Ventilation is an important part of a kitchen that works well. With a good ductless range hood, you can keep the air in your kitchen clean and comfortable even if you don’t have expensive ducting.
Working in professional kitchens has taught me how important it is to have good ventilation in a kitchen. I’ve also lived with my fair share of ductless range hoods that sound like jet engines but can’t clear the smoke from a single candle.
I’ve spent hours researching so that you don’t have to go through that. I’ll explain everything you need to know about ductless range hoods today. And I’ll tell you about the three best ways to improve the way you cook and the air quality in your kitchen.
Detailed Reviews of The Best Ventless Range Hoods
1. Broan-NuTone 413004 Under-Cabinet Range Hood
The Broan-NuTone 413004 isn’t packed with features and high-tech gadgetry. But it’s cheap, trustworthy, and will still do the job.
Broan is one of the best-known brands of range hoods, and it has options for every price range. This ductless model is one of their best sellers because it’s a great deal, easy to use, and doesn’t need much care.
The plan is simple and works well. It’s constructed from stainless steel, which looks good in any kitchen and makes it durable and easy to clean.
Underneath, there is one vent with a charcoal filter that can be changed. And this is one of the few options that actually comes with the filter included. A nice touch, especially considering how cheap it was to start with.
Unlike many other options, the disposable charcoal filter doesn’t have a mesh filter or a stainless steel baffle to cover it. But that’s where some of the money you save comes from.
On the one hand, this makes maintenance easier because you don’t have to worry about keeping one more thing clean. On the other hand, the empty space and the exposed charcoal filter make the room look a little unfinished.
The controls are also very easy to use. You can choose between two fan speeds with one rocker switch, and you can turn the light on and off with another. When it comes to lighting, only one incandescent bulb is needed (sold separately).
Most range hoods now use halogen or LED bulbs instead of incandescent bulbs, which are a bit out of date. But it does give off a nice warm light and is cheap and easy to change.
Because of its simple design, this is one of the lightest hoods on the market. It weighs only 10 pounds. This makes it a bit easier to put together than most, but you should still have someone else help you.
What We Like
- Very affordable
- Comes with a charcoal filter included
- Lightweight and easy to install
What We Don’t
- Incandescent bulbs are outdated and not included
- No baffles or mesh filters lead to a lower-end look
2. Hauslane Chef PS16 30-Inch Under Cabinet Range Hood
The Hauslane PS16 is a ductless range hood that looks good and doesn’t have any extra features. It has a low profile, clean lines, and a very quiet motor.
This hood has very simple and straight forward controls, but it still manages to maintain a very modern stainless steel look. On the front of the hood, there are 5 push-button controls that work well. One for the power, one for the lights, and one for each of the hood’s three fan speeds.
Because each speed has its own button, you can quickly choose the power you want without having to go through all of the options.
At its slowest speed, the PS16 makes a little more than 33 decibels of noise. That translates to a very quiet hum, and when cooking you would likely forget it was on at all. Even when you turn the fan up to its highest speed, it only makes about 43 decibels of noise.
At that level, you’ll know it’s on, but you’ll still be able to talk or listen to music without having to shout.
Even though you still need to buy and use charcoal filters, the hood comes with 6-layer aluminum mesh filters that attach to the bottom of the hood. These make the charcoal filters look more expensive and also catch grease, which can help them last longer.
But the aluminum mesh filters need to be taken out and cleaned from time to time. If not, grease can build up on them and make it hard for the fan to pull air in.
As far as lighting goes, you get two modern LED bulbs that are also good for the environment. Some owners thought they were too dim, but it’s easy to switch them out for brighter bulbs if you want to.
It’s also important to note that this hood can be changed. That means it can be used as a ductless unit right out of the box. And if you decide to add ductwork later, you can keep the same hood by connecting it to an outside vent.
What We Like
- Very quiet operation
- Energy efficient LED lights
- “Permanent” aluminum mesh filters
What We Don’t
- Does not come with the necessary charcoal filters
3. IKTCH 30-Inch Wall Mount Range Hood
If you need a functional ductless hood now, but plan on installing ducting in the future, this IKTCH is the perfect range hood to grow into.
