Do you actually need a range hood?
It depends, but most of the time, the answer is “yes.”
Having worked in a professional kitchen for more than a decade taught me how important good ventilation is. It also helped me see how better air filtration could help me cook better at home.
In this article, I’ll explain how range hoods work and why they’re a useful, but often underappreciated, tool in the kitchen. I’ll also talk about the most important things to think about when deciding if a range hood is right for you.
What do range hoods actually do?
I think the first step in deciding if you need a range hood or not is to learn how they work and why we use them.
A range hood is a simple piece of equipment.
Basically, it’s just a fan that’s attached to the top of your stove. But instead of blowing air down towards the stove, it pulls air up and away.
When you cook, you make a lot of things, such as heat, gas fumes (if you have a gas stove), smoke, steam, and smells. All of that gets into the air, moves around the house, and ends up in our lungs.
No matter what you cook or how often you cook, this is always true.
Whether you cook once a week or every day, you should only cook over low heat or with a grill pan that is very hot. So, the purpose of a hood is to take in all of that dirty cooking air before it gets into the air around us.
When I worked in a professional kitchen, the hood shut off a few times in the middle of a service. And in just a few seconds, you can feel the room getting hotter and see smoke filling the room.
Now, most of us don’t make that much heat and smoke, but it’s a surprising and easy way to see how important a range hood is. When that does happen, most cooking equipment has to be turned off right away, which usually means the end of service.
Not Convinced You Need One?
So, what if I told you that a range hood will actually help keep your kitchen clean? Not just the air, but also the surfaces, appliances, floors, and pretty much everything else.
Even though you might not be able to see it, almost every time you cook, small bits of oil get into the air and float around until they land on any surface.
Over time, a sticky layer of oil can build up on things you don’t use often and in places that are hard to reach when you clean. Walls, ceilings, the top of the fridge, and cupboards are all great places for grease to build up (pleasant, I know).
This is a bad thing that can be easily avoided. Range hoods do a great job of catching those little oil splatters before they can escape and settle on any of the surfaces in your kitchen.
Ducted vs Ductless: Which Is Better?
So, a hood is just a fan that is put on top of your stove. But there’s another important part of the equation: where all the dirty air goes after it’s been sucked up.
There are two kinds of range hoods: ones with vents and ones without. Ducted hoods are connected to a duct that goes to an outside vent. These draw in air and move it out of the room through the outside vent.
Models that don’t have ducts are self-contained and don’t connect to any ductwork or vents outside. Instead, these take in dirty air and filter it with carbon or charcoal. As the air moves through, the carbon neutralises smoke, fumes, and smells. The “clean” air is then pumped back into the room.
In general, ducted models are better at keeping the air in your kitchen clean because they use less energy and work better. But in order to work, they need a duct and an outside vent.
Since ductless models don’t have any connection to the outside, they are easy to install and can be used in any room. So, they might not work as well, but they’re better than having no hood at all and can be a quick and cheap fix.
How To Pick The Best Range Hood
Whether you want a ducted or ductless ventilation system is an important choice, but there are a lot of other things to think about when deciding which one is best.
First, you’ll need to figure out what kind of range hood fits your kitchen’s layout.
Even though under-cabinet and wall-mounted hoods are very popular, you can’t put one on top of a kitchen island that way. Always plan with the space you have in mind.
You’ll also need to look at the size and output of your stove-top to figure out how much power you really need to get the job done.
More power usually means more noise, so if you want to be able to talk, you might want to look into quieter hoods. You might have to spend a little more to reduce noise, but I’ve found that it’s no fun to talk or listen to music when your hood sounds like a jet engine when you turn it on.