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Range Hood Buying Guide

A comprehensive hood buying guide that will give you all the information you need on how to buy a new hood for your kitchen.
Getting Started
If you are someone who likes to cook and spend a lot of time in the kitchen you will know that using a cooktop or the top burners on your oven can produce a lot of heat as well as steam. Having a good hood above your units prevents heat, smoke, moisture and grease from permeating throughout your kitchen, or worse, your home.

Choosing the Right Hood for Your Cooktop or Range
Not all hoods can be used efficiently on both gas and electric ranges. An Electric range will require less CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute) than a gas range. Therefore a range hood of up to 475 CFM is more than adequate.

The proper hood for a gas range will depend on the gas range's BTU. For every 100 BTU's you need 1 CFM from your range hood. Therefore a gas range with 45000 BTU's requires a range hood of about 450 CFM. This assumes the worst-case scenario - all burners on at the same time and in their highest setting. Note: Professional style range hoods require greater CFMs.

Size

When it comes to the right size for efficiency, the hood needs to be at least as wide as the range or cooktop. This will also protect cabinetry from heat and smoke damage. Units will mount either on the wall or under the cabinet. When selecting range hoods, it is best to have already measured your cooking surface before choosing a unit. Always read the specified requirements for the proper mounting height.

Types

There are three configurations: Vented (Ducted), Non-Vented (Duct-Free), and Combination.

Vented (Ducted)

Vented or ducted hoods require ductwork to channel the exhaust outdoors. The best range hood is only as good as its exhaust system.

Non-vented (Duct-free)

Non-vented or duct-free hoods use washable and replaceable filter(s) to clean and return the air to the kitchen.

Combination

Combination hoods can be used with or without ducts.

Features

Before purchasing a range hood you should familiarize yourself with the new and innovative features hoods have to offer. Also, it's important to know that a gas range will require a hood with a higher CFM (cubic feet per minute) than an electric range. For an in-depth explanation on CFM, see below.

Blowers

Some hoods do not come with standard blowers they are separate accessories which can be internal (housed along the run of ductwork) or external (mounted on an outer wall or roof).

Fans

Cubic Feet Per Minute is used to rate and compare air movement, whether it's a leaf blower or a range hood. Choosing a range hood with higher CFM results in more air movement.

CFM

Cubic Feet Per Minute is used to rate and compare air movement, whether it's a leaf blower or a range hood. Choosing a range hood with higher CFM results in more air movement.

Noise

Noise is measured in sones. A sone is roughly equal to the sound of a refrigerator running. Normal conversations take place at about four sones, city traffic rates up to around eight. Use sones to compare units, but be aware the higher the CFM, the higher the sone.

Automatic Shutoff

A timer can be preset to shut the fan off after a specific time.

Heat sensors

Sensors automatically speed up the fan or sound an alarm when they detect increased heat.

Lights

Lights are also available on hoods, with one or two incandescent or halogen bulbs.

Other Things To Consider

If you're limited with the amount of space in your kitchen and a stand alone range hood or downdraft isn't ideal, consider an over the range microwave/microhood instead. Many users of over-the-range microwaves enjoy that they help free up valuable counter top space.