Venting strength (CFM Motor Class)
Venting strength, or airflow capacity, is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). A higher number indicates a higher capacity to replace kitchen air at a higher frequency. 200 to 300 CFM Motor Class is a good number to aim for if you’re cooking everyday meals and have a residential range. Oversized or commercial-style ranges may require higher venting capabilities.
To make sure you get the right venting strength, check the manufacturer’s recommendations for your cooking appliance. Also keep in mind your cooking habits, the overall size of your kitchen and local construction code requirements.
Canopy-style hoods will come in a variety of shapes and styles. They are often shaped like an upside-down funnel or capital T, but sometimes can have more of a dome shape. Some models include glass canopies, LED accents and other stylized elements.
Recirculating vs. external venting
Some range hoods vent externally, which means they vent kitchen air outside and require ductwork in the wall, ceiling or floor. Ductwork needs to be professionally installed if it doesn’t already exist. Ductless or recirculating venting filters air then pushes it back out into the kitchen. These can be installed anywhere, but the filter will need to be cleaned at least twice a year or more frequently to maintain optimal performance depending on your cooking habits. Some hoods are convertible and can vent externally or through recirculation.
Most decorative hoods, like these Whirlpool brand canopy and downdraft styles, vent externally. Most under-cabinet and microwave hood combinations come factory set to recirculate air in the kitchen. Always check the appliance’s owner’s manual or specifications to understand how it vents and if it’s convertible. Also, it is important to take a look into kitchen hood liners and blowers as they sit within the ducts of your vent hood to draw smoke and odors out and help keep your ventilation system running smoothly.