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Range Hood Buying Guide

Grease, moisture and heat from cooking can take a toll on your kitchen. Install a kitchen range hood for odor removal and ventilation. Our guide will help you choose the best range hood for your kitchen.

range hood buying guide

Range Hood Ventilation

Range Hood Buying Guide

If you’re replacing a range hood, take note of the size, shape and mounting type before going to the store.  The new hood should be at least as wide as the range or cooktop and preferably 3 inches longer on each side. The most common widths are 30 and 36 inches. Always read the specified requirements for the proper mounting height.

The most important decision you’ll make about the hood purchase is how to duct your hood. There are three options for exhaust:

Vented or Ducted

You can duct the hood to the outside, which is recommended, to completely remove 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.

Non-vented, Duct-free or Recirculated

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 performs effectively. This option requires no ducting.


These are hoods that allow either option, ducted or non-ducted. For the best ventilation results, duct to the outside.

Types of Range Hoods

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

Undercabinet Hoods

These attach to the underside of the cabinet above your range and could be called wall-mount if they mount to the wall instead of the cabinets. Undercabinet hoods come in many styles and strengths. Most can be ducted or non-ducted.

Chimney hoods mount to the wall above your range, but have a flue that goes up the wall to the ceiling. If you have cabinets above the range, you'll need to remove them for this type of hood to fit and function properly.

Wall-Mount Hoods

These hoods are similar in appearance to under cabinet hoods, except that they mount to the wall instead of the cabinets above.

Island Hoods

Island hoods hang from the ceiling over an island and could be called ceiling-mount or chimney hoods. These are the best way to ventilate when you have a cooktop on an island. Many styles are available, such as glass canopies, curved metal and traditionally styled hoods.

Downdraft Hoods

These hoods are hidden in the cooktop and pop up when in use to pull the steam and smoke horizontally across the range. They're a popular choice for islands since they don't require traditional installation that may block lines of vision.

Power Packs or Inserts

Power packs or inserts are hoods that are hidden — they're built into the cabinetry above the cooktop for a custom approach to venting. There are many options, so speak with a professional to find out which one would work best with your cabinets.

Pro Hoods

Pro hoods look like undercabinet hoods but are larger, more professional-looking and have more power than a typical undercabinet model. These are great for people who cook a lot and prefer the look of a bigger hood. They can be ducted or non-ducted and come in a variety of styles to support the exhaust choice.

Range Hood Strength

Range Hood Buying Guide

The power or air movement for range hoods is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute). If you do a lot of heavy cooking that involves 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. For example, if your burner output is 45,000 BTUs, look for a range hood that provides 450 CFM to best clear the air.

Filters for Range Hoods

Range Hood Buying Guide

A ducted hood uses aluminum filters to trap grease before smoke and odors are forced outside. Wash the aluminum mesh grease filters in your dishwasher every month depending on usage. Wash them more often if your cooking style generates significant amounts of grease (frying foods or wok cooking). A non-duct 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). Some hoods have filter indicator lights that will alert you when you need to change your filters.

Range Hood Sound Levels

The sound that a range hood makes is measured in sones. 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 range hood's CFM, the higher its sone rating is likely to be. Look for sone ratings to find the quietest hood at normal operation levels.

Other Range Hood Features

Automatic shutoff can be preset to shut the fan off after a specific time.

Change filter indicator lights alert the need for cleaning or changing the filter.

Heat Sentry™ or a heat sensor will automatically adjust the blower to high speed when the range hood detects excessive heat.

Lighting is included in most hoods, with options that include incandescent, fluorescent, halogen or LED (light-emitting diode) bulbs. Your range hood may have one to four lights to illuminate your cooking area. Hoods with a low light level setting are great for nighttime operation.

There are now several ENERGY STAR® qualified range hoods available in the undercabinet, chimney, pro and insert hood styles. 

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