Ducted vs. Ductless Range Hoods: Which one to buy?

Range hoods are an essential appliance for any kitchen, as they help to clear the air of smoke and fumes while you’re cooking for your family. When buying a new range hood, it is important to understand the differences between ducted and ductless range hoods so you can find the right option for your home. Use this article as a guide to learn more about ducted and ductless range hoods so you can get started on your shopping journey.

Understanding Ducted Range Hoods

Ducted range hoods are essential fixtures in any kitchen, acting as external ventilation systems that connect to ducts in walls, ceilings, or floors. Their primary purpose is to remove smoke, odors, and grease from the cooking environment, efficiently expelling them outside the home. Particularly advantageous for households located in regions with higher humidity levels, ducted range hoods guarantee a consistently clear and refreshing atmosphere in the kitchen. Operating through a simple mechanism, these hoods employ a fan and an external vent. During cooking, the fan draws in smoke and fumes, directing them towards the external vent. Subsequently, the extracted air travels through the ductwork before exiting the home. This process effectively prevents the buildup of cooking-related odors and smoke indoors, contributing to a more enjoyable cooking experience and enhanced air quality.

Exploring Ductless Range Hoods

In contrast to ducted range hoods, ductless options offer greater flexibility in installation, as they do not require ductwork. Instead, these hoods utilize filtration systems to remove smoke and odors from the kitchen air. This feature makes ductless range hoods suitable for various kitchen layouts, providing homeowners with more options when designing their cooking spaces. However, it’s essential to note that regular maintenance of the filters is necessary, typically recommended at least twice a year, to ensure optimal performance.

Considerations for Venting Over the Stove

While regulations regarding venting over stoves may vary depending on location, installing a hood over the stove is generally recommended for an enhanced cooking experience. Hoods play a crucial role in preventing the buildup of smoke and fumes in the kitchen, promoting better air circulation and reducing heat and moisture levels during cooking. This not only improves comfort but also contributes to a healthier indoor environment for both the cook and other occupants of the home.

Venting Requirements for Ductless Range Hoods

Unlike ducted range hoods, which expel air outside, ductless options do not require venting. Instead, they filter the air within the kitchen, removing contaminants before recirculating it back into the room. While this provides flexibility in placement, it’s essential to acknowledge that ductless range hoods may not be as effective as their ducted counterparts in completely eliminating smoke and odors from the home environment.

Understanding CFM for Ductless Range Hoods

CFM, or cubic feet per minute, serves as a measure of a range hood’s ventilation power. Ductless range hoods typically require lower CFM ratings compared to ducted models, as they do not need to push air through extensive ductwork. This consideration is essential when selecting a ductless range hood, ensuring that it can effectively handle the air circulation needs of your kitchen space.

Converting to Ductless Operation

Converting a ducted range hood to operate ductless is possible with the use of a recirculating kit. These kits typically include components such as a stainless steel vent and charcoal filters, allowing the hood to recirculate air back into the kitchen after filtration. Some range hood models even feature convertible venting systems, providing homeowners with the flexibility to choose between external venting and recirculation based on their preferences and kitchen layout.

Identifying Your Range Hood Type

Differentiating between ducted and ductless range hoods can be done by examining the presence of installed ductwork in the kitchen. Ductless range hoods do not require additional ventilation systems, making them suitable for kitchens without existing ducts. Additionally, the CFM rating of the range hood can serve as an indicator, with higher CFM ratings typically associated with ducted vents.


Selecting the right range hood for your kitchen is not a decision to be taken lightly. Whether you opt for a ducted system for its robust ventilation capabilities or a ductless model for its flexibility in installation, each choice comes with its own set of advantages and considerations. By understanding the nuances between ducted and ductless range hoods, you can tailor your selection to suit your specific needs and preferences. Whether you’re aiming to create a pristine cooking environment or seeking a solution that seamlessly integrates into your kitchen layout, the right range hood will enhance both the functionality and ambiance of your culinary space, making every cooking experience a delight.