How to Find the Perfect Range Hood

Finding the ideal range hood for your kitchen can seem like a daunting task. With so many different brands, sizes, styles and features to consider, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. But with some basic knowledge about range hoods, plus factors to consider for your own needs, you’ll be able to zero in on the perfect model. This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know to find your dream range hood.

What is a Range Hood and Why Do You Need One?

A range hood, also known as an exhaust hood, is an appliance installed over your stove or cooktop which sucks up steam, grease, smoke, odors and other cooking byproducts. It does this through a filter, by venting the air outside, or a combination of the two.

Here are some of the main reasons why a range hood is an essential component for any kitchen with a stove:

  • Ventilation: First and foremost, a range hood provides critical ventilation to remove hot air, grease and odors. This makes cooking fumes escape instead of circulating throughout your kitchen, lingering in the air and sticking to walls and surfaces. Proper ventilation creates a cleaner, healthier kitchen environment.
  • Safety: Ventilating heat, grease and smoke also enhances safety in your kitchen. This reduces the risk of fires from grease buildup and keeps temperatures down to comfortable levels while cooking.
  • Cleaner Surfaces: By capturing airborne grease, a range hood helps keep grimy oil deposits off your kitchen walls, cabinets and countertops. This also makes cleanups easier.
  • House Protection: All that heat, grease and residue needs to go somewhere. By venting it outside, a range hood protects the rest of your home from damage.
  • Prevent Odors: We all want our kitchens to smell fresh and inviting. An effective range hood sucks up cooking odors so they don’t permeate the whole house.

Clearly a high-performing range hood provides huge benefits. But not all hoods work the same. The key is finding the right one to match your cooking style, kitchen size and layout.

Range Hood Types and Styles

Range hoods come in several main types, categorized by how they handle airflow. The most common options are:

Ducted (Vented) Range Hoods

Ducted, or vented, range hoods extract air and filter out contaminants. Then they funnel the air outside through ductwork installed behind the hood.

Ducting range hoods to the outdoors is the most effective method. It efficiently removes grease, odors, smoke and moisture from the kitchen. But installing ductwork can be complicated in some homes.

Ductless (Recirculating) Range Hoods

Ductless, or recirculating, range hoods pull in cooking exhaust, pass it through a filter, and then return the cleaned air back into the kitchen.

This type doesn’t require venting to the outside. It’s a simpler installation. But odors and humidity aren’t exhausted from the home. The air feels fresher, but can still hold lingering smells and moisture.

Convertible Range Hoods

Convertible range hoods can switch between ducted and ductless modes. This provides flexibility based on installation feasibility and preference.

Convertible models usually have different filter options. For ductless operation, you need a charcoal filter to help absorb odors from recirculated air.

Downdraft Range Hoods

Downdraft range hoods are built into the kitchen counter or island behind the cooktop. They pull in air downward, filter it, then vent it outside through ducting or release it back into the room.

A downdraft hood preserves the open look of your cooktop area since it doesn’t need an overhead hood. But these are less effective and harder to install.

Island Range Hoods

Island range hoods hang above a cooktop or stove located in an open kitchen island. They efficiently capture rising heat and cooking exhaust since the island has an open airflow design.

Island range hoods require special ducting considerations since they can’t vent back into a wall. But they provide an elegant, unobstructed cooking space.

Wall-Chimney Range Hoods

Wall-chimney range hoods have a towering, decorative chimney-style hood which mounts directly to the wall behind the cooktop.

This space-saving design avoids the ceiling area. The tall chimney shape provides a strong upward draw for capturing cooking exhaust. It also makes a stylish focal point.

Under-Cabinet Range Hoods

Under-cabinet range hoods are compact hoods which mount beneath wall-mounted cabinets, directly over kitchen cooktops.

Since they’re positioned close to cooking surfaces, under-cabinet models can effectively grab heat, grease and odors. But the proximity to cabinets makes cleaning difficult.

Important Range Hood Features and Specs

Beyond just the style, several technical specifications differentiate one range hood model from another. Carefully consider these features to find the best hood for your cooking and kitchen needs:


Airflow, measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), indicates the hood’s venting power and exhausting ability. More CFM means stronger suction to pull in cooking contaminants. Hoods usually range from 100 to 1200 CFM.

Choose a high CFM if you frequently cook foods with intense smoke, heat or odors. Opt for lower CFM models for milder cooking. Also make sure to match the CFM to the size of your kitchen so the fan isn’t under or overpowered.

Noise Level

Hood fans can generate significant noise measured in decibels (dB). Larger, more powerful units are often louder. Look for models with noise insulation and quiet motors if excessive fan noise bothers you.

Venting Options

Verify what kind of venting is compatible — vertical, horizontal, dual-direction, or non-vented recirculation. Consider your ductwork layout to ensure the hood will align.


Hoods come in standard widths of 30” to 48” to match common cooktop widths. Measure your cooking surface area to pick an appropriately sized hood. Also measure mount height to account for cabinet space.

