A ductless range hood, also called a recirculating range hood, is an excellent way to improve the air quality in kitchens without a duct system. These hoods clear the air by filtering out smoke and particles before recirculating the clean air throughout the kitchen. Hoods are made in different designs to use in various kitchen layouts.
The best recirculating range hoods move a lot of air, but less-efficient models can be so loud that they rival the noise of a busy highway. However, a good design helps keep noise levels under about 65 decibels (dB). Designs range from under-cabinet types and inserts to wall-mounted hoods that convert for ducted or ductless use. The best ductless range hood circulates a high volume of air, filters well, and doesn’t deafen the room with noise.
- BEST OVERALL: Broan-NuTone 413004 Non-Ducted Ductless Range Hood
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Cosmo COS-5MU30 30-Inch Under Cabinet Range Hood
- UPGRADE PICK: Fotile 30-Inch Under-Cabinet or Wall-Mount Range Hood
- BEST WALL MOUNT: Zline 30-Inch Wall-Mounted Range Hood
- BEST INSERT: Ekon 30-Inch Range Hood Insert
- BEST ISLAND RANGE HOOD: Cosmo 668ICS750 30-Inch Island Mount Range Hood
- BEST SMALL: Broan-NuTone PM300SS Range Hood Insert
- BEST LARGE: IKTCH 36-Inch Wall-Mount Range Hood
Before Buying a Ductless Range Hood
Before shopping for a ductless range hood, consider the kitchen’s existing layout and design. If the goal is simply to add extra filtering to an existing duct system, convertible models are available that can be configured for both uses or switch between the two. This type of hood is also a good choice for those who may want to add a duct system later or when moving to a new home. Not all ducted range hoods are convertible, and those that are may require an additional carbon filter or recirculating kit. Before buying, make sure to ensure you know the correct measurements and configuration for the hood.
How We Chose the Best Ductless Range Hoods
Ductless range hoods serve a niche sector in kitchen appliances. They’re a good choice for small homes, apartments, and kitchens without an existing duct system. When compiling this list, we considered the cubic feet per minute (CFM), the installation type, finishes, filters, and extra features.
We looked for models with a CFM range between 200 to 600. Fans within that range can move a good deal of air to remove smoke and grease. Finding models with easy installation was an important consideration, but we also looked at how well the installation type fits with the hood’s overall effectiveness and design.
Models that came with extra finishes got bonus points because they add versatility. Washable, reusable filters reduce the overall cost of the hood, but we also considered how well the filters work with the overall hood design. Finally, the extra features, such as heat sensors, touch screens, and lighting, played into our final choices. These devices are equally suitable for either an electric or a gas stove.
Our Top Picks
The range hoods on our list, which come from trusted brands, include convertible, insert, under-cabinet, wall-mounted, and kitchen island designs. These models offer reliability, excellent air circulation, and impressive filtration.
This Broan-NuTone comes from arguably the industry’s leading range-hood brand. While this is one of its more affordable models it still performs well and doesn’t skimp on appearance. It comes in several finishes, including stainless steel. Users report that the two fan speeds do an excellent job of removing steam with effective filters that keep smoke from permeating the kitchen. At high speed, it gets a little noisy but not prohibitively so.
Two separate rocker switches control the fan and lights; the lights require an A19 bulb, which doesn’t come with the hood. Broan-NuTone doesn’t include this mode’s CFM or decibels, but most users find the two fan speeds to be effective.
- Mounting type: Under-cabinet
- Fan speeds: 2
- Material: Stainless steel
- A stylish, effective, and affordable option from arguably the industry’s top brand
- Efficient 2-speed fan, and permanently lubricated motor for long service life
- Comes in 4 finishes to better blend in with individual kitchen decor
- A19 bulbs sold separately; only has 1 light setting
Get the Broan-NuTone 413004 ductless range hood at Amazon, Lowe’s, or Walmart.
Cosmo enjoys a good reputation for its budget-friendly range hoods, both ducted and ductless. This convertible model can connect to an existing duct system or be fitted with a conversion kit to work ductless. It offers good ventilation with a three-speed fan. It’s also equipped with bright LED lights that illuminate the range top but reduce energy use.
The slim profile makes the Cosmo a good choice for crowded or small kitchens, though it also adds a sleek look to a full-size modern kitchen. It runs at a decent 56 dB; not the quietest, but it won’t drown out conversation. This model functions better in the ductless mode, since the exhaust system isn’t quite as powerful as the ventilation. It has dishwasher-safe aluminum mesh filters to catch grease, and it’s compatible with a carbon filter kit. However, the kit is a separate purchase.
