Do I Need A Kitchen Range Hood?

 Do I Need A Kitchen Range Hood: 4 Reasons Why Not

Kitchen range (or stove) hoods are the center piece of nearly all kitchen remodels shown in home renovation magazines. I dare say, for most kitchens, those over-sized and under-utilized kitchen hoods are more for the look than the cook. A four foot or wider 1000 CFM (Cubic feet per minute, a measure of how much air the ventilation hood moves every minute) stainless steel, wood, or tile covered hood is unnecessary.  And, for many homes and apartments it is out of proportion to the space and practically useless. DON’T BE HOODWINKED     Here are four reasons and solutions:

1-  Cooks often incorrectly use their stove hood.

The first and most obvious reason is nobody likes the high decibel level (around 65 dbs) generated by the fan. The basic 30″ wide, 300 CFM fan should be turned on ten minutes prior to cooking in order to begin pulling the air towards the hood. In a small kitchen you’re never far from the noise, therefore stove hoods are usually turned on when the smell is overwhelming. By this time it’s too late to suck in all the smoke and odor that by now has filled the room up to the ceiling which might even set off the smoke detector. Even a powerful hood won’t clear the air.

2-  Kitchen hoods are usually not vented outside

In Manhattan apartments, unless you can vent your stove hood through a window, you will most likely not be able to legally vent your kitchen hood to the outside. If you can vent your stove, a Certified Kitchen Designer has the training to know the proper exhaust system needed for the number of burners and strength (in BTU’s) of the stove burners.  If the hood cannot be vented to the outside, using a recirculating hood designed to capture some of the heat and moisture and minimally filter the air is the next best solution. However, as much as 70 percent of the same foul air is blown back into the kitchen.  Even worse, if the filter is through a non-ducting hood or over-the-stove microwave, the air is spewed directly into your forehead.  How terrible is that?

3-  Most cooking does not require ventilation

To just boil pasta, steam veggies or make pancakes, very little grease or moisture is generated.  This type of cooking usually doesn’t warrant a hood.  If the cooktop is near a window – simply open it slightly.  Most people are not in the kitchen all day with pots on all the powerful burners simultaneously.  If you only use the stove to its maximum on a few holidays you’ll hardly ever turn the fan on anyway.  Furthermore, would you remember to remove and clean the filter?

4-  There are creative ways to protect cabinetry without a hood

A)     The budget kitchen make-over can still protect the cabinets from every day residue by having the recommended 24” to 30” of clearance above the stove. B)      Placing a sheet of metal on the bottom of the cabinet that is directly over the stove at the same level as the adjacent cabinets will also protect it from the heat. This allows for a larger cabinet and increases storage space.   Design-wise, the cabinet at the same height as the surrounding cabinets creates a more uniform appearance (as shown). The old-school kitchen design reasoning that more head clearance is needed at the stove is outdated. Notice how the ill-conceived placement of the ineffective venting capability of the microwave over the stove would fill that same space, anyway. In addition, I find that cabinets are prettier than machines.  Don’t you?
  • Posted: December 28, 2012
  • By: Tomas Jones

This is an excellent article in terms of what to avoid when looking for a range hood or planning a kitchen remodel, but I have to disagree on the idea of avoiding a range hood altogether.

To address the noise complaint: the noise level of range hoods varies quite a lot. Good quality range hoods, such as Miele, Gaggenau, Futuro Futuro, and Elica, are extremely quiet, in the 35-45 decibel range. It all comes down to “you get what you pay for” – a $ 200 Home Depot range hood is going to be noisy, while a $2000 high-end European hood will make all the difference in the world. Also, a hood with a more powerful blower running at a fraction of its speed will be quieter than a less powerful one straining at its limit. I’ve heard 200-CFM microwave hoods that sounded like a jet engine – and you’re right, nobody would want to deal with that, and I’ve heard 900-CFM hoods that you can still have a conversation next to. It all comes down to blower design & build quality.

