How to shop for a kitchen range hood

Find out why you need to invest in a good range hood for the kitchen and how to go about choosing the best one.

How to shop for a kitchen range hood

Why you need a range hood

You don't have to be a celebrity chef to know that a powerful range hood is essential equipment in the kitchen. Some sources claim that in an average home, as much as 4-1/2 litres (1 gallon) of cooking fat can be deposited on your walls, ceilings, and cupboards in any given year. Gross? Definitely. But it's also damaging to your kitchen and your health.

Why you need the air out

Consumer Reports states, "We do not recommend a ductless (un-vented) hood, as it will take the smoke and odours being generated by the stove and disperse them throughout the kitchen and the rest of the home."

The key is that your range hood is vented to the outside by the most direct method possible. If you like to cook, installing a vent for your range is likely a worthwhile investment that might even increase your property value.

Types of range hoods

Choosing the right range hood usually comes down to the layout and structure of your kitchen, local building codes, and your own style preferences. The basic styles are 'island' for ranges that are built into a kitchen island or peninsula, 'wall/chimney' for ranges that are against a wall and the vent stack is visible going up from the hood to the duct, and 'under cabinet' for hoods that fit underneath cabinetry.

Fan power

Next choice: fan power. Larger kitchens will require more powerful extractor fans. Calculate the volume of your kitchen by multiplying its height by its length and width. Fans are either rotary (a standard fan) or centrifugal (barrel-shaped). A centrifugal fan moves more air and is quieter. Cubic feet per minute (CFM) is used to rate air movement. A range hood with higher CFM will move more air.

Go big

Consumer Reports says, "Don't size down. This is one time when bigger often is better. Any hood you consider should be at least as wide as the cooking surface it will be installed above. And avoid downdraft hoods, which have been unimpressive in our tests."

Shop around

Consumer Reports also notes, "While you can spend about $1,000 for some models we tested, several delivered excellent overall performance for far less money." In choosing your range hood, try online buying guides from different retailers. Some of them are quite helpful.

Important reminders

Be sure to get a range hood that has at least two vent speeds and ample lighting. Range hoods should be installed with a minimum of 24" clearance from an electric stove and 30" clearance from a gas stove. Always read and follow manufacturer instructions.

Happy Cooking!

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