How to Choose a Range Hood

metalic range hood
Image credit: Michael Van Oosten

Range hoods were once an afterthought, hidden in kitchens because they were considered boxy eyesores. However, modern range hoods can be custom-built to complement your kitchen. As a result, many home now use them as focal points in modern cooking spaces. Hoods provide a sleek design if built out of stainless steel, or an architectural interest when built “up” using staggered crown molding. So many beautiful options make shopping for a range hood a frustrating part of your kitchen remodel. Though with the right information, you will choose a range hood perfect for you both in utility and aesthetic.

The necessity of the range hood

A range hood mounts above your stovetop, where it absorbs the smoke and odors produced while cooking. A fan pulls air through ductwork and out of your home, while a non-ducted hood recirculates the air through a charcoal filter.

The right hood works to evacuate the smoke, tiny particles of grease, and fat droplets. These become airborne while cooking and linger for many days if your kitchen does not have proper ventilation. Of these, grease causes the most damage as it embeds itself in wall surfaces, cabinets, and even nearby fabrics. The ultimate goal of a range hood is to keep the air in your kitchen clean. Without proper ventilation, nitrogen dioxide released from gas flames will linger in the air, and carbon monoxide – the result of combustion from a gas range – can build up. With such health risks, it is imperative to make ventilation an important consideration when designing your kitchen.

What to keep in mind when purchasing a range hood

A range hood must  have enough power to filter out all your kitchen’s odors, fumes, and other pollutants. Range power is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute). CFM is a measure of the air in your kitchen being expelled through your range hood. A range with a higher CFM results in more air movement, which means faster clean air and ventilation. BTU stands for British thermal units, a measurement of energy content.

According to the Home Ventilating Institute, hood vents should have a minimum of 40 CFM per linear foot of range. If you have gas cooktops, HVI recommends 1 CFM for every 100 BTUs of burner power. For example, you will need 100 CFM for every 10,000 BTUs for a gas stove. For electric stoves, CFM is estimated by the size of the stove: 100 CFM for every 10 inches of width is the general rule.

Keep in mind that the more powerful your burners are, the more CFM you’ll need.
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Ventilation setups

Ducted hood
If you cook a lot, consider a ducted (or vented) hood since it vents odors out of your home. A ducted hood usually connects to a home’s existing air duct system. Additionally, a ducted hood brings in fresh air from outside, reducing the concentration of pollutants in your kitchen. This helps keep your kitchen surfaces cleaner as it prevents pollutants from accumulating and depositing.

Ductless range
A ductless range consists of a charcoal filter and fan that filter out odors and smoke. Ductless systems clean dirty kitchen air rather than ushering it out. This filter cleans out dirty air, then recirculate the clean air back into your kitchen. Ductless systems also trap grease and oil droplets in the air above the range.

Since ductless systems do not require an air duct, they are more affordable in both upfront and maintenance costs.

However, ductless range hoods are not often recommended. They take odors near the stove and may disperses them throughout the kitchen. Also note that regarding air quality, ducted hoods provide much cleaner air.

Whether ducted or not, you must also be aware of the desired strength and size of your range. A good hood will cover the burners, as well as the full width of the range.

Types of range hoods

Under-cabinet mount

under-cabinet hood range

ajmadison.com

This range is fixed to the bottom of a cabinet. This placement is ideal for a ductless range hood, as it attaches directly to the cabinet, preserving valuable wall space. For vented range hoods, you must route ductwork through the cabinet. Expect to pay over $700 for an under-cabinet range hood.

Wall mount

wall mounted hood

kraftmaid.com

The most popular choice, a wall-mounted “chimney style” vent hood goes directly onto the wall.

Since a range hood’s style, shape, and size will make a statement, consider how it will blend with the other elements in your kitchen. Prices vary, but plan around $500-$700.

Ceiling mount

over-island range hood

Image credit: INT2 Architecture

“Island” hoods are, as the name implies, attached to the ceiling over an island. It could also hang from peninsula wall cabinets.

Suspended from the ceiling over a cooking island, this type of hood is dramatic in design and will provide a strong focal point to your kitchen.

Since they lack walls or cabinets around them to help direct the air, an island hood must be wider than your burner surface.

Ceiling-mounted hoods are more expensive than other hoods – they start at around $1,000 and can cost upward of $3,000. Due to their design, this style requires finishing on all sides. Additionally, most homeowners choose to make them visually attractive by using different types of architectural elements.

Downdraft

kitchen stovetop downdraft

Image credit: ajmadison.com

Often built in as part of the range, downdraft hoods push air downward through built-in vents. Located directly on the stove near the burners, it’s a “pop-up” that rises from your kitchen surface and disappears when not needed with a simple push of a button.

Downdraft does not provide adequate ventilation. You should only consider it if your purpose is to hide the vent completely.

Custom

Custom hoods can be very expensive. But you won’t have to ever worry about odors and fumes, because a custom hood contains built-in ventilation that’s placed on a wall.

Custom means you’re in complete control of the design of your hood. You can make your vent hood look however you want; the only downside is that you need wall space in your kitchen to put it up. For smaller kitchens, this might mean the loss of storage space and a reduction of your cabinets.

These are only some of the options you have when it comes to buying a range hood. Whether you buy one pre-made at a big-box home improvement store or you have one built by a carpenter specifically designed to coordinate with your kitchen, always remember that the range hood serves a purpose and is there for your protection. By selecting the right range hood, you can enjoy a safe and stylish cooking space.

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How to Choose a Range Hood was last modified: June 16th, 2017 by Augustine Reyes Chan
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