Most of us would agree that there is nothing worse than the smell of last night’s dinner still hanging around in the kitchen at breakfast time. An effortless way to prevent these stale smells from lingering is by always using a range hood during cooking. Not only does this help remove odors, but it also helps remove steam and other particles that occur when cooking on the stove.If you are unable to have a range hood fitted which can extract the dirty air to the outdoors, also known as a ducted hood, then the ductless hood, which filters and recirculates the air is the alternative. Available in all styles and for all budgets, they are easy to fit in any type or size of kitchen and rather than you spending time searching for the best ductless range hood we have reviewed some popular models below. To help you even more in your choice of ductless hood, we have also supplied some information on the different types of hood, how they work and what cleaning and maintenance they need.
The Z Line KB-30 30" 760 CFM wall mount stainless steel range hood offers a powerful four speed fan for maximum air filtering and recirculation.
The US-made Broan 413004 non-ducted 30" under-cabinet stainless steel range hood is a two speed motor ideal for more compact cooking areas.
Quick Comparison: Top 10 Best Ductless Range Hood
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1. Z Line KB-30 30" 760 CFM Wall Mount Stainless Steel Range Hood
The Z Line KB-30 30" wall mount stainless steel range hood offers a powerful 760 CFM with its four speed fan which can be turned off by a timer function. You can install the KB-30 as a ducted hood, or with the addition of optional charcoal filters it is suitable for use as a ductless model.
The hood and chimney extend between 26.3" to 40" and an additional chimney extension kit can be bought to fit ceilings up to 12ft high. Made from 21-gauge 430 brushed stainless steel, it comes with US and Canadian certifications of CE, GHS and CC. The lighting is adjustable halogen and the steel grease baffle filters are dishwasher safe.
2. Broan 413004 Non-Ducted Under-Cabinet Range Hood 30" Stainless Steel
Made in the US, the Broan 413004 non-ducted under-cabinet range hood is a 30" stainless steel model. With just two speeds, some users may find that it doesn’t offer as much fan flexibility when compared to similar models and it may not be powerful enough for a larger range. It has not been rated for CFM which may make comparison with other hoods less easy.
This hood is suitable for use in an ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant application; meaning it is designed to help make the home more accessible to those with disabilities. It offers 75-watt cooktop lighting, although the bulb is not included when buying the hood.
3. Kitchen Bath Collection STL75-LED Stainless Steel Wall-Mounted Kitchen Range Hood
The 30" Kitchen Bath Collection STL75-LED stainless steel wall-mounted hood has LED lights that are three times brighter than similar models. Its chimney is suitable for wall or ceiling fastening and adjustable to a maximum of 41" it doesn’t have any welded seams on the three visible sides.
Made from 304 stainless steel, it is corrosion resistant and offering three speed settings, its maximum suction is equivalent to 412 CFM with a noise range of between 48db(A) and 58db(A). The control panel is touch screen with accompanying beeping sounds and its motor is UL-certified – meaning it meets specific safety testing requirements.The STL75-LED comes with carbon filters and the two aluminum grease filters are dishwasher-safe. There is a one-year manufacturer’s defect warranty.
4. Cosmo 5U30 Slim Under-Cabinet Convertible Range Hood
The Cosmo 5U30 30" under-cabinet range hood offers a 250 CFM fan and is suitable for use as a ducted or ductless model. To use as a ductless hood, users will need to buy a carbon filter kit alongside the hood. This is a slim design made from 20-gauge brushed stainless steel with three fan speeds and lit by energy efficient LEDs.
The grease filter is multi-layer aluminum and these can only be washed by hand as they are not suitable for the dishwasher.
5. Broan QP230SS Evolution 2 30" Stainless Steel Convertible Range Hood
The 30" Broan QP230SS Evolution 2 is a convertible stainless steel range hood offers bright halogen lighting and its touch screen control panel allows easy operation during cooking. The Evolution 2 has an output 350 CFM. It has three options for ducting and is also suitable as a ductless hood. Unlike similar models, this is designed to be hardwired, so users will have to make a minor electrical adaptation (either hardwire or add a plug) before use.
6. Kitchen Bath Collection Wall-Mounted Stainless Steel Range Hood with Touch Screen Control Panel
The Kitchen Bath Collection FDL75-LED 30" stainless steel range hood with touch screen control panel is suitable as a ductless model or can be converted to a ducted hood. Designed to mount to the wall only, this 412 CFM hood offers super bright LED lighting that cannot be dimmed.
The touch screen display controls all the functions of the hood and there are three speed settings with a maximum noise level of 58db(A). The chimney is visibly seam free on three walls and its height can be adjusted to a height of 41". Complete with charcoal filters, the three aluminum grease filters are dishwasher safe.
