Vented Hoods Versus Unvented Hoods

by Tom Papageorge

We often have clients come into our showrooms dreaming about a La Cornue range, or seamlessly invisible refrigerators. Few of our clients get starry-eyed about range hoods. While range hoods are perhaps not the most exciting appliances in the kitchen, they are very important.

Why Do You Need a Range Hood?

Cooking produces grease, smoke, moisture, and odors. Range hood filter grease, moisture, and cooking smells out of your kitchen and out of your home. This filtering function is very important to preserving your kitchen cabinets, controlling humidity, and keeping your kitchen from smelling like last night’s seared ahi tuna. According to the respected hood company Zephyr, the average family of four produces roughly one gallon of grease every year due to normal cooking practices. If you entertain regularly or enjoy high heat cooking searing, wok cooking, or frying, you might have even more grease. Without en effective hood, this grease ends up on your cabinets, floors, and walls.

What is the Difference Between a Vented and an Unvented Hood?

When choosing your home’s range hood, the first decision you need to make is whether your kitchen will have a vented hood or an unvented hood.

  • A vented hood, sometimes called a ducted hood, sends the grease, moisture, and air outside of your home through the wall or roof. 
  • An unvented hood filters the air through a carbon filter and recirculates the air inside your kitchen.

Vented Hoods

Vented or ducted hoods are far superior to unducted hoods in performance. An unducted hood simply cannot compete with a ducted hood. Ducted hoods are much better at removing grease, smoke, moisture, and unpleasant smells. One of the ways that hoods are measured is by cubic feet per minute (CFM), or how much air can be removed per minute. Ducted hoods are quite versatile and can include island hoods, under cabinet hoods, custom hoods, and wall hoods with a chimney-like duct that runs up the wall. The one feature they all share is that they send the cooking fumes outside. The only reason that you would choose a unvented hood over a vented hood is if you simply cannot vent your range hood outdoors. Even if you do not care to cook often, if you are going through the trouble and expense of remodeling and upgrading your kitchen, a vented hood is much more desirable to future buyers then an unducted hood.

Unvented Hoods

Due to a limited renovation budget, difficult floor plan, or condo restriction, some people simply cannot vent their range hood. If you cannot install a vented hood, an unvented hood can still help filter the air in your kitchen. One of the best ways to maximize performance for your unvented hood is to make sure to clean and change the hood’s air filter regularly.

Noise Caused By Hoods

Many people do not like to use their range hoods because hoods can be noisy, yet turning the range hood on while cooking is important for keeping grease buildup under control. It pays to upgrade to a quieter range hood. Noise is measured in Sones. 1-2 Sones is the amount of noise a refrigerator produces, 4-5 Sones is a normal conversation, and 8 Sones is typical traffic noise. Noise will typically increase with the airflow CFM rating. Many higher end ranges have powerful CFMs with only 3-5 Sones.

When it comes to a vented versus an unvented hood, the choice is easy! Choose the vented hood for superior performance, improved home air quality, and to protect your kitchen’s cabinets, walls, and floors in the long run.