All About Kitchen Vent Hoods

Your kitchen hood vents, indispensable companions to your cooking appliances, play a crucial role in maintaining clean air within your culinary space. Selecting the right vent hood involves considering various factors to ensure optimal performance.

Anyone who has experienced the oversight of neglecting to activate the fan while striving for the perfect sear on a pan of fish fillets understands the significance of effective ventilation. Beyond simply dispelling unwanted odors, these vents efficiently eliminate moisture, grease, as well as harmful pollutants such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, which cooking can release into the air.

Far from mere inconveniences, studies highlight that inadequate ventilation during cooking contributes to poor indoor air quality, impacting overall health. Consequently, both the International Residential Code and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency strongly recommend homeowners install vent hoods. These systems capture, filter, and expel cooking fumes outside through vents located on exterior walls or roofs.

With modern homes being better insulated and the popularity of high-BTU commercial-style ranges on the rise, proper ventilation has emerged as a crucial consideration. Choosing the right range hood involves assessing your range’s power and usage patterns, making it not only a practical necessity but also a significant stylistic decision for your kitchen.

The positive aspect is that, while range hoods are essential for functionality, the market offers a diverse array of aesthetic options. Whether you lean towards the utilitarian appeal of stainless steel, a discreet insert seamlessly blending with cabinetry, an artisan-crafted copper chimney, or a contemporary glass unit, there exists a style that perfectly suits your kitchen preferences.

Vent Hood Vitals: Important Questions to Ask

How much does it cost?

The cost of kitchen hood vents can vary based on factors such as size, functionality, and style. A basic 30-inch hood is available for under $100, while a custom copper 60-inch ceiling-mount chimney-style unit can cost over $20,000. High-style hoods with mid-range pricing typically hover around $1,000.

DIY or hire a pro?

When it comes to installation, replacing a similar unit involves basic electrical work for wiring connection and is a straightforward task. However, installing a new vent requires cutting holes in walls, ceilings, or roofs and running ductwork. This could be managed by an experienced DIYer or may be better suited for a professional contractor.

Where to buy?

For purchasing, hoods are available for order online or can be found at appliance retailers, showrooms, restaurant suppliers, and home centers.

What about maintenance?

Maintenance is a crucial aspect, with experts advising the cleaning of filters after every 30 hours of use, typically equating to a monthly or bi-monthly routine, to ensure optimal functioning of the hood.

Vent Hood Parts

Sump: An inverted area located along the rim, designed to collect fumes until the fan can expel them. It is recommended to have a depth of at least 1 inch.

Filter: A component that captures grease before it reaches the blower and ductwork. Metal mesh filters are the most commonly used type.

Blower: Also known as a fan, it is responsible for moving air into the duct. While most blowers are situated in the hood, they can also be located in-line, within the duct itself, or externally (inset) at the termination of the duct.

Ductwork: A metal channel that guides the air towards the exhaust vent.

Damper: A mechanism that prevents outside air from entering when the fan is not in operation.

Note: Vent hoods with a capacity exceeding 400 cfm necessitate the introduction of makeup air from outside when the unit is operational. This air can be sourced from a supply fan, a motorized damper, or another suitable source.

Under The Hood

Ventilation Method: Choosing the ducted ventilation is always preferable over recirculating air within your home. Recirculating fans employ charcoal filters to purify the air and release it back into the house, particularly in situations where external ducting is impractical, as in many apartment buildings. While a recirculating hood is a viable option when no other ventilation is possible, it should not be used with professional-style appliances.

Power Consideration: When selecting a hood, the blower’s capacity, measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm), is a crucial factor. The size and power of your burners dictate the required cfm. Refer to the “Calculator” section below for assistance in determining the appropriate capacity.

Proper Measurements: The width of the hood should be at least equal to your cooking surface, with an additional 3 inches on each side for enhanced efficiency. The depth should cover the back burners and a minimum of half of the front burners, although full coverage is optimal. The height at which the hood hangs above your cooktop influences its effectiveness. For wall- or island-mounts, a height of approximately 30 inches above the cooktop is recommended, while undercabinet-mounts, often less powerful with smaller ducts, should be positioned 24 inches above the range. If opting for a higher placement than recommended, a wider unit extending 3 inches beyond both sides of the range and a higher cfm are necessary (refer to the “Calculator” section below).

Noise Consideration: To avoid a noisy fan, check the sones (1 sone equals about 40 decibels). Fans set on low typically register under 1 sone, but higher speeds can exceed 10. For a quieter unit, seek one with 6 or fewer sones at 600 cfm.

Calculator: How Many CFM Do You Need?

Range Hood Height, Surface Area Considerations & More

For optimal kitchen ventilation, adhere to the following guidelines: allocate 100 CFM for each linear foot of cooking surface. When dealing with pro-style ranges, employ a formula of 100 CFM for every 10,000 BTUs generated by your appliance. Additionally, factor in the height of the hood above the cooktop – for each 3-inch increment beyond the recommended height, include an extra 100 CFM.

