners, even though many people use the names interchangeably.
Hood liners protect your kitchen cabinets against damage. Instead of installing the hood to your cabinet, you can choose to install it to a liner. Think of it as wearing a pair of socks with your shoes! Just as the socks protect your feet, the liner protects your cabinets.
Another correct term for a hood insert is a built-in range hood.
Although a beautifully crafted range hood can become the focal point of your kitchen, there are some people who would rather not see a hood at all. If you prefer modern minimalism, a downdraft hood may be a good option for you.
Downdraft hoods slide out from your cooktop when you need them, and can easily be hidden when not in use. These hoods move smoke and fumes downward rather than upward. However, they tend to be regarded as the least functional of the vent hoods we’ve discussed.
2) Can you vent out?
When choosing a range hood, you must first determine whether or not you can vent the air outside.
If the answer is YES...
- You will need a ducted hood.
- You must determine if your kitchen requires horizontal or vertical ducting, as well as what size ducting is most appropriate
If the answer is NO...
- You will need a nonducted or recirculating hood. This means that the air is filtered within the hood and released back into the home, instead of being vented outdoors.
You may also be able to opt for a convertible range hood, which can be used either ducted or nonducted.
All ducted or covertible range hoods come with vertical or horizontal venting options. There are a select number of hoods that offer both venting types. It is a good idea to check with your contactor about your site specific requirements before making your purchase.
3) Decorative Style
When it comes to the decorative style, the options are virtually endless. The great thing about range hoods is that they can be as involved or uninvolved in the kitchen design as you wish. Whether you're looking for a stunning showpiece or a minimalistic and functional hood, there is a design to fit your needs.
- Glass: Glass range hoods are made of a mixture of both glass and stainless steel. They serve as a sleek and modern design choice in your kitchen.
- Bands, rivets, and gold trim can also add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your range hood
- Logo: You'll also want to decide whether or not you want to see the manufacturer's logo on your range hood. For example, Wolf does not engrave their logo on their pro selection. Instead, the manufacturer includes it on a separate nameplate that can be attached to the hood.
- Lighting fixture look alikes: Although some people love the bold design statement, others prefer a more subtle look. In fact, some range hoods even look like lighting fixtures! These hoods are a great option if you don't like the traditional look.
4) Proper Sizing: Suction Power & Dimensions
Suction Power Measured in CFM:
The power of a range hood is measured by CFM, or cubic feet per minute. In other words, a CFM of 350 means 350 cubic feet of air is being blown each minute. It's important to know your local building code, which tells you maximum CFM allowed in your town. As a rule of thumb 400-600 CFMs is more than enough for most homes.
If your blower is outside your home, it will have to work harder to remove the smoke from your kitchen. Therefore, an exterior blower requires more power.
Blower CFM's: Suction Metrics are not Everything
Each manufacturer is responsible for claiming the CFM for their products. However, only a few manufacturers (such as Best) make their products available to HVI.org testing. Therefore, when Best publishes a CFM number, we can trust it. (P.S. - HVI stands for the Home Ventillation Institute, which is responsible for certifying ventillation products.
However, if a manufacturer does not submit their products for HVI testing, you must take the CFM numbers with a grain of salt and keep in mind that they have not been independently verified.
It's also important to consider the physical dimensions of your range hood. Width, height, and depth are all important in terms of making sure the hood fits in the space alotted. However, these are also important safety considerations to keep in mind.
The width of the hood cannot be smaller than the width of the cooking surface. The hood can, however, be about three inches bigger than the cooktop. Anything lager than that will be ineffective at properly trapping and venting smoke and fumes.
Have you ever seen a vent hood that sticks out too far? This is because of incorrect depth. Manufacturers often make their products in different depths to accomodate different kitchens. So, if you find the perfect hood, but think it will stick out from your kitchen cabinets too much, don't worry! Simply select the depth that will work best for your space.
How high up should your range hood be? Surprisingly, the number is not based on whether or not the hood is eye level. Ventilation should be placed about 30-36 inches above cooking surface. If it's placed too high, it won't be effective at trapping grease, smoke, and fumes. However, if it's placed too close to the cooktop, the range can melt.
