Ducted vs Ductless Range Hood

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Brad Smith
Written By Brad Smith

Ducted vs Ductless Range Hood – What’s the Difference?

When you’re planning to install a new range, you will also have to decide on the type of range hood you’ll need in your kitchen. These days, you have so many options for range hoods.

There is a huge choice among ducted and ductless models, and it all depends upon your kitchen setup and preferences. However, it’s important to consider all factors and make an educated choice. This will ensure best results for years. 

Before we delve further into the differences between ducted and ductless range hoods, you need first to understand what a range hood is. Then you will be in a better position to understand major differences between them. 

What is a range hood?

A range hood is an enclosure over your cooking range and has a fan that sucks in smoke, steam, airborne particles and fumes that are generated while cooking. They provide additional ventilation that provides a way to filter all that is coming off your stove and away from you as well as your food. This helps in keeping these particles away from the ceilings, walls, and other surfaces. This cuts down on the grimy building that may build up in your kitchen overtime. 

What are ducted range hoods?

Ducted range hoods are fitted with a duct that moves the smoke and particles out of your kitchen. Some kitchen designs may limit where they can be installed.

If you choose this range hood, you will have to ensure that proper ducts are installed to move smoke and dirt out of your kitchen completely. 

What are ductless range hoods?

These range hood models can be installed in almost all types of kitchens. There is no need to vent to your home’s exteriors as they don’t have any duct. They operate by filtering the air they continuously such in.

They mostly contain activated charcoal or carbon that helps in removing smoke particles and odors from the air, which can then be recirculated back throughout your kitchen. 

As with ducted range hoods, it’s necessary to change or clean these activated charcoal filters about twice or thrice a year. This maintenance is necessary for your range hood to work more efficiently.

What is the difference In extraction for ducted vs ductless range hoods?

In ductless models when air is forced through charcoal filters, the air flow is reduced. So it can be assumed that in recirculation mode, this hood will reduce extraction by around 35 percent compared to having it ducted out. 

The extraction in ducted range hoods is affected by type and length of ducting and the number of bends in the ducting run. When the ducted hood has shorter ducting run, it will have better efficiency and will easily extract more air from the kitchen than a hood that has a longer ducting run. Similarly, a hood with fewer bends in its ducting will perform much better than one with more bends. 

Another important difference between a ducted hood and ductless hood is that ducted model will remove steam from your kitchen area and will also prevent condensation build up, whereas a ductless model will only reduce odors, but will not be able to move out steam or prevent condensation build up. 

What accessories are required to install ducted vs ductless range hoods?

For ducted range hoods, you need a ducting kit. You need pipes (depending upon the length required), wall vent, and 90 degree bends. It’s important to choose the right diameter of the pipes for your range hood. All high quality hoods need ducting with a diameter of around 140mm.

For some hoods, you will also have to purchase a separate chimney kit to shield its ducting fan for aesthetic reasons. You need to check product information pages for every model to understand exact requirements. Few things are optional. 

For ductless range hoods, you need charcoal filters. Many manufactures may include them in the kit when you purchase your hood; sometimes you need to purchase them yourself. Also, it’s necessary to replace them every 2-3 months (or maybe more often if you use your range hood a lot). 

What about installing difference between ducted and ductless hoods?

Ductless hood are easy to install as there is no need to worry about the installation of ducting run. 

When your range hood is ducted out, you need to keep few things in mind: 

  • Island and ceiling hoodsCheck the directions of the joists, because you can’t run ducting in the opposite direction of the joists.
  • Positioning of range hood – It’s best to place the range hood closer to the outer wall if possible. This will shorten the length of ducting; and will also improve its efficiency. 

Downdraft range hoods

These hoods are mostly ducted out through the kitchen’s floor. Therefore, make sure you install hood’s ducting run beforehand during a renovation project. 

