How to Choose a Kitchen Vent Hood

kitchen vent hood

A kitchen vent hood pulls smoke and vapors from your cooking area and exhausts them outdoors, protecting you and your family from air pollution. They’re often called range hoods, although they can be installed in other places than above a stove. Vent hoods use fan power to generate airflow and push the contaminants through a system of ducting that either connects outside or to a wall or roof vent. While replacing a vent hood may be a do-it-yourself project, installing a new one typically requires cutting holes in walls or ceilings and running ductwork, so it’s best left to contractors.

A large number of options exist for ventilation hoods, and the type you choose should be compatible with your stove and kitchen layout. The simplest and most affordable are vents that run through a single wall or into the ceiling and vent outside. These can be placed in a wide range of locations, including a corner, side, or the back of a cabinet.

Chimney wall hoods are another popular choice. They can be hung at different heights to accommodate a variety of ceilings, and the chimney-like shape adds to the kitchen’s aesthetic. However, they tend to be less effective than other types because they capture rising odors and smoke from the center of the room rather than from all directions.

These hoods use a powerful blower to create airflow and propel it past a stainless steel filter that’s designed to trap grease droplets. The filters are removable and can usually be popped into the dishwasher, but regular cleaning is important to prevent grease clogs that slow down airflow. Some vent hoods also include a “sump” inverted area along the rim that collects fumes until the fan is turned on to evacuate them.

If you want to avoid loud whirs, consider opting for an in-line or in-wall model that has the blower positioned inside the ductwork. These hoods can be quieter than some others, but keep in mind that they’ll still make noise and drown out conversation.

Vent hoods that connect to the exterior or into the soffit of the house can be quieter still but aren’t as efficient because they can’t force air through multiple turns. It’s best to stick with the shortest duct runs possible to minimize noise and efficiency losses.

Depending on your budget and kitchen layout, you may want to consider a built-in or island ventilation hood that integrates with your cabinetry to provide a more seamless look. These can be more expensive than other hoods, but they’re an attractive and affordable way to clean the air in your kitchen without breaking the bank.

Stainless-steel units with exposed ductwork are a timeless design, but you can find hoods in a range of materials and finishes to suit your style. Some hoods even come with rails or shallow shelves that save space on your countertop and let you hang small pans and utensils. If you have limited storage space, consider a hood that fits underneath your cabinets or a combined microwave-vent hood that slides out from under the upper cabinet when needed.