How to Choose the Right Range Hood for Your Kitchen: The Complete Beginner’s Guide

As an essential kitchen appliance, your range hood has a direct impact on your overall cooking experience— but with so many brands available on the market, even a quick glance at listings on Amazon could easily leave you feeling overwhelmed.

As you’ll see when you begin your research, there are options available for every budget.  In general, each range hood’s price ultimately depends on a number of factors, such as filtration capabilities, motor speed, noise level, and overall ease of use, to name a few.

So, how do you find the right range hood to meet your unique cooking needs?

Understanding the Different Types of Range Hoods】

Range hoods vary depending on both their exhaust and installation methods.

1)Exhaust Methods: Recirculating vs. External

Recirculating Range Hoods

These range hoods work by filtering grease and smoke internally, then returning the air back into the room.


Installation is relatively easy, because recirculating range hoods can be added to any kitchen without drilling holes into the wall.   


Many newly constructed homes and apartments include these types of range hoods in order to comply with regulations, however, it’s worth noting that construction companies largely tend to include cheap appliances that may not operate as effectively or as quietly as their pricier counterparts.


And while having a recirculating range hood is certainly better than no range hood at all, when it comes to preparing Chinese and other Asian-inspired meals, recirculating range hoods just aren’t up to the task.

External Exhaust Range Hoods

These are the most efficient range hoods, and they work by first filtering grease and smoke out of the air, and then releasing any remaining gases or vapors from the room.  FOTILE’s EM and JQ series are both comprised of external exhaust range hoods.

To install an external exhaust range hood, you’ll need to have exhaust pipes leading out of the kitchen through the external wall (be sure to check out our installation tutorial for a detailed, step-by-step guide).

2)Installation Methods: Wall-Mounted vs. Island-Mounted vs. Downdraft

① Wall-Mounted Range Hoods

First, install a hook on the wall where you’d like to position your range hood, and then affix the hood onto said hook. If you have a cabinet located above your range hood, you can fasten the unit into the cabinet’s bottom surface with screws to keep it firmly in place.

This installation method is the most common for range hoods in North America, as it allows the smoke to rise naturally for efficient suction.

FOTILE’s current range hoods are all designed for easy wall-mount installation.



② Island Range hoods

Island hoods are mostly used in kitchens with a large area that's connected to the living room. These are affixed to the ceiling with a strong hook to keep them in place.

Since island range hoods can be usually operated from both sides, they’re suitable for cooking with friends and family or for interacting with guests while preparing a meal.

At present, the most popular island hood on the market is made of stainless steel with an arc-shaped design.  It’s usually best to install an island range hood that extends past your stove, as this allows for more effective suction of airborne smoke and grease vapors.  So, for example, if your island stove measures 36 inches wide, you’ll want to choose either a 42- or 48-inch range hood.


Because the placement of these range hoods requires them to be surrounded by an open space, it’s important to understand that vapors may still escape beyond the cooking station even when the unit is operating.

Downdraft Range Hoods

The previous two methods we mentioned rely on the natural upward force of the fumes in order to suck vapors up in line with their movement.

Conversely, the downdraft hood sucks smoke and vapors from below, towards the stove head.  Because this trajectory goes against the natural flow of escaping vapors, downdraft range hoods are somewhat less efficient than wall-mounted and island range hoods.  Despite this, downdraft hoods are an excellent option for freeing up upper cabinet space and creating a more open look and feel in an otherwise crowded kitchen.


Unfortunately, downdraft range hoods aren’t especially practical for kitchens with gas stoves.  Due to the downward direction of airflow and the close proximity to the stove’s burners, these range hoods can create difficulties in maintaining a steady temperature, and may even extinguish the cooking flame or create other potential safety hazards.

Not to mention, the ability to capture smoke and other airborne particles is also somewhat limited due to the design and placement of this type of range hood.

Ultimately, downdraft range hoods are best used in kitchens with electric cooktops and a light to moderate volume of smoke/ grease vapor.

