White range hood installed over a white electric range

Range hood vs. microwave vent comparison

When it comes to kitchen ventilation, there are two main options: range hoods or over-the-range microwaves. Both have their own unique benefits, so it can be challenging to decide between the two. Use this guide to compare range hoods and over-the-range microwaves to help you decide which option is best for you.

Range hood installed over an electric cooktop in a rustic kitchen Range hood installed over an electric cooktop in a rustic kitchen

Benefits of range hoods

A range hood is an appliance installed over a range or cooktop that helps extract smoke, grease and odors when you cook by pulling air through filters or venting it outside. You can find options that vent air outside via ducts, or ductless options that filter and recirculate the air back into your kitchen.

Discover the benefits of range hoods below.

Stainless steel range hood over two pans cooking on a cooktop

1. Strong venting capabilities

Standard range hoods typically are able to suck up more air and smoke per minute (cu. ft. per minute) than a microwave hood combination. Depending on the model, range hood vents can reach between a 200–600 CFM Motor Class rating, while microwave hood combinations typically reach up to 200 CFM Motor Class.

Vent hood over a gas cooktop heating a pot

2. Venting options

Range hoods typically come in either ducted or ductless options. A range hood that uses a duct system directs all air and smoke sucked up by the fan to a vent that leads outside of the home. This duct system is usually built into a wall, ceiling or floor. Ductless range hoods simply filter the air and recirculate it around your kitchen.

Canopy vent hood over a island cooktop

3. Style options

There are several range hood styles to choose from, so you can find the right style to fit your kitchen’s layout. Discover the common types of range hoods below.

  • Under-cabinet hoods: Typically ductless and installed under a kitchen cabinet. Slim and discreet design that still provides strong venting for day-to-day cooking.

  • Canopy hoods: Comes in either wall-mounted or island style, either installed between cabinets or into the ceiling over a kitchen island. Provides strong ventilation and bold style.

  • Retractable downdraft hoods: Installed directly into countertops and vents air downward through ductwork beneath the floor.

Shop Whirlpool® range hoods

Range hoods from Whirlpool brand help you clear your kitchen air quickly and quietly. Browse the wide selection of hoods and vents to find the right style and venting system for your kitchen.

Whirlpool® over-the-range microwave installed above a Whirlpool® electric range Whirlpool® over-the-range microwave installed above a Whirlpool® electric range

Benefits of over-the-range microwaves

Microwave hood combinations are installed below your kitchen cabinets above your stove or range and function as a vent, surface light and microwave oven. Though standard range hoods offer an array of benefits, over-the-range microwaves offer similar venting power with the additional functionality of cooking food.

Learn more about the benefits of an over-the-range microwave below.

Whirlpool® low profile over-the-range microwave above a gas cooktop

1. Saves space

Over-the-range microwaves help to free up counter space by elevating your microwave above your range. Over-the-range microwaves come in a variety of different dimensions to fit several different kitchen configurations.


Whirlpool brand offers select microwaves with a low profile design that can save even more space in your kitchen.

Open over-the-range microwave with a bowl of vegetables inside

2. Multi-purpose

Microwave hood combinations can serve many functions simultaneously. You can use these microwaves to defrost ingredients and ventilate smoke and odor while you’re cooking on the stove, which helps to make preparing dinner an easier task.

Person selecting a cook option on a Whirlpool® over-the-range microwave

3. Easy to install

Most over-the-range microwaves use a ductless venting system that filters and recirculates air throughout the kitchen, so you don’t have to worry about reconfiguring your kitchen to include a duct system. Because of this venting method, you can install a microwave hood combination yourself rather than needing the help of a professional to map out a duct system.

Shop Whirlpool® over-the-range microwaves

With a range of different sizes and styles to choose from, Whirlpool brand has the right over-the-range microwave for your kitchen. Browse options with powerful venting and innovative cooking features to find the right one for your cooking routine.

Whirlpool® over-the-range microwave Whirlpool® over-the-range microwave

Can a microwave replace a range hood?

It depends on the individual and the appliance model. Some over-the-range microwaves come with a venting system that is as powerful as traditional range hoods. These models can effectively reduce smoke and odor in the air while you’re cooking while also providing additional cooking functionality.

If you’re looking for a way to consolidate your appliances, free up counter space or centralize your cooking tools to one spot in your kitchen, a microwave hood combination is a great option for you. For kitchens that need high power venting or if you prefer the sleek design of a hood, you may want to consider installing a range hood in your kitchen.

Does an over-the-range microwave need to be vented?

Over-the-range microwaves typically utilize a ductless venting system that filters and recirculates air around the kitchen rather than sending smoke and odors through a duct system to be released outside.

Whirlpool® over-the-range microwave installed above an electric cooktop Whirlpool® over-the-range microwave installed above an electric cooktop

Is a microwave above the stove outdated?

No, over-the-range microwaves are a great way to free up counter space and consolidate your appliances. They come in a variety of different sizes and designs, so you can find the perfect style for your kitchen.

Discover more about kitchen range ventilation

Gold home heartbeat logo over image of a tablet with Whirlpool blog page displayed in the background Gold home heartbeat logo over image of a tablet with Whirlpool blog page displayed in the background

home heartbeat

Ready for more tips, home hacks and appliance guides?

Was this article helpful? Pass it on