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Guide to Buying a Range Hood

Five questions to ask before you shop for a new kitchen range hood.

For every cooktop or range, there’s a range hood -- kitchen ventilation to remove heat, steam, odors, grease, smoke and hazardous gases that result from cooking. Here are five questions you need to ask before finding the right range hood for your kitchen.

1. How will the range hood be vented?

Range hoods can expel exhaust outside via ductwork in a wall or the roof (vented) or inside the home (ventless). A vented range hood will remove more heat and pollutants and cost more -- to buy and install -- than a ventless model.

2. Where will the range hood be installed?
Updraft range hoods have a canopy and are typically installed 18 to 30 inches above the cooking surface. They can be attached to a wall, the bottom of a cabinet, or the ceiling above an island or peninsula. Downdraft models are hoodless and are typically installed behind the cooktop. More likely to be ventless, they are popular for -- though not restricted to -- islands and peninsulas.

3. What size range hood should I choose?
For downdraft vents, choose a model that is at least as wide as the cooktop. For updraft range hoods, choose a model that is deep enough to cover all the burners. Wall-mount and under-cabinet models should be at least as wide as the cooktop. Island hoods should overlap the cooktop by 3 to 6 inches on each side.

4. How much power do I need?

Range hood power is determined by the amount of air the appliance moves and is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). You will need at least 0.25 CFM for every cubic foot in your kitchen, plus 100 CFM for every 10,000 British thermal units (BTUs) of power generated by your cooktop or range. Round up to the nearest CFM model available.

Example: For a kitchen that is 9 feet wide, 11 feet long and 8 feet high with a 30,000 BTU range, choose a range hood with a rating of at least 498 CFM.

9 x 11 x 8 = 792 cubic feet

792 x 0.25 = 198 CFM

198 + (30,000/100) = 498 CFM

5. What are the most important features of a range hood?

  • Canopy: Choose the material (tempered glass, metal or a combination) that suits your kitchen decor. A small kitchen may benefit from a range hood with a slide-out canopy that stores flush when not in use.
  • Fan: Look for a range hood with at least two fan speeds and low noise ratings (measured in sones).
  • Lights: Many models offer incandescent or halogen lights to illuminate the cooking surface. High-end models may also offer infrared warming lights to keep food hot.
  • Timer or auto shutoff: An energy-saving convenience, this feature limits fan time.
  • Remote control: This gadget lets you operate the range hood fan and lights from across the kitchen.
  • Heat sensor: This feature is designed to increase the fan speed to remove excess heat under the canopy.
  • Filters: Look for washable metal baffle or mesh filters and grease trays that are easy to remove and replace. A replaceable charcoal filter will reduce cooking odors.
  • Accessories: Add-ons such as a decorative backsplash (for wall- and under-cabinet range hoods), duct covers, shelves, pot racks and accessory rails can maximize kitchen storage and enhance decor.
  • Power pack: A vent system that fits inside a custom range hood. Just like with a freestanding range hood, match the power pack’s size and power to your cooker.
  • Blower: Consult with your contractor. If the distance of the ductwork for your range hood or power pack exceeds the manufacturer’s recommendations or other specs, you may need a separate in-line or external blower to optimize performance.