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what's a range hood good for?!

I've been trawling the interwebs, looking at hood pictures and reviews etc etc. I had gathered that I should buy something that really sucks and is ducted outside. Then I realised, I've never had a rangehood before, and I cook all the time and have always cooked a lot since my teens, and it's never been an issue so I'm wondering if I actually need one...and what exactly for?

Is it just for smells? Because I generally like my cooking smells, and I love how my husband and kids come home and go mmmmmm, what are you making mum?!

Is it for grease? Because I am having cabinets built to the ceiling and everything that is exposed will be used and cleaned regularly.

And my kitchen is big and airy and has big glass doors and windows to the outside, so pretty well ventilated, as it is. What don't i get?


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  1. For those of us living in super-weather-tight homes and apartments with smoke alarms, such a hood can be the difference between peace and quiet and screaming alarms at the drop of a hat.

    I cook with a lot of strong spices and have had the alarm go off when I'm frying chilies. I've also had the alarm go off when carmelizing onions, and on occasion even when I'm simply making toast.

    Also, while smells may be yummy when fresh, without proper ventilation smells can accumulate and overlay each other and become, over time, ummmm, perhaps somewhat less pleasant.

    It depends on the type of cooking you do, I would say.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ZenSojourner

      Also, in warm climates where we pay dearly to chill the house, venting away heat and steam can only help the electric bill.

      1. re: ZenSojourner

        And over time those "yummy" kitchen smells begin to permeate everything in your house - the paint on the walls, carpeting, curtains, upholstery, clothing, etc. and turn unpleasant real quick. Thing is, the resident(s) are often unaware of the smells, they get used to it, but visitors definitely notice them.

      2. Personally I'm with you. I've got a hood. I rarely use it because I don't like the noise. I don't fry a lot, and my house is an open plan. My house does not smell. Really.

        3 Replies
        1. re: DGresh

          Nothing like the 3 day old aroma of.......Lamb Kidneys............

          1. re: DGresh

            Thanks DGresh, I feel the same way. And most of my friends don't regularly use their hoods either. Yep, noisy. My mother uses hers but she has one of those charcoal filter ones and I know she doesn't change the filter half as often as she is supposed to. Just looking at the family and friends around me, most of them may as well not have one.

          2. I think a hood is essential, especially in open floor plan homes...removing odors, smoke, steam from boiling, etc. A good one won't be that loud, plus it's not like it's on constantly. If noise is critical (for real?) choose one where the motor can be remotely located. Big, airy, and lots of windows is nice, but it's not going to move the air out unless you direct it. If you do decide to install one, do not make the magazine mistake of mounting it too high off the cooktop

            1. If you do not use a vent and your smoke alarm never goes off, you might want to check the alarm to make sure that it works properly.

              I also find that the vent is useful in siphoning grease away. I am not worried about the grease collecting on the cabinets, but I don't like it when it splatters my arms or clothing.

              1 Reply
              1. re: E_M

                oh no, my smoke alarm certainly does go off. I wish someone would invent one that has a great BIG off button on it that was easy to smack with a broom handle.

                It doesn't go off much so i've always just lived with it.

              2. Because of your airy layout all of the steam and grease gets dispersed but at some point the ceiling/cabinets above the stove and the highest points of your ceiling will stain.

                1. The "cheap" hoods make a lot of noise and generally don't move/vent enough air to be effective. Like your dishwasher, it can be built to be quiet with a small price penalty. Unfortunately, most builders buy and install the cheapest hood they can find. A good hood is a totally different thing.

                  I don't know about you but, I generally don't want all the heat and steam in my house for reasons including but not limited to the air conditioner bill in summer.

                  I really don't want to sweat over a skillet and I don't want the splatter to hit me. The hood light is nice too. As others have mentioned, you really don't want to put the steam, fats, spices, etc. in the air of your house to stain your ceilings and "scent" your furniture.

