The Verdict on Vented vs Non-Vented Range Hoods
And What To Look For When Shopping For A Range Hood
The thing about cooking—especially frying and grilling—is that it can kick up a lot of smoke, grease, and lingering food smells. A range hood helps keep the air in your kitchen clean.
What are the different types of range hoods?
Range hoods come in several styles: Under-cabinet hoods are mounted on the bottom of a kitchen cabinet that’s directly over the stove. A wall chimney hood (or wall-mounted hood) is installed on the wall when there’s no cabinet over the stove. An island (or ceiling-mounted) hood is attached to the ceiling over a stove that sits on an island or peninsula. Most of these overhead hoods include lighting that illuminates your cooktop, and all of these styles can be found vented or unvented.
Range hoods also come in several prices! Cost Helper Appliances found that an under-cabinet range hood can cost $30-$150 for a basic model, possibly with a light.
More durable under-cabinet range hoods with quieter motors and stronger airflow cfm (cubic feet per minute) typically cost $200-$1,000, depending on size, materials and options like a thermostat control or adjustable fan speeds.
A high-end under-cabinet model can cost $1,100-$3,000 or more with features like a stainless steel finish or a variable-speed exhaust fan. For example, the 29.87″ wide GE Undercabinet Range Hood stainless steel with a 2 speed fan and light costs $129; while the Broan Under Cabinet 36″ Stainless Steel Range Hood costs $339 with 300 cfm, two-position light switch, three-speed fan that’s tap-touch activated.
Another type of range ventilation is the downdraft system, which sits beside or behind the stovetop and sucks air down to a duct that runs under the floor. These look great because they’re barely visible (they can even be retracted when not in use), but they don’t work as well as overhead hoods.
Microwaves with Build-In Hoods
And lastly, while they’re not strictly range hoods, microwave ovens designed to be mounted over the range generally come with a hood, either vented or unvented, to recirculate air from the cooktop.
What do I need to consider when I’m buying a range hood?
There are a number of factors to weigh, depending on the size and layout of your kitchen, and the type of cooking you do. Some things to consider:
- Size: The hood needs to cover the entire area of the range top to capture emissions from all the burners, so measure the size of your range before you start shopping.
- CFM: This refers to how powerful the fan is. It stands for cubic feet per minute, a measure of how long it takes for the air in the room to pass through the range hood. If you have a large kitchen and/or a professional range, you’ll need a more powerful fan.
- Noise level: There’s probably no such thing as a quiet range hood, but some are noisier than others, generally depending on how powerful the fan is. Check the specs and compare different models.
- Type of filters: If you’re sourcing an unvented hood, all models have replaceable charcoal filters to clean the air of odors and fumes. They also have multi-layered baffle or mesh filters that trap grease particles; these can often be cleaned in the dishwasher.
- Design: A range hood, especially an island hood that drops down from the ceiling, is a high-profile addition to your kitchen. A number of designers are making high-end European-style range hoods that look more like sculptures than appliances. Because a range hood is so visible, you’ll want to find one that fits your aesthetic.
You’ll also want to consider such features as adjustable fan speeds and lighting levels (usually halogen or LED), and perhaps automatic shutoff. As always, look for product reviews on consumer websites, and read user comments on the retail sites before you buy.