Of course we know the obvious benefit, that range hoods ventilate odor and smoke from the kitchen. Range hoods also prevent grease deposits from forming all over your kitchen, and suck away the heat that emanates from the stove, which is particularly nice in summer. Best of all, the ventilation prevents that awful chain of events in my apartment where the room gets all misty, the smoke alarm goes off, and the old woman downstairs starts slamming her broom and screaming, shaking the floorboards beneath my feet. Ha! Yes, this is the torment I live with. Fortunately, I have a range hood that can prevent the whole thing.
In my own home, I have a pretty standard-issue under cabinet range hood. Almost every apartment has one. They go right under your cabinets and port through the wall, giving you that extra bit of storage space. The aluminum filters are dishwasher safe, which is great, but I don’t have a dishwasher. My range hood is very quiet because it has the centrifugal squirrel cage blower. This is a pricier feature, but it is more efficient delivering airflow than the less expensive and noisier air-ring fan.
For anything bigger than an apartment-sized stove, though (or if you do a lot of cooking), you’re going to need a bigger, heftier range hood to match . Full-sized chimney-style range hoods are the next step up, offering you a larger hood, more ventilation capacity, and a little more flexible than under-cabinet models. They can be placed over your range against a wall, or over a stove built into an island. The only real limit to where you can place one is whether or not you can hook it up to the proper ventilation system.
That said, running proper ventilation to a new spot in your kitchen is no small task, and can quickly increase the scope of your project. On the other hand, if you like the look of an island-mounted range hood, or just want a more powerful range hood without having to upgrade your air ducts, there are also self-contained models that will filter your air and recirculate it rather than venting it outside. The drawbacks? These tend to be a little pricier, won’t pull heat out of your kitchen, and use different kinds of filters that need a little more TLC.
Regardless of the style, though, range hoods work better when they’re closer to the stove. Unfortunately, range hoods that are mounted too low can be hazardous to the user who might bonk their head on the sharp edge while cooking. Also, with a gas stove, flames have on occasion hopped 20″ gaps to the greasy filter of the range hood and spread. 24″ to 30″ above the stove is a good distance, and if the range hood is on the larger side, it can still be exceptionally efficient at a distance of 30″.
Brushed, stainless steel has long been a go-to finish for kitchen appliances, and range hoods are no exception. Many of the styles you’ll find are brushed steel, with a very sleek modern design to match. That said, stainless steel has started to fall out of favor, and it’s increasingly possible to find range hoods made of more unusual materials (like copper!), more eye-catching designs (especially bold antique or industrial-inspired looks), or even just powder coated to be a different color or blend in with your cabinetry, rather than the classic stainless steel.
Regardless of what it looks like on the outside, though, your range hood should be made of heavy gauge stainless steel on the inside. Range hoods are designed to pull air into the shell and suck it out through the air duct, and as such should match the construction quality of your air ducts – which should always be purchased according to the manufacturer’s recommendations. A duct too thin or too wide can be noisy or inefficient, and can even become hazardous over time.
Of course, even the perfect range hood – one that’s the right size, with all the proper parts and connections – is nothing more than a decoration if you don’t actually turn it on! Give that power button a try, though, and ventilate the kitchen every time you cook, and you’ll notice a huge difference in how often you have to wipe down the surfaces!