Kitchen ventilation is a growing concern in the world of cooking today, with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claiming that indoor environments can be anywhere between 2-5 times more toxic than those outside.
This can lead to higher levels of pollutants, which in turn can damage your appliances and kitchen surfaces as well as having negative health effects.
The smells and odors that are produced during cooking might be pleasant at the time of cooking but they can be less appealing as they build up over time.
The smoke and steam can also cause the paint on the surrounding walls to peel over time, which can increase maintenance costs and the frequency with which you’ll need to redecorate.
Recirculating hoods are a great alternative option for those who can’t install ducting in their kitchen but are still concerned about cooking odors, steam, and smoke inside the home.
They offer a more affordable way to ventilate your kitchen, so you can carry on cooking up a storm without worrying about any of its byproducts.
This guide will review and compare some of the best recirculating range hoods currently on the market, so you can focus on choosing the next recipes you want to try out instead.
If you’re already keen to get started, skip the Buyer’s Guide and head straight to our Top Pick for the best recirculating range hood.
Top 5 Best Recirculating Range Hood
OUR TOP PICK
As a brand focussed on customer satisfaction, Winflo range hoods are manufactured using highly engineered components that ensure high-quality performance which is why the Winflo W103C30 is our top pick for the best recirculating range hood.
Installation and mounting hardware are included with the hood, in addition to a plug and power cord for easy installation.
The hood comes with an adjustable telescopic chimney to fit your kitchen space, fitting any ceiling between 7.5-8.5 ft. high. If your measurements fall outside of this, you can also buy a chimney extension (WRHCE03) so that the hood meets your requirements.
Carbon filters (WRHF003S2) can be purchased separately to convert it to a recirculating hood, and it has an aluminum mesh filter with a stainless steel frame. This is easy to remove when it needs to be cleaned, as well as being dishwasher safe for added convenience.
The Winflo W103C30 is more affordable than other models without skimping on quality, as evidenced by its 400 CFM exhaust output and impressive design.
This excellent value-for-money hood features two bright, white, energy-saving LED lights that are safe to touch to provide extra lighting for those late-night dinners, illuminating the cooking surface without being too harsh on the eyes.
- 400 CFM
- LED lighting
- Adjustable chimney
- Filter is dishwasher safe
- 3-year limited warranty on parts
- The upper vent can be tricky to install
The Broan-NuTone PM250 fits easily and unobtrusively under kitchen cabinets to promote quality airflow, which is great for anyone looking to save space in their kitchen.
They also offer 30” and 36” liners to protect your cabinets from damage.
If you love the minimalistic look and features of this recirculating hood but don’t have a suitable cabinet to go above it, you can purchase Broan-NuTone Range Hoods Mounting Brackets which are sold separately, in order to mount your hood on the wall.
Suitable for ductless ventilation as well as ducted, the hood is 20-½ inches wide and it’s recommended to mount it at least 18-24 inches above your cooking surface.
However, it’s worth noting that to convert this hood to recirculating ventilation you’ll need to purchase the non-ducted filter kit model 356NDK separately as it is not included.
It features incandescent enclosed lighting which uses 40-watt candelabra bulbs, although these are not provided.
Although its 250 CFM exhaust output is slightly lower than other models, the 2-speed settings which you can adjust using the rocker controls still provide effective filtration for different styles of cooking, and it comes at a lower price.
The aluminum filter can be removed for cleaning by removing the four screws that secure the metal grid. You’ll need to remove the metal wires before you can take off the filter, which is a complicated process compared to other models.
- 2-speed settings
- Sleek and minimalistic design
- Incandescent lighting
- ADA compliance
- Range of accessories available to be purchased separately
- Limited 1-year warranty
- Bulbs and recirculation filter not included
- Difficult to remove the filter for cleaning
At the higher end of the recirculating hood range, the Zline 30-inch wall mounted range hood is brushed with stainless steel for added rust-resistance and has a powerful 760 CFM single-fan with 4 optional speed settings.
