Ducted vs Ductless Range Hood: A Comprehensive Guide

Hello there, I’ve spent a lot of time in the kitchen and let me tell you, a good range hood can make all the difference in your cooking experience. One question that comes up time and time again is whether to choose a ducted or a ductless range hood. Let’s tackle that today.

Understanding Range Hoods

Before we dive into the great ‘ducted vs ductless’ debate, it’s vital to understand what a range hood is. A range hood is a device containing a mechanical fan that hangs above the stove or cooktop in your kitchen. It’s designed to remove unwanted odors, airborne grease, combustion products, smoke, heat, and steam from the air during cooking.

Ducted Range Hoods

Ducted range hoods, also known as vented range hoods, are typically known for their efficiency. They work by extracting the air and smoke in your kitchen and transporting it outside through a duct. Now, let’s talk about the pros and cons.

Pros of Ducted Range Hoods

  • Efficient Removal: Ducted range hoods are incredibly efficient at removing heat, steam, and odors since they vent to the outside.
  • No Filter Replacement: With ducted range hoods, you don’t need to worry about replacing filters as there aren’t any.

Cons of Ducted Range Hoods

  • Installation Difficulty: Installing a ducted range hood can be challenging and may require professional help due to the need to install ductwork.
  • Cost: These types of hoods are generally more expensive both in terms of initial cost and installation.

Ductless Range Hoods

On the other hand, ductless range hoods, also known as recirculating range hoods, capture the smoke and fumes, pass them through a filter to neutralize the odors, and then return the air back into the kitchen. Here are some of their pros and cons.

Pros of Ductless Range Hoods

  • Ease of Installation: Ductless range hoods are easier and less expensive to install than ducted hoods, no need for ductwork.
  • Flexibility: They provide more flexibility in terms of where they can be installed.

Cons of Ductless Range Hoods

  • Less Efficient: They aren’t as efficient at removing heat and steam since they recirculate the air back into the kitchen.
  • Filter Replacement: Filters in a ductless hood need to be replaced or cleaned regularly.

So, Ducted or Ductless?

The decision between a ducted vs ductless range hood largely depends on your specific needs and circumstances.

If you are someone who does heavy cooking and generates a lot of smoke and fumes, a ducted range hood may be worth the investment. However, if your cooking is light to moderate and you’re looking for a cost-effective, easy-to-install option, a ductless range hood might be the way to go.

Personally, I prefer a ducted range hood. Yes, the installation might be a pain and the cost a bit higher, but the effectiveness and efficiency it brings to my cooking experience are unmatched. However, everyone’s kitchen and cooking habits are different.

Installation and Maintenance

In terms of installation and maintenance, there’s a significant difference between ducted and ductless range hoods.

Ducted range hoods require ductwork to be installed, which means potentially significant construction costs if it isn’t already in place. They are generally more time-consuming and complex to install. However, once installed, their maintenance is straightforward – all you need to do is occasionally clean the hood and fans.

In contrast, ductless range hoods are much simpler and cheaper to install. You can place them anywhere in the kitchen without worrying about ductwork. On the flip side, their filters need to be regularly cleaned or replaced, adding to the ongoing maintenance efforts.

Energy Efficiency

When thinking about ducted vs ductless range hoods, energy efficiency is another crucial point. Ducted hoods can lose some heated or air-conditioned air when in operation because they vent air outside, which can be a consideration if you’re particularly conscious about energy efficiency.

In contrast, ductless range hoods recirculate the air within the kitchen, so no air conditioned or heated air is lost. However, it’s worth noting that they do need to run longer and harder to achieve the same level of air purification, which can potentially offset some of the energy savings.

Noise Considerations

Range hoods, whether ducted or ductless, create noise while in operation. This noise comes from the fan motor, and the level of noise can vary based on the speed of the fan and the design of the hood.

Typically, ducted range hoods tend to be quieter than ductless models. This is because the fan doesn’t need to work as hard to expel the air, and the ductwork can often help to dampen the sound. Conversely, ductless models may need to run at higher speeds for longer periods, which can generate more noise.

Aesthetic Factors

Last but not least, let’s not forget the aesthetic considerations. After all, the range hood becomes a part of your kitchen decor.

Ducted hoods often have a more industrial look to them, which suits contemporary or professional-style kitchens. On the other hand, ductless hoods offer more flexibility with design and placement, allowing for more creative freedom in coordinating with your kitchen style.

Making the Choice: Ducted or Ductless

I always say the best choice is an informed choice. Consider the installation requirements, the effectiveness of air removal, ongoing maintenance, energy efficiency, noise level, and aesthetics. Evaluate what is most important to you in your kitchen and choose a range hood that checks all those boxes. And remember, a little bit of research and comparison shopping can go a long way in finding the perfect fit for your needs.


Whether you opt for a ducted or a ductless range hood, the key is to find one that best fits your kitchen layout, cooking style, and budget. Whichever you choose, remember, the goal of a range hood is to improve the air quality in your kitchen and create a pleasant, smoke-free cooking environment. Happy cooking!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Which is better: a ducted or ductless range hood?

Both have their advantages. Ducted range hoods are more effective at removing smoke, steam, and odors since they vent outside. However, they are more complex to install and often cost more. Ductless hoods are easier to install and usually cheaper, but they are less efficient at removing heat and steam because they recirculate the air back into the kitchen. Your cooking habits, budget, and kitchen layout should inform your decision.

Q2: What is more energy-efficient, a ducted or ductless range hood?

Ducted range hoods can cause some heat or air-conditioned air loss as they vent the air outside. Ductless range hoods, on the other hand, recirculate the air, so no conditioned air is lost. But they might need to run longer to achieve the same air purification level, potentially offsetting some energy savings.

Q3: Are ductless range hoods any good?

Absolutely, ductless range hoods can be a good choice, especially if you’re dealing with light to moderate cooking. They are particularly useful if your kitchen layout doesn’t accommodate ductwork or if you’re on a budget. Just remember, they need regular filter changes or cleaning to remain effective.

Q4: How often do I need to replace the filters in a ductless range hood?

It depends on how frequently you use your range hood and the type of cooking you do. Generally, it’s recommended to replace carbon filters every 3 to 6 months and clean or replace grease filters every month.

Q5: Can I install a range hood myself?

While ductless range hoods are generally easier to install, both types of installation can be complex and might require electrical work. Unless you have experience with such projects, it’s usually better to hire a professional to ensure safe and effective installation.

Q6: How noisy are ducted and ductless range hoods?

Both types generate noise, but typically, ducted range hoods are quieter as the fan doesn’t need to work as hard, and the ductwork can dampen the sound. Ductless hoods may generate more noise as they often need to run at higher speeds for longer periods.