Proper Ventilation | Selecting a Range Hood For A Kitchen Remodel

A properly sized, elegantly designed, range hood will make cooking more enjoyable. Learn why.

It's not glamorous like your new Viking Stove, or beautiful like your imported marble countertops, but your ventilation is one of the most important elements of your kitchen remodel. Whether you have a Viking range or a cooktop, you'll need to consider your ventilation system options.

In an open concept home even if you have the perfect kitchen, without proper ventilation you'll have issues. When you cook, the smoke, odors, and particles released can hang in the air without proper filtration. A range hood is designed to remove smells, smoke, and particulate from the room.

Let's look at the benefits and most common type of systems available as well as important factors to consider when shopping.

Five Additional Range Hood Benefits

A contemporary wall chimney hood with low profile and sleek square lines.

While its primary purpose is to remove smoke, smells, and particulates from the air, a range hood provides other benefits to homeowners including:

• Providing extra light for your cooking surface which makes food preparation safer.

• Helps keep your kitchen cleaner. By removing smoke and grease it makes kitchen cleanup faster.

• Reducing carbon monoxide which can build to dangerous levels if you use a gas range and your cooking area is not properly ventilated.

• Helps cool off hot kitchens. Along with smoke and odors, proper ventilation can help to remove heat.

• Even if you never cook, your range hood can add value when you sell!

Choosing the Perfect Range Hood: Types of Ventilation Systems

A ceiling-hung island hood.

Today, you have a number of choices when it comes to ventilation systems. In fact it can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, your kitchen designer will help to narrow your choices. If you're replacing a hood that is no longer working, it's best to stick with a similar hood that fits the space. If you're remodeling, your range hood can become an interesting focal point in your kitchen.

Here's a quick rundown of your options.

Under Cabinet Hoods

They mount under a wall cabinet and the ductwork runs into the wall or up through the cabinet and vents outside. Some newer models “hide” under the cabinet and then slide out over the cook surface when needed. These aren't just the ugly or mundane units of yesterday; they can be stylish and functional or bland, cheap and noisy.

Wall Chimney Hoods

These are usually placed where there are no cabinets above. They can feature decorative covers to hide the ductwork and usually vent through the ceiling or wall to the exterior of your home. In order to work properly, they should be slightly larger than the cooktop.

Downdraft Hoods

These pull odor and smoke downward into ducts running through the floor. Technology has improved in the past 20 years and today downdraft hoods are an excellent option for island cooktops, but an overhead hood will generally be superior when one can be used. Premium models even pop up and drop down into the island when not in use.

Island Hoods

A contemporary kitchen with a fully concealed range hood behind cabinet doors.

Mounted to and vented through the ceiling over your island cooktop. Because they have no cabinets to help funnel smoke, like wall chimney hoods, island hoods should be slightly larger than the cooktop surface.

Concealed Hoods

A popular choice is to conceal the hood within cabinetry. The hood manufacturer such as Vent-a-Hood provides the "guts" of the system, and your designer and cabinet supplier will coordinate the manufacture of cabinets to conceal the hood.


Ductless Hoods

This option is available in several different types including under-cabinet, wall and island range hoods. They draw smoke and odor away from the cooktop and through a filter. It releases the cleaned air back into the kitchen. Some also include a carbon filter stage for odor removal. Commonly used in difficult apartments, concrete high-rise condos and by cheap builders, ductless hoods are not a good choice. If they are not maintained they can disperse any smoke and odor not captured back into the room. They also do nothing to remove humidity or carbon monoxide from your home.

A classic French Country kitchen with a concealed range hood.

Specifications and Features

There are some technical specifications that are important to understand when choosing the perfect range hood. First, make sure it's the proper size and at least as wide as your cooktop surface. If you're ventilating an island cooktop, make sure it's a bit wider than the cooktop. Here are some specifications to consider:


Measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM).The higher the CFM the more air the fan can move. Proper CFM depends on the type and size of your cooktop and also the way and how often you cook. For example, a 36” professional Wolf gas range will need a higher CFM than a 30” electric cooktop. CFM can range from 300-450 for an electric range to 1200 for a commercial style gas cooktop. The height above the cooking surface is also an important factor. The ideal height for cooking tends to be lower than most homeowners prefer, with 21" to 24" being recommended by many manufacturers, and a maximum of 30".

One problem that many homeowners are not aware of is the need for makeup air to replace the air exhausted by a vent. High-capacity vents and commercial-style gas cooktops can add thousands of dollars of specialty equipment to your HVAC system to allow fresh air to enter your home and be preheated before entering the furnace and living space.

Fan Speeds

Some range hoods offer as many as six but you really only need two. Use the high setting when preparing food and the low setting after you're done cooking to continue to clean the air. More than three speeds really aren't necessary, except to fine tune the amount of noise produced by the fan. You might appreciate the control over the noise level that you’ll experience.

Automatic Thermostat Control, Exhaust Timer etc.

Higher-end models may contain these and other options like different lighting levels. Automatic thermostats turn the fan on automatically when a threshold temperature is reached. Exhaust timers shut the fan off automatically after a specified time period.

While most range hoods are utilitarian, there are some that offer an interesting aesthetic design. From contemporary glass hoods, to wall mounted range hood with copper covers, no matter what your design style there are attractive models available. The most important aspect of purchasing a range hood is functionality. Make sure you purchase the proper size, follow the manufacturers specifications when hanging it, and purchase a hood with the proper CFM rating.

When researching compare CFM, electronic controls and options, auto extend and retract functions (for hidden under-cabinet and downdraft hoods), filter maintenance indicators and access, and lighting.

Your range hood might not be the most glamorous appliance you'll purchase when undergoing a kitchen renovation, but it's hands-down the most important when it comes to day-to-day use and function.

Want to learn more? Read: Choosing a High CFM, Quiet Range Hood When Remodeling a Kitchen

Interested in more photos of range hoods? See our portfolio of Chef’s Kitchens.

This article was updated on 2/4/2019 by Abe Degnan.

About Degnan Design Build Remodel
Since 1981 Degnan Design Build Remodel has provided home improvement and construction services to customers throughout Greater Madison, Wisconsin. Our goal is to WOW you with a "Designed For Your Life" solution using a process that will transform your home into a beautiful living space, delivered on time, and on budget. We are known for our communication, respectfulness, and a commitment to our customers and our community. Contact us to speak with one of our designers about your home improvement project.