Choose The Right Range Hood for Your Kitchen

wood range hood with chimney

Choose The Right Range Hood for Your Kitchen

Do you know how to choose the right range hood for your kitchen? Should you consider looks? Function? With ducts or ductless? Wood? Metal?

When it comes time to make decisions for your new kitchen, it can seem overwhelming. And not all of your choices will be sexy. There are things that go on behind the scenes that are just as important as your countertop selection and cabinet finish. And one of these is your range hood.

Island range hood

Do You Need a Range Hood? Yes, You Do.

A range hood has many benefits. It will:

  • Provide extra lighting to your cooking space, which aids in prep safety.
  • Contribute to keeping your new kitchen cleaner.  When greasy smoke spreads, it will cover your new cabinets, appliances and countertops, and make them harder to clean.
  • Reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, which can occur if your cooking space isn’t properly ventilated.
  • Remove the worry about the smoke detector going off just because you’re cooking.

Range Hoods Are Necessary

Vent hoods and exhaust systems are a necessity in any kitchen. Cooking has some undesirable by-products: grease, smoke, moisture and smells. And all of them hang in the air when there is no air filtration. Proper ventilation can minimize the effects of the grease and neutralize smells by drawing them out of the kitchen air.

Range Hood as Focal Point

Range hood as focal point

Your vent and filtration system may not be glamorous, but you have to have it. On the plus side, it’s possible to get a vent hood that looks sensational while doing its dirty work.

range hood blower & ducts

From a design point of view, the range hood often serves as the focal point of a kitchen. Whether it stands alone or has cabinets on either side, it adds to the overall vibe of the room. Plus, it makes a statement about the person who chose it. For example, a large pro style hood says there’s a serious cook who works in this kitchen!

Here’s a range hood that definitely makes a statement. The Northstar range hood by Elmira Stove Works does a powerful job as a ventilation system. However, what makes it different and attention-grabbing is that color matched or complementary colored backsplashes can be added to coordinate the range and the hood.

Different Materials and Styles for Range Hoods

Wood, all metal – typically stainless steel — and a combination of metal and glass are the most commonly used materials to choose from. If you’re going to have a custom hood made, there are other options.

metal and glass chimney range hood

And for the shape, there’s boxy, curved, contemporary, even futuristic. It’s all about what you like.

Talk about futuristic. The Miele DA 6798 W Shape Wall Vent Hood has blowers on two sides that provide suction with low noise. The hood is connected wirelessly to the cooktop below (using a Meile app) and the cooktop settings are transmitted to the hood controls, which then select the correct fan setting.

Wood Range Hoods

Wood hoods are considered traditional. With curves, corbels, mantels and other decorative accents, they look like a furniture piece.

Wood hoods can be quite expensive, ranging in price from around $1600 to many thousands. And that doesn’t include the cost of the insert, liner and blower, the essential guts of the exhaust system.

hearth style range hood
Custom hearth style range hood

It’s possible to get the wood hood finished to match the cabinet finish. Some homeowners have chosen ship lap or bead board for their wood hoods. The choice is yours.

Range hood made from ship lap

Castlewood is offering shiplap hoods in six different colors.  

Hearth Style Range Hoods

Hearth style is a type of wood hood, sometimes called a cooking enclosure, because the sides extend down to the countertop and enclose the stove.

Whether finished with stain or paint, hearth style hoods make a strong style statement. They can include decorative onlays, corbels and moldings. The hearth hood creates a nice frame for tile backsplashes.

Although today’s trends are more contemporary, with minimal, or no, embellishment, many homeowners love the look of the hearth style enclosure.

Hearth style range hood with “legs”

Another nice feature of the hearth style hood is that it can have hidden pull-out storage in the “legs”. (The legs are the sides of this type of hood.) This is an ideal location for spice pull-outs.  

Mantel Range Hoods

Range hood with mantel

Like the hearth hood, mantel hoods are also wood, and like the hearth style hood, they are built by the cabinetmaker as part of the cabinet order. This hood style has a shelf, which is the mantel. A mantel hood creates a pulled-together look for the kitchen. It looks like part of the run of wall cabinets.

