How to Install a Range Hood
Clear your kitchen of smoke, food odors, and airborne grease by installing an appliance that's up to the task.
Whether integrated underneath the cabinets or suspended over a kitchen island, the range hood is the unsung hero in the kitchen, rarely appreciated for the crucial role it performs in eliminating the airborne grease, smells, smoke, and heat produced during meal prep. If you’re getting ready to upgrade old appliances like dishwashers and refrigerators as part of a kitchen renovation, don’t forget the range hood—it deserves consideration, too.
You may have a general idea of what you’d like in a new range hood, but you may still be overwhelmed by the wide variety of prices and models available today. Selecting and installing a range hood involves more than just picking out an appliance that complements your existing range. To find a model that fits your kitchen space and cooking style, keep the following particulars in mind. Then, follow the step-by-step instructions for how to install a range hood.
Working Time: 1 hour if there’s no ductwork to install. Up to 4 hours, including ductwork installation.
Total Time: 1 to 4 hours
Skill Level: Intermediate
Estimated Cost: $100-400+, depending on the hood selected
Before You Begin
If you’re a handy DIYer, it’s relatively simple to switch out an existing range hood with a newer model. Moving a range hood’s location during a kitchen renovation or installing one for the first time, however, will require some accommodations. Here are a few other considerations to keep in mind before getting down to work on your kitchen hood installation.
Ductless vs. Ducted Range Hoods
Range hoods use fans to draw up grease and smoke, along with food odors and excess heat, but not all hoods perform the task equally well. The difference between average and effective models largely depends on the type of ventilation available: ductless or ducted.
- Ductless models do not vent to the outside of your house. The fan on a ductless range hood draws in air and circulates it through a charcoal filter, which traps grease and some odors, but it’s usually not as effective as a range hood that vents outside. The less expensive of the two styles, ductless range hoods can cost as little as $50, and up to several hundred dollars.
- Ducted range hoods are more effective than their ductless counterparts, and they, too, vary widely in price. Ducted range hoods draw in cooking air, then whisk it outside your home via a wall vent—or upward through the ceiling joists and roof. More affordable options start under $100, but homeowners who want a high-efficiency or designer ducted hood could pay well over $1,000.
The popular and space-efficient microwave-hood combinations also come in ductless and ducted varieties. The mistake that some homeowners make when shopping for one of these units, however, is that they focus more on the microwave’s bells and whistles than the unit’s ventilation capabilities. Do your research, and make sure you’re selecting a microwave-hood that’s sufficiently effective and efficient for your needs.
RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Electric Ranges
Fan Motor Placement
Some range hoods sound like airplanes getting ready to take off, while others are virtually silent. The noise difference has a lot to do with the location of the fan motor. Read the packaging carefully, or research online before purchasing, to determine where the unit’s blower is located.
Those who want a quieter stovetop-cooking experience should look for a range hood that comes with a remote blower. You’ll still turn on the fan the same way, via a switch on the hood, but the fan is farther away from the range—often either midway in a duct or on the top of the roof—thereby buffering the noise. If your kitchen is open to the living or dining area, or if guests always seem to congregate in your kitchen, the desire to cook and converse without having to yell over a fan may be worth the additional cost.
Range Hood Sizes
Electric and gas ranges come in a wide variety of sizes, so it shouldn’t be surprising that there isn’t a set standard range hood size. These integral kitchen appliances are designed to pull in the heat, cooking odor, and airborne grease from the range below. To best manage this task, range hoods should be the same width as the range.
With this in mind, you can find range hoods in an equally wide variety, commonly ranging from 24 inches in width to 60 inches. Wider wall-mounted and suspended island models are also available for custom kitchen designs.
For microwave-hood combinations, the bottom of the cabinet above the range should be at least 30 inches above the cooking surface to leave room for the installation. Fortunately, many contractors install this cabinet configuration in new homes for just that reason. The 30-inch distance is also the preferred upper-cabinet height for under cabinet range hood installation without a microwave, although individual models may have different requirements; once you’ve picked a unit, read and follow the manufacturer’s recommended height specifications.
If you’ve chosen a combined microwave-range hood model, there must be an electrical outlet in the cabinet above the unit in order to power the fan motor and microwave. While it’s not required by building code, many new-home contractors install that outlet on a separate 15- or 20-amp circuit that has enough juice to run a microwave.