Mounting Type

Determine the mounting style – under-cabinet, wall-mount, ceiling, island, etc. Then make sure your kitchen design can accommodate it.


Many range hoods now have touch controls, remotes, app integration, voice commands and other advanced control options for managing fan speed and lighting. Decide if you want basic manual buttons or enhanced “smart” controls.


Check what types of filters are included. Aluminum mesh filters trap grease. Charcoal filters help absorb odors. Look for dishwasher-safe and easily replaceable filters.


Hood lighting ranges from incandescent, halogen and LED to variable color temperature bulbs. Make sure the brightness, color tone, and energy efficiency suit you. Consider dimmable lights for ambiance control.


Range hood exteriors come in various finishes like stainless steel, enameled metal, colored paint, wood paneling and glass. Choose finishes which complement your overall kitchen decor.


Hood warranties typically cover 1 year for parts, motors and labor. Higher-end brands may offer longer 5-10 year warranties against defects. A longer warranty provides valuable peace of mind.


Consider reputable commercial style brands like Wolf, Viking, Zephyr or high-end appliance names for durability and performance. Also look at customer reviews.

What Size Range Hood Do You Need?

One of the most important specs to evaluate is matching hood size to your cooking equipment. Range hoods should be equal to or slightly wider than the cooktop width.

Recommended sizing guidelines:

  • 30-Inch Range Hood – For 30” cooktops or ranges. This is the most common size for home kitchens.
  • 36-Inch Range Hoods – For 36” cooktops or ranges. Provides great ventilation for larger stovetops.
  • 42-Inch Range Hoods – For commercial-size 48” ranges or large griddles. Also great for dual fuel pro-style ranges.
  • 48-Inch to 60-Inch Range Hoods – For professional 60”+ ranges. Provides maximum ventilation coverage.
  • Island Range Hoods – For island cooktops, size between 36” to 48” depending on cooktop width.

Failure to buy an adequately sized hood for your range may result in hot oily exhaust overflowing the undersized hood onto cabinets and walls. Hoods which are too large can look comically out of proportion and be less efficient. So careful measurement is critical.

Calculating Necessary Range Hood CFM

Along with selecting the proper physical size, calculating the right airflow capacity in CFM is essential for your hood to properly ventilate cooking exhaust.

The CFM depends on:

  • Stovetop Size – Larger cooktops need more airflow capacity to keep pace.
  • Cooking Frequency – Home cooks who cook often or use high heat require higher CFMs.
  • Type of Cooking – Deep frying, pan searing, broiling, or non-electric cooking need stronger exhaust.
  • Kitchen Size – Big kitchens need more power to properly evacuate cooking fumes.

As a general CFM guideline:

  • 100-150 CFM – Occasional light cooking usage. Electric stoves. Smaller kitchens.
  • 200-400 CFM – Moderate usage with deep frying or heavy steaming. Larger kitchens.
  • 600-1200+ CFM – Frequent heavy-duty cooking. Commercial kitchens. Specialized ventilation needs.

Consult your range hood manufacturer’s sizing chart to determine the recommend CFM for your unique kitchen specifications. Undersized hoods lead to lingering odors, while oversized units are loud and waste energy.

Installation Considerations

Installation feasibility is a major factor in choosing the right range hood for your space. Assess the following logistics in your kitchen layout:

Venting Ducts

Determine whether vertical or horizontal venting is more realistic based on infrastructure obstacles like walls, ceilings, cabinets and plumbing. If venting outside isn’t possible, a recirculation hood simplifies installation.


You’ll need an electrical power source to install a hood. Having an outlet already in place above the stove area makes wiring easier. If not, be prepared to install new wiring.

Cabinet Space

Measure carefully to ensure adequate room for the hood beneath cabinets while following the safe clearance over your cooktop.

Ceiling Height

Check that ducted hoods will meet the minimum clearance between your ceiling and cooktop to vent properly.

Island Design

Island hoods require special installation expertise for venting. Make sure an island vent path is possible before choosing one.

Carefully evaluating these factors determines the feasible range hood types. Information on unique installation challenges in your kitchen helps select the right model. If needed, consult contractors ahead of purchase.

5 Best Range Hood Brands

The range hood brand you select significantly influences performance, features, quality, and durability. These top brands consistently earn high ratings for excellent craftsmanship and engineering:

1. Zephyr

Zephyr range hoods feature powerful airflow capacity up to 1400 CFM, whisper-quiet fans, and designs spanning modern to traditional. They’re known for high-quality construction.

2. Broan

Broan emphasizes energy efficiency and noise reduction. They offer range hoods for every budget and style. Their ductless and convertible models excel in recirculation mode.

3. KitchenAid

The iconic KitchenAid name means reliable performance. Their stylish, intelligently designed range hoods include user-friendly features. It’s a great mid-range option.

4. Thermador

Thermador’s luxury range hoods include innovative features like auto-shutoff and self-cleaning filters. Stainless steel and glass designs pair beautifully with Thermador appliances.

5. Wolf

Wolf range hoods represent the height of professional-grade quality for serious home chefs. Their powerful 1500+ CFM airflow and resilient construction lead the market.