Despite the blower fan’s impressive ventilation power, it manages to be a quieter choice with a mere volume of 56 decibels.
It can be converted to ducted or ductless recirculation with activated charcoal filters by using the range hood installation guide and kit that is included. You can fit this hood to ceiling heights between 7-14 ft. and an optional chimney kit allows you to extend or shorten it, making this a flexible choice that fits in with your home and needs.
The steel-on-steel motor construction ensures a longer lifespan for this durable range hood, and their baffle filters are extremely effective at filtering out grease and smoke and increasing the purity of the recirculated air. The filters are dishwasher safe for added convenience.
As well as offering a high standard of performance, the Zline ZLKB has an attractive, polished design that will look good in any kitchen, which is an essential consideration due to its size and shape. It has halogen lights for enhanced lighting while you cook, but you’ll need to purchase bulbs separately.
- 400 CFM
- 4-speed settings
- Baffle filters to remove grease
- Attractive design
- Filters are dishwasher safe
- Slightly expensive option
- Takes up more space in the kitchen
The Cosmo COS5MU36 has a sleek, space-saving design that creates a minimalistic look in your home.
Perfect for smaller kitchens or apartments, this slim range hood is 36 inches wide and designed to fit snugly under your kitchen cabinets and its stainless steel design will match most kitchen appliances.
With a volume of 56-65 decibels, it’s a quiet option even on the most powerful settings, and the lower setting is quieter than the volume an average person speaks at meaning you wont miss a beat in the conversation.
The 3-speed single fan motor is highly efficient at recirculating the air and has an output of 200 CFM. This is slightly lower than some models featured in this guide, so will be less effective at recirculating the air.
If you’re a budding chef who’s likely to be doing lots of heavy-duty cooking and frying then this range hood may not be the best option for you. However, it’s also the most affordable option in this guide, and if you’re not someone who cooks extensively, a 200 CFM output will be perfectly suitable.
The Cosmo 5MU36 comes with a power cord included and most customers agree that it’s easy to install, although in some instances, customers have reported that the pre-drilled holes are ineffective as they don’t match up with the space, but simply re-drilling the holes allows you to mount the hood to your wall.
- Slim, unobtrusive design
- Quiet even on higher settings
- 3-speed settings
- 5-year limited parts warranty and USA based customer service
- Flimsy buttons
- Onlly 200 CFM
- Problems reported with the pre-drilled holes
If you want a hood range that’s going to incorporate style and beauty into your kitchen appliances then the Ciarra CAS75502 is an excellent choice.
It’s stunning glass vent hood is made from tempered glass and really enhances the look of the stainless steel range hood making it a real feature in any home.
The touch panel controls are a modern addition to the range hood and provide useful features such as the 4-level delay function with an option for 5, 10, 15, or 20-minute delay times. You can use the “+” and “-” buttons to adjust speed and power of the fan to one of the three available settings.
The 450 CFM output ensures that this range hood is effective at recirculating the air, and it has a noise level of 65 decibels which is still relatively quiet. It’s a high-efficiency appliance that has a lot to offer without breaking the bank.
The carbon filters that convert this range hood to a recirculating ventilation system require replacing every 2-4 months and must be purchased separately, as they do not come included with the product. The metal filters are detachable so they can be easily removed for cleaning.
- 450 CFM
- Energy saving LED lights with a 1000,000-hour lifespan
- Filters are dishwasher safe
- Some reported faults with the control panel
- Easily scratched
Best Recirculating Range Hood Buying Guide
How does it work?
You might think the only air pollutant produced when cooking food is the mouthwatering, delicious smells, and what’s so bad about that?
In actual fact, there are several invisible byproducts that can result from cooking and affect the taste of your food. This includes less pleasant odors that linger in the home, formaldehyde from heating oil, toxins from cleaning products which burn on the stove’s surface, or even carbon monoxide if you have a gas range.
