There’s nothing like the smell of a great meal to fill your kitchen with delicious aromas. But cooking also produces grease, moisture, heat and smoke that can take a toll on your cabinets and walls over time. Consider installing a range hood for maximum odor removal and ventilation.
The most important decision you’ll make about the hood purchase is how to duct your hood. You'll see the most noticeable difference with a hood ducted to the outside. If you’re replacing a range hood, take note of the size and shape before going to the store.
There are three options for exhaust:
You can duct the hood to the outside, which is recommended, to completely remove the irritants. If your range hood mounts to an exterior wall, the exhaust ducts will be shorter and thus 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 to 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. Always read the manufacturer’s specifications carefully.
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 does its job. This option requires no ducting.
These are hoods that allow either option, ducted or nonducted. For the best ventilation results, duct to the outside.
There are many variations of hoods from which to choose.
Undercabinet hoods attach to the underside of the cabinet above your range. These come in many styles and strengths (from economy to high end). Most can be ducted or nonducted.
Chimney hoods attach to the wall above your hood. These have a flue that goes up the wall to the ceiling. If you have a cabinet above the range, you'll need to remove it for this type of hood to function. Chimney hoods can be very stylish and add a focal point to your kitchen. Many can be ducted or nonducted.
Pro hoods look like undercabinet hoods but are a bit bigger and have more power than a typical undercabinet. These are great for people who cook a lot and prefer the look of a bigger hood. They can be ducted or nonducted and may be shaped a little different depending on the exhaust choice.
Island hoods hang from the ceiling over an island. These are the best way to ventilate when you have a cooktop on the island.
Downdraft hoods are hidden but pop up when in use to pull the steam and smoke horizontally across the range. These are also popular for island applications and good if you don't want to have a hood hanging from the ceiling. Downdraft hoods don't install behind ovens because they're for use with cooktops.
Power packs or inserts are hoods that are hidden. They're built into the cabinetry above the cooktop. There are many options, so ask a Lowe's customer service associate to find out which one would work best with your cabinets.
The power or air movement for range hoods is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute). Choosing a range hood with higher CFM results in more air being moved out of the house, a plus for removing smoke and bad odors. If you do a lot of heavy cooking with steam or strong odors, get a range hood with at least 350 CFM. For high-output gas ranges or cooktops, the minimum rate of 1 CFM of ventilation per 100 BTU (British thermal units) is recommended.
The sound that a range hood makes is measured in sone. One sone is roughly equal to the sound of a refrigerator running. Normal conversations take place at about 4 sones, and light traffic rates up to around 8. Use sones to compare units, but be aware that the higher the CFM, the higher the sone rating is likely to be. Look for normal sone ratings to find the quietest hood at normal operation levels.
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. Wash them often if the cooking style generates greater grease (frying foods or wok cooking). A nonduct 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 (depending on cooking frequency) like air filters or water filters. Some hoods have filter indicator lights that will alert you when you need to change your filters.
For efficiency, the hood should be at least as wide as the range or cooktop and preferably 3 inches longer on each side. Measure your cooking surface before shopping for a range hood. Always read the specified requirements for the proper mounting height.
There are now several ENERGY STAR qualified range hoods available in the undercabinets, chimney, pro hood and insert.