On the topic of ductless range hoods – yes, a small underpowered range hood, combined with ductless installation, is more trouble than it’s worth. Most of my friends have undercounter hoods that came with the kitchen, and they never turn them on. The difference is, a good quality full-size hood, even if it’s not ducted out, still captures a LOT of the grease that would otherwise settle on cabinets. In my old house without a hood, I remember scrubbing the sticky film from every surface, cabinets, backsplash, etc. With my new hood, even though it’s not ducted, the filters grab a LOT of grease (I can see it, it’s gross!), and there’s no film on cabinets. I just put the filters in the dishwasher every couple of weeks.

Plus, it sucks the heat and steam away from my face and ejects it closer to the ceiling, so it’s a lot more comfortable to cook. It’s not an undercabinet hood, so the steam goes up the chimney and away from me.

Don’t reject the idea of a range hood outright, there’s a lot of reasons to have one. But definitely pay attention to the pitfalls mentioned in this article, they can make a difference between a noisy nightmare and an appliance that makes your life easier.

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  • Posted: January 28, 2015
  • By: Lo

What type of sheet metal do I use for under the cabinet above the stove top?
I have 18 x 30 so I will need to be able to cut it and bolt it.

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  • Posted: March 25, 2015
  • By: sylvia

i’ve always disliked range hoods—ugly & unnecessary—i think.
i’m rearranging my original kitchen & definitely want to keep the upper cabinets which are 16 inches above the counter & project 12 inches from the wall. i am going to place my electric range beneath these—will i need to cut them down to increase clearance from the present 16 inches?—i would perfer not to, in order to preserve the flow of the original cabinets.
thanks,—loved your comments!

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  • Posted: July 16, 2015
  • By: A.G.

When we renovated our kitchen by taking out a wall and extending our cabinetry and counter to create a divider/island between the kitchen and family room, I wanted to keep the open look and there wasn’t really anywhere to put a stovetop but into the new counter. I figured I’d try to do without a range hood and see how it went. I will also admit I cook a lot and was looking forward to seeing the family room tv while cooking. To protect the ceiling over the stove, we put a decorative sheet of copper (think old fashioned tin ceiling style) and installed two pendant lights in it too. I have no regrets; even though I could add a vent, I’ve never felt the need. Admittedly my kitchen is large with good ventilation via windows and screen doors if I have a cooking disaster. I set off the fire alarm with the oven, but never the stove .

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    • Posted: September 28, 2017
    • By: Cheryl Joy

    A. G., I’d love to see a picture of that. It sounds great. I’m also creating a kitchen from scratch in an 1850 New England connected farmhouse and took out the wall between the kitchen and summer kitchen/shed. The range is going against the chimney in the middle of the room (used to be in the wall) and on the other side, the family room side, there will be a wood stove, so I’d like to look into the family room while cooking also, and the range hood would really impede that. Sounds like metal on the ceiling would solve the grease problem, and it sounds like it looks very nice also!

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      Metal on the ceiling either sounds strange or maybe really visually interesting if you use decorative tin, like the old fashion stores.
      Or, use a down draft venting system. If you don’t fry on the stove, there’s probably no grease to worry about.

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      Metal on the ceiling either sounds strange or maybe really visually interesting if you use decorative tin, like the old fashion stores.
      Or, use a down draft venting system. If you don’t fry on the stove, there’s probably no grease to worry about.
      In my essay I was referring to metal on the underside of the cabinet above the cooking surface.

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  • Posted: June 8, 2017
  • By: bill powell

Do I need outside venting for a microwave in Sunapee NH?

reply comment

    Sorry for the long delay in replying. Counter top microwaves do not need to be vented. If you are using a microwave over the stove it can have a recirculating filter which does not go outside. Its value in getting rid of odor and grease is minimal due to a low power blower. Your local building code will tell you if an over the stove microwave (or any hood) needs to be vented outside.

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