How do I Choose the Best Exhaust Hood?

Amy Hunter

Choosing the best exhaust hood for your home depends on a variety of factors. Range hoods are available in different sizes and strengths, as well as noise levels. It may seem like bigger is better, but in the case of an exhaust hood, that is not necessarily so. A too-powerful exhaust hood is a waste of money and will not do any better job than one that is properly sized for your needs.

Exhaust hoods, also called range hoods, filter out pollutants that cause odor to develop in the kitchen.
Exhaust hoods, also called range hoods, filter out pollutants that cause odor to develop in the kitchen.

The purpose of an exhaust hood is to draw the stale air from inside the kitchen and either remove it from the home or filter it and return it to the kitchen. Vented exhaust hoods must be on an exterior wall. They draw the air into the hood and then expel it out of the home. Ventless stove hoods draw air into them, forcing the air through filters, and then releasing it back into the home.

Vented range hoods are considered more effective than ventless ones. Some homes, however, are not equipped to use a vented exhaust hood. Unless your stove is on an exterior wall, you will have to use a ventless hood.

While not the best, ventless hoods are still very effective. They filter the air with either disposable filters, using a material such as charcoal, or reusable filters, which are metal and can be cleaned and reused. The key to getting the best performance from a ventless filter is to keep the filter free of obstructions, whether it is by replacing it or cleaning it.

Once you have decided between a vented or ventless hood, you are ready to narrow down your choice by the amount of air the exhaust hood filters. The measurement used for this is cubic feet per minute (cfm). The higher the cfm of the exhaust hood, the more powerful it is.

Unless you have an expansive kitchen or are a serious cook, you may find that the largest range hoods are not necessary. Often, the more powerful range hoods are also louder. The amount of noise generated by a hood is measured in sones. The lower the number of sones, the quieter the range hood will run.

It is important that you choose a range hood that is quiet enough that you can talk while it is running. If it is too loud, you will find yourself not using it, which defeats the purpose of having one. While many people believe that the exhaust hood is only to remove odors from the kitchen, that is not so. It also removes grease that, left alone, would settle on your cabinets and appliances, leaving a sticky residue.

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