The height is especially important if you have a gas cooktop, as heat can easily escape from the bottom of the pot while cooking. With induction or electric cooktops, the range can be placed closer to the cooktop. This will also ensure that harsh smells will not spread to the rest of the kitchen.
Another thing to keep in mind is that, like depth, manufacturers make hoods in different heights. Therefore, it's important to choose the height that will work best in your kitchen.
5) Ventilation Blower Options/Locations
Depending on your needs and preferences, different ventilation options are available. Range hoods have one of three types of blowers: internal, external, or inline.
As its name suggests, internal blowers live within the body of the hood. Internal blowers are easy to install, but are typically louder than external or inline blowers.
External blowers are great for those who are easily bothered by noise. These blowers are relatively large and live outside the home. External blowers function by sucking in air, filtering it, and releasing it outside the home.
Inline blowers combine the power of both internal and external blowers. However, the biggest difference in an inline blower is that it does not live inside the hood. Instead, the blower is positioned within your ducting system. It is typically stored in an out-of-reach area like the basement or attic.
Downdraft Blower Installation
Downdrafts are a special case in the world of range hoods, as they are generally designed to work with cooktops in an island. However, if you install a cooktop in a kitchen island, you probably don't want to block your view of your family and guests with a large device.
Instead, you can opt for a downdraft blower. This means that the chimney will rise from the counter during cooking, and the blower and duct work will be located in the cabinet right below the cooktop.
Only the Cattura series of hoods from Best comes with multiple installation options to accommodate flexible location for the duct and the motor. This makes Cattura the only downdraft you can use with a cooking ramge.
6) Filter Types
You have two main choices when it comes to the filter in your range hood: mesh or baffle. Although both filters are just as effective at trapping grease, they differ in design and ease of use. There is also a third type of filter, known as a charcoal filter. However, charcoal filters are secondary filters meant to trap and remove smells from your kitchen.
Mesh filters are made of aluminum or stainless steel mesh and are typically easier to take in and out of your hood. They’re cheaper than baffle filters but are more difficult to clean by hand. However, some mesh filters can be placed in the dishwasher (but always double check to make sure!!).
Baffle filters are typically found in industrial or commercial kitchens. However, they have become popular in residential kitchens because they give the room a more professional look. Although baffle filters are more expensive than mesh filters, they are usually more durable.
Why Do I Need a Range Hood in My Outdoor Kitchen?
Many people incorrectly assume that they don't need to ventilate their outdoor kitchen. However, if your outdoor kitchen is enclosed, you'll need a vent hood. Why? For many of the same reasons you need one inside. To start, without a hood, your enclosed outdoor kitchen will be smokey and the fumes and smells will not ventilate properly.
One of the biggest differences between and indoor and outdoor range hood is that an outdoor hood only has to be 42 inches above the cooking surface (compared to 36-inch distance of an indoor hood). This provides you with increased flexibility when entertaining outdoors.
For outdoor use, your options are limited to pro style.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
- Buying the hood but not the motor - Many manufacturers sell the range hood and motor separately, as each household has different requirements for how much power is needed. However, many people assume that these two pieces come together. Manufacturers would like to give you the maximum choice when sizing your CFMs to adhere to your local code. Therefore, it is customary for them to offer the blower as a separate purchase.
- Forgetting about duct extensions for tall ceilings
- Mistakes regardind dimensions mistakes. Keep in mind: depth and height are as important as width
- Forgetting to check the make up air requirements of your town
- Putting the blower in the wrong location
- Not centering the ventilation hole (or not knowing that it is not centered)
- Forgetting to read the product description and specifications before purchasing. Many range hoods may look alike but have different mounting types. For example, a hood may come in both island and wallmount styles. However, you're not able to determine which is which without reading the full description and product specs. To avoid making this costly mistake, be sure to avoid blindly purchasing a hood based soley on the design.
Make Up Air Requirements
When a ducted range hood is turned on, air from inside the home is vented outside. Make up air systems ensure an equal amount of fresh air enters the house after the filtered air is vented out.
