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Why Every Kitchen Needs a Range Hood

D.P. Taylor
Written by D.P. Taylor
Updated November 4, 2021
A modern kitchen with a range hoods
Cavan Images / Cavan via Getty Images

Searing a steak on your stovetop has never been so enjoyable and smoke-free

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If you’ve frantically waved a kitchen towel under your smoke detector more often than you’d like to admit, adding a range hood to your kitchen could be your smartest upgrade yet. Whipping up a delicious meal in your kitchen, exhaustless, is ten times harder when working behind a cloud of smoke. The only question is: which type of range hood should you get? There are plenty of options to choose from, all of which will make cooking in your updated kitchen fun again.

Read on to learn more about the types of range hoods available and why every kitchen needs one.

What Are Range Hoods?

A range hood hangs over your stovetop and captures all of the smoke rising from your pans using a fan or blower motor. Whether you have a ducted or ductless system, the range hood will either expel the air from your home through a duct or filter it and recirculate it back into your home.

If you’re without a range hood now, then you know what it's like to sear food in a smokey mess. A powerful range hood will make sure the essence of Sunday dinners doesn’t linger in your home for days. However, not all range hoods are the same, so you’ll need to consider where you want to install your range hood and the features available to determine which one is optimally suited for your kitchen.

Types of Range Hoods

There are many different types of range hoods, each with unique features. While you can chop them up into several different categories, here are some of the most common types.

Wall-Mounted

The most common type of range hood, a wall-mounted, wait for it, mounted to your wall directly over the range, typically between two to three feet above the stove. They come in various shapes and sizes and may be installed against a flat wall or alongside cabinets.

Island

An island range hood is perfect for larger kitchens as it hangs directly from the ceiling over the stove installed on the island. These hoods are not only functional but highly visible in your kitchen. If you choose an island hood range, opt for one that matches your kitchen aesthetic. Such a bold setup is likely to become the centerpiece of your kitchen.

Downdraft

Downdraft hoods are less expensive to install and simply pop up from behind the stove when needed. However, because they are not positioned directly over your stove, they're less effective than other types of range hoods and may not catch all of the smoke and moisture.

Microwave

Microwaves range hoods are particularly common in homes with smaller kitchens where space is at a premium. Here, the range hood is installed underneath the microwave to maximize the use of space. Microwave range hoods are ductless systems (more on this below), so these models will only recirculate air inside your home rather than push the air outside. They’re less effective in ridding strong odors, but they’re more affordable and perfect if you don't have the space for a wall-mounted hood.

How Do Range Hoods Work?

Woman hand selecting mode on range hood in the kitchen
Brizmaker / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

All range hoods operate similarly. The vent hood collects steam and grease odors using a fan motor, circulating the air or sending it outside the home. Most hoods have levels of motor speeds you can engage, depending on the amount of smoke. A hood set to a higher speed will work harder to clear the smoke.

Ducted range hoods that send air outside the home will also have a grease filter. Ductless range hoods that recirculate the air will use a charcoal filter.

Ducted vs Ductless Range Hoods

When choosing the right type of vent hood for your kitchen range, there are two exhaust hood options: ducted and ductless. While both use fans to help cut back on smoke, each type of range hood comes with its own set of pros and cons.

Ducted Range Hoods

Ducted range hoods use ducts to create a ventilation system in the kitchen and help with recirculation. The hood draws fumes from above the stove and sends them outside through mesh or carbon filters, which is the more effective method for eliminating smoke and odor from your kitchen.

These systems typically are larger and more expensive than ductless systems because fans are more powerful. Ducted models will also remove any moisture that comes from the cooktop.

But not every kitchen can install a ducted model. They require more space, preferably near an exterior wall, to work effectively. If your kitchen is cramped and there isn't a duct nearby, you may need to get a smaller ductless model. Also, installation is a bit more complex, so you’d likely have to hire a local contractor to do it right.

Ductless Range Hood

Ductless models use suction fans to draw in air and circulate it through a charcoal filter. They still trap grease and some odors, but they’re no match for ducted models. If you’d rather listen to conversation when you cook, rather than the fan on your hood, choose a ducted model whose fan is positioned up in the ductwork rather than just over the stovetop.

The recirculation venting method means your charcoal filter will get a steady and heavy flow of dirt, so plan on replacing your charcoal filter more often.

That said, ductless hoods are compact and don't need to be hooked up to ducts to work, giving homeowners more options. A smaller overall footprint makes ductless models a great option for apartment and condo dwellers where installing ducts in walls or ceilings may not be possible. They’re also cheaper and easier to install yourself.

How Much Do Range Hoods Cost?

It costs an average of $750 to install a range hood, although the price you pay may fall anywhere between $400 and $1,500 depending on what type of range hood you choose. Much of that price tag goes toward installation, which runs from $200 to more than $1,000.

If you hire a professional to install the hood, expect to pay between $50 and $100 per hour. It’s an idea worth considering, as faulty connections could lead to an unexpected smoke-filled kitchen experience the first time you fire up the vents.

A range hood installation professional near you will get you feeling and cooking like a five-star chef in no time.

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