How To Choose A Vent Hood For Your Kitchen

Are you remodeling a kitchen? If so, getting a new range hood for your oven will be something on your list of things to pick out.

When you remodel a kitchen or add an island to your kitchen there are SO many choices to make that it can be overwhelming. Check out my kitchen remodeling checklist for a complete list of things to consider.

A range hood (or vent hood) might be low on your list of things to research. Do you know you need an island vent hood but don’t know how to choose the right one? You’re in luck. Below is a step by step guide to choosing vent hoods for kitchens. You’ll learn why you need a vent hood, how to choose the right size range hood, how powerful it needs to be and more.

Choosing a Range hood

What is the purpose of a Range hood?

The reason that you need a vent hood in your kitchen is two-fold. If you cook a lot, the range hood clears out the smells so your kitchen doesn’t smell like whatever you just cooked. It acts much like an exhaust fan in a bathroom, sucking out smells.

Vent hoods really help if you happen to generate a lot of smoke in your kitchen, from searing meat or burning something (does anyone else do that?). A good range hood can suck up the smoke quickly.

Second, range hoods also suck up grease and moisture that rise up as you cooking. Sounds gross, but that grease has to go somewhere.

If you are remodeling you should check with your local residential building codes to see if a vent is required, or ask your contractor. Most cities don’t require you to have a range hood above the oven, but I wouldn’t want to be without one.

What Size Should a Vent Hood cover Be?

If you are buying a new vent hood for your kitchen there are some guidelines for how large it should be. The size depends on whether your oven is on an island or attached to a wall. It also depends on how big your range itself is.

Ideally you want your range hood to be at least as wide as your range or cooktop. With that said, they come in pretty standard sizes. Most range hoods come in 30 inch and 36 inch widths. Most ranges come in 30 inch and 36 inch sizes.

If you have a 36 inch range, you need at LEAST a 36 inch vent hood. If you have a 30 inch oven you can use a 30 inch vent hood. Get the size that is at least as large as your range.

How high should range hood be?

If you have a gas cooktop or range, your vent hood should be 24 to 30 inches above the cooktop. If you have an electric range, it should be a bit lower, 20 to 24 inches. Your oven should have guidance in the manual that goes with it, so check there to confirm.

Despite this guidance there are a few other key factors to think about. First, is the height of the cook (probably you). You don’t want to be banging your head against the vent. It might not be as effective, but your comfort is worth something.

Second, if the hood is over an island, you should consider whether it will be a visual barrier to people in the kitchen. Vents that are above an island should be above eye level.

These are not small appliances and they can look very large in an open kitchen. Hang something from your ceiling before you hang the vent, even if it’s a piece of cardboard, to get an idea of how it impacts your view.

How Strong Should My Vent Hood Be?

One of the more technical things to consider is the power of your range hood. This is measured in a unit called CFM which stands for cubic feet per minute. The more powerful your range hood is, the farther it can be from to top of your oven. A pretty standard range hood has a CFM of 400.

If you have a high powered range you need a vent hood with a higher CFM. For example if you are installing a pro-style range like a Wolf or a Viking you’re going to need a more powerful vent.

The industry standard is a minimum rate of 1 CFM of ventilation per 100 BTUs. That’s a lot of letters. An everyday gas range typically has burners ranging from 5,000 to 18,000 BTUs each. A pro style range may have a burner that goes up to 25,000 BTUs. You add the individual burners together to get the total BTUs.

vent hood styles

There are lots of different vent hood styles that vary depending on where they go in your kitchen. For the sake of comparison, I’m showing prices for the 30″ size below.

  • Wall mount range hood – This is the most common type of vent hood. The prices on these can be as low as $139 from Home Depot or as high as several thousand.
  • Island vent hood – These are more expensive. This island mount range hood from Home Depot is $377.
  • Under cabinet rage hood – These mount to the bottom of an existing cabinet. They are not the type that are going in most newly remodeled kitchens, but if you are replacing an old one they are very inexpensive. This under cabin range hood from Home Depot is only $66
  • Under microwave vent hood – If you have a microwave directly over your range, you can use this type of vent, but these are not ideal in terms of best performance. If you have limited space, they can be a good option.
  • Custom vent hood – Thanks to Joanna Gaines, there are lots of people who are building their own range hood covers to go around the basic mechanical vent. Here’s a really cool farmhouse DIY vent hood that is built around a standard “insert range hood”. They sell the inserts like this one at Home Depot and they are the mechanical portion of the range hood. Keep reading for suggestions on where to buy a custom cover for your range vent.

Range Hoods on Etsy

Do you want to make a real statement with your range hood, but you aren’t into DIY? Etsy is your best friend. There are makers on Etsy that will make a custom vent hood to fit your space. Take a look at these, they aren’t cheap but they can really up the WOW factor in your kitchen.

  • This vent hood can be painted to match your cabinets or to make a statement. The seller EMBerstore has 5 Stars.
  • This shiplap venthood is also custom made by BlueFigArtisan, another 5 star seller.
  • This is another range hood made by BlueFigArtisan, which can even be stained.

You have to pay to ship these and it’s not inexpensive, but if you want to make your kitchen look custom it can be worth the investment.

how to clean a range hood

There’s a dirty secret about range hoods that I didn’t know until I saw the evidence myself. They collect that grease that is being sucked up. You might be thinking, duh.. But when I moved into my house I started noticing this disgusting brown sludge dripping from my vent.

This was a newsflash for me. You have to clean the filters or replace them. If you choose a vent hood with stainless filters you can pop them in the dishwasher to clean them. You might also need to take a wet cloth around the inside ledge (this is where most of the grease collects in mine). Be prepared to be grossed out.

If you don’t clean them out, it can be a fire hazard and also pretty gross when they start oozing grease.

Can I Vent My Stove Under the House?

My last house had a stove that vented underneath the house. This is an option if you live in a pier and beam house (which means there is some place for the air to go).

In my experience with both types of vent hoods, the over the stove or oven variety works much better. You should only vent down if you can’t afford to put in an overhead vent or you have an island and you don’t want the visual barrier of a vent hood.

Range Hoods – A necessary Appliance

In summary, range hoods are a necessary part of the cooking process. They might not be the most exciting purchase you will make, but this should help you learn a few basics about this appliance. Please reach out if you have more questions that I didn’t answer in the comments.

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  1. Such a useful guide for the new vent hood buyers! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks for guiding through the journey of choosing perfect range hood for your kitchen!

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