7. Cosmo UC30 30" Under-Cabinet Convertible 760 CFM Range Hood
With a powerful 760 CFM, the Cosmo UC30 30" under-cabinet stainless steel range hood is suitable for use ducted or ductless. Users who do want to install as a ductless hood will need to purchase the correct charcoal filters as these are not supplied with the hood.Made from 430 grade, 20-gauge stainless steel, it is lit by energy efficient 2W LED bulbs and offering three fan speeds, its stainless steel grease filters are dishwasher safe.
8. Air King AD1306 Advantage Ductless Under-Cabinet Range Hood with Black Finish
Made from 23-gauge cold rolled steel with a black finish, the Air King AD1306 Advantage 30" ductless under-cabinet range hood comes with a two speed fan. As this is a smaller fan with two speed options it is only suitable for smaller ranges.This ductless hood offers 180 CFM and comes complete with a charcoal filter. There is an adjustable brightness 60-watt maximum cook top light, although the bulb is not included.
9. Cosmo 63190 36" Stainless Steel Convertible 760 CFM Wall-Mount Range Hood
The convertible Cosmo 63190 36" wall-mount range hood has a powerful 760 CFM speed fan. With a contemporary design made from premium brushed stainless steel, the chimney is also free from seams on its visible three sides. Its Arc Flow grease filters are dishwasher safe and if using as a ductless model, charcoal filters need purchasing separately as they do not come with the hood.
This is a push button three speed model, with a maximum of 65db noise. The 63190 is lit with energy efficient 2W LEDs.
10. Winflo New 30" Convertible Stainless Steel/Tempered Glass Wall Mount Range Hood
The Winflo New 30" convertible stainless steel/tempered glass range hood is a wall mounted hood that can be ducted or ductless. The chimney is steel, as is the base of the hood, which is also finished with a curved and tempered glass border.Offering three speeds, this hood is worked by manual push buttons. It has an aluminum mesh filter and if using ductless, it will need additional charcoal filters.
Things to Consider Before Buying Range Hoods
About Range Hoods
A range hood is sited over your stove/range and acts as an enclosure to collect smoke, fumes, steam and other airborne particles that arise during cooking. The hood stops these particles from accumulating and contributing to a build-up of grease and grime in the kitchen.
Range hoods are available in two main forms, ducted or ductless.
The Difference Between a Ducted and a Ductless Hood
Ducted hoods are more common in homes with larger ranges or commercial premises. A ducted hood takes the stale air from the range area and moves it to the outdoors through a duct.
This means there are usually limits as to where a ducted hood can be placed in the kitchen and in many cases, there may be building restrictions as to whether ducting can be placed in an existing kitchen. Installing a brand-new ducted hood may also be very costly; especially with no existing duct.
Ductless hoods, which may also be known as duct-free, recirculating or non-vented hoods do not need to extract outdoors. These are self-contained units suitable for installation in almost any type of kitchen.
As they do not extract to outdoors, apart from any labor costs for fitting the hood itself to the wall or under-cabinet and the purchase of charcoal filters, there are no added costs when a ductless hood is bought.
As ductless hoods do recirculate air rather than extract it to outdoors they can increase humidity in the kitchen. They can also be noisier as they may need a larger fan to recirculate air, rather than the ducted hood which just needs to extract air. Regular filter maintenance and replacement is also essential with a ductless model.
There is also the choice to buy a hood that is ductless, but which can convert to ducted if the need arises. These convertible hoods may be helpful for those who have bought a new home and cannot yet afford the cost of ducting, but in time will be able to do so, or perhaps if a kitchen refurb is planned in the next few years.
Choosing an Under-Cabinet, Wall Chimney, or Island Ductless Hood
A ductless hood fitted under the wall cabinet is often the most straightforward solution for those with limited kitchen space or existing wall cupboards. There is a similar type of hood which can be fitted within the kitchen cupboard. Usually known as cabinet insert hoods, these slide out from the cupboard out when needed. Insert hoods can be costlier as they are more bespoke and in a smaller kitchen it would mean the loss of storage in a kitchen cupboard.
If there is empty wall above the stove, then a wall chimney range hood is a choice as this is usually designed to extend - fitting on the wall above the stove and reaching all the way to the ceiling.
Some island hoods fit ‘in-ceiling’ and these have minimal visibility, but most island hoods suspend over the kitchen island.
When reviewing hood options, you may also find it helpful to consider that whichever one you choose, its size should be at least as wide as the stove or range that it will be going over; ideally an extra 3" longer on each side.
Installing a Hood
Like any appliance, it needs installing in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. General guidance is that it is between 18" to 30" above the burners, or between 10" to 24" from an electric stove top or 24" to 30" from a gas stove top.
As an appliance, it should usually have its own separate electrical line. Not only can this help improve its lifespan, but it is also useful when needing to isolate and deal with any electrical problems in the kitchen.
If you are fitting a wall chimney, then if possible, fit above the backsplash rather than cutting into it, not least as if you need to replace the hood in time, it could leave you with an ugly gap in your backsplash.