- Mounting type: Convertible under-cabinet
- Fan speeds: 3
- Material: Stainless steel
- A sleek, budget-friendly stainless steel model with versatile fitting options
- Simple 5-button control panel for 3 fan speeds, and energy-efficient LED lighting
- Washable aluminum mesh filters trap grease and oil, and carbon filter reduces odors
- The carbon filter kit recommended for ductless operation is not included
Get the Cosmo under-cabinet ductless range hood at Amazon, or Wayfair.
For those ready to splurge, the Fotile range hood brings power and convenience to the kitchen. This wall-mounted range hood has a 90-degree open baffle plate to better ventilate and recirculate air. It’s fitted with two DC motors to increase extraction, operating at 580 CFM (at max fan speed). Despite all that power, it runs at a very quiet 38.5 dB (at lowest fan speed).
It’s equipped with infrared technology that allows starting or stopping the fan with the wave of a hand. It has a touch screen to operate the delayed shut-off feature and stir-fry mode, as well as four fan speeds. The grease tray and filter remove for easy cleaning.
- Mounting type: Under cabinet or wall mount
- Fan speeds: 4
- Material: Tempered glass
- Dual high-performance motors produce 580 CFM at just 38.5 dB
- Infrared control technology with touch screen, and motion-sensing activation
- Washable filter removes 95 percent of airborne grease and 98 percent of odors
- It is very expensive; made from tempered glass but not stainless steel
Get the Fotile ductless range hood at Amazon, Lowe’s, or at The Home Depot.
The ZLine range hood brings a professional look to the kitchen with its brushed stainless steel construction. It also comes in 30-, 36-, 42-, and 48-inch models. The four-speed fan maxes out at an impressive 400 CFM, which is enough ventilation for large ranges and heavy cooking. It’s also equipped with dishwasher-safe baffle filters that remove grease, and it comes with two bright lights.
This model is convertible, so it can connect to a duct system or be used with an optional charcoal filter. Every model is configured for both uses, so users can decide if they want to switch between the two or use the charcoal filter full time.
Installation requires ceilings that fall in the 7- to 12-foot range. However, extension kits are available for shorter or taller ceilings. The range hood looks more expensive than it is, but one way the manufacturer saves money is by using spot welds on the back side. In some circumstances, the spot welds can cause warping.
- Mounting type: Wall
- Fan speeds: 4
- Material: Brushed stainless steel
- Classic wall-mounted design offers luxury appeal at a reasonable price
- Features include 4-speed fan, directional LED lighting, and delayed shutoff
- Removable stainless steel baffle filters are dishwasher-safe for grease removal
- Self-installation recommended for experienced DIYers only
Get the ZLine ductless range hood at Amazon,The Home Depot, or Appliances Connection.
There are two standout features of the Ekon ductless range hood. The first is that it’s easy to fit and tucks discreetly under kitchen cabinetry; it could go unnoticed at a glance. The second is the performance. It has four speeds, giving an impressive maximum of 900 CFM, which is a considerably greater airflow than many rivals and results in the rapid removal of grease, smoke, and odors. The downside is that at full speed the noise level is 65 dB, which is enough to make itself noticed.
Easy-to-use touch controls include a 15-minute timer, and there are twin LEDs that adjust for angle and intensity. Filters are permanent rather than disposable and are dishwasher-safe for cleaning.
- Mounting type: Convertible insert
- Fan speeds: 4
- Material: Stainless steel
- High-performance model that tucks away discreetly beneath kitchen cabinetry
- Touch controls for 4-speed motor, timer, and adjustable LED lighting
- Permanent grease filters are easy to remove for cleaning and are dishwasher-safe
- Some may find it hard to read the display at eye level
Get the Ekon ductless range hood insert at Amazon or Wayfair.
This island mount range hood has soft-touch controls on a digital touch screen mounted in the stainless steel housing. That screen provides easy control over the three fan speeds that max out at 380 CFM. A glass visor accents the stainless steel for a modern look. It’s fitted with ARC-FLOW permanent filters that trap grease, which are dishwasher-safe. They’re supported by additional disposable aluminum mesh filters. LED lights illuminate the range and save on energy costs.
This convertible model requires a carbon filter kit, which may be sold separately. At low speed it runs at just 45 dB; however, at high speed it can reach almost 65 dB, so expect some noise with this model.
- Mounting type: Island
- Fan speeds: 3
- Material: Stainless steel and tempered glass
- Attractive glass and stainless steel design with soft-touch digital controls
- Features include 3 fan speeds, clock, timer, and high-efficiency LED lighting
- Stainless steel ARC-FLOW filters are permanent rather than disposable and are machine washable
- The carbon filter kit may cost extra, though this depends on the retailer
Get the Cosmo island-mount ductless range hood at Amazon, The Home Depot (with carbon filter kit included), or Appliances Connection.
