A range hood is one of the most important appliances to keep your kitchen space free of nasty cooking odors and airborne grease. Also known as an exhaust hood or vent hood, range hoods are ventilation systems designed to evacuate air contaminants, smoke and steam from your kitchen while you cook.
All exhaust hoods fall into one of two venting configurations: ducted, also called vented range hood and ductless, also called recirculating range hood. The difference lies in the air management design: either transporting the air via a duct that terminates outside your house, or by purifying it and releasing back the clean air into the kitchen. There are also convertible options, which allow you to have both ducted and non ducted options within one range hood.
If you don’t have the budget or infrastructure to install a vent network in your kitchen, all you need is the best ductless range hood that will save you all the hassles of venting. A recirculating range hood is ideal if you don’t have much space in your kitchen or have some great ideas for a kitchen remodel down the line. These compact hoods are however restricted to under-cabinet and wall-mount configurations among other types of domestic range hoods.
We’ve picked the top products based on thorough research, customer reviews and volumes sold to help you decide the best ductless range hood for your own kitchen. We’ll also talk a bit about the differences between a ducted and non ducted range hood.
Best Ductless Range Hoods in 2020 - Reviewed
Broan’s 413004 is its top-rated recirculating range hood and is the one we recommend if you are in a hurry and want the best overall product for your price. This 30 inch hood is known for its incandescent lighting capabilities and efficient functioning.
It is fairly light and at 30” x 17.5” x 6”, it won’t have any problems installing under any cabinet style. The hood is built from high-quality stainless steel and incorporates a 2 speed rocker fan which works at reasonable noise levels. There is also a rocker light switch, but you have to buy the bulb separately.
The hood looks great with its steel finish and the 75-Watt incandescent bulb, which has a protective cover that illuminates your cooktop evenly. It will suit any modern home kitchen and has plenty of power at 220CFM to keep stale air at bay. It just falls a bit short for commercial kitchens.
The Broan-NuTone 413004 includes a removable grease-charcoal filter for a clean exhaust recirculation. The motor is well lubricated and will easily last for years before requiring any service. Besides that, the filters are dishwasher safe and Broan provides a 1-year warranty with this hood.
The COS-QS75 is a top-of-the-line kitchen hood from Cosmo and can be used in both wall-mounted and under cabinet configurations. This under-cabinet range hood guide exclusively compares similar powered hoods in this configuration. This hood is extremely powerful with a 500CFM rating to tackle the hardest of kitchen challenges. Since this is a convertible range hood, it can be used both ducted and ductless but the latter would require you to purchase the optional Carbon Filter Kit.
It looks stylish and is made out of 430 grade, 18-Gauge brushed stainless steel to ensure longevity and add to the beauty of your kitchen. Besides good looks, it excels in the airflow department as well, with 500CFM twin centrifugal motors and 4-speed fan controls. The hood doesn’t require a lot of space as it’s just 29.5’ x 22” x 10” in size.
It includes some sophisticated modern design features as well. The hood has a touch screen LED panel and remote control which makes it easy to turn it on/off or control the fan and lighting. Speaking of lighting, this self venting range hood has energy-saving 1.5W LED lights for bright and high lumen lighting over your cooktop. It also has an auto-delay shut-off timer. Cosmo has installed a permanent filter on this one which doesn’t require you to replace it, and it comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
The Broan-NuTone PM250 Power Pack module is a versatile range hood insert-exhaust combo which can serve as both an exhaust fan and lighting over your cooking stove. It’s perfect for installing under a cabinet or even custom hood installations. It features 2-way fan and light controls for a quiet and effective performance.
In a similar configuration, Broan also has a 390CFM exhaust module but that’s more expensive and also a little less easy-going on the ears.
The motor on the PM250 can power up to 250CFM of exhaust at an 8.0-Sone rating, and the hood accepts two incandescent 40-watt candelabra bulbs. Although the bulbs do not come with the package, this hood does an excellent job for what it’s designed for. It is small at 20.5” x 11.25” x 2.5” and is easy to install for an average DIY person.