In the last five years, most localities have enforced make up air requirements. This is because new homes and renovations are efficiently weather sealed. Although this is great news as your heating/cooling bill is likely reduced, it is also a poiny of concern. Why? Because since your range hood will pull out air, and the house is sealed, there is nothing to make up for that air. This causes a bevy of problems like:
- Pulling too much air might create a depressurized zone. With depressurization, the carbon monoxide from cooking goes right back into your home instead of being vented out. This is referred to as the backdraft phenomenon, which can cause CO (carbon monoxide) poisioning as CO is odorless, tastless, colorless, and highly toxic gas.
- Loud noises as air tries to get in through crevices in the house.
- It will be difficult to open doors and windows.
To prevent this from happening, make up air is required.
How does make up air work?
Every time you turn on the hood, a signal is sent to your HVAC system. This pulls in outside air to replace the air that has been vented out.
5 Best Range Hoods
Kitchen hoods are generally considered to be a pretty low tech appliance, comprised only of some metal and a motor. However, there are thousands of options available. That's why we're giving you our picks for the top 5 best range hoods on the market, from brands like Broan, GE, Zephyr, XO, and Best. We based our reviews on factors such as noise level, power, design, and ease of installation.
1) Best Budget: Broan-NuTone 413004
First up, we have our pick for the best budget range hood, the Broan-NuTone 413004. This cost-effective option retails for under $100 and is the perfect range hood for those with limited space.
Broan-Nutone is the market leader in ventilation products and range hoods. The company also makes hoods under the names Broan, Best Range Hoods, and Zephyr. Although these brands are owned by the same parent company, they all offer different styles of range hoods at different price points.
This range hood is great if:
- You live in an apartment and have a 30 inch opening
- You have limited space under your cabinet and cant fit an over-the-range microwave. This slim hood is only 6 inches high, whereas an over-the-range microwave is about 15 inches
- You're looking for a ductless range hood
What we like:
- This hood is versatile and will fit in almost any kitchen
- It does a far better job venting than an over-the-range microwave
- The light is strong enough to illuminate your cooking surface. The bulb sits behind a protective lens to shield it from heat. This also helps distribute the light evenly.
- It has a removeable charcoal filter, which efficiently traps grease and odors.
- It's easy to install
- It includes a two-speed fan
What we don't like:
- The 75W bulb is not included, so you'll have to purchase it separately
- The filter is not dishwasher safe. This means you'll have to change the filter every three to six months, depending on how much you cook. Replacement filters are usually sold in packs of six for about $15.
This hood is also available in 21 inch, 24 inch, and 36 inch models. You also have a variety of color options like white, black, stainless steel, or bisque. In fact, Broan is the only company that still makes bisque-colored hoods. This is a huge bonus if you're looking for a replacement for an older kitchen.
Broan's product selection is vast, from budget undercounter to wallmount hoods, and inserts to island hoods. Each type of range hood is crafted with its own unique design. In fact, the Broan EW5630SS was a style leader of 30" glass/stainless steel mix hoods. These days, the company gets plenty of competition from likes of Cosmo.
2) Best Chimney Hood on Budget: GE JVW5301SJSS
If you're looking for a chimney hood but don't want to spend an arm and a leg, this sleek GE model is a great option for you.
This range hood is great if:
- You're tired of your over-the-range microwave and want to give your space a sleek face lift.
- You spent a ton of money on the rest of your stainless steel appliances and want a cost-effective option that matches your kitchen design. With this GE range hood, you won't have to sacrifice design for cost.
What we like:
- GE is a brand we love and trust with service
- This hood is stylish yet budget friendly
- This model is convertible and can vent outside or recirculate the air
- The 350 CFM is below make up air requirements, which will give you one less thing to worry about
- The 30 and 36 inch models include a black stainless color, which is hard to find in a hood
What we don't like:
- This range hood isn't powerful enough to be placed over pro gas ranges
- GE does not have a vast catalog of hoods
3) Best Wallmount Chimney Range Hood: Zephyr ZSPE36BS
If you're looking for the best wallmount chimney range hood around, look no further than the Zephyr ZSPE36BS. This stylish yet powerful range hood is great for those who love to spend time in the kitchen cooking up delicious meals.
