Without a range hood, the smoke, odors, and grease produced when you cook will linger in your kitchen, resulting in unpleasant smells and poor air quality. Installing a range hood above your cooktop can help. A range hood draws in cooking grease, moisture, and heat, then either filters and recirculates it or directs it outdoors. The best range hoods improve the ventilation in your home and keep the air clear.
Read on to learn more about the types of range hoods and how they work in order to help choose the best one for your kitchen.
- BEST OVERALL: Hauslane | Chef Series PS18 Under Cabinet Range Hood
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Broan-NuTone 413004 Non-Ducted Ductless Range Hood
- BEST FOR KITCHEN ISLAND: Cosmo 668ICS750 30 in. Island Mount Range Hood
- BEST CONVERTIBLE: CIARRA CAS75502 Glass Vent Hood
- BEST WALL MOUNT: Cosmo 63175S 30 in. Wall Mount Range Hood
- BEST FOR GAS STOVE: IKTCH 30-inch Wall Mount Range Hood
Types of Range Hoods
There are a number of styles of range hoods available. The best range hood for you depends on your needs and your kitchen’s layout.
Wall Mount Range Hoods
Wall mount range hoods are installed above your stove in place of cabinetry. While they are typically ducted, ductless and convertible models are also available. They have a chimney-like shape and exposed vent stacks, which lends an industrial look to your kitchen.
Island Range Hoods
Those who have a cooktop in their kitchen island require island range hoods, which are installed above kitchen islands or peninsulas and vented through your kitchen’s ceiling. It is recommended that an island range hood be at least 6 inches wider than your stovetop because they lack cabinets on either side to aid in directing air toward the hood.
Range Hood Inserts
Range hood inserts, which are sometimes referred to as power packs, are used when designing custom kitchens. They are built to match your cabinetry and blend into the decor of your kitchen.
Under-Cabinet Range Hoods
Under-cabinet range hoods are installed on the underside of your upper cabinetry. They can be either ducted or ductless. In ducted models, air is taken in and exhausted through vents in the adjoining wall or directed toward vents in the ceiling.
Professional-Grade Range Hoods
Professional-grade range hoods are suitable for the avid home cook who wants restaurant-quality ventilation in the kitchen. They typically feature powerful exhaust fans that expel air at high speeds.
Microwave Range Hoods
Many over-the-range microwaves come equipped with ventilation capabilities. Microwave range hoods can be either ducted or ductless, and they are typically less powerful than stand-alone range hoods.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Range Hood
Before you choose a range hood for your kitchen, consider these key factors. Though you might assume that all range hoods work the same way, several characteristics can affect their functionality. Keep reading to learn about some of the most important qualities to keep in mind when shopping for the best range hood.
Hood size is an important factor to keep in mind because unless you’re completely redesigning your kitchen, your range hood will have to fit within specific dimensions. Generally speaking, your range hood should be at least as wide as your cooktop. The standard width of a kitchen range is 30 inches, and therefore most range hoods on the market also measure 30 inches wide. While this size works for most kitchens, those with larger ranges or custom-designed kitchens may prefer larger models.
Ducted vs. Ductless
The primary decision shoppers need to make when purchasing a range hood is whether they want a ducted or ductless model.
- Ducted (or vented) range hoods draw in air particles from your kitchen and vent them outdoors through ductwork. They are effective at eliminating smoke and odors but require the installation of ducts and are not compatible with every kitchen layout.
- Ductless (or recirculating) range hoods filter and then circulate air back into your home. While they are less effective at eliminating smoke and cooking odors, they are much easier to install. They have filters that need to be regularly cleaned and changed in order to maintain their efficacy. They are typically available at much lower price points than ducted range hoods.
- Convertible range hoods can be used either with ducts or without, providing a versatile option that suits some buyers. They typically require you to purchase a recirculating kit that converts a ducted hood into a ductless hood.
Manufacturers measure the power of their ducted range hoods in cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air exhausted. Simply put, the higher the CFM, the more powerful the range hood. One way that experts recommend to establish the CFM you need in your range hood is to divide the British thermal units (BTU) of your stovetop by 100. So if your range has an output of 30,000 BTU, you should look for a range hood with a CFM of 300. As a general rule, range hoods with CFMs between 300 and 500 will provide adequate ventilation for most kitchens.
While CFM measures the speed at which air is ventilated, it doesn’t necessarily qualify how effectively it is removed or redistributed. So while CFM is important, it’s not the only factor to consider.
Most range hoods feature between one and six fan speeds. A model with at least two speeds is ideal because it allows users to choose a faster speed while cooking and a slower speed to continue to ventilate the air afterward. While some manufacturers tout several speed options, it’s not really necessary to have more than three.
Some range hoods come equipped with additional features.
- Exhaust timers automatically turn off the fan after a certain number of minutes.
- Temperature sensors turn on the range hood’s fan automatically when they detect heat.
- Range hoods equipped with LED lights will save energy and require replacing less frequently.
- Change filter indicator lights let you know when the filter needs to be switched.
- Wi-Fi capability lets you control your range hood with a smartphone or smart home system.
Due to their placement above your stovetop, range hoods can act as a visual centerpiece in your kitchen. They come in a variety of finishes and can either stand out or blend in with your cabinetry and fixtures depending on which style you choose. Stainless steel is a popular choice for range hoods because it’s easy to clean and matches many ranges and other appliances. White range hoods show dirt more easily but work well with white cabinetry and appliances.
