Cooking indoors can be unsafe when there isn't enough ventilation in the kitchen. Heat and smoke can make the air stuffy, while chemical pollutants such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and particulate matter are dangerous for our health.
Because of this, the kitchen environment can be more toxic than outdoor environments. In large homes, this problem can be avoided by installing large kitchen windows or vents for better ventilation. But in tiny spaces like condos where kitchens are often windowless, this is a significant problem.
That’s why a range hood is useful in tiny kitchens. Because it contains an exhaust fan that hangs above the stove, it easily sucks up the airborne grease, combustion products, smoke, heat and odor and traps it through a carbon filter. In doing so, indoor air quality is improved.
Range hoods come in two types: ducted and ductless models. In a ducted range hood, the filtered air is sent outside through a vent. This means that you have to pay to install ductwork in your kitchen. A ductless model, however, just recirculates the filtered air so you don’t have to break a cavity in the wall in order to install a vent.
In terms of efficiency, a ducted range hood is better than a ductless one because it uses stainless steel baffle and mesh filters. A ductless hood, meanwhile, only uses charcoal filters which need to be regularly replaced (similar to a water filter). But in terms of practicality, a ductless range hood wins because it doesn’t need extra space for venting.
When you have tiny kitchen space, you don’t have the luxury of space to cut through the wall, pipe a metal vent into the cooking space or install exterior ductwork. It’s a messy task that requires a lot of work and expensive professional help.
In contrast, ductless range hoods can be installed in less than ten minutes. Often, you'll just need to use a few screws and plug it into an outlet.
This type of vent is also a safe option. Because it recirculates filtered air, you don’t have to worry about creating a negative air pressure inside the kitchen which can create a carbon monoxide hazard. Also, if you’re using a gas-fired furnace, a ductless range hood will eliminate the risk of backdrafting.
It minimizes heat loss too. During the winter, a vented range hood can create problems by leaking warm air outside. Your heater will have to work much harder in order to replace all that heat loss which can cost you a huge electric bill afterwards.
Best of all, a ductless range hood is relatively affordable. An average sized ductless range hood, which is 30-inches wide, will generally cost less than $100 (although there are more high-end models that are priced well over the $300 range). But just because you’re paying less doesn’t mean the quality is bad. In fact, in this article, I’ve reviewed range hoods that perform well without burning a hole in your pocket.
Here are my top 5 ductless range hoods on Amazon.
The Best Ductless Range Hoods
- Broan-NuTone 413004 Non-Ducted Ductless Range Hood
- Cosmo 5MU30 30 in. Under Cabinet Range Hood
- Air KingAdvantage Convertible Under Cabinet Range Hood
- CIARRA Under Cabinet Range Hood 30 inch
- Hauslane Chef Series B018 30″
1. Broan-NuTone 413004 Non-Ducted Ductless Range Hood
According to the manufacturer, this model is its most economical duct-free range hood for under cabinet installation. It functions as an exhaust fan and overhead light for your stove.
Made from high quality stainless steel, it’s designed to fit neatly underneath the cabinet. This non-ducted range hood uses an exclusive Microtek system for filtration of airborne contaminants. A 2-speed motor powers its fan while a protective lamp lens distributes incandescent light evenly over the cooktop.
The range hood can be easily installed as hardwired or with a power cord kit that’s sold separately. The brand recommends that this unit should be installed at least 18 inches above the cook top for optimal ventilation and lighting.
It’s easy to operate and there are separate rocker switches that control the light and fan. Its charcoal filter is replaceable, so you can experience non-stop scrubbing of the indoor kitchen atmosphere of smoke and odors. The lamp lens is compatible with a 75W bulb.
The sides are smooth and mitered, while the bottom edge is hemmed. This makes it easy to clean and safe to install. It is also equipped with a non-duct filter that’s easy to release for cleaning in the dishwasher.
ADA-compliant, this product comes with a 1 year limited warranty.
- Easy to install and use; a user was able to install it in 1 minute
- Quiet fan
- Has only one brightness setting
- Accessories like power cord kit and bulb are sold separately
2. Cosmo 5MU30 30 in. Under Cabinet Range Hood
This is a slim kitchen stove vent that can be converted into a ductless range hood with the installation of a Carbon Filter Kit that’s purchased separately. This unit can be installed under a cabinet or against a wall.
It’s made from premium 43 grade stainless steel that’s 20-gauge thick. It is equipped with durable and reusable multi-layered aluminum mesh filters to continuously trap grease and oil. The exhaust vent uses a 5-inch round duct and includes a back-draft damper when in use as a ducted range hood, to prevent air from coming back inside.
The 3-speed motor is quiet, generating only 56dB when in operation. The unit uses high lumen LEDs to ensure energy efficiency and high visibility.
Other accessories include a 3-prong plug for easy use. This unit comes with a 5-year limited parts warranty.
- 5-year warranty
- Some users had to seek professional help in installing it correctly
- Carbon filter kit needs to be purchased separately
3. Air King Advantage Convertible Under Cabinet Range Hood
This is another convertible range hood that can be installed ducted or ductless with the addition of RF34 Odor Filters that are sold separately. This model is for under cabinet installation only.