The Pros & Cons of Ducted and Ductless Hoods

Ducted Hoods: The Good & Bad

  • Ducted hoods are mostly found in homes and commercial kitchens with larger ranges that generate significant amount of fumes, smoke, or dirty air that needs to be vented outside. 
  • They are much more efficient in getting rid of steam and humidity from the kitchen area due to the fact that they are not actually recirculating or filtering the air, but are instead just venting it out of the kitchen completely.
  • Many users claim that these hoods run more efficiently, and tend to be less noisy. This is debatable, as noise and efficiency depends on the size, brand, model and how well you maintain your range hood. 
  • One drawback of ducted range hood is that it should be installed in an area where duct system is there or can be installed to throw exhausts outside the kitchen. This can significantly limit the area where you can actually position your cooking range and hood. 

Ductless Range Hoods: The Good & Bad

  • A ductless range hood is a bit more versatile and can be easily installed anywhere in your kitchen. Because these hoods merely filter and recirculate the air of your kitchen, there is no need to worry about installing them near any duct or pipe that reaches outside. 
  • In this way, this hood appears to be bit more convenient than ducted hood, at least in regard to its installation process. Many ductless models may have timers that can be easily programmed to turn on or off automatically once they detect smoke or odors. 
  • The ductless hoods merely recirculate the air after filtration, instead of pulling in fresh air or pushing out dirty air. So your kitchen may become fairly humidity. They are also bit noisy than ducted models. Again, this depends on many factors, including brand, model, and size you choose. 
  • You also need to keep in mind that their filters need to be replaced or cleaned on regular basis to maintain their performance. This may mean ongoing expenses for you.

How to choose the best range hood for your kitchen?

You can choose the best range hood easily. First, examine your work space, personal preferences, and your cooking style. You will also have to consider few important questions regarding your kitchen’s situation before you choose the best hood. 

1. Are you flexible about the position of range hood?

If ducts are already there in your kitchen, then you can purchase a ducted range hood. However, in absence of ducts, you will have to do with ductless models or pay for getting ducts installed in your house. Remember, ductless hoods are generally more flexible. Where you plan on putting your cooktop or range will ultimately determine the kind of range hood you can have. 

2. Does air quality and humidity in your kitchen matters? 

You want to work comfortably in your kitchen, so you won’t like a humid kitchen with lot’s of odors all around. This may happen if you’ve installed a ductless range hood, especially during heavy cooking. These models may also have a little more noise. If you’re fine with recircualting air, then you can go for this option. 

However, if you don’t want any odors and humidity in your kitchen, go for ducted range hoods. They are more efficient and last for years. They also have less maintenance and recurring expenses. 

3. What is your budget?

The range hood will cost some money, but you also need to consider the cost of installation. Ducted range hoods can prove costly because you will have to get new ductwork installed for accommodating this hood. If you late on plan to move your hood, it would be even more costly as you will have to spend to patch up holes that it leaves behind. 

If you’re now replacing your old range and hood, it’s sometimes easy to invest in similar type of hood as you had before. This can save considerable money and stress. On the other hand, if you’re replacing old hood because you are now interested in something different, just make sure to budget for the extra cost of installation. 

Ducted vs ductless range hood: Which one is better?

Choosing a ducted or ductless range hood may ultimately depend on your choice. Although ducted models are more efficient and cost effective in the long-run, ductless hoods also work fine and are more flexible in many settings. Commercial kitchens should go with ducted range hoods whereas residential kitchens can choose either of these. 

Check all available options, and understand all about the pros and cons of either type. Then, ask yourself the questions we’ve discussed above to get a better idea on where you stand. Then you can just go ahead and choose the model and brand of range hold you like most. You can even order them online at amazing prices! 

smith brad omni

Written by Brad Smith

CEO & Lead Interior Designer

Brad Smith is an experienced interior designer and the founder of OmniHomeIdeas.com. With a Master's degree in Interior Design from Pratt Institute and a passion for creating safe and healthy living spaces, Brad shares his expert insights and innovative design ideas with our readers. His work is driven by the belief that home is where every story begins.