The streamlined design and quick-release filters make it easy to clean and the washable aluminium mesh filter maintains optimum performance and keeps the kitchen fresh. The Broan Power Pack Range unit can work with a 7-inch duct and also through non-ducted discharge, and any replacement parts are easily available.
Cosmo’s range hoods are some of the best in the market for their looks, lifetime filters, customer support, long term warranty and price. Their 63175S Convertible range hood will transform the look of your kitchen while effectively channelling all the smoke and fumes outside. This is a 380CFM convertible hood which manages to keep noise levels under 65dB, and just like the COS-QS75, requires purchasing the Carbon Filter Kit to convert it to a ductless range hood.
This hood is essentially a cheaper alternative to the QS75. It’s built from stainless steel and includes energy-efficient LEDs, digital touch screen panel and remote control features. It’s very versatile when it comes to the size, with a 30” x 19.75” capture area along with an adjustable 25.6” – 39.4” height.
It has the Cosmo ARC-FLOW permanent filters which can be easily cleaned and don’t require to be replaced. The 3-speed controlled fans are effective at blowing the air through the 6-inch duct and are not loud at all. This is a great convertible hood that will ensure smooth transition if you later plan to duct it to the outside. You may compare this model to other hoods from Cosmo in this comprehensive roundup of Cosmo range hoods.
This Winflo 30inch hood is a wall mounted convertible model at an affordable price range. This self ventilating range hood comes with a powerful 3-speed fan which is capable of providing up to 400CFM of airflow. It’s fitted with easy push-button controls and energy-saving LED lights like most modern hoods.
The Winflo comes with a dishwasher safe aluminium mesh filter and can accept charcoal filters for ductless operation. It’s constructed from brushed stainless steel that not only looks elegant, but also makes it stain resistant and easy to clean. The steel body is thin for our liking, however, and you might have to be careful not to accidentally dent it while installing. There’s nothing to worry once you have it in place though.
The thin construction does make it very lightweight at just 21 lbs, and the body measures at 19.21 x 29.5 x 36.22 inches. The Winflo’s chimney can be adjusted telescopically and is suited for 7.5 – 8.5 feet tall ceilings. Overall, this is a very good value for the money and Winflo backs it up by a 3-year limited warranty.
Ductless Range Hoods - A Comprehensive Buying Guide
What is a ductless range hood?
A Ductless vent hood, as the name suggests, doesn’t have a duct that is used to expel air out of the house. Instead, it operates by capturing air particles and odor, blowing it over some sort of air filter and then returning the clean air back to the kitchen. This working process is the reason it’s sometimes called a recirculating range hood. This process is equivalent to that of a carbon-based air purifier.
The best ductless range hood will use charcoal or activated carbon for a strong air filtration and better air quality. Of course, this means you will need to change the charcoal filter every once in a while to ensure effective and efficient performance.
Ductless range hoods can be very convenient for your house especially if you have less space. They can be installed anywhere as they don’t need a venting network to work. Most homeowners prefer ductless design as it doesn’t require professional installation and generally allows them to be more flexible.
A self ventilating range hood does not come without its disadvantages though. Due to the fact that it is recirculating the air back into the kitchen, it’s not suited for humid environments since they won’t throw out steam. They are also not as effective as ducted hoods.
Ducted vs. Recirculating Venting
You might be wondering which one to choose between a ducted or a non ducted range hood. Don’t worry! We’ll simplify that for you. By weighing the various pros and cons of each, you can decide for yourself which one will suit your own kitchen.
Ducted Range Hood
A ducted range hood captures the stale air and channels it through a vent to the outdoors. This makes it more effective in ventilating the kitchen and managing humidity as compared to a self venting range hood. The fact that they are not simply recirculating the air, but instead venting it out makes them ideal for commercial kitchens or homes that generate large amounts of fumes and grease.
