All About: Under-Cabinet Range Hoods

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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 begin a series on range hoods:

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

Range Hood Style: Under-Cabinet

Distinctive Features of Under-Cabinet Hoods: Under-cabinet range hoods are exactly what they sound like: they’re range hoods attached to the underside of kitchen cabinets. They can be either ducted (or vented, which means they vent air to the outside) or ductless (re-circulating, which means the range “cleans” the air and circulates it back into your kitchen).

Installation: If your kitchen already has the required ductwork and cabinetry in place, installing or replacing an under-cabinet range hood is pretty easy and very DIY-able. Factors to consider: 1) The height of your cabinets, and thus the height of the range. The lower your range hood, the closer it will be to the steam and heat, but also the more head space you’ll lose, and 2) The width and depth of the range hood, which is affected by your cabinets. A space of 2-3″ on either side of the range hood is recommended for ideal ventilation. You’ll also want a deeper range hood for higher CFMs.

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to install.

Cons: Many people don’t like the look of a range hood sticking out from the cabinets, especially if it’s one of the basic, unattractive models. Also, re-circulating under-cabinet models (the least expensive models) can be pretty worthless at effectively cleaning the air.

Cleaning: You should periodically clean the range filter. To clean the filter, soak it in a degreasing solution, wash it with warm, soapy water, then run it through the normal cycle of your dishwasher.

Price range: $35 for basic recirculating models; up to $300 for ducted models.

Kitchn Reader Reviews:

I have the clunky and annoying look of a range hood with cabinets. But it’s not even positioned over the stove. It’s about 1/2 over the stove and 1/2 off to the side of it (from some prior remodel work done before I bought the house). And it’s incredibly feeble as well. So, it looks bad, doesn’t work, and supposedly vents to the outside, but I’m not buying it. It’s on the list of things to remodel at some point. – Carl1
Everyone has the same crappy hood that I have! No vent, just circulates the smell around a little faster. I gave up on the vent years ago and just open the two windows for fresh air. – BroBry
Broan makes some fairly good under cabinet recirculating hoods. Higher CFM is better, and the Allure III will give you a decent amount of air movement and has good filtration. They usually run somewhere between $300-$400. They will never do as well as one that is vented to the outside, but will really help eliminate smells through the house. One tip is to make sure to turn on the fan before you start cooking. It will create a draft that will help the air to start moving in that direction. Also if you have a gas range/cooktop you absolutely have to have a vented hood or over-the-range microwave. The fumes from the combusted gas can build up if you don’t. – RPoole11

Readers, do you have an under-cabinet range hood? Share your experiences, tips, and recommendations!

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