                  1. Not sure where you live but in some places they are required by law if one has a gas range. (Must be ducted outside.)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: OCEllen

                      Yes, my thoughts exactly. Many municipalities require a hood over a gas range because of the by-products of burning gas. Interestingly, they may not require one over an electric range. Gas can even cause fumes from other products to become altered, such as paint fumes from a project clear across the house or even on another floor. These can settle low in areas of your home, and are potentially harmful. Anyone who has ever painted a piece of furniture in one end of the house and discovered an odor that smelled like diesel near the stove has experienced the smell of gas by-products.

                      In older, pre-war apartment buildings in New York, it was customary to have a window near the stove and maybe a small ceiling fan for exhaust - maybe. One of the greatest assaults on my senses was arriving home or visiting someone in these buildings and having to run the olfactory gauntlet of smells on the way to the destination apartment. While any one of them might be good at one time, the smells of frying fish, boiling corned beef, wok stir-fry, baking and indoor stovetop grilling at once does not make for a nice experience while walking through the halls. I suppose fewer people actually cook these days, so it is probably less of a problem now, but I generally found the experience so offensive that it was truly one of the things I was really happy to be rid of once I moved into a house of my own. A decent exhaust hood above the stove gets rid of much of these offensive smells, which I can swear linger around for days in some places.

                      Hey, if the OP doesn't care that her kitchen still smells like last night's paneed fish while she is getting her kids breakfast the next morning, it's her choice. Maybe she can't really smell the lingering odors, which would not be uncommon. I, however, have an extremely good sense of smell, and it would bother me.

                      I also tend to cook foods that need a hood. Unfortunately, I am living with one of those downdraft models because of my kitchen layout, and it is barely adequate for my indoor grilling, fish and potato frying, and wok adventures. I would much prefer a strong hood. The good ones don't make a lot of noise, only the old and/or cheap ones do.

                      To each his own, I suppose.

                    2. You could get one with the fan element on the exterior wall vs inside or near the hood. If it doesn't duct to the outside it's worthless in my opinion.

                      1. I'm with the original poster... maybe. I'm about to get a Wolf cooktop and so have been reading about them and then reading all the vent hood stuff on the internet. I feel like I "should" get a hood that will exhaust to the outside (the one I have now recirculates, which is useless, IMHO, and I never use it). Most of anything I cook is vegetarian. In the summer I do a lot of fruits/veggies for freezing and I just want to remove the heat. If I cook stuff in olive oil, I can't see how that it going to make it up to any vent hood, anyway. It gets on me and my cooktop and then I wipe it off or wash my clothes.
                        All I care about is removing heat in the summer. I wonder if there is anything to tell one if it does any good to use a hood to do that... I was trying to figure it out today. I have maybe 14 feet to be traveled between pan and outside with one curve. If the air goes through a non-insulated duct, does it get cooled before it gets outside (or, really, does the inside get heated) to an appreciable amount? I was thinking about the CFM thing and it seemed like it would be able to make it outside before losing its heat but I have no formula for figuring that out. Anyone?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: kayandallie

                          When you've pan sauteed anything and you look at the hood filter you will see that a lot of your oil that that you used while cooking is in there. I have a large vent hood over a 6 burner gas rangetop and not only does it remove a lot of heat while cooking it removes a lot of oily smoke that would be floating around my kitchen and landing on just about everything.

                        2. I also recently just got a range hood after never having one before and we also have an open layout house. Most smells of cooking don't bother me but others have commented that they smell onions, etc in the BRs long after the cooking is done. Not that it's a bad thing, but they'd rather the BR not smell like cooking.

                          Fortunately, our range is on an outside wall & we were able to vent the hood straight out the back of the hood. Now, we turn it on just before we begin cooking & can now leave the BR doors open & they don't smell like anything that's been cooked. Also, I'm finding that things like cooking spray & oil seem to splatter less. So my cabinets are cleaner.

                          If you're considering a Range Hood, look for the "Sone" value of the hood. The better ones will have a lower Sone rating & will thus be quieter.