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Familiarity with the best hood to improve the air quality of your kitchen

The Best Range Hoods to Improve Your Kitchen’s Air Quality

A range hood is an important part of any kitchen configuration. It plays a significant role in the design of the space but also serves a functional role by removing excess heat, odors, and smoke from the kitchen. Inside the range hood is a fan that exhausts air from above the cooktop and filters it before releasing it through a duct to the exterior of your home. Range hood options include efficient, entry-level models to more robust, professional-grade units.

To find guidance on selecting a range hood, we spoke to Karl Ulatowski, the owner and general contractor of Hearthstone Home Remodeling, based in New Jersey. He agrees that whether you are a casual cook or a gourmet chef, a range hood is an essential appliance that captures grease, food particles, and more.

Read on to find the best range hood that will fit your kitchen and your cooking needs without compromising on value.

Best Overall: XtremeAIR Ultra Series UL10-U30

Complete any kitchen configuration with this versatile and powerful range hood from XtremeAir. The Ultra Series delivers air movement up to 900 CFM—giving you professional quality exhaust action in your kitchen. This impressive CFM is due to a pair of dual-fan blowers that draw cooking oils, odors, and heat into the unit, where it is vented through ductwork.

Keep in mind that this top venting range hood cannot be converted for ductless operation. While the top fan speed is great for high heat cooking or smoky situations, you can use the mechanical push-button controls to select a lower (and quieter) fan speed for light-duty cooking tasks.

The XtremeAir Ultra Series Range Hood is designed to capture airborne grease and combustion products from your cooktop in permanent baffle filters. These baffle filters are dishwasher-safe, giving you an easy way to regularly clean them. It’s also worth pointing out that some compact or shallow range hoods fail to provide sufficient exhaust action for the front burners on a range, but this range hood is 22 inches deep and provides coverage for most cooktops.

Best Under Cabinet: Hauslane Chef Series PS18 Under Cabinet Range Hood

With superior air movement of 860 CFM, the Hauslane Chef Series PS18 is our top pick for an under cabinet range hood that moves some serious air. While many range hoods only offer two to four fan speeds, this Hauslane model lets you choose more precise fan speeds to meet your cooking needs—there are six fan speeds in total.

The button-free design makes it easy to keep this range hood clean from grease and grime. Wipe down the range hood and control panel with a cleaning cloth or sponge to keep it looking spot-free. The stainless steel baffles are dishwasher-safe, so regularly cleaning those won’t be a chore, either.

It’s also worth mentioning that this under cabinet range hood is very quiet at low fan speeds—it has a minimum operating noise level of just 0.9 sones. Of course, if you take on kitchen activities like high heat searing, you’ll need to increase the fan speed, which will increase the unit’s noise levels. This range hood has a maximum noise level of 13.9 sones when operating at its peak of 860 CFM.

Best Wall-Mounted: ZLINE KB-30 Wall Mounted Range Hood

For a dramatic kitchen exhaust option, consider a wall-mounted range hood. These pyramid-style hoods taper to a more narrow exhaust chimney and are secured to the wall above your range.

One of the most popular options for a wall-mounted range hood is the ZLINE KB-30 model. It’s constructed of 430 stainless steel to resist corrosion and provide a sleek, modern look for your kitchen. As great as it looks, the real star feature of this range hood is the four-speed motor that gives you maximum airflow of 400 CFM. At top speed, you can expect the fan to register at about 51 decibels (nearly as quiet as normal conversation), but at the lowest speed, noise levels drop to roughly 30 decibels (the volume of a whisper). Notably, the fan motor carries a lifetime warranty.

Simple mechanical buttons control fan operation and are paired with a small digital display, indicating fan speed. LED lights illuminate your cooking surface. Keep in mind that regularly cleaning a kitchen range hood is a good practice, and this model has stainless steel baffle filters that can be removed and washed by hand or in the dishwasher.