Made from stainless steel and coated with a black finish, the metal frame for this unit is 23-gauge thick. It’s equipped with a 2-speed motor that operates at a speed of 180-CFM (cubic feet per minute) at 7.0 sones. When installed as a ducted range hood, it is compatible with horizontal or vertical ducting.
This unit features a dual rocker on and off lighting control switch. It uses a 60-watt incandescent bulb for lighting. Its grease filter, meanwhile, is easy to remove for quick cleaning.
This product comes with a 1-year warranty
- Performs well as described
- Easy to install
- Relatively noisy
- Accessories for ductless installation need to be purchased separately
4. CIARRA Under Cabinet Range Hood 30 inch
This is a convertible stainless steel range hood that designed to be installed under a cabinet. When used as a ducted range, it is suitable for top venting. To convert it to ductless mode, a carbon filter must be purchased separately.
This unit uses a 3-speed exhaust fan to remove smoke and odors effectively. The low speed is used for general ventilation, while the medium speed is used for standard cooking operation. The high speed setting is used when there is a high density of smoke produced during cooking. Even at full speed, this fan is quiet, generating only less than 13 sones.
It uses a 5-layer aluminum mesh filter to remove grease and oil. There are also 2 LED lights that provide optimal and energy efficient lighting. Its touch-sensitive push button makes operating it easy and convenient.
- Powerful fan
- Bright LED light
- Not easy to install; its installation manual, according to a user, is “horrible”.
5. Hauslane Chef Series B018 30″
This is an under cabinet range hood that has a full stainless steel body and designed with a minimalist profile to give any kitchen a clean and sleek look.
This unit offers duct or ductless options. When installed as a ducted hood, its vents provide 3-way venting through the rear and vertical sides.
A unique feature of this model is the inclusion of hybrid baffle filters. It integrates a baffle filter and an aluminum mesh to increase its efficiency in capture the grease from the cooking fumes. It is also more durable and makes it easy to clean with a dishwasher.
This unit uses a long LED lamp with one light intensity setting which is more than enough for your lighting needs during cooking.
- Dual fan system
- The LED light is not bright enough
Buyers Guide to Selecting the Best Ductless Range Hood
Professionals recommend that a hood should be one size bigger than the size of the range. This is to ensure that the hood will be able to capture all the emissions from the stovetop. So, if you have a range that’s 29-inch, pick a ductless range hood that’s 30 inches or larger.
If you’re cooking on a kitchen island, the hood above it should be 6 inches bigger than the stove. Because there is no back wall, air movement won’t be limited so the extra coverage will be more than enough to capture all the emissions from the cooktop.
You can choose among wall-mounted, ceiling-mounted, or under-cabinet ductless range hoods.
The most to install would be under cabinet range hoods because all you need to do is to screw them on and connect them to an electrical outlet. Wall-mounted hoods are best if you can spare a bit of space for some slight remodeling of your kitchen so you can place your stove against the kitchen wall.
Ceiling-mounted hoods are best for kitchen islands, although some professionals would say that this won’t give you much power as the other types. If you can afford it, buy 2 of these to hang over your cooking space.
The power of the exhaust fan is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). The higher it is, the greater the airflow which in turn makes the fan faster and more effective. A model with an airflow capacity of at least 300 CFM is a great buy for most homes.
Some models will have 3-speed fans. Others will have less. One might think that the more speeds an exhaust fan, the better it is. But in a ductless model that does not suck air to vent it outside, this isn't really an important factor. Because it filters and recirculates air, it doesn’t need that much power.
It’s the quality of the filters that matter in a great ductless range hood. Most models use either a charcoal filter or an aluminum mesh filter. Charcoal is very effective in removing all kinds of air particles and absorbing odor and grease. The downside to it is that you need to replace them at least every 6 months.
Aluminum mesh filters, meanwhile, are effective in filtering combustion and smoke particles. But they are not as effective in removing odor.
The best ones are those that combine these two filters, as long as you don’t mind doing double duty in maintaining them. That’s because you will be removing the aluminum filters in order to clean them by hand and replace charcoal filters regularly as well.
If noise bothers you, then some of the high speed models might not be for you. That’s because the faster the exhaust fan goes, the more air it will move and consequently, the louder it will be.
Noise volume for range hoods is measured in sones, so look for those models that have a lower rating.
The more design features the range hood has, the more expensive it will be. Some of the usual features include energy-efficient LED lights, filter-maintenance indicators, auto-start/speed heat sensors, and auto extend and retract capabilities. Pick one that has the features that you find the most useful.
Most of these products come with a 1-year warranty, although some brands may offer a much longer warranty period. If you can find a brand that offers a warranty on parts and labor, that’s even better.
Check the quality of a brand’s after-sales service too. Read through the comments on its product page so that you can get an idea of how reliable the company is when it comes to fielding customer inquiries and resolving product complaints.