Cooker Hood Guide
How to buy the best cooker hood for your kitchen
I know, it’s not the most glamorous of kitchen design topics, but it will be a decision you’ll have to make at some point when getting a new kitchen. In this post, I’ll cover the options you have as well as answer some common questions about cooker hoods, so by the end, you will know how to buy the best cooker hood for your kitchen.
This post covers the factors to consider, options out there, and frequently asked questions that come with purchasing a cooker hood for your new kitchen. It’s a long article, but it’s worth reading to the very end – hopefully the FAQs will address any questions that arise along the way!
What factors should you consider when buying a cooker hood?
There are a couple of main factors I think are important to consider when looking at and comparing cooker hoods. Some may be more or less important to you and your particular needs, but just checking and taking these factors into consideration will help you choose the best cooker hood for your kitchen.
This will be measured in decibels (dB) and will usually tell you the noise level on the maximum setting. The type, make and model of the cooker hood will all impact the noise level, so check and make sure it’s not super noisy.
This will be measured in metres cubed per hour (m3h) and again this will normally be the amount when it’s on its maximum setting. Depending on your cooking style and the size of the room, you may want to check and make sure your cooker hood has a high extraction rate. I’ll explain how to work this out later on.
Vented or recirculating:
Cooker hoods can extract in two ways: vented or recirculating. Often times, they can be either/or, depending on what you need. Make sure to check that your cooker hood provides the option you need for your kitchen. (More on vented vs. recirculating below)
This may well be the only reason you want a cooker hood – having dedicated lighting above your hob is really useful. Just check you’ve got them and what type of lights they are. These days, the most practical option is LED lights, as they have a low running cost and can last a very long time.
While I admit it’s probably not your top priority, it’s still something to consider and keep in the back of your mind when looking at different cooker hoods, especially if it’s an appliance you are going to use regularly.
Check the A rating or look at the estimated annual running costs to compare. Newer technology and having LED lights will help keep energy costs down.
What types of cooker hood are there?
A chimney hood is probably the most common option, and likely what comes to mind most when you think about a cooker hood. A chimney hood is fixed to your wall and has a chimney coming out of the top of the appliance for venting the air. Most often chimney hoods can be vented or circulating.
There are lots of options on the market, some nicer looking than others. If style is a factor, just remember that a chimney hood tends to dominate the room and can be a strong visual focal point, so pick one you love the look of.
These cooker hoods are really another form of the chimney hood; they are also fitted to your wall and can be vented or recirculating. The key difference here is the style of the cooker hood itself.
Things to consider:
As with chimney hoods, angled hoods can be quite large and feel imposing in a room, as they are on display all the time. Arguably more stylish than the chimney hood, it’s still important to make sure you like the look of the hood you choice, as well as making sure it has all the functions you need.
You can get island cooker hoods in various shapes and sizes, mostly due to what type of ventilation method they have. The most common style of island hood is the big silver box that comes down from the ceiling and hangs over your hob.
It’s basically a chimney hood but is finished on all four sides. These can normally be vented out, which is why they often look at bit chunky.
The other type of island hood is a ‘feature hood’, usually much more stylish, a bit smaller and often more decorative. These can be installed in pretty much any scenario, as they use recirculating extractors and don’t need a chimney to vent out.
This is what gives them the freedom to be designed in much more stylish and interesting ways. The picture here is just an example – some even look like chandeliers!
Things to consider:
The main factor to consider with island hoods is whether you want your extractor to be able to vent out or if you are okay to have one that is recirculating.
Deciding this will narrow down your options straight away when choosing, letting you focus on some of the other important factors mentioned above. If you want an island hood that is vented out, you need to make sure you have enough space in between your ceiling joists to be able to run ducting along and outside your house.
These are flat hoods that fit flush into your ceiling, so there is nothing hanging down above your hob. Operated with a remote control (because you’ll never be able to reach it), these can be a stylish alternative to the island hood, especially if you don’t want to have anything hanging down from the ceiling and blocking views.
