The perfect range hood may not be at the top of your new kitchen or remodel wish list, but it should be. We’d argue that a good ventilation system belongs right up there along with the usual statement maker appliances like ranges and refrigerators. For reasons both practical and aesthetic, you don’t want to get too far into the design process without considering the best range hoods.
A high-quality range hood benefits your kitchen in two basic ways: It removes from the air all the unwanted odors, smoke, and grease particles that accumulate during cooking, and it adds an elegant design touch that will complement your dream kitchen. In fact, it’s that second element—the design appeal—that makes it so important to consider early on in the process. Your range hood just might become the focal point that inspires your whole kitchen’s look and feel.
People today want decorative and custom-designed range hood covers, notes Julie Gockeler, showroom director at KraftMaster Renovations, in Chatham, New Jersey. “I’m seeing fewer stainless steel orders and many more for wood that’s painted with detail, metal black, or an antiqued look,” she says. Those are just a few examples of what you can do; for more inspiration, see our recent projects.
We’ve got answers to all your basic questions about range hoods, so you can make a well-informed decision and move on to the fun stuff: focusing on your style.
What types of range hoods are there?
When people ask about range hoods (and yes, you do need one), they’re referring to an overall ventilation system made up of three components: the ducting, the hood (sometimes called a canopy), and the blower.
The Ducting: Vented vs. Nonvented (aka Ductless)
All kitchen ventilation systems fall into two broad categories based on how they’re ducted. They can be vented, in which case they pull air from the kitchen and direct it outside through a duct, or recirculating (aka ductless), which trap and filter air before releasing it back into the home. The one that’s best for you depends on your home’s floor plan. If you’re in an apartment or another living situation where you can’t vent outdoors, you may require a recirculating system. Otherwise, we recommend going with a vented system.
The Hood: You’ve Got Options
Once you determine how your system needs to be ducted, you can choose the second component: the type of hood. There are options for every layout and design style, no matter the size or scale of your kitchen.
- Under-the-cabinet hoods allow you to have storage over the hood but can be limited in size and power.
- Over-the-range microwaves with recirculating ventilation also allow for storage above. However, they often cover only 30 inches of space, not enough for effective air clearing.
- Space-conscious yet powerful options include a built-in range hood or hood insert, which also fit into your cabinets, or a downdraft model, which pops up out of your countertop.
- A wall-mounted vent hood or an island range hood are the visual showstoppers that you can really customize.
From an aesthetic standpoint, we find that range hoods larger than the actual cooking range make a visual statement. They also happen to remove cooking fumes more efficiently.
The Blower: Inline or External
This is your ventilation system’s power element, the motor that pulls all the air out of your kitchen. It can be inline (situated in a crawl space or attic, and ducted from the hood to the blower to outside) or external (mounted to the roof or side of the house). Keep in mind that the farther the blower gets from the kitchen, the quieter the hood will run.
What is the quietest range hood?
Speaking of noise: Ventilation systems are measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), and can vary from under 100 to over 1,200 CFMs. Code requirements vary from state to state, but a ventilation unit rated for 400 CFMs will be plenty for most homes with a standard four-burner range. Of course, if you cook frequently—especially on a gas range, which creates more fumes—you should consider investing in a more powerful system.
With the caveat that there is no such thing as a noiseless ventilation system, we recommend looking for brands that market their ventilation hoods as quiet hoods. Some brands measure noise output in sones (1 sone is 28 decibels, similar to a refrigerator’s low hum), from 2 to 8 sones. In that case, for example, a good choice would be a unit rated for 600 CFMs with a sone rating of 2.
What is the latest range hood technology?
A significant new feature we love is the automatic heat detection that some range hoods offer. They sense when you’re cooking and turn on automatically, saving you the of having to remember to hit the switch.
What does a good range hood cost?
The cheapest range hoods on the market run less than $100, while high-end ones can easily exceed $5,000 for the ventilation components alone.
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SIDENOTE. This post was last modified on August 2, 2021. However, we regularly update our content as we test more products and new models are released. We also listen to the feedback of our customers and make changes to our product recommendations based on their experiences. So don’t be surprised if you see some old comments below! Since reader comments contribute to the topic, we have decided not to delete them.