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How to Buy a Range Hood for Your Kitchen

The byproducts of cooking at home can be cosmetically damaging as well as toxic. If you want to protect your home and your family from potentially dangerous steam and gas, buy a range hood that is as effective as it is attractive.


  • Step 1: Consider the duct length necessary for adequate ventilation. A general rule of thumb is the shorter the better. Ductwork should be limited to 30 feet or less to ensure proper airflow, and should always vent outdoors.
  • Step 2: Avoid purchasing a range hood with a painted metal finish, which will show wear, is susceptible to scratches, and may peel over time. Stainless steel and copper are the safest choices, but, if you opt for a colored hood, choose one finished with porcelain enamel.
  • Step 3: Consider other options and features for your hood. Range hoods are available with variable fan speeds, exhaust timers that will turn off the fan after a set time period, and built-in temperature sensors that automatically turn the fan on when the temperature gets too high. Besides being a terrific safety feature, a range hood can also add a decorative accent to the most frequently used room in the house.
  • FACT: According to _Remodeling_ magazine's annual Cost vs. Value analysis, updating your kitchen will add about 80 percent of the expense to your home's value.
  • Step 4: Consider airflow rates. Most in-home cooking requires airflow of only about 150 CFM, or cubic feet per minute. Units boasting as much as 300 CFM are rarely necessary.
  • TIP: Most range hoods operate at between 3 and 8 sones, but some newer models run at 1 sone or less.
  • TIP: Measure your space before you buy. If the hood isn't as deep or wide as the range top, it won't adequately vent the entire range. Ideally, the hood should extend 3 inches on either side of the range.
  • Step 5: Avoid purchasing a downdraft or recirculating ductless hood. These hoods direct steam, smoke, and grease away from the range top, but force most pollutants back into the kitchen and the rest of the house. Although many are available with filters, they aren't nearly as effective as hoods that direct exhaust outside.
  • Step 6: Consider how much noise the unit produces. The more powerful the unit, the noisier it'll be. Range hood noise is measured in sones rather than decibels, with 1 sone being about equal to a refrigerator hum. Sones, unlike decibels, increase linearly rather than exponentially.
  • Step 7: Determine the type of range hood that best suits your kitchen. Under-cabinet hoods mount to wall cabinets, and some models recess into the wall so you can slide the hood out when you need it. If you don't have cabinets over your range, consider a wall-chimney hood; for an island, buy an island hood that vents through the ceiling.

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