The ZLINE KB-30 is a top-vented range hood but also offers the option of being converted to a ductless unit. And while some wall-mounted range hoods are too tall or too short for various ceiling heights, this model is equipped with two telescoping chimney pieces that can be adjusted for ceilings 8 to 9 feet tall. If your ceilings are taller or shorter, short kits or extension pieces are available separately.

Best Island: Cosmo 668ICS750 30-Inch Island Mount Range Hood

Cooktops installed in a kitchen island still benefit from adequate ventilation but face a special challenge without the option to use a built-in or under cabinet range hood. An island range hood is designed specifically to extend from the ceiling over your cooktop. Since an island range hood will attract attention, you’ll want to choose a stylish option. It’s no surprise that the stainless steel Cosmo Ductless Island Range Hood is a popular pick for this category.

This island range hood is constructed of 430 stainless steel for durability and easy maintenance. Permanent stainless steel filters are designed with special baffles to improve circulation. This is a significant feature because aluminum mesh filters typically only last for several washes before needing replacement.

Good lighting and visibility are also important features of range hoods, and this Cosmo island range hood includes four 2W LED light bulbs to provide adequate lighting over the entire cook surface.

When it comes to using this island range hood, a digital control pad makes it simple to select fan speed, lighting options, or check the time. The three-speed motor is capable of producing air movement up to 380 CFM.

Best Compact: Cosmo COS-5MU30 Under Cabinet Convertible Range Hood

If you’re working with a small space or low ceiling heights, you may not have room for a large range hood. To keep your kitchen feeling spacious but also free of cooking smells and odors, look for a compact range hood.

The Cosmo COS-5MU30 has a slim profile and is lightweight but is equipped with a three-speed fan motor to draw exhaust from your cooktop. The tradeoff for this compact range hood is more limited air movement of about 100 CFM per the manufacturer. Despite this, homeowners find it does a respectable job of trapping grease and steam, especially for its affordable price point.

It also offers the advantage of being a convertible unit—it comes ready to install as a ducted range hood, but you can also order a kit to convert it for ductless operation. Take note that it has a power cord with a pronged plug; if your set-up requires hardwire installation, you’ll need to make some modifications to accommodate this range hood.

Best Insert: KOBE INX2930SQBF-500-1 Insert Range Hood

While some range hoods feature an integrated blower, other options are designed for aesthetics and then outfitted with a range hood insert to provide the functionality needed for proper airflow above your cooktop. The KOBE INX2930SQBF-500-1 insert is available for 30- and 36-inch range hoods and offers an airflow capacity of 550 CFM at top speed.

If you’re doing light-duty cooking, you’ll find the low fan speed to be the quietest, operating at just 2.0 sones. This is about the noise level of a library or professional office environment—in other words, it won’t be a major hindrance to a normal conversation or tv-watching. Maintenance of this range hood insert is super simple, as the baffles and aluminum mesh inserts are dishwasher-safe.

Aside from clearing smoke and odors from your cooktop, this range hood insert from KOBE serves to illuminate your cooking surface. A pair of 3W LED lightbulbs provides a bright, white light that makes it easy to see what you’re preparing. If there’s any reason to find fault with the KOBE INX2930SQBF-500-1, it might be that the provided bulbs are too bright for the preference of some cooks.

Best Budget: Broan-NuTone 413004 30-Inch Ductless Stainless Steel/Black Under Cabinet Range Hood

A range hood can add several hundred dollars (or more) to your kitchen project. However, you can also choose a budget model like this popular Broan-NuTone Ductless Range Hood. It has an under-cabinet design and is available in multiple finishes, including black, white, and stainless steel. The fact that it’s ductless also makes it a better choice for DIY installation.

Many people choose this range hood because of its affordable price point. It’s worth noting that the manufacturer hasn’t rated it for airflow capacity. Based on its two-speed motor, its ability to move air is not going to be as significant as a high-end range hood with a five- or six-speed fan. However, it provides air recirculation above your cooktop and traps contaminants like smoke and grease in a replaceable charcoal filter.

