A range hood is an important addition to any kitchen. It helps remove smoke, grease, odors, and excess heat while you cook. But with so many options on the market, how do you choose the right range hood for your needs? Here are the key factors to consider when adding a range hood to your kitchen.

Types of Range Hoods

There are several main types of range hoods to choose from:

Ducted Range Hoods

Ducted range hoods are the most effective at removing pollutants from the kitchen during cooking. They are installed with a duct that vents directly outside. This allows all the captured air and contaminants to be expelled from the home.


  • More powerful air flow which leads to better filtration
  • All pollutants are vented outside rather than recirculated


  • More expensive professional installation
  • Ducting must be run from the hood to the outside

Ductless Range Hoods

As the name suggests, ductless range hoods recirculate the air back into the kitchen rather than venting it outside. They filter out contaminants and odors before releasing the air back into the room.


  • Less expensive and easier DIY installation
  • No need for exterior ducting


  • Not as effective at capturing pollutants
  • Odors and contaminants are recirculated into kitchen

Convertible Range Hoods

Convertible range hoods can be installed as either ducted or ductless. This offers flexibility based on your installation constraints and ventilation needs.


  • Can be adapted for ducted or ductless use
  • Only need one hood model for both installation types


  • More expensive than dedicated ducted or ductless hoods
  • Ventilation performance not as specialized for ducted or ductless operation

Wall-Mount vs Island Range Hoods

In addition to the ducting method, you also need to consider the mount style based on your kitchen layout:

Wall-mount hoods are installed against a wall above your stove or cooktop. This is the most common style.

Island hoods hang from the ceiling above a free-standing island stove or cooktop. They require more installation effort.

Size and Dimensions

Choosing the right size range hood comes down to two key factors:

Coverage Area

The hood needs to be large enough to adequately capture and contain the smoke, grease, and odors produced by your cooking appliances. As a general rule, it should cover the entire cooktop surface.

For a 30-36 inch cooktop or range, you’ll want a standard 30-36 inch wide hood.

For a larger commercial style or double oven range, you may need a 42-48 inch or even 60 inch wide hood.

Don’t size down too small or you’ll miss contaminants at the edges.

Ceiling Height and Ducting

Consider your ceiling height and required ducting runs when choosing the height and depth of your range hood.

The bottom of the hood should be 24-30 inches above the cooktop or range for optimal performance. For a standard 8 ft ceiling, you usually need at least a 30 inch tall hood.

For a higher 10 ft ceiling, you may need a 42-48 inch tall hood. The greater the distance between your cooktop and hood, the less effective it will be.

Make sure to account for any soffits, cabinets, or hardware that may be in the way when measuring. Also consider the minimum ducting run you need to reach the exterior venting point. Longer ducts require deeper hoods.

Air Flow and Suction Power

An appropriately powered fan is vital for a hood to properly remove contaminants. Hoods are measured by the maximum cubic feet per minute (CFM) of air flow they can create.

For a standard residential hood, look for 400-600 CFM. Up to 1200 CFM is available for commercial style ranges.

Compare this to the CFM recommendations based on your cooktop size:

  • 30” cooktop = minimum 400 CFM
  • 36” cooktop = minimum 600 CFM
  • 48” cooktop = minimum 900 CFM
  • 60” cooktop = minimum 1200 CFM

Too little CFM will lead to poor air filtration and lingering odors. Choose the most powerful CFM within your budget. Also note the sound ratings, as higher CFMs often mean louder fans.

Filtration System

Range hoods use metal grease filters to capture vaporized grease and oil. Look for easily removable dishwasher-safe filters for simple maintenance.

Many hoods also include charcoal filters for removing odors from recirculated air. These need replaced every 6-12 months.

Some high-end models also have electronic air cleaners or UV lamps to help destroy bacteria and microbes.

Special Features

Several other special features to consider when comparing range hood options:

  • Multiple fan speeds – Low, medium, and high settings allow you to adjust airflow to your cooking needs.
  • Adjustable chimneys – Extendable chimneys allow you to customize the hood’s proximity to your cooktop.
  • Automatic shut-off – Some models will automatically turn off after several minutes to save energy.
  • Halogen lights – Bright lighting illuminates your cooking area but stays cooler than standard bulbs.
  • Quiet operation – Look for noise ratings under 65 dB on average for the quietest models.
  • Smart connectivity – Wifi and bluetooth enabled hoods allow you to remotely monitor and operate them.

Ventilation Requirements

Proper ventilation is key to an effective range hood system. Consider the following ducting requirements:

  • For best capture, have a short and straight duct run. Long ducts with elbows reduce performance.
  • Use rigid metal ductwork. Flexible plastic ducts can sag over time and reduce air flow.
  • The duct size should match the hood’s exhaust outlet. Typically 6″ or 7″ round.
  • Fasten all connections with metal duct tape to maximize air flow and prevent leaks.
  • The exterior damper flap should have a straight upward orientation when closed to keep the elements out.
  • Install a backdraft damper in the hood to prevent outdoor air from entering when the fan is off.

Following manufacturer specifications for ducting installation is highly recommended. Consulting a professional can help ensure optimal airflow.