The other two choices are simple and understated, but the IKTCH will quickly become the center of attention in your kitchen because it looks so professional. And, it’s packed with power and modern touches.
The first big difference you may notice when looking at this hood is the large, backlit, digital touchscreen. From here you can control power, lighting, and the fans four speeds. And to make things a little more interesting, it also features gesture sensing controls.
On each side of the touch screen are motion sensors. These allow you to turn the power on and adjust the fan speed with a simple wave of the hand. A useful feature for when you need to get rid of smoke quickly but your hands are full of who knows what.
At the heart of this hood is a very powerful motor. But, there’s only so much air that can move through and be effectively cleaned by a charcoal filter. So, when using the hood as a recirculating ductless unit, you won’t get the full benefit of the impressive 900 CFM blower.
However, as soon as you connect this hood to an outside vent, it will clear as much smoke as you can throw at it.
This hood includes the charcoal filters you’ll need to run it ductless, and you also get high quality stainless steel baffles. These help trap grease and do a great job maintaining high levels of airflow without getting clogged.
Baffles give a high end look and are what you’ll find on almost any professional hood. Plus, they’re dishwasher safe which is a big bonus when it comes to the routine cleaning.
You also get dual LED lights that have bright and dim settings and are easy to replace.
If you’re only going to use this as a ductless hood, it’ll look great but the power may be overkill. But if you plan to make changes to your kitchen soon, you can keep the same hood and look forward to a big performance boost.
What We Like
- High quality stainless steel baffles
- Touch screen with gesture sensing control
- Very powerful motor
What We Don’t
- On the expensive end
- Motion sensors can be accidentally triggered by taller cooks
What To Look For
Picking the right size hood depends primarily on the size of your range. Your hood’s job is to catch and get rid of smoke and fumes before they get into your kitchen. So, at the very least, your hood should be as wide as your range.
That means if your stove is 30 inches wide, your hood should also be at least 30 inches wide.
However, if you have the space for it, a hood that’s actually around 6-inches wider than your range is ideal. That gives the hood 3-inches of overhang on each side of your cooktop. And that gives a bit more insurance that all of the smoke and fumes will be captured and neutralized through your hood’s charcoal filter.
The carbon or charcoal filter is the most important filter in a ductless hood. Since the hood just moves the air around instead of taking it out of the kitchen, the charcoal filter is what keeps the air clean and free of smoke.
These filters are disposable, so it’s good that they aren’t too expensive because they usually need to be changed every few months.
Each ductless range hood will need a filter of a certain size. And I would always go with the option suggested by the manufacturer to make sure I got the best fit and performance.
People often have an extra “permanent” filter on top of the disposable charcoal filters. They are called “permanent” because, as long as they are not damaged, they can be washed and used again and again for the life of the hood.
These look better and act as the first line of defense by catching grease, which can make your charcoal filter last longer.
The best choice is baffle filters made of stainless steel because they still let a lot of air through even when they are dirty. Also, these filters are very sturdy and can often be cleaned in the dishwasher.
The other type of permanent filter you’ll come across is an aluminum mesh filter. There are many layers of metal mesh on these, which also catch grease. This option is usually less expensive than baffles, but if they aren’t cleaned often, they can slow down the flow of air.
Most of the time, the letters CFM will be used to talk about how powerful a range hood is. This number, which stands for Cubic Feet Per Minute, shows how much air a hood can move.
But CFM doesn’t mean as much since ductless hoods pass air through a filter inside a small space instead of through an outside vent. So, a very powerful motor doesn’t help ductless range hoods as much as it helps their ducted counterparts. And many models that are made to work without ducts won’t even give you a CFM.
Ductless hoods can do a good job of keeping the air in the kitchen clean in smaller spaces or when less cooking is done.
A ductless hood is better than nothing if you have a big cooktop or a very powerful gas range. But it probably won’t have enough power and efficiency to really clean the air in your home.
