All About Kitchen Vent Hoods

Kitchen vent hoods, also known as range hoods or extractor hoods, are an important part of any kitchen. As their name suggests, they are designed to ventilate the kitchen by removing smoke, grease, odors, moisture, and other airborne contaminants. Having a good kitchen vent hood helps keep your kitchen clean and comfortable.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about kitchen vent hoods, including:

Types of Kitchen Vent Hoods

There are several main types of kitchen vent hoods to choose from:

Ducted Hoods

Ducted range hoods, as the name implies, use ductwork to vent air externally out of the home. This is the most effective type of vent hood because it fully removes contaminants rather than just filtering some of them. Ducted range hoods require professional installation of ductwork, but they offer the strongest ventilation.

Ductless Hoods

Ductless range hoods, also called recirculating range hoods, filter and recirculate the air back into the kitchen instead of venting it outside. They are easier to install than ducted models, but they are less effective at removing contaminants. The filters need regular replacement.

Convertible Hoods

Convertible kitchen hoods can be configured as either ducted or ductless hoods. They usually have different fan speeds and duct covers so you can choose the installation and functionality. Convertible range hoods offer flexibility.

Downdraft Hoods

Downdraft range hoods are built into the kitchen counter or cabinetry and pull air downward instead of upward. Their ducts run below the floor. Downdraft models are convenient for open kitchen layouts.

Island Hoods

Island range hoods are designed for installation over a kitchen island cooktop rather than a wall. Island hoods usually have greater airflow and a more powerful motor to capture contaminants from multiple sides.

Wall-Chimney Hoods

Wall-chimney range hoods have a decorative chimney-like housing that mounts to the wall above the cooktop. The chimney section often houses the ductwork. These add style while venting.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Kitchen Vent Hood

Several factors should guide your selection of the right kitchen vent hood for your cooking needs:

Ventilation Power

One of the most important factors is the CFM rating, which quantifies the ventilation power. Standard models offer 150-300 CFM, while more powerful hoods are 400-1,200+ CFM. Consider your cooking frequency and types of food cooked.

Noise Level

Hood motor noise is measured in Sones. While higher ventilation power often means a louder motor, look for quieter fans if noise is a concern. Noise levels under 1.5 Sones are considered quiet.


Consider the size of your cooktop and range to select an appropriately sized hood. It should be at least as wide as the cooktop. Oversize hoods provide greater ventilation.


Look for range hood features like dimmable lights, remote controls, filter indicators, delayed shutdown, dishwasher safe filters, etc. Smart features like voice activation are also available.

Mounting Type

The mounting style – under cabinet, wall chimney, island, etc. – must suit your kitchen layout. It also impacts ventilation effectiveness.


Kitchen vent hoods range from about $100 to $1,500 or more depending on the type, features, brands, and installation complexity. Consider it a long-term investment.

Benefits of a Kitchen Vent Hood

Installing a quality kitchen vent hood has many benefits for your cooking experience, air quality, and home:

  • Removes smoke, grease, fumes, and odors from cooking
  • Improves air circulation and kitchen temperature regulation
  • Prevents grease buildup on walls and cabinets over time
  • Reduces carbon monoxide and VOC fumes in kitchen air
  • Ducted hoods prevent contaminants from spreading throughout house
  • Helps prevent mold, bacteria, and soggy walls from moisture
  • Makes cooking more comfortable by clearing away hot air
  • Leaves kitchen cleaner for a fresher cooking experience each time
  • May help improve indoor air quality in rest of home too
  • Long-term investment can increase home value for resale

For these reasons, a quality kitchen vent hood is considered a necessary investment by most homeowners, builders, and real estate agents. Improved kitchen ventilation provides daily benefits.

What to Look for When Buying a Kitchen Vent Hood

Since you’ll likely use a kitchen vent hood daily for years, it pays to choose the right one upfront. Here are the key factors to evaluate:

CFM Rating

The CFM airflow rating is the best indicator of the hood’s ventilation power. Standard hoods are 150-300 CFM while powerful models exceed 1,000 CFM. Consider your usage.

Noise Level

Aim for models with noise levels under 1.5 Sones if fan noise will be an issue. Larger, more powerful fans are often louder. Check manufacturers specs.

Ducted vs. Ductless

Ducted vents smoke outside but require professional installation. Ductless vents recirculate air through replaceable filters. Ducted is more effective.


Match the hood size to the cooktop size or go larger. Oversized hoods capture more contaminants. Measure cooktop width to find the right fit.

Controls and Settings

Look for multiple fan speeds, dimmable lights, automatic shut-off, filter change reminders, remote controls, etc. These make the hood more functional.

Mounting Type

Choose a hood designed to match your existing cabinet/island layout and cooktop mounting. This ensures proper installation.

Brands and Warranty

Stick with reputable kitchen appliance brands that offer at least a 1-year warranty. Well-known brands tend to be higher quality.

Doing a little research before purchasing will ensure you select the ideal kitchen vent hood for your cooking style, kitchen layout, and budget. It’s a small investment that can make a big difference in your daily cooking comfort and kitchen environment.