Energy Efficiency

Look for Energy Star certified range hoods for the most energy efficient models. Key factors that improve efficiency:

  • CFM rating – The higher the airflow, the faster smoke and odors are removed, meaning quicker cooking times and less need for ventilation.
  • Fan speeds – Multiple speeds allow you to use lower settings to conserve energy when possible.
  • LED lights – Bright and long-lasting LED lights save energy compared to standard bulbs.
  • Automatic shut-off – Hoods that turn off automatically after 5-15 minutes of inactivity help save electricity.
  • Quality materials – Sturdy materials, tight duct joints, and balanced motor operation reduce energy waste.

A more efficient hood means lower electricity bills and a reduced carbon footprint for your household.

Installation Considerations

Proper installation of your range hood maximizes its functionality and longevity. Here are key factors to consider:

Electrical Work

  • A 120V grounded electrical connection is required.
  • The receptacle should be placed inside the hood’s chassis prior to mounting.
  • For ducted hoods, you may need wiring to support an exterior damper.
  • Use the shortest possible wire run between breaker and receptacle.

Cabinet Preparation

  • Remove existing cabinets or make cut-outs to accommodate the hood chassis.
  • Install wood blocking reinforcements for mounting screw anchors.
  • Use filler panels and trim molding for a seamless built-in fit.

Ductwork Planning

  • Plot the shortest duct run between the hood and outdoor vents.
  • Make any necessary cuts in cabinets, walls, and roofing for ducting.
  • Use roof caps or wall vents with integrated dampers to seal venting.

Follow All Codes

  • Comply with all local building codes for electrical and fire safety.
  • Venting should meet NFPA 96 ventilation requirements.
  • Use UL-approved hoods tested for safety and performance.

A licensed contractor specializing in range hood installation is highly recommended, especially for ducted installations.

What to Consider When Adding a Range Hood:

When shopping for a new range hood, keep the following key considerations in mind:

  • Hood type – Choose from ducted, ductless, or convertible.
  • Size – Width should match cooktop. Height depends on ceiling and ducting needs.
  • Power – Look for a CFM rating appropriate for your cooktop size.
  • Features – Filtering system, lights, fan speeds, noise level, and more.
  • Ducting – Follow ventilation requirements for optimal airflow.
  • Installation – Electrical, cabinetry, and ductwork needs.

Choosing the right specifications for your cooking needs and home layout is important for getting a high performing range hood system. Carefully measuring your space, cooktop, and venting requirements helps ensure the best fit.

Seeking professional installation assistance is also highly recommended. A properly installed hood will allow you to reap the benefits of fresh indoor air for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How important is a range hood?

A range hood is extremely important for any kitchen with a cooktop or range. It serves a vital function by capturing smoke, grease, moisture, hazardous gases, and other airborne contaminants produced during cooking. Removing these pollutants provides huge benefits for your indoor air quality and helps prevent damage or discoloration to your cabinets, walls, and appliances over time. Proper ventilation also aids your comfort and safety while cooking.

Q: Do I need a ducted or ductless range hood?

Ducted range hoods are more effective at removing contaminants through external venting, but they require professional installation and ductwork running outside. Ductless models recirculate air back into the kitchen so are simpler to install, but odors and residue may linger. Ductless works well for light duty cooking. For frequent use or commercial ranges, a ducted model is strongly recommended.

Q: How do I choose the right size range hood?

The range hood should cover the entire cooktop surface to effectively capture odors, smoke, and grease. Measure your cooktop width and choose a hood at least that wide or slightly larger. Standard options are 30, 36, 42, or 48 inches. The hood should hang 24-30 inches above cooktop. Consider ceiling height and required ducting runs to choose the optimal overall size.

Q: What CFM do I need for my kitchen?

CFM stands for cubic feet per minute of air flow. For a typical 30-36 inch residential range, look for a minimum of 400-600 CFM. Larger commercial ranges may need 900-1200 CFM or more. Match the CFM to the size of your cooktop for optimal ventilation:

  • 30” cooktop = minimum 400 CFM
  • 36” cooktop = minimum 600 CFM
  • 48” cooktop = minimum 900 CFM
  • 60” cooktop = minimum 1200 CFM

This ensures all smoke, grease, and odors are captured. Balance CFM needs with noise levels – higher airflow means louder fans.

Q: Is a range hood hard to install?

Basic ductless hoods can be installed as a DIY project if you have some electrical and cabinetry experience. But ducted range hoods require cutting holes for ductwork, roof venting, wiring an exterior damper, and more. Professional installation is strongly recommended for any ducted application to ensure proper functioning, code compliance, and safety.


Installing a high quality range hood brings immense value to your kitchen by promoting air quality, reducing noise, and protecting your family’s health and home surfaces. Carefully consider all the factors of performance, features, sizing, and installation when selecting your hood. Ducted range hoods are the gold standard for performance, while ductless models provide simpler installation. Following local codes and the manufacturer’s instructions helps ensure your hood operates safely and effectively. With some planning and smart shopping, adding a range hood provides long-lasting benefits that make cooking a pleasure.