Wall-mounted range hoods, sometimes called chimney hoods, can give a kitchen a very stylish look. This type of range hood is used where there are no cabinets above the cooktop or range, and feature a visible vent stack that runs up the kitchen wall. Most models need to be ducted, but some are convertible and can accommodate a non-ducted installation if one is absolutely required. Keep in mind however, that most experts say that a ducted installation does a better job of clearing a kitchen of cooking smoke and odors.
While you can spend lots of money on a good performing and stylish wall-mounted range hood, reviews show that some moderately priced models look great, work well and are priced right. For example, we saw some strong feedback for the Kitchen Bath Collection STL75-LED (Est. $200). This wall mounted range hood is sized for 30-inch stoves and comes in stainless steel only. If you have a 36-inch range, the Kitchen Bath Collection STL90-LED (Est. $200) is similar, except larger, and is equally well liked.
The STL75-LED isn't the most powerful range hood available, but it's rated at roughly 412 CFM. Still most of the reviews we saw say that it's plenty powerful enough to pull the smoke out of the kitchen even when grilling on the stovetop. The three speed fan produces a maximum rated sound level of 58 db(A) and a minimum of 48 db(A). Users are split on whether this translates to a loud or quiet range hood; as we see with any appliance that produces even the least bit of sound, there are always those who complain about the noise levels. Others say it's quiet enough to allow for two people standing nearby to have a normal conversation -- even at the highest fan setting.
The two-piece chimney on the STL75-LED can expand from 17.7 to 35 inches high to accommodate most typical kitchen ceiling heights. While the best option is a vented installation, this is a convertible range hood that will accommodate ductless use without purchasing a conversion kit. The twin LED lights have 49 bulbs each (substantially more than most competitors, the manufacturer claims) to shed lots of light onto the cooking area. Owners seem to agree, as we saw quite a few positive comments on the brightness of the lighting. In fact, a few wish they could dim it for use as a night light. Operation is controlled via a touch panel. One other light/noise-related gripe: a surprising number of reviewers complain about how loud the beep is when you turn the light on.
What most really rave about, though, is how nice Kitchen Bath Collection STL75-LED looks in their kitchen -- especially for the price, which is pretty bargain basement in this category. Many praise its "sleek, modern" styling. It's also reported as very easy to use and clean, although ease of installation gets some mixed feedback.
If your budget is bigger, and you need an even more powerful wall-mounted range hood, consider the Z Line KB-36 (Est. $350). This 30-inch range hood is rated at 760 CFM and has a four-speed fan (although, as ConsumerReports.org notes in its free-to-the-public buying guide, anything more than three speeds is probably not needed). Most owners say it does a terrific job of removing smoke from their kitchen, even without resorting to the highest setting.
Operating the Z Line KB-36 is fairly simple -- push a button for the fan speed and set the timer (it's an LCD display) if you want it to shut off after a specific time. A power button turns it off and on, and it has two brightness settings on the lights, which can be tilted for targeted illumination. It's convertible, which means it can be installed ducted or ductless, the latter with optional Z Line Carbon Filters (Est. $45 for a set of 2). Z Line does not specify a noise-level rating, but we saw few complaints that it was too loud. This range hood's telescopic chimney fits ceilings up to 12 feet tall.