If you’re installing a new hood and there’s no outlet nearby, you’ll need to hire an electrician to install an outlet near the hood’s proposed location before you can proceed. Not all simple range hoods require a designated outlet, but microwave-hood combinations should definitely have their own circuit.
RELATED: Buyer’s Guide: The Best Gas Ranges
Both single hoods and microwave-hood combination units come with templates that mark where to pre-drill or cut holes for screws, a power supply, and vent. The template will also show you where to attach the bracket that supports a hood combo on an exterior wall. If you are installing an outside-venting range hood but you’re not mounting it on an exterior wall, the model you select should have the option of upward venting. if you go that route, you’ll have to run the ducting through the ceiling. Installing ductwork for a range hood might be the most challenging part of this DIY. Consider outsourcing this part of the job to a professional.
How to Install a Range Hood
Experienced DIYers who don’t want to pay an appliance professional can learn how to install a range hood by following these detailed steps.
STEP 1: Take down the old hood, if there is one.
If you have an existing range hood, the first step in the process is to remove it. Turn off the power to the range hood, then unscrew the wire nuts and disconnect the wires. Have a second person support the weight of the range hood while you use a screwdriver to loosen the mounting screws.
Carefully lift the old range hood off of the screws and set it aside. Take the old range hood outside, to a shed, or to the garage so that it’s out of the way while you work.
STEP 2: Remove the knockouts and mark the vent holes.
The new range hood will typically have metal knockouts for the electrical cables and the duct. Remove these knockouts with a hammer and screwdriver, then hold the hood in place against the chosen wall to mark the locations for vent holes.
Some range hoods come with a paper template that can be used to mark the vent holes without needing to hold the range hood in place. If your range hood doesn’t come with a template, consider having a second person hold the range hood while you mark the vent holes to improve project accuracy.
STEP 3: Cut vent holes and drill locator holes through an exterior wall.
Use a reciprocating saw or a drill equipped with a hole saw bit to cut a hole for the electrical cable and for the vent. Note where the vent will exit the home and take a few minutes to thoroughly inspect the interior and exterior path for the ductwork to ensure that there aren’t any obstacles, like studs, pipes, or wires. If you encounter any of these issues, you may need to relocate pipes or wires to make room for the ducts.
Use a long drill bit to drill locator holes through the exterior wall of the home. The purpose of these holes is to outline the border of the vent hole, making it easier to cut an accurate, tight-fitting hole for the vent to pass through to the outside. Drill multiple locator holes at each corner of the vent hole. Keep in mind that ductless range hoods do not require ductwork or ventilation systems, so you only need to cut a hole for the electrical cable if you are installing a ductless model.
STEP 4: Use the locator holes to cut a vent hole in the exterior wall.
Head outdoors to find the locator holes in the exterior wall of the home. If the home has siding, then simply use a pencil to connect the dots between the locator holes and follow the outline to cut the vent hole with a reciprocating saw.
If the home has a brick exterior, then the process is a bit more complicated. Use a pencil or marker to outline the vent hole, double-checking to ensure the vent can fit. Drill a hole through the masonry about once every inch along the vent hole outline. Use a hammer and a cold chisel to chip away the brick and mortar between the holes to create a clean opening for the vent.
STEP 5: Connect the duct.
Slide the wall cap for the duct into the vent hole and inspect the ductwork to determine if it is long enough to reach the range hood. If the ductwork falls short, you will need to pick up a duct extension.
To ensure that mice, ants, and other pests don’t enter through the vent hole, you will need to apply caulk to the exterior of the hole to seal any openings. Use screws to fasten the wall cap for the duct into position and inspect the exterior installation to verify that there aren’t any gaps that you missed with the caulking.
STEP 6: Mount the range hood.
With the ductwork installed, you can mount the range hood to the ceiling or wall. Have a second person hold the range hood in place while you use a drill to secure the range hood with the mounting bracket and mounting screws.
If you are mounting the range hood to the wall with mounting brackets, then the screws should be fully tightened, but if you are mounting the range hood to existing cabinetry, the screws should only be sunk halfway in to allow the range hood to slip over the screws and rest on top of them.
For tiled walls, consider using a nail set and a hammer to create small guide holes in the tiles. This will reduce the chance of cracking a tile when you drill into it.
STEP 7: Run wires to the range hood.
