What You Need To Know About Range Hoods for Kitchen Ventilation

Range hoods come in six basic configurations. We compare range hood types and styles.

When you're remodeling your kitchen most homeowners focus on the fun stuff like pro level appliances, or wood cabinets and a creative tile backsplash. They're not thinking about practical matters like plumbing, electrical and ventilation. The fact is, the range hood is often an afterthought unless it's an aesthetic component of your kitchen design, but it's a vital component of the modern kitchen that reduces cooking smells, heat, and condensation throughout your kitchen. It also keeps your kitchen cleaner by trapping grease and preventing it from being spread all over the kitchen. Our design staff can show you all of the available range hood options at our showroom. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

Range hood designs range from the practical, and practically unnoticed (like an under the cabinet mount), to a wall mount model with a decorative chimney or soffit, to technologically advanced downdraft ventilation you'll find in many islands in today's kitchen.

Let's explore the different types of ventilation available, some specifications to be aware of, and which options are best for your kitchen.

The population-wide health impact of indoor pollutants is on a par with that of car accidents, and greater than that of traditional concerns like secondhand smoke or radon.
— Jennifer M. Logue, Berkeley National Laboratory

Types of range hoods

The overall layout of your kitchen will help determine which type of range hood is best for you. Make sure any hood you choose is at minimum as wide as your cooking surface. Here are your options.

Under-cabinet hoods – These mount under a wall cabinet. Ductwork is the run inside the rear wall or up through the cabinet and vents to the outside of your home. Some new models “hide” completely under the cabinet, and then slide out to cover the full cook surface.

Wall-chimney hoods – Wall chimney hoods are usually placed where there are no cabinets and mount with an exposed vent stack which then vents smoke and condensation outside. This style of vent can be covered with a chrome hood, or can even match your cabinets finish to create a beautiful design option.

Island hoods – mounted to and vented through the ceiling over your cooktop. Because they have no cabinets to help funnel smoke and fumes, they should be slightly larger than the cooktop surface to be most effective.

Downdraft hoods – These hoods pull smoke and odors downward into ducts running through the floor. Technology has improved over the past couple of decades and today this is a great option for an island cooktop when ceiling ducting is not practical or available.

Ductless hoods – This option is available on under-cabinet, wall and island hoods. They draw the smoke, steam and odor away from the stovetop and back into the kitchen after running through a filter, and often a carbon filter stage for odor removal. Ductless hoods are not a great choice as they disperse any smoke and odors not captured in the filter system back into the room.

View an external blower designed range hood used in a Waterfall Neighborhood home in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Features and Specifications to Consider

There are some basic specifications to consider when choosing a range hood. First, make sure to choose a model that is at least as wide as your cooking surface. If your kitchen features and island cooktop make sure it's a bit wider than your cooktop. Here are some specifications to consider.

Airflow – Manufacturers include specifications for cubic feet per minute (CFM) of exhausted air. More airflow generally means faster ventilation (and often a higher price) but it doesn't guarantee better capture and odor removal. Proper placement is more important than CFM. Talk to your kitchen designer or design-build contractor to determine your best option. You'll need to consider whether your cook surface is gas or electric, how high the hood is over the cook surface, and how long the duct run is when choosing the correct CFM.

Number of fan speeds – Most range hoods offer a range of from three to six fan speeds. Choose a hood with at least two speeds. Use the high-speed option when actually cooking, and switch to the quieter low speed to continue removing odor and smoke while eating. More than three speeds are not really necessary.

Automatic thermostat control – Some models feature an auto-on feature that kicks the vent on when the temperature reaches a certain level. This is mostly available on over-the-range microwave units. This helps to protect the electronics of the microwave from being damaged by high temperatures.

Exhaust timer – This is a convenient feature that turns the fan off after a specified time period.

Range hoods come in these six basic configurations. Each is designed for a specific application and generally range from 33 to 66 inches in width. When researching a range hood consider CFM capacity, electronic controls, auto extend and retract (for hidden under-cabinet units) filter maintenance indicators and halogen lights. This is a great way to compare different manufacturers products. While it's not the sexiest feature of your new kitchen, a range hood is one of the most important choices you can make in terms of functionality and day to day use.  

About Toulmin Kitchen & Bath Design - We're West Alabama's award-winning, premier kitchen and bath showroom. We're experts who are known for a design-build process that makes the construction process stress-free. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a design consultation.