When space is restricted, a compact ductless range hood like the Broan-NuTone PM300SS insert can be an ideal solution. At just 21 inches wide it will fit into even small kitchen cabinets, and installation is very straightforward. Despite its size, the two-speed motor still produces up to 300 CFM, which is ample for many modern homes and apartments.
A stainless steel liner is available for installation, though this costs extra and isn’t entirely necessary as direct fitting into cabinets is possible.The low-profile design also takes up very little valuable storage space. Heat-resistant LED lighting means you can always see what’s cooking, and the quick-detach filters are dishwasher-safe.
- Mounting type: Insert
- Fan speeds: 2
- Material: Stainless steel
- Compact, affordable, and surprisingly powerful for its size
- Has a very low profile and is easy to fit, even in small cabinets
- ADA compliant with remote control wall unit (at extra cost)
- Liners are expensive and not included, though the range hood can fit directly into cabinets in some cases
Get the Broan-NuTone PM300SS ductless range hood at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
For those who think big is beautiful, the IKTCH 36-inch wall-mounted range hood is an excellent choice. The four-speed motor produces up to 900 CFM. That’s as powerful as anything we looked at, and it provides efficient extraction for even the most enthusiastic chefs.
Few competitors match the ease of control offered with this model. There’s a soft-touch panel for all the important features, but simple gestures can turn it on and off or adjust speed if hands are dirty from cooking. Twin point verification means it can’t be activated by accident. There’s also a hand-held remote. The IKTCH ductless range hood does cost a little more than some, and it’s important to check ceiling height as an extension is not available.
- Mounting type: Wall
- Fan speeds: 4
- Material: Stainless steel
- Big, beautiful, and powerful extractor makes a statement in any enthusiastic chef’s kitchen
- Touch panel plus gesture sensing for fan speed; also comes with a hand-held remote control
- Up to 900 CFM for rapid grease and odor removal through 3 dishwasher-safe filters
- Ceiling height must be 7.5 to 10 feet because extensions are not available
Get the IKTCH ductless range hood at Amazon, Lowe’s, or The Home Depot.
What to Consider When Choosing a Ductless Range Hood
Ductless range hoods are available in options ranging from different designs to filter systems, so shoppers have a few key decisions to make. Also consider the kitchen layout, size, and style.
Ducted vs. Ductless
Ducted and ductless range hoods may look similar, but the way they work is quite different. A ducted range hood sucks air out of the kitchen and moves it throughout an exhaust system, almost like a kitchen chimney. It’s typically mounted to the wall, with the duct running straight up and out through the ceiling and roof. Open ducted range hoods and those that hide the hood’s duct system in the kitchen cabinetry also are available.
Ductless range hoods may look similar to a ducted system, but they don’t send air directly out of the kitchen; instead, they filter the air to remove odors and harmful particles. Then they recirculate the air back into the kitchen. Filter systems vary, but most include a carbon or charcoal filter to remove odors and a mesh/baffle filter to remove grease and other large particles.
CFM and Suction
Airflow is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). A CFM between 200 to 400 is usually adequate for the average kitchen, while larger kitchens and ranges may need up to 600 CFM. A higher CFM also means the hood has more suction power.
Users also can adjust the range hood’s speed. Three speeds is standard, but some models have more. Adjustable speeds provide control over both airflow and noise levels. The fan’s suction power also affects how efficiently the hood removes particles from grease and smoke before they escape into the kitchen. Having several speed settings lets users adapt the amount of suction to the food being cooked.
Ductless range hoods come in various sizes, including 24, 30, 36, 42, and 48 inches. The range hood’s size generally should match the size of the range surface area. However, hoods up to 6 inches wider than the range are available for additional odor removal. You might not need a hood that’s larger than the range surface area if the hood has a high CFM, which moves more air at once than a lower CFM model.
Carefully measure the width of the range, and choose a ductless range hood that matches those measurements. A range in the right size has the power to match the cooking surface area. Once installed, the hood should be 28 to 36 inches above the cooking surface.
When considering size, also think about installation and design type. Depending on the type of range hood and your DIY skills, installing a range hood can be an easy home improvement project. Ductless models are made in four basic types:
- Under-cabinet: Under-cabinet range hoods attach to the underside of a cabinet. Their slim profile brings versatile options to many kitchen layouts.
- Wall mounted: Wall-mounted hoods have a funnel shape. Many of these models are convertible in that they can connect to a duct system or function ductless.
- Inserts: Ductless range hood inserts fit into a hood that’s already in place or are custom-built to fit the insert. These hoods typically match the surrounding cabinetry.
- Island hoods: An island hood hangs down from the ceiling, so all four sides of it are visible.