A 75W incandescent light bulb provides illumination for your kitchen. Both the fan and light functions are controlled by rocker switches, conveniently located along the front edge of the range hood.

Best Ductless: GE GEAP1148 Convertible Under Cabinet Range Hood, 30-inch

If you don’t have an option to exhaust a ducted range hood, don’t feel like your quest to filter your kitchen air has gone up in smoke. Ductless range hoods provide an alternative for installation when no external vent is available. This convertible model from GE is a great option for filtering the air from your kitchen range, enhancing your home’s indoor quality with frills-free but efficient operation.

The 30-inch GE Convertible Under Cabinet Range Hood fits snugly above your range, in the perfect spot to capture cooking oil, smoke, and steam from the pans and pots below. A charcoal insert filters out kitchen contaminants and can be replaced as its effectiveness decreases. After filtration, the air is exhausted through vents on the underside of the range hood.

A two-speed motor doesn’t give you as many options for fan settings, but the rocker switch makes it easy to toggle between high and low speeds. With air movement speeds of 200 CFM, it isn’t as powerful as ducted models, but it’s a viable option if you have no external vent available.

Best Downdraft: KitchenAid 36-inch Specialty Series Telescopic Downdraft System, KXD4636YSS

A downdraft system is a practical alternative if a conventional range hood isn’t an option in your kitchen. Rooms with very tall ceilings or kitchen islands with a cooktop are the most common spots to install a downdraft ventilation system. Models like the KitchenAid Specialty Series Telescopic Downdraft System appear when you need ventilation and then retract when not in use.

The KitchenAid Specialty Series stands out as the go-to option for gourmet kitchens since it is capable of producing air movement up to 600 CFM. Even on low, this downdraft pushes air around at more than 100 CFM. You’ll need to keep the telescoping mechanism in good working order with regular maintenance, but if you do, you’ll have a downdraft on demand that doesn’t obstruct your view when not in use.

The telescoping design allows this KitchenAid model to extend 14 inches above your cooktop—some downdraft systems only reach a height of 10 inches and are better suited for use with a skillet or sauté pan. The extra height will make it easier for the fan to exhaust cooking fumes and steam from pots as well.

What to Look for in a Range Hood
Size

Kitchen range hoods are generally 30, 36, or 42-inches in width. However, don’t be surprised if you see the dimensions of a range hood listed as 0.25 to 0.75 of an inch smaller than the width indicated in the model name. For instance, many 30-inch kitchen range hoods may measure 29.25 or 29.88 inches wide to allow for installation. It’s worth noting that 30-inch range hoods are the most common size.

Mount Type

Also referred to as installation type, this relates to how the range hood fits into your kitchen and appliance layout. You’ll need to know if you’re shopping for an under cabinet, wall-mounted, or island range hood. Two other mount types include an insert, which fits inside of a larger decorative hood, or a downdraft system, which is most often installed in island ranges where an overhead kitchen range isn’t possible or would be considered an obstruction.

Vent Type

There are three vent types for kitchen ranges: ducted, ductless, or convertible. The most common and efficient type is a ducted range hood. This allows the fan to exhaust kitchen air outside. Usually, it will mean that the cooktop and range hood are located on an exterior wall.

Ductless range hoods can still offer some benefit by filtering smoke, grease, oil, and cooking contaminants through a filter before recirculating the air. However, this vent type will have reduced air movement compared to ducted models.

Convertible vent types can be used as recirculating range hoods or can be connected to an exhaust duct.

Airflow Capacity

Cubic feet per minute, or CFM, is the common metric used to measure a range hood’s airflow capacity. If you have a large kitchen or cook with high heat frequently, a range hood with greater airflow capacity is your best option. Keep in mind that a higher CFM rating is also accompanied by an increase in fan noise.

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