What Is A Range Hood?

What Is A Range Hood?

Last Updated on by Daniel Lawrence

Kitchen enthusiasts might have heard of the term range hood. In this guide, we’ll tell you all you need to know about range hoods. They are a must-have for your kitchen.

What Is a Range Hood?

A range hood is actually one of the most important appliances in the kitchen. It consists of a canopy or some other type of “capture area” and a fan or blower motor to extract the air pollution caused by cooking. By capturing and eliminating the contaminated air right at the source, the range hood maintains the air quality in the kitchen and makes cleaning much easier.

Other common names for a range hood include the following:

  • Extractor Hood / Fan
  • Ventilation Hood
  • Kitchen Hood
  • Electric Kitchen Chimney
  • Fume Extractor
  • Exhaust Plume

What Are the Different Kinds of Range Hoods?

As you can see, there are plenty of benefits to having a range hood. From the obvious ones (clean air) to the not-so-obvious secondary effects (cleaner cabinets and creative cooking freedom), adding this important appliance to your kitchen is a significant improvement. But how do you choose the right one?

There are literally tens of thousands of range hoods on the market—where do you begin? Without going into too many details, here’s a short overview of the basic types of range hoods, which may help you to narrow down your selection.

  • Island-Mount or Ceiling-Mount Range Hoods

As their name implies, these are attached to the ceiling. If your cooktop/range will be on a center island or peninsula, this is the type of range hood required to ventilate it. If that sounds like a lot of additional work, you’re right. It usually takes a contractor to install an overhead range hood, but it’s well worth it for the ventilation benefits it will provide.

  • Wall-Mount or Chimney-Style Range Hoods

These are installed on the wall directly above the range. Note that this requires a clearance between the cabinets as well as some empty wall space above the range, typically eliminating the possibility of having an over-the-range microwave or upper cabinet. However, the advantage is that a full-size range hood will provide much more ventilation power than an undercabinet hood or a combination range hood/microwave.

  • Undercabinet, Microwave, or Microhood Range Hoods

These combinations do provide an inexpensive alternative, but as the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Their smaller size severely limits the power of the fan/blower, making their performance far less impressive than the suction power of a full-size overhead range hood.

Regardless of the type, however, the range hood should be the same width—or slightly wider—than the cooktop or range, to provide an adequate “capture area” and allow the hood to suction in the rising air pollution before it spreads out too much. Installation height should be based on the hood manufacturer’s recommendations (typically ranging from 24” to 36”).

  • Range Hood Venting Type

Besides their physical shape, range hoods can be classified according to whether they extract the air to the outside of the house, or recirculate it back into the room. Whenever possible, it’s always better to use a range hood with an outside duct, since this will provide greater performance, lower noise, and better air quality than a “recirculating” or “ductless” range hood, which uses an activated charcoal filter to remove odors before returning the air to the kitchen. Unfortunately, the additional filter lowers airflow rating, creates additional noise, and must be replaced regularly, creating an ongoing expense.

Most full-size range hoods (island-mount or wall-mount) can be either ducted out or used in the recirculating installation. If you’re restricted to using a recirculating hood (for example, in a high-rise condominium or a co-operative building, neither of which will typically allow an outside duct to be added), check with the range hood manufacturer whether the hood you’re considering has an option to be used in such a fashion. Sometimes, you may have to purchase additional parts to convert a range hood to recirculation, other times the “recirculating kit” may be included.

Benefits Of Having A Range Hood

  • Keeping the Air Clean

Notably, the most important benefit of a range hood is that it removes potentially toxic pollutants and gasses from the air in your kitchen. Preparing a meal, especially the way I cook, may sometimes mean you have to deal with smoke, steam, and grease. All of these can have potentially dangerous side effects if inhaled by those closest to them.

