Range hoods for
every kitchen and budget
A range hood is a necessity in virtually every
kitchen. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, materials and colors, and can
cost anywhere from less than $50 to more than $3,000, though the focus of this
report is on great looking, excellent performing range hoods priced at under
$1,000. What sets the cheapest range hoods apart from high end models is a
combination of function and aesthetics.
There are two basic ways to install range hoods:
non-ducted and ducted. Non-ducted hoods recirculate the air back into the
kitchen after pulling it through a filter to remove, at least partially, smoke
and odors. Ducted range hoods use a filter as well, but vent the exhaust to the
outside. Ducted range hoods are more complicated and expensive to install, but
are also the most effective kind.
Types of Range Hoods
Under-Cabinet Range Hoods
The most common type of range hood, under-cabinet range hoods are installed by attaching them to the underside of kitchen cabinets. They can be ducted or ductless. These range hoods usually come in a variety of color options to match any kitchen décor, and a variety of prices too -- although even the top-of-the-line models tend to be more affordable than either wall-mounted or island-style range hoods. Under-cabinet range hoods usually have at least two fan settings and at least a basic, incandescent light.
Wall-Mounted Range Hood
A wall-mounted range hood has a visible vent stack along the kitchen wall and is installed in settings where there are no cabinets above the cooktop. Also called chimney hoods, these units can be very stylish. Virtually all wall-mounted hoods are designed for ducted installation, but some can be converted to ductless use if needed.
Island Range Hoods
Island range hoods are similar to wall range hoods, except they look like they are free-standing above a cooktop. Again, virtually all island range hoods are ducted though many can also be used ductless if needed.
Choosing a range
choosing the size of a range hood, under-cabinet and wall-mounted models need
to be at least the same width as the cooktop. Island range hoods should be at least six inches wider than the
cooktop to help funnel fumes because there are no walls or cabinets to help
with the funneling.
comparing range hoods that seem similar in form and function, there are some
important specifications and features to watch for. One is power, measured in CFM
(cubic feet per minute), which is a measure of the rate of speed in replacing
air. The higher the CFM rating, the faster the range hood will draw away smoke
and odor from the cooktop. The flip side of the coin is that the faster the
range hood moves air, the louder it is likely to be.
will often provide a loudness rating, but will use different scales and that
makes comparing noise levels difficult. Among the options, you may see sound
levels specified in sones, db(A) or db. But regardless of the scale, user
perception of noise is highly subjective. As we observed in user reviews for
nearly all range hoods, models that some consider to be exceptionally quiet,
others say are exceptionally loud. The bottom line is that while we do present
the manufacturer's loudness level ratings (where available) for the range hoods
profiled in this report, they should be taken with a grain (or perhaps a
shaker) of salt.
the features front, some range hoods have timer-delayed settings to turn the
fan and lights off automatically. Others have a timer that lets the user know
when it is time to clean the grease filters. Selectable fan speeds let the user
adjust the power -- and noise level -- as appropriate. In its free to read
buying guide, ConsumerReports.org suggests using the highest speed when
cooking, and a lower speed afterwards "to continue to ventilate the space
while eating." The editors add that three speeds should be sufficient, and
anything over that is likely to be overkill on the part of the maker.
Finding The Best Range Hoods
During our research, we found no credible expert reviews
of range hoods. ConsumerReports.org offers a buying guide that discusses
brands, but not individual models. Instead, we relied on feedback posted at
sites such as HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, Amazon.com and elsewhere. That's
complicated a little by the fact that many sites include reviews originally
posted at the manufacturer web sites and are hence duplicated across the
Internet. Still, between these reviews and unique user reviews posted at the
sites we considered, we found sufficient feedback to evaluate and recommend
some top range hoods based on their performance, ease of use and appearance.