Things to consider:
As with a vented island hood, you will need to make sure you have enough space in between your ceiling joists to run ducting along and out. As well as this, you may also need to have enough space to house the motor of the cooker hood itself.
If you don’t have the space to do this, you could consider building a ceiling box to house the cooker hood and motor. These ceiling boxes can be turned into quite the feature if you add extra lighting around them and don’t make them bigger than they need to be.
These are cooker hoods that live inside a wall cabinet so as to appear hidden within your kitchen. The bottom of the cabinet gets cut out to fit the extractor so that just the part that sucks up the air and filters everything is exposed. Canopy hoods are becoming much more popular as the trend for a more modern and sleek kitchen grows.
Things to consider:
Canopy hoods can be a great way to achieve that modern look and can usually be installed vented or recirculating, giving more flexibility. As these cooker hoods are never seen, they don’t need to be the prettiest and it’s often a good place to save some money by buying unbranded appliances, as you’ll never see the badge.
Just make sure they still meet your criteria in terms of functions and specifications. Canopy hoods can seem a bit more cost effective when just looking at the price of the appliance, but remember you’ll also need to buy the cabinet for it to live in, so they can end up being more expensive than a classic chimney hood.
These are cooker hoods that live in your worktop behind your hob and rise up out of the work surface about 30-40cm when in use. They work by drawing the air back and then either venting out or recirculating it back into your kitchen. The motor and housing are installed into the cabinet below the extractor.
Things to consider:
As the extractor is installed into the cabinets beneath them, they will take up space in those units so you will lose storage capacity in the base units. I also find that they are not as effective as a cooker hood that is directly above a hob. As they are behind the hob, a lot of the time the hot air and grease is travelling too fast upwards for the extractor at the back of the hob to be able to draw the air in and catch the grease/smells.
Saying this, however, the downdraft can be a good choice, especially if you want extraction on an island but you can’t have (or don’t want) anything on the ceiling above.
A little bit of a wild card here at the end and only really applies if you want an induction hob. Venting hobs have a cooker hood built into the centre of the hob itself, drawing the air and grease down as you cook. The hood
Things to consider:
These appliances will cost more, but you are getting two in one. They can take up quite a bit of cabinet space under your hob depending on the model so you may have to sacrifice that cutlery tray under your hob. If you want to know a bit more about venting hobs have a read of my post – Is a Venting Hob The Best Option For A Kitchen Island.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do you work out the extraction rate needed for your kitchen?
Working out the correct extraction rate needed for your kitchen is simple. Just follow these steps:
- Measure the height, width and depth of your kitchen.
- Multiply these three numbers together to get the total volume of your kitchen.
- Multiply your total volume by 10 to get the extraction rate needed.
- Compare cooker hood models extraction rate to make sure it is enough for your kitchen.
So, 2.4 x 5.2 x 4.6 = 57.4
57.4 x 10 = 574
You need to find a cooker hood that has an extraction rate of 574m3h or above to be sufficient in extracting the air for the size of your room.
m3h = meters cubed per hour.
What is the difference between vented and recirculating?
When it comes to installing your cooker hood you have two options for what it’s going to do with the steam and grease that it sucks up. Depending on your project, you may or may not have a choice, but these are the options.
Vented extraction is when you can connect a duct or pipe from the cooker hood and run this ducting to an outside wall of your house. You will then normally place a small grill in the brickwork of the external wall to allow the air that is sucked up by the extractor to then be expelled outside.
With a typical wall mounted cooker hood, this is usually a duct that comes up from the appliance and runs along the top of the wall cabinets to an exterior wall and then through the wall to the outside.
The best case scenario is having the cooker hood on an external wall itself and simply vented straight out the back of the appliance to the outside. This allows the air sucked up from your cooking to get completely removed from inside your house, so all the grease and smells get thrown outside and away.
What type of cooker hood/extraction unit you have and where it is located will determine if it’s possible to be vented out and, if so, what the most effective route would be. For example; if you’re having a venting hob or downdraft extractor you may need to place the ducting in the floor.
