What Should I Look for When Buying a Range Hood?

Author: James Zhao, Sr. Tech Specialist & Alex Park, Product Specialist     

Whether you’re remodeling your kitchen or purchasing a range hood for the first time, it’s important to know your needs regarding important range hood features such as: mounting style, size, CFM capability, whether your setup requires a vent, noise level, and range hood aesthetics.

Understanding these details will help you choose a range hood with the right dimensions and features for your daily cooking needs. Below, we explain what to look for when buying a range hood.

What is a Range Hood?

First let's cover the basics. A kitchen range hood, also known as an exhaust hood or vent hood, is a device that is installed above a cooktop or stove to filter the air. Range hoods use a fan and air filtration system to remove smoke, heat, fumes, grease, and cooking odors and byproducts. These ventilation systems can contribute to a safer and more comfortable cooking environment by protecting your respiratory health and making your kitchen a cooler, cleaner place. 

Black under-cabinet range hood

What Type of Range Hood Do You Need?

Once you've established whether you need a range hood or not, the next step is knowing which kind. There are different range hood designs to consider when shopping for one. These include wall-mounted hoods, under-cabinet hoods, recirculating hoods, island hoods, downdraft hoods, and remote blower hoods. At FOTILE, we specialize in wall-mounted, under-cabinet, and recirculating hoods. 

Wall-Mounted Range Hoods

If your range or cooktop is against a wall, with no cabinets above it, you’ll need a wall-mounted range hood. These tend to be the most common range hoods and are available in different sizes (often 30-36 inches) and styles. Wall-mounted range hoods are also usually ducted range hoods, which ventilate the air outside of the home.

Under-Cabinet Range Hoods

If there are cabinets above your cooking area, you’ll likely want an under-cabinet range hood model. These are a good choice for saving space and can mount under a cabinet above a stove or cooktop. Under-cabinet range hoods may be ducted (vented outside) or ductless (vented inside using recirculation). 

Recirculating Range Hoods

If it's not possible to have ductwork ventilate your kitchen air outside, a recirculating range hood is likely what you'll need. These models filter air and recirculate it back into the house. Under-cabinet range hoods can often be converted to recirculating models with a recirculation kit.

Do You Need a Vented or Non-Vented Range Hood?

Whether you can choose a vented or non-vented range hood depends on if your home has ventilation ducts. If ducts are present, you can select a vented range hood that pulls air from your kitchen and deposits it outdoors. If your home has no ducts—or you live in an apartment—a non-vented range hood capable of filtering and recirculating the air back into your home is the best choice.

Alternatively, it’s fairly easy to install ducts in most single-family houses for better, more efficient ventilation.

How Large Should Your Range Hood Be?

The size of a range hood should be at least as wide as the cooktop or stove over which it is installed. However, it's often recommended to have a range hood be 6 inches wider than the cooktop. For example, a 30" cooktop would need a 30" or 36" range hood.

If your range hood is too small, it won’t filter hot air, smoke, or cooking vapors and odors efficiently and will leave you with a grimy, stuffy kitchen. But an oversized range hood could be too noisy, make your kitchen feel cramped, and get in the way while you’re trying to cook. The right size range hood will produce minimal sound, keep the air in your cooking space cool and fresh, and blend easily with the rest of your kitchen decor. 

For example, if you have a larger stove with up to 3 feet of cooking area, you’ll need a larger range hood, such as a 36-inch model. However, smaller 30-inch range hoods work well for most homes, including normal-sized kitchens as well as apartment kitchens and tiny homes with compact cooktops and less square footage. 

What CFM Should Your Range Hood Have?

The rate that range hoods vent air from a kitchen is measured in cubic feet per minute, or CFM. For instance, a range hood capable of 850 CFM can filter the air from an 850 cubic foot kitchen in just 60 seconds. 

The CFM that your range hood should have is based on the ratio of 100 CFM for every BTU of heat from your cooktop. For instance, if your cooktop is capable of 100,000 BTUs, you’ll need a range hood with at least 1,000 CFM. Having the proper amount of CFM for your range hood means it will adequately suction out smoke, heat, and cooking odors from your kitchen. 

You can usually find the maximum BTU production for your cooktop in the owner’s manual. If you can’t access your paper copy, many of these are now located on the manufacturers’ websites. (FOTILE product manuals are available here.)

How frequently you cook—and the size of your meals—is also an important consideration when choosing a range hood with proper CFM. For instance, if you tend to cook smaller meals only a few times a week, you’ll require slightly less ventilation than a home cook who prepares large family meals every day. 

How Can You Match the Range Hood's Colors to Your Kitchen Design?

A kitchen with a cozy-yet-modern design and quiet appliances is much more comfortable than a space with mismatched decor. When choosing a range hood, it’s important to have options available that fit your home’s design aesthetic. Neutral colors like stainless steel or black can make a range hood adaptable to all styles of kitchen decor, from ultra-modern to vintage designs.

How Should You Consider Range Hood Noise Levels?

Range hood noise levels are typically measured using sones. The higher the sone rating, the louder the hood will be. (You may also see hood noise levels listed in decibels or dB.) However, the size of your kitchen also plays a part in how loud your range hood will be. A large range hood in a small kitchen will naturally sound louder. Noise levels can also vary based on whether the hood is a ducted or ductless (recirculating) model, where the hood is located in the kitchen, and whether it's been installed correctly. Modern and higher-end range hoods are often designed to operate more quietly.

What Features Make a Range Hood's Operation More Convenient?

When you need ventilation in a pinch while cooking, intuitive controls on a range hood are helpful. Motion-activated on/off switches, for example, can enable you to operate your range hood easily without rushing across your kitchen or worrying about messy hands. Meanwhile, a delay-shutoff function can allow you to have your range hood continue working after you’ve finished cooking and then shut off automatically.

Remember to Read Customer Reviews As Well

No matter how good a range hood sounds, there’s no substitute for customer experience. Specifications and descriptions can tell you what a range hood is supposed to do, but customer reviews can help you determine whether it actually does those things as promised. 

If a particular model is supposed to be quiet, but most reviews say it’s actually noisy, it’s safe to say that range hood doesn’t deliver what it promises. On the other hand, if a majority of testimonials say a range hood is nearly silent, it’s probably a good investment. 

About FOTILE Range Hoods

FOTILE’s range hoods are not only stylish, but they’re equipped with modern features for convenient operation. We have wall-mounted, under-cabinet, and recirculation range hoods, including ducted and ductless models, ranging in sizes from 24-36 inches. Shop our range hoods now.