As well as height clearance, the manufacturer will usually give a minimum clearance at the side of the hood as well. This can make installation and cleaning easier as well as allowing for any wall cabinet movement over time.
How Ductless Hoods Work
The speed of a range hood is measured in cubic feet per minutes (CFM). This is the rate at which the hood replaces the air. A higher CFM means greater air movement but also more noise.
As a guide, a minimum rate of one CFM per 100 BTU (British Thermal Units) is recommended for high output gas ranges or stoves. So, if your stove output is 45,000 BTU, then a hood that works at 450 CFM would be more efficient for clearing the air.
The fumes from the range collect in the hood, usually passing through a grease filter and are funneled to the center of the hood by electric fans. For ducted hoods, these fumes are pushed to the outside through ducting and a wall vent, but for ductless hoods, the fumes are pushed through filters (usually charcoal) that remove odors and grease and then the air is vented back into the kitchen.
Measuring Noise Levels of Hoods
Noise can be measured in decibels (db) or in sones, with one sone being like the sound of your refrigerator running (around 38db). Four sones (around 48db) is a typical conversation level and eight sones (around 68db) is equal to the sounds of light traffic.
Variable Speed Range Hoods
Having variable fan speed is one of the most prominent features of a hood. A hood with a minimum of two speed settings should always be selected as this offers a high speed while cooking and a low speed to continue recirculating the air after cooking is finished.
Various models also offer a timed shut off, which means the fan will continue running for a few minutes after manually turned off.
Cleaning a Stainless Steel Hood
Depending on how greasy the hood is, you may just need to wipe over with a damp soapy cloth. A good habit to get into is wiping the hood over along with the cooker after every use as this can help stop as much grease and grime building up - minimizing the time needed to scrub it clean.
Daily use of the stove means that the hood (and its filter/s) should really be cleaned monthly. If you do not cook as often, then seasonal cleaning is enough.
There may be a manufacturer-recommended cleaner for the hood, otherwise a typical stainless steel cleaner that has a degreaser in it will usually lift most grease and stains. You should always follow instructions for using these products safely. Gloves should be worn if required and opening the kitchen window helps remove any cleaning fumes or odors.
After cleaning the hood, you may want to consider polishing it with a drop of olive oil on a microfiber cloth to help prevent streaking on the steel.
If there is any glass on the hood, then this also needs a regular clean. A couple of teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda dissolved in boiling water offers a cleaning solution which when applied with a soft cloth is usually tough enough to remove old grease from the glass without causing any damage.
The grease and carbon/charcoal filters also need regular cleaning.
Filter Cleaning and Replacement
The grease filter is usually the visible filter directly above the stove top. These tend to be either stainless steel or aluminum. The grease filter needs to be cleaned regularly as grease can build up quickly and stop the hood from working as well as it should do. Grease building up on any appliance can also be a fire hazard.
Manufacturers will provide guidance on how to clean the grease filter, either through the dishwasher or by hand. The extractor should be turned off at the wall and allowed to cool before the filter is unclipped. It can then be washed, allowed to dry and replaced in the hood.
Some hoods, usually ductless models, have a disposable grease filter will change color when ready for changing.
The charcoal filter on a hood usually needs cleaning every three to four months (or in line with manufacturer requirements). Charcoal filters are also called carbon or charcoal carbon filters. A good hint for knowing when these need cleaning is when you can see that cooking steam is no longer being absorbed by the hood. Like cleaning the grease filter, the hood should be off and cool before the charcoal filter is removed.
Some charcoal filters can be cleaned in the dishwasher on a hot wash without any detergent while others need rinsing under the hot tap. They can then be left to air dry or placed in a low oven before being replaced in the hood.
Even if washable, there is usually a lifespan on carbon charcoal filters – they can only be washed so many times before they need replacing. How long they last often depends on how much cooking you do; less cooking means they tend to last longer. When cooking smells are lingering more than they should be, then it’s probably time to change the charcoal filter.
Disposing of Old Hoods Safely
Any old appliances, including hoods, need disposing of responsibly such as through bulky waste collections or a professional recycling company. Some appliance manufacturers may offer a recycling service (at a cost) to collect the old appliance when delivering a new one.
Some states have bans on appliances going to landfill so it is worth checking out local options for disposal before buying a new hood.
Responsible recycling allows appliances to be stripped safely while removing any hazardous components. The recycling of materials such as steel, aluminum, or glass can then take place.
In this review we have looked at the types of range hood available for the kitchen and the advantages and disadvantages they offer. Whatever the reason, many of us do have to use a ductless hood, so we have also reviewed a number of popular ductless range hoods to aid you in your decision making.
Whether you decide to install a four speed high powered wall-mounted or a two speed under-cabinet hood, by choosing the best ductless range hood for your kitchen it will mean that you can wake up to the smell of pancakes in the morning rather than last night’s southern fried chicken.