Recirculating extraction is the alternative if for whatever reason you cannot vent out your extraction.
Recirculating, as the name suggests, recirculates the air inside your kitchen. All the grease, steam and smells that get sucked up by the extractor are drawn through carbon filters. These filters then do their best to remove as much of the smells and dirt particles as possible as the air passes through them.
Once the air passes through these carbon filters it is then released back into the room. In the case of a more common wall cooker hood, the air is blown out of the top of the appliance itself. In the case of a venting hob or downdraft hood, this is usually through a small grill in your plinths (kickboards) or back of an island.
You need to make sure you install the carbon filters if you are going with the recirculating option – these are often not included when you buy this type of hood and you’ll need to buy them separately. Without them, however, there will be no benefit at all.
Which is better, vented or recirculating extraction?
Hands down vented is better, but it’s not always possible, which is why recirculating is the next best thing. Physically removing all the grease and smells from cooking to the outside is always much better than having them pumped back around and into the room.
However, if you live in a flat with no outside wall in your kitchen, or you don’t want to have to dig up the floor to lay ducting for a venting hob, then recirculating is your only option and it’s certainly better than nothing.
As a side note: vented can lose its benefits if done poorly. If the ducting isn’t sealed well or has to take
So if you are venting out, always make sure the duct is taking the most direct route to outside your house. This will ensure you get the absolute best results from your cooker hood, whatever that may be.
What distance does the cooker hood need to be from the hob?
The general guidance given for the distance between cooker hood and hob is at least 650mm above induction hobs and at least 750mm above gas hobs.
The official minimum height will be given by the manufacturer of the cooker hood, so if unsure, always check with them.
Depending on the make and model of the cooker hood, some can be closer to the hob; this is usually because of their extraction method. I’ve come across cooker hoods that can be as close as 500mm, but then you should probably consider your headroom if you’re getting that close to the countertop.
How wide should your cooker hood be?
The usual rule is to have your cooker hood the same width or wider than your hob. This is to make sure the extraction area covers everything beneath it and gives the best chance to capture all the grease and smells from cooking.
However, if the cooker hood has a perimeter extraction method, then these types of cooker hood can be smaller than the hob below if they need to be. This is due to the greater efficiency of perimeter extraction.
You should always check with the manufacturer of the cooker hood first, and if possible you should always try to have the cooker hood the same size or bigger, simply to give it the best chance to perform its function.
Perimeter extraction is when the cooker hood sucks in the air from a vent running around the edge of the appliance rather than straight up the middle, as is most common.
Using this perimeter extraction technique can reduce the noise caused by cooker hoods and optimizes the effectiveness of the extraction by exploiting the ‘venturi effect’. Air accelerates as it passes through the constricted extraction space of the panel, slows down immediately inside the hood and is then easily expelled without the need for any particular pressure.
Having perimeter extraction also increases the extraction area over the hob, allowing you to have a wider hob than cooker hood.
How often do you need to clean the cooker hood grease filters?
Obviously, this will depend somewhat on your style of cooking and how often you actually cook, but a good general rule is every 3-6 months. If you do a lot of cooking involving frying which releases more grease into the air, then maybe up that to 1-3 months. If you barely use the hob and cooker hood, then you’ll probably be fine with 6-12 months.
Giving them a clean will never be a bad idea and it can be much easier than you think. Most grease filters are on simple clips on the underside of the cooker hood, so you just unclip and remove them, then give them a soak and wash or even put them in the dishwasher (always check that they’re dishwasher safe first).
Do you need carbon filters for your cooker hood?
If you are having the cooker hood installed using the recirculating extraction system, then yes. You should always install carbon filters when your cooker hood is recirculating the air and not venting it outside.
Depending on how much you use the extractor and your cooking style, these carbon filters should be replaced every 3-6 months.
If the cooker hood is installed using the vented extraction system, you do not need carbon filters. Just wash the grease filters every now and then.