If you removed an old range hood, then the power should already be turned off, but if it isn’t, then head to the breaker box and flip the switch for the range hood to ensure that the power is off to the electrical lines.
The wires for an existing range hood can be used to install the new range hood by simply connecting them according to the manufacturer’s directions. For new range hood installations, run a cable from a nearby receptacle or junction box to the range hood. Use a wire stripper to strip the sheathing from the wires and connect the wires to the range hood.
With wire connectors, connect the white wire to the white fixture lead, the black wire to the black fixture lead, and the green grounding wire to the green lead. While this is the most common configuration, make sure to verify the correct wiring configuration for your specific range hood by checking the manufacturer’s directions.
STEP 8: Turn on the power and test the range hood.
Make sure the wires fit comfortably inside the wall without putting any strain on the electrical connection, then replace the electrical cover on the range hood. Attach the filters and grease guard to the range hood, then turn on the power at the breaker panel. Test the light first, then test the fan, and check the duct outside to ensure the air is being properly vented to the outdoors.
Range Hood Installation Cost
When you are trying to decide whether to install the range hood yourself or to hire a professional installer to complete the work, one of the most important factors is cost. The average cost to install a range hood, according to HomeAdvisor, is between $400 to $1,500, with an average of about $750.
This includes the cost of the range hood, which typically falls between $200 to $1,000, depending on the model, and the hourly rate for the installer. Most professional installers have an hourly rate of about $50 to $100, so if you take on the installation yourself, you will be able to save about $50 to $100 per hour.
However, the cost for a professional installation may be worth it. Keep in mind that trained, experienced professionals will probably be able to complete the work within a shorter timeline and with a higher quality finish than the average DIYer. Especially if you are working with a ducted range hood system, which requires the installer to route ductwork and cut through masonry for proper ventilation.
Maintaining Your Range Hood
Once you’ve installed your range hood, keep your investment fully functioning for its expected lifespan by giving it regular attention and using degreasing cleaners. Because range hood fans draw up grease and steam, prevent a sticky buildup from forming by spraying the underside of the hood with kitchen cleaner and wiping it down as frequently as you would any other surface in your cooking space.
If you cook a lot, it’s a good idea to wash the exhaust fan filter at least once a month. Otherwise, its holes may become so clogged with grease that it will no longer work effectively. Simply slide or pop out the stainless steel filter, place it in the sink, and scrub it using hot water, baking soda, and a degreasing dish soap. Some filters (check the manufacturer’s instructions) can be put directly into the dishwasher for even easier cleaning.
Deciding to install a range hood in your home is a great choice that can help keep the kitchen air clean, while also filtering grease from the air before it can settle on your counters, cupboards, or table. Experienced DIYers can install ductless range hoods on their own to save on the hourly cost of a professional installer. However, this isn’t a good idea if you need to install a new ducted range hood system.
Keep in mind that learning how to install a range hood doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the experience and technical training to properly install a series of interconnected vents to the exterior of the home without damaging the masonry or creating potential entrances for unwanted pests. Consider the details and steps of this project carefully before deciding to take it on or hire a pro to complete the job.
Range hood installation can be a complicated project for a DIYer to handle if they don’t have experience working with these appliances, so it’s important to learn as much as possible before trying to tackle range hood installation. Consider these commonly asked questions about how to install a range hood.
Q. What is a range hood?
Range hoods are found in most kitchens. They are installed above the stove and use a fan to draw heat, steam, food odors, and airborne grease up and away from the range or stove. Ductless range hoods filter the air through a charcoal filter to help remove odors and grease before the air is released back into the home. You can also learn how to install range hood ventilation ducts for a ducted range hood system that vents the air outdoors. However, vent installation can be costly and may not be necessary if you prefer a ductless model.
Q. Do you need a vent hood for an electric stove?
While you don’t have to have a vent hood for an electric stove, it is recommended, even if you only cook one or two times a week. However, the range hood for an electric range doesn’t need to be as powerful as a hood for a gas stove.
Q. How high should a range hood be?
The height from the stovetop to the bottom of the range hood differs depending on the product, so there isn’t a standard range hood height that all models should follow. Some products are designed for installation at just 20 inches, while other products should be installed at 36 inches. The best way to identify the ideal height for your range hood is to refer to the manufacturer’s installation instructions for the specific model.