The level of noise a range hood produces is typically measured in sones. The sound your refrigerator makes is approximately one sone. Four sones is the level of the average conversation. Some manufacturers instead measure the sound output of their range hoods in decibels. Anything under 65 decibels (or 13 sones) should be a tolerable level of noise while cooking. It’s important to keep in mind though that more powerful range hoods with high CFM tend to be louder.
Installation of ductless range hoods is relatively simple and typically doesn’t necessitate hiring a professional. Most people do, however, choose to hire a contractor to put in ducted range hoods because they require a more complex installation process. Ducted models have vents at either the top or back, facilitating different styles of installation.
Our Top Picks
Now that you know more about range hoods, it’s time to start shopping. This list offers a variety of choices for a top-notch range hood that suits your needs and budget.
Hauslane’s under-cabinet range hood would be well suited to just about any kitchen. With six speed options and a maximum airflow of 860 CFM, this ducted option can handle output from both gas and electric stoves. Despite its high fan strength, however, it has a low sound output, with a maximum output of 3.8 sones—slightly higher than the noise level in an average library.
This range hood has three exhaust options, with adapters included to fit most vent styles. It’s also fairly low maintenance, boasting a button-free LED control panel that’s easy to wipe clean and dishwasher-safe permanent filters.
This model is available in stainless steel, matte black, and matte white finishes, providing an option to complement most kitchens.
While ducted range hoods may be more powerful than ductless options, they’re not well suited to every home. Renters and those whose stoves are not placed against exterior walls will be well served by this model by Broan-NuTone.
This is a simple range hood with two speeds, which functions by filtering the air and recirculating it into your kitchen. Available in five color options, including stainless steel, black, biscuit, bisque, and white, it can complement a variety of kitchen styles and decors.
If your range isn’t situated against a wall, the Cosmo Island Mount Range Hood is worth a look. This range hood attaches to the ceiling, making it well suited to kitchens with ranges installed in a kitchen island or peninsula. With a suction of 380 CFM, it’s powerful enough to be compatible with most electric cooktops. It can be converted for ductless use with the purchase of a filter kit, making this range hood a versatile pick.
This range hood is 30 inches wide and includes energy-efficient LED lights and dishwasher-safe permanent stainless steel filters. It features three speeds, with the highest speed having a sound level of 65 decibels—about the same level as a conversation in a restaurant or office.
If having a range hood that can be used as either a ducted or ductless ventilation system is a priority for you, this tempered-glass model from CIARRA is worth considering. This contemporary, sleek wall-mounted option can be used either way, although the ductless mode does require the purchase of separate carbon filters.
With a CFM of 450, this range hood is suitable for most kitchens with electric stovetops. Its tempered-glass and stainless steel construction offers a stylish touch while also making this range hood easy to clean and lengthening its lifespan. It includes three fan speeds and a touch-control panel.
This wall-mounted range hood from Cosmo is a great option for people with electric stoves. With three speed options, it has a CFM of 380 when operating at the highest speed. At the highest setting, it has a moderate sound output of about 65 decibels.
Energy-efficient LED lights help lower your kitchen’s carbon footprint, and its stainless steel design and dishwasher-safe filters make maintenance easy. It’s also available in 30-inch and 36-inch options, giving home cooks with larger cooktops some options.
While sold as a ducted product, you can also purchase a filter kit to convert it for ductless use.
Gas stoves produce more heat and fumes than their electric counterparts. They also produce nitrogen dioxide, which can irritate the respiratory system. This makes a more powerful range hood a necessity. This wall-mounted range hood has an airflow of 900 CFM, making it strong enough to eliminate the fumes and heat that gas stoves emanate.
The control panel is touch enabled but also has gesture sensing, meaning that you can change the settings with a wave of your hand—an especially convenient feature when you’re cooking! It also has an adjustable timer and a remote control, allowing you to turn off the fan from your dining room table.
At the lowest setting, the sound output is 40 decibels, and at the highest setting it’s 65 decibels. While this model is 30 inches in width, it’s also available in a larger 36-inch variety for those with wider ranges. It comes with two dishwasher-safe filters.
FAQs About Range Hoods
If you still have questions about how to choose the best range hood for your home, the following frequently asked questions may help.
Q. What should I look for in a range hood?
First, decide whether a ducted or ductless range hood is most suitable for your kitchen. If shopping for a ducted range hood, look for one that has a CFM of at least 300 to ensure optimal air circulation.
Q. What is the best CFM for a range hood?
A CFM of at least 300 is suitable for most kitchens with electric ranges, while a CFM of at least 800 is preferable for those with gas stoves.
Q. What is the best height for a range hood?
A range hood should be installed so that there are 18 to 30 inches between your stovetop and the bottom of the range hood. The manufacturer will stipulate the ideal height for each specific range hood in the instruction manual.
Q. What is a convertible range hood?
A convertible range hood is a vented range hood that can be adapted to recirculate air rather than venting it to the outdoors.
Q. Can you use a ductless range hood with a gas stove?
Gas stoves require more powerful range hoods because of their high energy output, but a high-quality ductless option can be sufficient if the ducted variety is not an option.
Q. Can a range hood be vented through the wall?
Yes. If your range hood is installed on an exterior wall, vents can be installed to allow for outdoor ventilation.