While you’ll pay more for premium brands, the unrivaled power and longevity often justify the investment. Always compare warranties between manufacturers.

Design Tips for Picking the Right Range Hood Look

Beyond technical considerations, choosing a range hood which matches your kitchen’s decor style will help it look like part of an integrated whole. Here are aesthetic factors to consider in your selection process:


Stainless steel hoods give a modern, sleek look. Enameled finishes like black, white, or red provide classic charm. Unfinished wood offers warmth. Choose colors that coordinate with your kitchen color palette.


Contemporary styling like box hoods or angled chimneys fits modern kitchens best. Traditional scalloped bottoms and classic lines suit country kitchens. Match the ambiance you want.

Size Proportions

Let your cabinet height, cooktop width, and room scale determine ideal hood sizing. Avoid too small or too big. Measure carefully.

Lighting Design

Look for lighting designs and intensity that illuminate your cooking area without being overly bright. Consider softer ambient bulbs.

Noise Profile

If your kitchen is very open concept, prioritize quieter fans so ventilation noise doesn’t overwhelm entertaining spaces.

Display or Conceal

Some range hoods act as an attractive focal point. Others blend into cabinetry discreetly. Decide on your aesthetic preference.


Artisan wood range hoods allow amazing custom designs but cost more. Stainless or enameled budget models still provide quality function.

Safety Tips for Proper Range Hood Use

Using your range hood safely and following maintenance best practices ensures it keeps your kitchen protected for years. Keep these important safety guidelines in mind:

  • Always turn on the hood before cooking to establish proper airflow before food and grease get hot. Let it run for 5 minutes after cooking to clear residual exhaust.
  • Keep all filters clean. Clogged filters are fire hazards and reduce effectiveness. Check periodically.
  • Clean accumulated grease deposits regularly before they can ignite. Use degreaser and warm water.
  • Turn hood fans to the highest setting when cooking extremely greasy or smoky dishes to contain the mess.
  • Never leave cooking unattended with the hood on. Boilovers can still ignite. Combine ventilation with attentive cooking.
  • If you ever see flames rise from your cooktop to the hood, immediately turn off the cooktop burners and use a fire extinguisher on the base of the flames. Call 911 if it doesn’t extinguish quickly. Do not use water.
  • When frying food, turn the hood on high and raise it as high as possible from the cooktop to prevent the grease from splattering onto the hood filters.

Following these tips along with manufacturer operating instructions will optimize performance and prevent accidents. Only operate kitchen exhaust fans when cooking to avoid needless energy waste.

Frequently Asked Questions About Range Hoods

Q: How difficult is it to install a range hood?

Installing a new range hood requires basic electrical, carpentry and construction skills. Ducted hoods involve cutting cabinetry for ventilation. Most homeowners hire contractors for proper installation.

Q: Where should a range hood be positioned over the cooktop?

For optimal smoke and steam capture, mount the hood 30”-36” above electric cooktops and 24”-30” above gas stoves. Always follow the range clearance heights specified in the installation manual.

Q: Do range hoods come with LED lights?

Many modern range hoods now include energy efficient LED lighting. Some models feature variable color temperature settings from warm to cool light. Replacement LED bulbs for installation in traditional hood lamps are also available.

Q: Should range hood vents exhaust into the attic or outside?

It’s highly recommended to vent range hoods outdoors whenever possible. Exhausting moisture and grease into attics can lead to mold and damage. Use attic vents only if absolutely necessary.

Q: How loud are range hoods when running?

Typical range hood noise levels are 35dB to 55dB on low fan settings and 55 to 75dB on high. Larger hoods and higher CFM power increase noise. Features like enclosed motors, insulation, and quiet operation modes reduce noise.

Q: Can you mount a microwave over a range hood?

Yes, microwave range hood combination units are a popular built-in kitchen appliance. The microwave installs into a cabinet over the range hood unit. The controls operate both appliances.

Q: Should I leave the range hood fan on the whole time I’m cooking?

It’s most effective to use your range hood fan whenever you are actively cooking. Leaving it on the entire time you’re in the kitchen wastes energy. Turn it off when you aren’t cooking.

Q: Why does my house smell after using the range hood?

A lingering smell after using your range hood usually means it needs a thorough cleaning. Grease buildup on fan blades and filters releases odors into recirculated air. Regular cleaning prevents this issue.


Installing the perfect range hood revolves around assessing your cooking habits, kitchen layout, and style preferences to determine which model matches your needs. Calculating required CFM airflow and ducting abilities are also critical.

Take time to measure your space carefully. Weigh the pros and cons of hood types and installation factors. Ultimately you want optimal odor and smoke elimination without excessive noise or energy use.

Choosing a reputable brand provides more confidence in performance and longevity. And don’t forget to consider aesthetics like finish, lighting, and visual impact.

With research and planning guided by this detailed advice, you’ll find the ideal range hood solution to keep your kitchen clearer and more comfortable for years of cooking enjoyment.