People who like to shake things up have their hood finished in a different color from the wall cabinets to create contrast.

Mantel hoods provide a great stage for displaying collectibles. They can be as simple or ornate as the overall kitchen design dictates.

Metal Range Hoods

Depending on the design, a metal hood usually costs more than a wood hood. But for the homeowners who want something unusual, they will get it with a metal hood.

Metal range hood in contemporary kitchen

The most popular metal choices are copper and stainless, but there’s also zinc and enamel, if you want something truly unique. But be warned, unique equals pricey in the custom kitchen world.

Range Hoods with Chimney

Range hood with chimney

Chimney style hoods can be metal, wood or metal (typically stainless) and glass. Style-wise, they’re versatile and will fit in anywhere. A stainless chimney hood is especially nice when the kitchen features stainless appliances.

Price-wise, these vent hoods are mid-range. They combine form and function in a moderately priced appliance.

These units are installed against the wall of the kitchen. They are called “chimney-style” because their shape — a rising rectangular column — resembles the shape of a home chimney.

Metal range hood with chimney

No matter what your taste or style preferences may be, there’s a chimney hood that will work in your new kitchen and make you happy.

It’s possible to get Fisher & Paykel Classic Range hoods in red, black, white and stainless. They’re available in 30” and 36” widths, have three fan speeds and include LEDs for lighting your stove top.

Thermador has re-designed its Masterpiece and Professional Ventilation systems to fit into any kitchen design style. These hoods come with noise control technology, delay shut off and an automatic function that senses heat from the cooking surface and adjusts fan speeds.  

Island Hoods for Cooktops

Also called ceiling-mounted chimney hoods, these higher-end models can be quite dramatic! Many styles are available such as glass canopies, curved metal and traditionally styled hoods.

Island range hood

Island hoods are designed for installation in spaces where there isn’t a wall to attach the hood. Thus, over a cooktop installed in an island.  Instead of the vent connecting to ducts in the wall, it vents out the smoke through the ceiling.

Island Hoods tend to be on the more expensive side, but many of them are beautiful and sleek looking. If you are planning to have a cooktop in the island in the middle of your kitchen, this will be your choice.

Downdraft Hoods

Downdraft exhaust fan

Not really a hood, but really an exhaust fan. Downdraft hoods are hidden in the cooktop and pop up when in use to pull the steam and smoke horizontally across the range. They are generally regarded as being inefficient because they’re not close enough to the cooking source. In addition, they don’t do a very good job of capturing grease and odors in the air.

However, they are handy for people who want their range hood to stay out of sight when not in use. And they do provide some ventilation, especially when used with a cooktop installed in the island.

They’re a good choice for people with cooktops in the island who don’t want to or can’t afford to spend the money on an island range hood. Or they don’t want to build ductwork into the ceiling.

Gaggenau’s downdraft ventilation unit comes with an air-quality sensor that detects odor and reacts automatically with the appropriate power level. The metal ducting system has one blower in the cabinet toe kick for added storage under the cooktop.

Budget-friendly Options

We know that not everyone can afford a custom hood. We offer here some recommendations for budget-friendly kitchen remodels.

Ducted vs. Non-Ducted Range Hoods

Ideally, you want unwanted smoke, odors, humidity and heat vented outside with a ducted vent hood. If that’s not possible, the next best solution is to filter and recirculate the air back into the kitchen using a non-ducted vent hood. The decision to go with this type of hood comes down to budget. A non-ducted hood does a pretty good job of eliminating grease and odor when the filters are regularly cleaned and replaced.

Low-Profile, Under-Cabinet Hoods.

Low profile under cabinet range hood

The economical choice when it comes to vent hoods is a non-ducted under-cabinet hood. These basic units recirculate the air back into the kitchen, trapping a portion of the grease and odors in replaceable filters.