How Much Does a New Kitchen Vent Hood Cost?

The price for a new kitchen vent hood can range anywhere from about $100 to over $1,500 depending on the type, size, features, and installation requirements. Here is an overview of typical kitchen vent hood costs:

  • Basic Ductless Hood – $100 to $300: An entry-level ductless (recirculating) hood with basic filtration and minimal features.
  • Mid-Range Ductless Hood – $300 to $700: A good-quality ductless hood with greater CFM airflow, more filter options, multi-speed fans, and better lighting.
  • High-End Ductless Hood – $700 to $1,000: A ductless range hood with very high airflow (1,000+ CFM), ultra-quiet fans, stainless steel construction, multiple LED lights, and premium features.
  • Basic Ducted Hood – $400 to $900: A simple ducted hood with exterior ventilation, 150-300 CFM, basic lighting and controls. Includes some installation costs.
  • High-End Ducted Hood – $1,000 to $1,500: A powerful ducted kitchen hood with 500+ CFM, commercial grade motors, stainless housing, dishwasher safe filters, and professional installation.
  • Island or Downdraft Hoods – $700 to $1,500: Island mount or downdraft range hoods cost more due to complex ducting and installation required. Higher-end models available.
  • Professional Installation – $200 to $500: Hiring an electrician or contractor to install a new ducted range hood usually adds a few hundred dollars in labor costs.

Prices vary widely based on the hood design, power, brand, materials, and retailer. Investing in a high-quality hood can provide better air quality and cooking comfort over years of daily use.

How to Choose the Right CFM for a Kitchen Vent Hood

The CFM rating (cubic feet per minute) measures the airflow power of a kitchen vent hood’s fan. Choosing the right CFM level for your needs ensures good ventilation:

  • For a medium-sized kitchen with a 30-36 inch cooktop, look for 250-400 CFM. This suits an average family’s daily cooking needs.
  • For a larger kitchen with a 36-48 inch cooktop or range, aim for 400-600 CFM to handle more cooking and capture contaminants.
  • For serious home chefs using commercial-style ranges over 48 inches wide, choose 600-1200+ CFM for maximum ventilation power.
  • For small kitchenettes or occasional cooking on a 20-30 inch cooktop, 150-300 CFM should suffice.
  • Island mount range hoods need more power since they vent from multiple directions. Add 100 CFM for island models.
  • Ductless hoods often need 200+ additional CFM compared to ducted to recirculate air effectively.

Consider your cooking frequency, types of cuisine, cooktop power (gas or electric), and kitchen size. Overpowered hoods can remove too much air and depressurize while underpowered ones leave contaminants behind. Choosing the Goldilocks “just right” CFM level improves air quality and cooking comfort. Use the manufacturer’s sizing guidelines as a starting point too. A qualified installer can also recommend the ideal CFM rating for your kitchen setup.

Top 10 Best Kitchen Vent Hood Brands

Kitchen ventilation is incomplete without a good quality range hood. When choosing a kitchen hood brand, rely on companies known for solid performance and reliability:

1. Zephyr – Famous for ventilation, Zephyr’s hoods feature cutting-edge designs, whisper-quiet fans, and excellent CFM ratings. They offer wall, island, and insert models.

2. Broan – Broan is a popular brand for durable and long-lasting range hoods that offer professional-style ventilation at consumer prices.

3. Thermador – Known for luxury appliances, Thermador’s sleek and powerful designer hoods integrate seamlessly into contemporary kitchens.

4. Viking – Made for serious cooks, Viking’s commercial-grade stainless steel hoods have high airflow and sturdy baffle filters.

5. KitchenAid – KitchenAid’s hoods deliver their signature style and performance, including removable dishwasher-safe filters.

6. Cavaliere – Cavaliere specializes in handcrafted, stainless steel island and wall chimney hoods made in Italy.

7. Faber – Faber offers innovatively engineered ducted and ductless hoods with Italian styling. Their high-end models are very quiet.

8. Futuro Futuro – Boldly modern with a focus on minimalist design, Futuro Futuro makes sleek, sculptural kitchen hoods.

9. Best – Known for great value, Best makes affordable but reliable ducted and ductless range hoods. Their compact hoods work well in smaller kitchens.

10. JennAir – With their trademark downdraft ventilation, JennAir’s retractable hoods integrate seamlessly into counters and islands.

Sticking with established kitchen brands ensures you get a durable, high-performing vent hood equipped to handle the rigors of daily cooking. Check warranties too, as quality brands often offer 5-year or lifetime warranties on motors and parts.