This range hood is great if:
- You want both a stylish hood and a powerful blower. This is something Zephyr specializes in, which means you'll never have to choose power over style.
- You do a lot of flavorful cooking
- You want to balance local make up air requirements with design
What we like:
- With this hood comes Zephyr's signature Air Control Technology (ACT). This allows the installer to set the maximum fan CFM to align with local codes and regulations.
- Relatively quiet operation:
450 to 1,200 CFM, from 3.5 to 9 Sones. ACT activated: 350 to 590 CFM, from 3.3 to 6 Sones
What we dont like:
- Zephyr's confusing series names make it hard to follow the catalog
Overall, Zephyr hoods are as reliable as they come. The company offers a vast selection of range hoods: from downdrafts to a stylish pendant style, and evrything in between. Zephyr's augmented reality app even allows you to see what each hood would look llike in your unique living space.
4) Best Slide Out Range Hood: XO XOC36S
If you're on the hunt for a range hood that's out of sight when it's not in use, the XO XOC36S is a great choice. XO is a reliable brand with excellent service history. The company offers two year warranties as well as a money back guarantee.
This range hood is great if:
- You dont want to see a stainless steel hood in your kitchen
- You want to maximize cabinet availability above the coooking surface. Typical range hoods are at least seven to ten inches tall, which cuts down on the amount of kitchen cabinet space you can have in your kitchen.
- You have an induction or electric cooktop.
What we like:
- This hood comes in different sizes and two blower options. One option includes a 600 CFM blower and the other is specifically designed for make up air compliance.
What we don't like:
- This hood is not recommended for use over high-powered pro ranges and cooktops
- You still need to allocate space in the cabinet for this range, especially if you are recirculating instead of venting out.
XO offers a variety of affordable yet stylish range hoods, from chimney-style to hood inserts.
5) Best Downdraft Hood: Best D49M30SB Cattura
And finally, if you're looking for an effective downdraft hood, the Best D49M30SB Cattura is here to save the day! It's the only downdraft hood that extends 18 inches above the cooking surface. Most downdrafts usually cover about eight to ten inches, and are therefore, ineffective. With this model, efficiency will never be an issue.
This range hood is great if:
- You're looking for an effective downdraft hood.
- You want to accomodate a range or rangetop. Normally, you would not be able to opt for a downdraft hood on a ranges. However, Best Cattura's versatile instillation options make this a posibility.
What we like:
- The many installation options. Best is the only brand with this many options
- The Heat Sentry detects excessive heat and automatically adjusts the speed to high
- The Cattura downdraft moves air more quietly than any other downdraft on the market
- The filter maintenance reminder lights up to let you know when it's time to clean the filter
Best has their own make up air adjustment technology, similar to Zephyr. As we mentioned earlier, Broan, Best and Zephyr share are owned by the same parent company and therefore,share technology. As a rule of thumb, you can remember that Broan ranges are good, Zephyr's are better and more stylish, and Best offers the best quality and style options.
Best blowers are certified by HVI (home ventilating institute) for their performance.
A range hood is a great investment if you want to remove smells, smoke, and grease from your home. In addition, these decorative pieces add a touch of elegance to your kitchen and make it a visual focal point.
Who installs a range hood?
It is best to reach our to your contractor for your range hood installation unless you are simply replacing a 30-inch under cabinet range hood. For hoods 36-inches and wider it is best to avoid appliance installers from home improvement stores.
How can you prevent a grease fire in your kitchen?
In order to prevent a grease fire, it's integral to clean the mesh filter in the range hood on a regular basis. Grease fires are more prevalent in range hoods because one of their main functions is to collect the grease that is released while you are cooking. The range hood takes in this grease and traps it in a filter before blowing clean air out of the unit. Grease fires occur when built-up grease from the filters drop onto the hot cooktop surface. Grease can also build up on other areas of the range hood, so it's important to wipe it down regularly.