All About: Ductless Range Hoods

Range Hood Spotlight

If you've already renovated a kitchen or are just beginning the process, you know how overwhelming the details can be. Our Fittings and Material Spotlights are quick guides to basic kitchen fixtures to familiarize you with terminology, pros and cons, and relevant reader reviews. Today we look at ductless range hoods:A Recap on Range Hoods: The primary purpose of a range hood is to ventilate your kitchen to remove the smells, steam, smoke, and heat that result from frequent cooking. By doing this range hoods also help absorb and trap grease so that it doesn't build up on your cabinets and appliances.

When purchasing a range hood, you'll want to consider the speed and loudness of the hood. The speed is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute) which determines the rate at which the hood replaces air. The higher the CFM, the more air it will move, but the louder it will be. Noise volume for range hoods is measured in sones. Other features to compare by brand, according to Consumer Reports, include food-warming capabilities, auto extend and retract, filter-maintenance indicators, halogen lights, electronic controls, and the auto start/speed heat sensor.

For more on life with and without range hoods, see this post: Do You Have a Range Hood? And Coping Without.

Range Hood Style: Ductless

Overview: Unlike a ducted range hood, which vents air to the outside, a ductless range hood consists of a fan (or a blower, motor) with a charcoal filter that sucks up grease particles, heat, smells, and smoke, filters it, and then recirculates it back into the kitchen. Ductless range hoods typically play second fiddle to ducted hoods, which are generally more effective at cleaning the air, but ducted hoods can be cost-prohibitive if you don't already have ductwork installed in your kitchen. To sum up: A ductless range hood is better than no range hood, but it won't ever give you the same performance as a ducted hood.

Pros: Generally more affordable than ducted range hoods, and easier to install; no external ducting or changes to the kitchen's heating and ventilation systems is necessary; easy to move and reposition.

Cons: The charcoal filters need to be cleaned or replaced regularly; ductless hoods typically only capture and filter certain types of particles, so excess heat and moisture is released right back into the kitchen.

Price range: Basic models start at $40 but can go as high as $1,000 for high-end brands.

Kitchn Reader Reviews:

While its definitely true that ductless range hoods aren't as effective as standard ducted range hoods, they can still do a world of good for the air quality in your kitchen. If you are cooking on a regular basis a ductless range hood is definitely worthwhile. The activated charcoal filters in these things are pretty advanced, and although the air gets recirculated, its significantly cleaner on the way out than it is on the way in. - DCAS
Ductless range hoods are nowhere near ducted ones in terms of performance and benefits. - Tomas Jones

Related Kitchn Posts:
Set It Free: Ranges at the Kitchen Island
Do I Absolutely Need a Range Hood?
New Funky Range Hoods To Spice Up Your Kitchen
Bosch To Zanussi: Powerful Hi-Tech Range Hoods

Readers, do you have a ductless range hood? If so, please tell us what brand & model you have, and your experience!
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