Ducted vs. Ductless Kitchen Vent Hoods: Key Differences

When shopping for a new kitchen vent hood, two of the main options are ducted and ductless designs. Understanding the differences between ducted and ductless range hoods can help you choose:

Ducted Range Hoods

  • Vent air and contaminants outside through exhaust ducts
  • Require professional installation of ductwork through walls/roof
  • Provide the most powerful ventilation for clearing smoke, grease etc.
  • Remove airborne contaminants instead of recirculating them
  • More effective for serious cooks and larger kitchens
  • Ideal for gas stoves and commercial-style ranges

Ductless Range Hoods

  • Recirculate air through replaceable charcoal filters
  • Require only minor installation with no ducting
  • Offer suitable but less powerful ventilation for most homes
  • Cannot fully remove contaminants like ducted models
  • More affordable and easier for DIY installation
  • Good option for electric stoves and light cooking

In general, ducted range hoods are more powerful and effective, while ductless models are more affordable and easier to install. Ductless are sufficient for many homes but serious cooks may want the superior ventilation of a ducted hood. Consider your kitchen size, stove type, and cooking frequency to choose between the two designs.

Common Problems and Solutions for Kitchen Vent Hoods

Like any appliance, kitchen vent hoods can run into problems. But there are fixes available for most common range hood issues:

Problem: Hood lamp or LED lights not working

Solution: Check/replace bulbs or LED strips. Ensure lights wired properly.

Problem: Weak airflow or venting power

Solution: Clean filters, grease buildup. Remove blockages in ducts. Replace faulty fan motor if needed.

Problem: Excessive noise from range hood fan

Solution: Tighten mounting, adjust fan speed, replace defective fan motor.

Problem: Rattling noise when the fan is on

Solution: Adjust or realign the fan blades. Tighten fan and housing. Replace fan if needed.

Problem: Hood not effectively removing smoke/odors

Solution: Increase airflow. Make sure CFM rating matches cooking needs. Check for leaks in ducting.

Problem: Kitchen vent hood leaks oil or drips grease

Solution: Clean oil reservoirs. Replace worn out grease drip trays or baffle filters.

Problem: Hood overheating, fan stopping intermittently

Solution: Allow unit to cool off. Replace fan motor if overheating frequently. Improve kitchen ventilation.

Periodically cleaning the hood filters, checking for duct leaks, and replacing worn parts can help minimize many issues. But when in doubt, don’t hesitate to call in a professional service technician.

How to Clean a Greasy Kitchen Vent Hood Filter

Regular cleaning keeps your kitchen vent hood running efficiently. Greasy residue collects quickly on the metal mesh filters, so it’s important to clean them every few months:

Supplies Needed:
Degreaser, rubber gloves, old toothbrush or scrub brush, paper towels or clean rags


  1. Remove the filter by gently pulling down and sliding it out.
  2. Soak the filter in warm water mixed with an degreasing soap or a grease-cutting dish detergent. Let it soak for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Scrub away sticky grease deposits using an old toothbrush or scrub brush. Get into all the mesh crevices.
  4. Rinse thoroughly with clean water to remove all traces of grease and degreaser. Wipe down with clean paper towels.
  5. Allow filter to air dry completely before reinstalling. Check manufacturer guidelines on if filters can go in the dishwasher.
  6. Repeat cleaning for each vent hood filter in the unit.
  7. Reinstall filters once fully dry. Run the vent fan briefly to check for grease odors.

Regular hood filter cleaning improves ventilation and prevents grease drips inside your kitchen. For tough grease, replace the toothbrush scrubbing with steel wool. Caution – some hood filters have an aluminum mesh, so avoid abrasives. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions.

How Long Should a Kitchen Vent Hood Last?

With proper installation and maintenance, a good quality kitchen vent hood should provide adequate ventilation for 8-15 years in most homes. Here are some factors affecting vent hood longevity:

  • Motor quality – Premium fan motors can last 10-15 years. Cheaper motors may need replacing in 5-7 years.
  • Usage – Frequent use means more wear. Heavy cooking puts greater demands on the hood.
  • Maintenance – Regular cleaning and filter replacement extends a hood’s lifespan.
  • Climate – Hoods in hot, humid, or dusty climates wear out faster. Kitchen contaminants also accumulate more quickly.
  • Quality – As with most appliances, bargain hoods won’t last as long as better brands. Stick with major manufacturers.
  • Type – Ductless hoods often last longer than ducted since they don’t move as much air. Island mount hoods tend to have shorter lifespans.
  • Installation – Poor ducting or improper mounting can shorten a vent hood’s life through added strain.
  • Technology Improvements – Some homeowners opt to replace older hoods after 10 years to gain new features.

With periodic maintenance, a standard ducted or ductless vent hood should provide solid performance for about a decade. Higher-end models may exceed that. But any hood that needs repairs after just 3-5 years likely has underlying issues.

Signs It’s Time to Replace Your Kitchen Vent Hood

If your kitchen vent hood is no longer keeping up, it may be time for a replacement. Here are signs to watch out for:

  • Weak airflow that’s no longer adequately ventilating
  • Excess noise from a struggling fan motor
  • Persistent rattling sounds indicating a defective fan
  • Frequent clogging issues even after cleaning filters
  • Regular grease leakage around an aging hood
  • Lights that often burn out quickly, blow fuses, or malfunction
  • Frequent overheating with the fan stopping sporadically
  • Odor lingering in the kitchen air during cooking

Advanced age combined with declining performance are also good reasons to consider a new range hood:

  • 10+ years old with outdated features
  • Difficulty finding replacement parts for an