No range hood is completely silent, but if you choose one that is on the quieter side, it will be easier to cook with and more likely that you will use it.
In general, ductless hoods tend to be a bit louder than ducted models. But because you might not need as much power, you can find options that don’t make a lot of noise.
Some of the ductless models with less power won’t even have a noise rating. But if that information is available, look for models that keep the noise under around 60 decibels. That’s about as loud as a normal conversation, so if you can keep things quieter than that, you shouldn’t have to yell in the kitchen.
One reason why the Hauslane PS16 is so impressive is that it only makes 43 decibels of noise when it is running at full speed.
The general rule for hood height above gas stoves is between 24 and 30 inches. And between 20 and 24 inches for electric or induction ranges.
These are general rules, but you should always check with the manufacturer before installing. Having the right distance between your range and hood will give you the best performance and keep your hood from getting damaged or voiding its warranty.
The controls for your hood don’t need to be intricate and complicated. Power, fan speed, and lighting are all you really need. When it comes to fan speed, I like models where each speed has its own button.
This lets you choose the air flow you need more quickly when you need it. But if you have to switch between a few speeds, I guess that’s not too much to ask.
Your main choice will be between a control panel with physical buttons or a touchscreen. With physical buttons, it’s usually easier to get the choice you want on the first try.
Touchpanels, on the other hand, look very modern and are very easy to clean.
Good lighting can make for a safer and more enjoyable cooking experience. Not to mention being able to better see when your food is browned and delicious or black and burnt.
When it comes to common 30 and 36-inch hoods, you’ll probably be looking at two-bulb setups, which should give you plenty of visibility. And if it isn’t, most bulbs are easy to switch out for ones that are brighter.
There are three kinds of light bulbs: incandescent, halogen, and LED. Incandescent bulbs aren’t as popular as they used to be because they are big, use a lot of energy, and can break easily. But they don’t cost much, are easy to find, and sound nice and warm.
Halogen bulbs are like a smaller, more durable, and more energy-efficient version of incandescent bulbs. You can find these in a lot of modern hoods, but it looks like they’re slowly being replaced by LEDs, which last a lot longer and use less energy.
It may be true that there are less choices for hoods without vents than for ones with vents. But you still have a lot of options, so you should be able to find one that fits your style and your kitchen’s design.
There aren’t many options for models that don’t have any ducts. Adding convertible range hoods to your search should make it easy to find one that works for you.
Whether you go with an under cabinet, wall mount, or island range hood you’ll have a few style and design choices to make.
The most common color or material for range hoods is stainless steel. It’s a timeless look that goes well with most decor, plus it’s durable and easy to clean. Some models are also available in black, white, or beige, which can even offer some price savings over the stainless alternatives.
Another stylistic choice you may have is to go with a fully metal construction or a hood with a glass visor. Glass is a popular choice for range hoods with islands, and it can be an interesting focal point in your kitchen.
Most of the time, installing a range hood is a pretty easy job. But because they are heavy and big, it can be hard to install them on your own.
Ductless range hoods do have a big advantage when it comes to ease of installation. Since they don’t need to be hooked up to any ducts, all you have to do is mount them securely above your stove.
Once mounted, some models can simply be plugged into a standard outlet. Others will need to be hard wired. This isn’t a very hard job, but if you’ve never done it before, it can be dangerous, so you might want to leave it to the pros.
Which ductless range hood you choose will depend a lot on how you cook and what you need. I don’t think you can find a better deal than the Broan-Nutone under cabinet range hood. It’s just about the least expensive option you’ll find, but it’s still functional and reliable. It doesn’t look great, but it does the job and costs much less than $100.
If you have a little more money, the Hauslane PS16 is the best ductless option for most people, in my opinion. It looks good and has a lot of power, but what really makes it a winner is how quiet it is. Even on the highest setting, it doesn’t make much noise, so you’ll be more likely to use your hood as much as you should. Plus, you have the option of turning it into a ducted range hood if you ever want to upgrade.