The best stove vent hood accepts two types of filters—carbon charcoal and mesh/baffle. Some ductless hoods have both, while others may have only a carbon charcoal filter. The terms “carbon filter” or “charcoal filter” describe the same kind of filter. Carbon charcoal filters have a high surface area in a small amount of space. Within that surface area, the carbon absorbs tiny particles like smoke to remove odors.
In contrast, mesh or baffle filters remove large particles, such as fat, grease, and other contaminants. They’re made of aluminum or stainless steel. Some are dishwasher-safe and reusable, while others are disposable. Many hoods have both filter types: The mesh/baffle removes the larger particulates, and the carbon filter removes fine odor-related particulates.
Hood filters require regular maintenance. When the filter is full, it must be cleaned or replaced every few months. Cleaning and replacement frequency depends on how much cooking and the kind of cooking that’s done in the kitchen. As a rule of thumb, the filters should be cleaned at least every 6 months.
Noise levels, measured in decibels (dB), can make or break a ductless range hood. A model that’s too loud can sound like an airplane taking off; however, any model will make some noise. Ductless range hoods also must manage humidity, which requires a powerful motor to pull the humidity through the hood.
Consequently, ductless range hoods have powerful motors equipped with noise-reduction technology. The best kitchen exhaust fan produces around 40 dB, while louder models get closer to 60 to 65 dB.
Today’s ductless range hoods may include some handy extra features, such as:
- Lighting: Built-in lights illuminate the cooking area, making it easier to see the status of food to prevent overcooking or undercooking. LED lights are the most energy-efficient type, but many range hoods are equipped with fluorescent or incandescent lights.
- Heat sensors: Heat sensors detect temperature and automatically adjust the hood’s fan speed accordingly.
- Auto shutoff: Hoods with auto shutoff turn off after a preprogrammed amount of time.
- Control panel: Control panels may have manual or digital clocks or timers. Some models have touch screens to control the fan and lights from a single control panel. Others may have a simple switch or two to control the fan speed and lights.
Installation and Mounting Height
Under-cabinet hoods are the easiest to install. Wall-mounted models take a little more work and DIY know-how to attach the hood. Those that also connect to a duct system may require professional installation. Island ductless range hoods are more difficult to install than under-cabinet models and are almost as difficult to install as wall-mounted hoods.
All these hood types require 28 to 36 inches between the range surface and the range hood to prevent overheating and provide plenty of suction area for the fan to collect grease, odors, and air.
The Advantages of Owning a Ductless Range Hood
Ductless range hoods have some distinct advantages. They’re versatile because they can be installed in a number of places. They can fit under cabinets, on a wall, or above an island. These ductless models clean and recirculate the air, putting clean air back into the kitchen. This process removes harmful particulates from the breathable air. A ductless design also provides versatility. Should you decide to remodel, the ductless range hood can move to a different location, whereas a ducted model must stay with the duct system.
Tips for Maintaining and Cleaning a Ductless Range Hood
Read through the owner’s manual as soon as the hood is installed to learn the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions and tips. Maintaining the filters and filtration system regularly helps keep the hood in good working order, and this should include cleaning the hood’s exterior and checking the filters. Filters need to be replaced or cleaned at least every 6 months and more often in homes where frequent cooking occurs.
- Clean the filters at least every 6 months.
- Keep extra bulbs on hand for models with built-in lighting.
- Clean the exterior of the hood with an appropriate cleaner.
A ductless range hood can make your kitchen a pleasant place to cook. The hoods get rid of smoke and odors so you can enjoy time preparing meals and chatting with family. However, many decisions go into picking a hood. We’ve answered a few more questions to help you choose.
Q. Is a recirculating range hood any good?
Yes, recirculating range hoods, another name for ductless range hoods, are a good option for certain kitchens. If you don’t have a duct system in place, have limited space or limited layout options, these hoods can be an ideal way to clean the air.
Q. Are charcoal filters effective in range hoods?
Yes, charcoal filters, the same types of filters in air purifiers, are very effective in range hoods because of their large absorbent surface area. Tiny particles are absorbed into the surface of the charcoal, pulling them out of the breathable air.
Q. Do ductless range hoods plug in?
Yes, ductless range hoods have a plug that supplies electricity for the motor. The motor powers the fan and any other electric features like lights or a control panel. Some are hard-wired or offer a choice of either wired or plugged in.
Q. Can I install a range hood without a vent?
You can install a range hood without a vent. These ductless hoods filter and recirculate the air rather than removing it through an exhaust system.
Q. How do I wire a ductless range hood?
To wire the range hood, start by consulting the owner’s manual. The manufacturer provides suggestions and wiring options. Wiring depends on the type of hood. For example, an under-cabinet model may require mounting with plastic anchors.
Q. Do ductless range hoods meet code?
Ductless range hoods meet code. They’re an exception to codes that require hoods to vent to the outdoors.