With a push of a button, range hoods will suck these undesirable particles out of the home and away from everyone in the kitchen. Not only does this reduce the amount of toxic air that you may breathe in, but it also helps cut down on the growth of bacteria, germs, and even mold in your kitchen. However, it must be noted that the best weapon in the fight against poor indoor air quality, is to have a HEPA air purifier running nearby.

In addition to the unwanted byproducts mentioned above, vent hoods are great at cutting down the amount of carbon monoxide that may be present in your home. There are many health dangers associated with carbon monoxide, and inadequate ventilation will just exasperate the potential problems this toxic gas presents.

  • Removing Excess Heat

Another great benefit of a range hood is the fact that it helps remove heat from your kitchen. Whether it’s heat coming from your cooktop or steam coming off of your food, a vent hood will help stop it from hitting you in the face and make it slightly more comfortable for you. That way, you can focus on your recipe and not the sweat on your brow.


Because of the built-in feature of a fan blower, range hoods are designed to suck away the excess heat produced by stoves and heaters. As with smoke and airborne toxins, heat is removed through the vent, which helps keep your kitchen at a somewhat cooler temperature. Of course, it’s not going to cool you off as a portable air conditioner would, but it will help eliminate some of the heat that you inadvertently create as you prepare your meal.

  • Better Kitchen Lighting

This is beneficial for both cooking and cleaning purposes. Being able to actually see what you are cooking is important to ensure that food is being cooked properly and will also help prevent it from burning. With the light from a range hood, you will be able to see all of the dirt and grease in crevices and hard-to-reach areas. Removing that gunk and grime will keep your stove-top and kitchen appliances looking newer and working as they should.

On top of that, the small light bulb in my vent hood also helps me save energy. Instead of turning on all five light bulbs in my kitchen, sometimes, especially at night, I’ll just turn on the light above my stove. Why pay to use the energy of five light bulbs, when one will work just fine? I’ve been doing this for years now.

  • Improves Your Property Value

In today’s real estate market, range hoods are expected to be found in every kitchen. If you don’t have one, it could actually hurt the resale value of your home. People have come to expect this luxury, and if you don’t have one, it may deter people from buying your home.

Additionally, if your vent hood needs an upgrade, that may also hurt the resale value of your home. If you are trying to sell your home and you don’t have a range hood in your kitchen, then you may want to ask your realtor if they know of anyone that could install one before you start showing your home.

  • Cooking & Living in Comfort

Finally, the most enjoyable benefit you gain from kitchen range hoods is the daily joy of cooking and living in comfort. They help create a clean, comfortable environment in your kitchen. Reducing the effects of unpleasant odors and stuffiness allows you the freedom to be creative with your cooking style. Instead of being discouraged by foul smells and an overheated home, you will be more eager to dive into your favorite recipes and sit around with your family enjoying the small pleasures in life.

It’s precise because of those little comforts, that we would recommend installing a range hood in your kitchen.

To determine your needs, consider the size and type of your range and the amount of space required for the hood vent.

  • Measure the width of your range with a tape measure. Ideally, a hood vent is as wide or wider than your range. Hood vents are generally 30, 36, or 42 inches wide.
  • Measure the width of the space available for the hood vent and select the largest hood possible.
  • Measure the distance from the top of the range to the bottom of the cabinets or the ceiling above the range. Install hood vents at least 18 inches above an electric range and 20 inches above a gas range. Choose a hood vent with a height that will not place it lower than recommended.
  • Select a hood vent with the appropriate CFM, which is the amount of air the hood vent exhausts. A hood vent with a lower CFM is not as effective if it is placed too high above the range, so if you are installing it higher above the range you need to increase the CFM. Install 600 CFM hood vents 30 inches above the range. If it is installed higher than 30 inches, you can see the grease and dirt that accumulate on its grease trap.


There’s no denying that kitchen range hoods provide many important benefits that protect your health and provide a comfortable, clean environment for cooking and living in your home. From the obvious benefits of protecting toxins and unpleasant odors to the not-so-obvious benefits of a cleaner home and cooking creativity, a vent hood is an important asset to your home and health.