How to Find the Best Range Hood for Your Home

Installing a range hood is the most effective solution to address issues related to cooking grease, moisture, and heat in your kitchen. There is a variety of options and styles available for built-ins, ranges, and islands, allowing you to discover the ideal solution for your kitchen.

Range Hood Ventilation

When replacing or installing a kitchen hood vent, it’s crucial to consider the size, shape, and mounting type before heading to the store. Ensure that the new hood is at least as wide as the range or cooktop, with a preference for being 3 inches longer on each side. Common widths are 30 and 36 inches. For optimal performance, place the hood 20 to 24 inches away from an electric cooktop and 24 to 30 inches from a gas cooktop. Always adhere to specified requirements for the correct mounting height.

The most significant decision in purchasing a stove vent hood is determining the ducting method. There are three options for exhaust:

Vented or Ducted

You can make your range hood vented, sending the air outside, which is better for getting rid of irritants. If your hood is on an outside wall, shorter ducts work better. If it’s on an inside wall or island, go for a stronger unit because the air has to travel a longer distance. Getting the ductwork installed right is important for the hood to work well.

Nonvented, Duct-Free or Recirculated

You can choose nonvented, duct-free, or recirculated hoods, and they all mean the same thing. It’s when the air goes through a charcoal filter to catch irritants and then comes back into the kitchen. Just remember to change the filters every few months to keep the hood working well. This option doesn’t need any ducts.


Convertible hoods can do both ducted and nonducted. For better ventilation, it’s recommended to duct it to the outside.

Types of Range Hoods

There are many variations of range hoods from which to choose.

Undercabinet Hoods

These hoods connect beneath the cabinet above your range, and if they mount on the wall rather than the cabinets, they may be referred to as wall-mount hoods. Undercabinet hoods are available in various styles and strengths, suitable for both ducted and nonducted configurations.

Wall-Mount Hoods

Similar to undercabinet hoods, these mount on the wall instead of the cabinets above.

Chimney Hoods

Chimney hoods can be installed on the wall above your range or suspended from the ceiling over an island. They feature a flue that extends up the wall to the ceiling. If there are cabinets above the range, they must be removed to ensure proper fitting and functioning of this hood type.

Island Hoods

Hang from the ceiling over an island, ideal for ventilating island cooktops. Available in different styles like glass canopies and curved metal.

Downdraft Hoods

Downdraft hoods are concealed within the cooktop, emerging when in use to draw steam and smoke horizontally across the range. They are a favored option for islands, as they eliminate the need for conventional installations that might obstruct lines of vision.

Range Hood Inserts

Hidden in cabinetry above the cooktop, these provide a custom venting approach. Consult with a professional for the right fit.

Pro Hoods

Larger and more powerful than undercabinet hoods, these professional-looking models are suitable for avid cooks. They offer ducted or nonducted options in various styles.

Custom Range Hoods

Personalize your kitchen with custom hoods, choosing finishes, colors, and performance features for a perfect match with your cooktop or range.

Over-the-Range Microwaves

A space-saving alternative used in place of or alongside traditional hood fans. For optimal ventilation, duct to the outside instead of recirculating the air.

Range Hood Strength

The airflow or power of range hoods is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). If you frequently engage in heavy cooking with steam or potent odors, opt for a range hood with a minimum of 350 CFM. For high-output gas ranges or cooktops, it’s advised to have a ventilation rate of at least 1 CFM per 100 British thermal units (BTU). For instance, if your high-output burner generates 45,000 BTU, look for a range hood offering 450 CFM for effective air clearance. However, keep in mind that a higher CFM will result in a louder hood operation.

Filters for Range Hoods

A hood with ducting utilizes aluminum filters to capture grease before expelling smoke and odors outside. Clean the aluminum mesh grease filters in your dishwasher on a monthly basis, adjusting frequency based on usage. If you frequently cook with a significant amount of grease, like in a fryer or wok, consider washing them more frequently. On the other hand, a non-duct hood employs charcoal filters to trap grease and smaller particles, preventing them from circulating back into the kitchen. These charcoal filters are not washable and should be replaced every few months, depending on how often you cook. Some hoods come with filter indicator lights to notify you when it’s time for a filter replacement.

Range Hood Sound Levels

The noise produced by a range hood is quantified in sones, with one sone being approximately equivalent to the sound of a running refrigerator. Everyday conversations typically occur at around 4 sones, and light traffic noise can go up to approximately 8 sones. When comparing units, use sonos as a reference, but keep in mind that higher CFM in a range hood tends to correlate with a higher sone rating. For all-around usage, the best range hoods are those that maintain quiet operation at normal levels.

Other Range Hood Features

  • Automatic Shutoff: Can be pre-programmed to turn off the fan after a set duration.
  • Change Filter Indicator Lights: Signal when it’s time to clean or replace the filter.
  • Heat Sentry™ or Heat Sensor: Automatically adjusts the blower to high speed upon detecting excessive heat.
  • Lighting Options: Most hoods come with built-in lighting, offering choices like incandescent, fluorescent, halogen, or LED bulbs. Some hoods feature one to four lights for illuminating the cooking area, with low-light-level settings for nighttime operation.
  • Wi-Fi Capability: Enables access and control of the unit through your smart device.
  • ENERGY STAR® Certification: Available in various hood styles, ensuring energy-efficient operation.