A KitchenAid® range hood against a backdrop of kitchen cabinets

Ducted vs. Ductless Range Hoods: Which One to Choose?

When it comes to helping to clear the smoke from your kitchen while cooking, range hoods are an essential appliance. However, there are important differences between ducted vs. ductless range hoods. Read more to learn about which one is right for your kitchen.

A KitchenAid® range hood A KitchenAid® range hood

What are Range Hoods?

Range hoods are appliances that help reduce smoke, odor and grease in the air when you’re cooking on your range or cooktop. By properly ventilating your kitchen, you will help reduce any smoke or grease buildup in your cooking area, allowing you more time for your culinary creations.

The most important benefit of range hoods is that they help create proper ventilation so you can fry, sear or sauté without worrying about smoke interfering in your making process.

Split images of a ducted vs ductless range hood Split images of a ducted vs ductless range hood

What Are the Differences Between Ducted and Ductless Range Hoods?

There are two major kinds of range hoods: Ducted vs. ductless. Ducted range hoods, which are sometimes called external venting hoods, rely on external venting that pushes smoke through ductwork and out of your home.

Ductless range hoods, also known as recirculating venting hoods, operate via a recirculating venting system, which filters air and recirculates it in your kitchen.


  • External ventilation

  • Must be connected to a duct in your wall, ceiling or floor

  • Limited in where it can be placed

  • Helps reduce smokes, odors and grease from home


  • Recirculating ventilation

  • Can be placed nearly anywhere

  • Filters air instead of completely removing it

  • Recirculates the air in the kitchen instead of venting out stale air

  • Requires cleaning of filter

A woman pressing a button on her KitchenAid® range hood as she cooks salmon on her stove A woman pressing a button on her KitchenAid® range hood as she cooks salmon on her stove


You can install a ductless range hood without venting. This type of hood can be placed in various locations around your kitchen and works by filtering the air instead of directing it outside. However, because the air is not vented outside like with a ducted range hood,  a ductless range hood might not be as effective at removing smoke and fumes from your home.

Do Ductless Range Hoods Remove Smoke?

Because ductless range hoods are not connected to a duct, they cannot ventilate smoke out of your home. However, they do help remove smoke from your cooking environment by taking smoke in, filtering it, then recirculating the filtered air throughout your kitchen.

How Do You Clean a Ductless Range Hood?

To clean a ductless range hood, you will typically remove the screw holding the grease filter retainer. Next, release the retainer by turning it, pulling toward you and away from the fan. Finally, wash your filter in the dishwasher or a hot detergent solution, dry it and then screw it back in place. Always check your owner’s manual before disassembling or cleaning any part of your hood as instructions may vary.

In general, some cleaning solutions to avoid when cleaning the exterior surface of the filter include: Soap-filled scouring pads, abrasive cleaners, cooktop polishing creme, steel wool, gritty washcloths or paper towels. Additionally, so as to not damage the stainless steel, avoid cleaners that contain chlorine.

A full kitchen space with cabinets, an oven and a KitchenAid® range hood A full kitchen space with cabinets, an oven and a KitchenAid® range hood


Depending on the model, you can usually convert a ducted range hood to ductless with the help of a recirculating kit. This kit typically consists of a stainless steel vent and charcoal filters, which install on top of your range hood to vent or recirculate air back into your kitchen.

Some range hoods have convertible venting systems so you can choose whether the hood vents externally or recirculates.


When buying a range hood, there are several factors to consider to ensure that you choose the right one for your kitchen. Here are some key things to look for when buying a range hood:

  1. Size and fit: The width of your range hood should be the same as the cooking surface that it's covering. This helps ensure complete coverage and efficiency when venting. Standard range and cooktop sizes are 30 or 36 inches wide, but there are also compact and extra-wide options available.

  2. Venting strength: Venting power is measured in terms of cubic feet per minute (CFM). This number tells you how much air a vent can move in one minute. Generally, the higher the CFM rating, the stronger the venting power. When looking at product specs, remember that CFMs relate to the highest speed setting on a range hood, and canopy and downdraft hoods tend to have higher CFM ratings. However, how much CFM you need depends on a number of factors including the size of your kitchen and the type of cooking you do. If you have a smaller kitchen and don’t create a lot of smoke or grease while cooking, a lower CFM rating may work well for you.

  3. Quietness: Decibels (dBAs) measure the noise level of a range hood. The lower the number, the quieter it is. When looking at product specs, pay attention to the different dBAs listed, as these represent the level of sound created at the different vent speed settings.

  4. Style: Range hoods come in a variety of styles, from sleek and modern to more traditional designs. Consider the style of your kitchen and choose a range hood that fits your decor. 

  5. Heat tolerance: When you have a gas range or cooktop, it's important to make sure that your hood is compatible with the heat output. Electric cooktops are usually compatible with any type of hood. British Thermal Units (BTUs) measure the amount of heat a gas burner can produce, and the higher the number, the hotter the burner. For optimal performance and safety, compare BTU ratings between your hood and cooktop - they should be similar or the hood should have a higher rating. Check product specifications or your owner's manual to get accurate numbers.

By considering these factors, you can choose a range hood that will effectively vent or recirculate the air in your kitchen while also fitting your style and budget.

A person adding food to a pot on a KitchenAid® cooktop with a range hood above A person adding food to a pot on a KitchenAid® cooktop with a range hood above


Choosing between a ducted range hood vs. a ductless one will come down to your cooking style as well as your kitchen needs. If your kitchen is humid, a ducted range hood may be a better fit. However, if you are prioritizing the flexibility of your cooktop location, ductless may be the best choice.

Explore KitchenAid® Range Hoods

Clearing the air so you can sear, simmer and flambé is a must for any adventurous cook. That’s why KitchenAid® range hoods are built to fit any kitchen space by offering five different types of range hoods. Breathe new life into your kitchen with a range hood designed for your cooking needs.

Learn More About Range Hoods with KitchenAid