The best range hood has

  • Good air function. A range hood needs to be functional in removing smoke, steam, vapors and odors from a kitchen, either through recirculation or outside venting.
  • Adequate lighting. Range hood lighting is an important addition to the overhead lights in most kitchens, since the main light is usually blocked when you stand in front of the range.
  • A high CFM rating. Finding a range hood with the highest CFM (cubic feet per minute) will result in more effective range hood performance. One retailer recommends getting a range hood with at least 350 cfm if you do a lot of heavy cooking with steam or strong odors.
  • Little noise. A number of consumer-reviewers say range hood fans are relatively quiet at their lower settings; noise becomes a factor when the high-CFM fans are set to their highest setting. Manufacturers list the sound that a range hood makes in sones -- one sone is roughly equal to the sound a running refrigerator makes.

Know before you go

Does your kitchen already have ducting? If you already have ducting installed, this could save you a lot of time and money in installation costs. Be sure to get measurements on your venting system to make sure the new range hood's specifications match what you already have.

Do you want to install ducting or get a non-ducted range hood? You can save a lot of money by installing a non-vented range hood. However, some professional reviewers recommend a ducted system because it takes smoke, odors, etc., outside instead of recirculating them in the kitchen.

If you have an older home, where does the ductwork end? Never exhaust air or terminate ductwork into spaces between walls, crawl spaces, ceilings, attics or garages. All exhaust must be ducted to the outside. If it isn't, figure in the cost of correcting this.

What's your kitchen design? Whether you are remodeling a kitchen or building one from scratch, the location of your cooktop will determine what type of range hood you install. If the cooktop is on an island, you'll need an island-mounted range hood. Cabinets above the cooktop? Go for an under-cabinet range hood. Is the area above the cooktop clear? A wall-mounted range hood will work.

What style and color are your appliances? Make sure your new range hood comes in the style and color of your kitchen. Some manufacturers offer a variety of colors, while others focus on stainless steel.

Value expectations: The dollars and cents of it

Purchasing a range hood is a fairly straightforward deal -- you are investing in an integral part of your kitchen. You can spend less than $50 for a non-vented hood or thousands of dollars on a particular range hood model. Maintenance costs are minimal. From time to time you'll need to replace light bulbs and filters. If your range hood is made of stainless steel, you might want to purchase a cleanser or polish specifically made for stainless steel. Most manufacturers offer at least a one-year warranty on parts; some also offer warranties on labor.

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