Recirculating range hoods, also known as exhaust or vent hoods, work to remove these toxins from your home. They recirculate the air using fans that pull steam, odors, and smoke up through the grease filter, usually included with your hood, and a carbon filter to absorb the vapors. Once cleaned, the air is then recirculated back into the kitchen.
Ducted vs Ductless
There has been much debate over which type of range hood is better in your home, but there are pros and cons to each style depending on your cooker, budget, and kitchen.
Ducted range hoods are more limited in terms of where your cooker can be placed within the kitchen as they require an outside pipe or duct to connect to, a nightmare for any keen interior designer with dreams of cooking at a kitchen island.
Ductless or recirculating range hoods, on the other hand, don’t require any connection to outside pipes thanks to their ventilation system that filters any byproducts or impurities from cooking and recirculates the air. This means that they can be installed virtually anywhere, although we recommend that you stick to somewhere within the kitchen.
Ductless recirculating hoods are also easier to set up, so you could install it yourself to avoid installation fees and reduce the overall cost, although they tend to be more affordable than other types of ventilation systems anyway.
Recirculating range hoods do tend to make more noise than a ducted hood, for example, due to the use of fans in their ventilation system.
However, a noisy recirculating hood does not a well-performing extraction fan make. In some cases, a hood that produces excessive noise is actually an indication of ineffectiveness. Like a spy’s job, the best work will be done quietly without drawing attention to itself.
It’s important to consider the noise level that your extractor fan will produce, as no one likes to be cut off from the rest of the dinner party while they’re cooking up a storm, especially in an open-plan kitchen where noise travels easily.
Recirculating hoods that run without producing excess noise are less disruptive in the kitchen, allowing you to chat with your family as you cook or instruct your sous-chef without having to shout like you’re in a professional kitchen.
The amount of noise produced by a recirculating hood is measured in decibels and can typically be found on most leading brands’ product information page. As a reference point, 60 decibels is approximately the volume at which an average person speaks, so hoods closer to this volume won’t drown out your conversation.
Size and design
Recirculating extractor fan hoods can historically be large, cumbersome, and obtrusive in the kitchen, but thanks to strides in the performance of modern cooking technology, more focus has recently been directed towards making recirculating range hoods look good.
For it to be most effective, a recirculating hood should be slightly wider than the oven in order to catch and remove the byproducts from cooking.
Your recirculating range hood should always be installed in line with health and safety guidelines, and the manufacturers recommended minimum height should also be taken into consideration. If you’re not confident that you can mount your hood accurately or the system set up seems complicated, it might be worth consulting a professional for the job.
In order to maintain the effectiveness of your recirculating range hood, it’s important to keep the filter in good condition. This will require regular cleaning to prevent a build-up of grease and other residues, or else you will need to replace the filter more often causing unnecessary cost to you.
Metal filters are typically dishwasher safe, although you will have to check in the product care information as some require washing by hand in soapy water. Filters can also be made of fleece or paper material, although these can be tricky to remove and will need replacing every few months.
Frequently Asked Questions
What does CFM stand for?
CFM stands for Cubic Feet Meter and refers to airflow displacement and will determine how effective your recirculating range hood will be at removing impurities from the air.
The higher the CFM, the more powerful and efficient your recirculating range hood will be.
What CFM output should you look for in a range hood?
The minimum CFM you need to make a 30-inch range hood efficient is 250, based on the recommendation that you should have a minimum of 100 CFM per 12 inches of stove width.
For the more experienced chefs who do a lot of frequent heavy cooking, 350 CFM can effectively deal with the strong odors and byproducts, and anything above this will only be found in higher-end appliances.
Are decibels (dB) the same as Sone ratings?
Decibels and Sone ratings are both units of measurement that are used to measure noise levels, and will both tell you how loud your recirculating vent hood will be during use.
If you’re comparing two products and need to convert decibels to sone or vice versa, 1 sone is approximately equivalent to 40 decibels.