Under-cabinet range hood

A Professional style hood without a chimney gets mounted to the bottom of a cabinet or mounted to the wall. Available in stainless, they match stainless appliances. Low-profile under-cabinet hoods are an option that’s less expensive than the other hoods mentioned above. However, be aware that they are noisy and only not very effective at pulling grease and odors out of the room.

Under cabinet range hoods from KOBE include a flame and temperature sensor that will automatically turn on and adjust the fan speed while cooking. It then turns off after cooking. In addition to use during cooking, this hood uses very little power to turn on the fan in QuietMode for ten minutes every hour to refresh the air.

Appliance maker Bosch has introduced ductless cabinet-depth (12” deep) ventilation inserts. Not really a hood, but ventilation, nevertheless. Homeowners with contemporary kitchens want clean lines and flush installs, and this unit fits the bill. Even the controls are recessed.

Microwave Hoods

And then there’s Microwave Hoods, the least expensive and also the least efficient option. If you’re getting a new kitchen to replace builder’s grade appliances, you will probably be replacing one of these. Builders love them because they’re cheap and easy to install.

Microwave Hoods are not ideal because there’s no canopy to capture grease and odors. The canopy is where air is captured under the blower before it gets pulls it out.

Plus, the location of the microwave above the stove is not very safe. Shorter people can’t reach them, and hot liquids can easily spill. This has nothing to do with how it works as a vent hood, but has everything to do with kitchen safety.

Custom range hood with mantel shelf

Vent Hood Functionality Facts and Considerations

1. Vent hoods remove:

  • “Bad air”, like smoke that irritates lungs and eyes.
  • Cooking odors
  • Noxious gasses, like carbon monoxide and those given off by gas stoves.
  • Steam
  • Grease. A typical family creates 2-1/2 gallons per year! Think of all that grease on your beautiful new cabinets.

2. Vent hood sizing dimensions are important:

  • Taller is better because the chamber underneath the hood will be deeper.
  • The hood must be at least the width of the range. The preferred width is an additional 3” to 6” so it captures more smoke and odors
  • From a design point of view, a hood slightly wider than the range just looks better and more balanced.

3. Where the vent hood gets mounted depends on whether the hood is non-combustible (metal) or combustible (wood). For maximum efficiency, closer to source is better. A metal hood should be 27” to 32” above the burners. The IRC (International Residential Code) requires that wood hoods be 30” to 36” away from burners. With many manufacturers, 36” is the minimum.

When considering where the hood gets mounted, take the cook’s height into consideration. A tall cook is not going to be happy hitting his/her head on the hood while cooking. The height should be increased to accommodate the cook’s height.

4. Noise. Most vent hoods are going to be loud, at least on the highest settings. Some models try to be more quiet than usual. However, they still make some noise, but not as much. If you have the opportunity to visit a showroom, you can hear in person how loud or quiet a model is. If that’s not possible, customer reviews are probably your best bet for figuring out what to expect from the noise of your vent hood.

Wood chimney style range hood

Now For Some Numbers

Warning: Math ahead. Don’t worry, your kitchen designer will walk you through all of this. However, you should have all the facts to make informed decisions.

Definitions first:

  • CFM is cubic feet of air moved per minute.
  • BTU is British Thermal unit or how much energy it takes to raise one pound of water up one degree F.

To figure out how many CFM’s your new vent hood should have, the formula is

100 CFM/1000 BTU

Add up the BTU’s of each burner and divide by 100. A 50,000 BTU range needs 500 CFM minimum.

Don’t worry – your kitchen designer will figure this out for you.

There You Have It

There’s more to selecting a range hood than simply the material, finish and shape. How it works at removing grease, smoke and odors from your room must also be considered. Your kitchen designer will help you get the one best suited to your style preferences, kitchen size, budget and the way you cook.

 We at Kitchen Design Partner want you to have the facts you need to make an informed decision.

Sources used in this article and resources for further information

KDP exists to offer insight and advice about all things related to kitchen remodeling. Our goal is to connect homeowners with talented, experienced kitchen designers who live and work in their communities. We are a serious resource for anyone preparing to remodel their kitchen so they can make the best possible choices about designers, contractors and products.