Island hoods necessitate increased CFM to counter cross drafts. Calculate 150 CFM per linear foot for conventional cooktops and supplement the pro-range estimate with an extra 100 CFM. Tailor your CFM requirements based on your cooking habits; if high-heat methods like grilling or stir-frying are infrequent, a lower CFM might suffice.

Extra Features That May (or May Not) be Worth Your Money

Multiple fan speeds: Offering multiple fan speeds, it’s often sufficient to have high and low settings. When all burners are in use at maximum capacity, higher ventilation is necessary, while a lower speed can effectively handle cooking with one or two pans over medium heat.

Heat sensors: Some units are equipped with heat sensors, enabling automatic fan activation or adjustment to the appropriate speed by detecting temperature changes. For added convenience, consider models with remote control functionality, particularly beneficial for hard-to-reach island hoods or when briefly stepping away from the stove.

Remote control: A remote control proves beneficial for island hoods situated in challenging locations or for instances when you are momentarily away from the stove.

Exhaust timers: Featuring exhaust timers, certain units automatically shut off the blower after a designated period, typically around 10 minutes. This proves useful when you want the fan to continue running to eliminate lingering odors.

Built-in storage: For those with limited cabinet and counter space, explore hoods with built-in storage options. Look for designs with rails around the front and sides, allowing for the hanging of small pans and utensils. Some models even create a shallow shelf at the hood’s edge for added functionality.

Range Hood Venting Options


This category occupies minimal visual space but sacrifices storage when the duct runs through the upper cabinet. Some hoods seamlessly integrate beneath cabinetry, remaining flush until needed. Vented combination microwave hoods are an alternative for space efficiency, although they may offer lower power.


Stainless-steel units featuring exposed ductwork create a professional, commercial-kitchen aesthetic. However, a range of shapes and materials allows for customization to suit various styles.

Ceiling-Mount Chimney

Typically suspended above an island, these units can be more expensive due to their finished appearance on all sides. It’s important to note that some models with internal blowers, while powerful, may generate considerable noise.


This slim vent retracts behind the cooktop into the cabinet below. While it offers a space-saving design, it tends to be less effective as it pulls rising smoke downward. Some models extend to 14 inches for improved capture, but they are not recommended for high-BTU cooktops.


This wall-hung style draws in smoke through vents around its edges instead of the center, providing more headroom. However, it may lack the power required for ranges exceeding 90,000 BTUs.

Vent Hood Insert

The essential components of the hood—a power pack and a liner—can be discreetly concealed inside cabinetry or a custom-built hood.

Vent Hood Ducts:

When dealing with ductwork, it’s about getting the sizes right.

  • Go for ducting that’s the same size as the vent opening or a bit larger. The stronger the hood, the bigger the duct needed. For example, a regular 400-CFM unit needs a 6-inch duct, while a 1,200-CFM model requires a 10- to 12-inch duct.
  • Choose the smooth galvanized metal ducting instead of flexible or corrugated types for better airflow. Seal joints using duct-joint mastic tape.
  • Keep duct runs direct and short. Use gentle, 45-degree turns instead of sharp 90-degree ones. The fewer turns, the more efficient the system will be.

Noise Reduction Solutions

Concerned that a powerful vent hood might be too noisy, making it hard to chat while you cook? Even though most fans are inside the hood, they can also be put in different spots to lessen the noise. Just let them know where you want it when you order the hood.

In-line fans are in the ductwork in the wall or between the ceiling beams. However, while the fan noise might be less, you could still hear the duct vibrating.

A better choice is a remote or external fan, where the fan is on the roof or outside wall with the vent. Putting the fan outside can also give you more space in the cabinet.

Vent Hood Filter

Let’s break down the three most common grease-trapping methods:

Metal Mesh

The hood’s fan pulls smoke and vapors through layers of aluminum or stainless-steel mesh, catching the grease. These filters, which can be cleaned regularly and are often dishwasher-friendly, prevent clogs that may hinder airflow.


More typical in high-cfm, commercial-style units, these slat-style metal filters make the smoke change direction multiple times, causing grease droplets to separate and drip down into a tray for cleaning.

Centrifugal Traps

Instead of a filter, centrifugal force within the fan turns grease into liquid, collected in a removable tray or cup for cleaning. These hoods require fewer cfm than those with baffles or mesh for the same job, often with less noise since there are no filters to slow the airflow.

Hood Vent Styles

Traditional Mantel

Constructing a custom wood mantel lets you recess a hood insert above the stove, making it nearly invisible. The mantel’s design can be simple or intricate, blending with your cabinetry or becoming a standout feature. For example, a white-painted version with vertical planks frames a vibrant cherry-red stove and includes a display shelf.

Luxe Metalwork

A copper hood warms up stainless appliances. Paired with distressed painted cabinets, this bell-shaped hood adds additional old-world charm.

Warm Modern Look

For a seamless appearance, have your cabinetmaker create a matching custom hood fitted with an insert. Combining wood grain with a band of stone mosaic tile trim can enhance the overall aesthetic.

Cottage Character

A matching hood complements this vintage stove, featuring a white finish and chrome straps and accents. It harmonizes perfectly with the circa 1930s Magic Chef range.