Ducted venting has its drawbacks, with limited flexibility during installation and the higher cost for the same. Besides that, poorly installed vent duct can have some long term consequences like grease accumulation in unwanted places and insect pathways into the house. On the bright side, ducted range hoods tend to be more efficient and less noisy than ductless ones. Particularly ideal for people with allergies and/or respiratory conditions.
Non Ducted Range Hood
A ductless vent hood has an advantage of being easy and cheap to install and occupy less space as there is no duct installation to worry about. They also make it easier to adjust the cooking canopy if you plan to do a kitchen remodel. Since they are reliant on recirculation, it becomes important to have one with a powerful exhaust fan and effective air filtering.
With a recirculating range hood, noise and power consumption levels are usually higher. You also will need to clean or replace the filter at least once or twice a year for optimum results. Again, these things will usually vary with the brand, size and use case. In the end, choosing between these two types of venting should be based on your requirements including available space, budget, infrastructure and personal preferences.
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Non-Ducted Range hood
1. Cooktop Width
Before you purchase a range hood, you need to make sure it covers a significant area over your cooking range. The best recirculating range hood will be at least as wide as the cooking surface and will cover all of the burners. For instance, if you have a cooktop with 4 burners, ideally your range hood should be deep enough to cover all the back burners and at least half of the front burners. Also, it should not be too high but still leave ample space for you to cook.
One of the main reasons people buy recirculating range hoods is the DIY-friendly installation and the flexibility in terms of location. Range hoods generally mount to the cabinet and can be installed smoothly within a couple of hours by following the instructions manual. Modern homes have cabinet dimensions suitable for installing range hoods, while on older homes where there isn’t enough clearance, you might have to modify the cabinet. Having a ductless range hood makes it easy if you plan to do a kitchen remodel.
3. CFM Rating
CFM stands for Cubic Feet per Minute and is a measure for the amount of air that passes through the hood in a given time. The CFM rating indicates the power of your hood and a good starting spot for homes would be around 300. This is where most under-cabinet vented microwaves are rated too.
The ideal CFM rating for you might vary depending on the amount of food you cook, size of your kitchen, the number of burners and more. With a self ventilating range hood, the CFM values tend to be lower than their ducted counterparts since they have to pass the air through a charcoal filter
A filter is apposite to a ductless vent hood as it will take in all the smoke, odor and dirt that passes through the hood thus clearing out the airways. Kitchen hood filters fall into one of three categories: charcoal, mesh and baffle filters.
Mesh and baffle filters are made out of aluminium/steel and are used both in ducted and non ducted range hoods. These are highly effective in collecting grease but require frequent cleaning. Charcoal filter on the other hand is primarily used in ductless hoods and this is what you should be looking for. These contain finely powdered activated charcoal particles and are responsible for absorption of fumes and removal of odor.
5. Price and Warranty
There is a huge pile of products to choose from, and the best way to get rid of a big chunk of it is by deciding on your budget. Range hoods are long term and large investments, so don’t get one you might regret later. Ductless vent hoods can cost you anywhere between a hundred dollars or thousands of dollars depending on the brand, size and features. Good range hood manufacturers will offer at least 3 to 5 year warranty so you can be less perturbed if something goes wrong.
In case you’ve rented out a property and don’t plan to spend as long a time there to make costly modifications, there are other clever alternatives to range hoods that still take good care of the fumes and cooking odor on a rather slashed budget.
A range hood is essential to keep your kitchen cleaner and prevent oil and grease from accumulating on walls, cabinets and appliances. We have just shown you the best range hoods you can buy for your kitchen, including some convertible options as well. If we had to pick the best recirculating range hood from this list right now, we’d go with the Broan 413004. But other options are perfect as well, depending on your taste and whether you want to duct it to the outdoors in the future.
Range hoods can greatly improve your cooking experience and maintain a clean indoor environment. When it comes to a recirculating range hood which will not expel the air outside, it becomes crucial not to compromise on the quality. If you are spending thousands of dollars freshening up your kitchen, why not spend a couple hundred dollars on a good range hood.