Shane Gannaway on August 5, 2015 32 Comments One of the most important things to consider when installing a new cooking range is what type of exhaust hood you’re going to need. There are a lot of different options out there for exhaust hoods, including both ducted hoods and ductless models. Ultimately, depending on your range and the setup of your kitchen, the choice will be yours to make. However, it is quite important that you make an educated choice. This being the case, it is definitely worth taking a few minutes to consider the pros and cons of both ducted and ductless ranges alike. First, you need to understand what a range hood is, then you should understand the major differences between the ducted and ductless models. Research the pros and cons of each in order to make to smartest choice for you and your kitchen. What Are Range Hoods? A range hood, often referred to as a vent hood or exhaust hood, is an enclosure for the area over your range that uses a fan to collect steam, smoke, fumes and other airborne particles that may be generated while cooking. The additional ventilation that a range hood can provide is a way to filter what is coming off the stove out and away from you and the food. Depending on the type of range hood you have, there is usually a mechanical fan that you can switch on or off in order to pull in the airborne items and push them out somewhere else. This helps to keep these particles from collecting on the walls, ceilings, and other surfaces. This can significantly cut down on the grimy buildup that can accumulate in your kitchen overtime. In this way, range hoods make for a cleaner kitchen that involves less upkeep and scrub-downs. A range hood can also help reduce cooking odors from dispersing to the rest of your home or restaurant. A typical hood usually looks like some sort of canopy that hangs over your cooktop. The Bottom Line: A range hood helps to keep your kitchen cleaner and more comfortable while you are cooking. What Are Ducted Range Hoods? Ducted hoods are fairly common, although some kitchen designs may limit where they can be installed, due to the fact that these hoods need to be able to move the air out of the kitchen. In this way, they are restricted as to where they can be placed in the kitchen. A ducted range hood must be connected to a duct with pipes that carry the airborne particles away from the kitchen to the outdoors. This is what differentiates it from a ductless range hood, which instead just recirculates through a filter and then back into the kitchen. If you choose to go with a ducted hood, you’ll need to have the proper ducts installed to move the dirty air and particles out of the kitchen completely. Ducted hoods are quite common in commercial kitchens, but depending on your kitchen and cooking habits, this kind of hood might be just what you need for your new home range. What Are Ductless Range Hoods? Ductless hoods can be installed almost anywhere. Since they don’t need to vent to your home’s exterior and are ductless, you are not required to install them only where there is a duct. These hoods operate by filtering the air they suck in and then blowing it back out into the room, essentially using a recirculation process. The filter often contains activated carbon or charcoal which helps to remove odor and smoke particles from the air, which can then be cleanly recirculated back throughout the kitchen. Of course, with the ductless model, it may be necessary to clean or change the activated charcoal filter about once or twice a year. This cleaning and replacement from time to time is necessary for your range hood to work most efficiently. The Pros & Cons of Different Types of Vent Hoods By weighing the various advantages and disadvantages of each type of hood, you can better decide which one is most suitable for your particular kitchen. Ducted Range Hoods: The Good & Bad Ducted hoods are commonly found in commercial kitchens or homes that have larger ranges that tend to generate greater amounts of smoke, fumes or dirty air that should be vented outside. Ducted hoods tend to be more efficient for getting rid of humidity and steam from the cooking area due to the fact they are not actually filtering and recirculating the air, but are instead venting it out of the kitchen completely. Some people claim that ducted exhaust systems run more efficiently, and tend to me more quiet. This is debatable, however, as efficiency and noise production will differ depending on the brand, size, model and how well you take care of your range hood. One of the few drawbacks of a ducted hood is that it must be installed in an area where there is a duct system that goes from inside the kitchen to the exterior of the home or building. This can potentially limit the areas in the kitchen where you can actually position your range and hood. Ductless Range Hoods: The Good & Bad A ductless hood has the advantage of being a bit more versatile and can be installed just about anywhere you please. Because a ductless range hood merely filters and then recirculates air throughout the kitchen, you do not need to worry about installing it near any pipe or ducts that reach the outside. In this way, a ductless hood can be more convenient than a ducted system, at least in regard to the installation process. Some ductless models even run on timers and can be programmed to turn on or off automatically. The ductless range hoods are not without their disadvantages, unfortunately. For this type of hood, due to the fact that it recirculates air instead of pulling in new air or venting out stale and dirty air, your kitchen may become fairly humid. The decibel levels of a ductless hood may be a bit higher than ducted exhaust systems due to the fact that they often require much more fan power. Again, this will be dependent on many factors, including the brand, size and model you choose. It is also important to remember that the filter needs to be cleaned or replaced regularly for optimum performance. This may mean an ongoing cost for the homeowner. How to Choose the Best Hood For Your Kitchen To choose which of these two types of hoods is right for your kitchen, you really need to examine your work space, your cooking style, and your personal preferences. You might have to mull over a few important questions regarding your kitchen situation before you pick the right range hood. Tips to Buying the Best Range Hood Are you flexible about where your range hood can go? If there are ducts in your kitchen, then you may be able to choose between ducted or ductless range hoods. If you do not have ducts in your kitchen, you may be limited to going ductless or paying to have ducts installed in your home. Remember, a ductless range hood will generally be more flexible. Where you plan on putting your range or cooktop will likely determine what type of range hood you can have. How important is the air quality and humidity in your kitchen? With this question, there should be a clear answer. If having a humid kitchen with recirculating air is out of the question, then you would be better off going with a ducted hood. If you are fine with recirculating air and a little more noise, then you will be fine with a ductless hood. Some people are fine with recirculating air while others may be uncomfortable with it. The answer to this question should give you a clear indication as to whether a ducted or ductless hood is best for your home. What is your budget like? The range and range hood are going to cost money, but you also need to consider the price of installation. If you need to install all brand new ductwork just to accommodate your duct range hood, it can potentially be quite costly. If you plan on moving your range hood, it will also cost money to patch up any holes that the old one left behind. If you are replacing an old range and hood, it may sometimes be easier to just get the same type of range hood as you had before. This will save you a lot of money and stress. On the other hand, if you are replacing your old hood because you want a different type, just make sure to budget for the cost of installation. It’s Your Choice Choosing to go with a ducted or ductless range hood is ultimately your choice. Although ducted hoods tend to be more efficient, ductless hoods are also fine and even more flexible in a lot of settings. Commercial kitchens are likely to need duct range hoods while residential kitchens can go either way. Examine and research all of your options carefully and consider the advantages and disadvantages of either type. Ask yourself the questions above to get a better idea of where you stand. Then all you need to do is go out and select the style of hood you like most.