3)Appearance: Over-the-Range Microwaves, Under-Cabinet Range Hoods, and Chimney Range Hoods

① Over-the-Range Microwaves

This type of range hood is comprised of a microwave oven plus a weak exhaust fan that sucks up a small portion of vapors and oil particles.

These range hoods can be easily installed with no need for perforation or outflow, making them ideal for apartments, where they’re most often used.

Because the exhaust ports are located on the front of these hoods, over-the-range microwaves aren’t too effective at keeping harmful cooking fumes out of the air you breathe— and even the lightest oil fumes can contain over 300 different harmful substances that could potentially cause lung disease.


Since over-the-range microwaves use a smaller exhaust fan than the range hood models mentioned above, they tend to demonstrate low suction power, weak filtration, and excessive noise during operation.

Under-Cabinet Range Hoods

These range hoods are installed at the bottom of the upper cabinet above the stovetop, and can be placed towards the bottom of the cabinet or even hidden inside of it.

Unfortunately, since these range hoods are engineered to fit into such a small space, they’re often designed with small motors, narrow tubes, and thin bodies, making them ineffective at catching fumes from four- or five-burner stoves.

FOTILE's JQG7501 side suction machine, launched in North American in 2016, was the first to solve this structural problem.

Not only is the JQG7501 installed underneath cabinets to save space, but this range hood is also unique in that it features a pair of centrifugal fans at 45-degree angles to create a powerful side-draft.  When in use, the unit adjusts its height to be closer to the stove, for fast, efficient smoke absorption in the "Golden Collection Zone".  With a simple touch of your hand, the 90-degree-angled automatic smoke barrier screen extends the depth of the range hood to 22 inches to successfully cover four- to five-burner cooktops.  This effectively corrects the design flaws previously seen in under-cabinet range hoods for more thorough and powerful smoke collection.

Chimney Range Hood

As the name suggests, the chimney range hood features a decorative stainless steel cover, integrating the unit into the kitchen and promoting a sense of magnificence.  Other than hiding internal pipes, however, the cover itself has no practical use.

This type of range hood is intended for use in kitchens with no upper cabinetry.  Because of this, the design usually takes advantage of these fewer restrictions.  For example, the motor can be made larger than that of an under-cabinet range hood, and the internal space may feature more complex engineering in order to maximize the unit’s ability to capture airborne vapors.

One such example of a range hood featuring these structural refinements can be found in FOTILE’s W series .  Our EMG9030 model is the world’s first range hood to adjust its elevation automatically.  

Featuring a DC motor to allow for stepless speed regulation, the range hood uses an infrared sensor to detect and measure the overall volume of airborne smoke and oil particles.  Then, the suction plate is either lowered or raised accordingly to form a circle of air that allows it to capture rising vapors and smoke.

Finding the Right Size

As you search for the perfect range hood, keep in mind the importance of choosing a unit in the proper size for your stovetop.

Most range hoods designed for home kitchens in North America are 30 inches wide, however, you may require a larger unit, depending on your kitchen’s design and layout.  Island range hoods, for instance, often measure 42 inches wide, while commercial range hoods are usually at least 48 inches wide.

【Overall Performance: 6 Key Factors Worth Considering】


Many products emphasize the CFM value as a major selling point— so, you might be wondering: just what exactly is CFM?

CFM (cubic feet per minute) refers to the range hood’s airflow every 60 seconds in a standard laboratory test.  At present, though, these CFM labels are somewhat misleading.

Most range hood manufacturers determine the CFM value by conducting lab tests using the standard IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission) unit, and then converting to CFM for labeling—this creates a problem, though, as the IEC wind test standard isn't equivalent to the CFM test and there is no reliable conversion method.

Consequently, these inconsistencies in labeling make it difficult for customers to truly understand what they’re buying.  A range hood that’s sold under the premise of performing at 1,000 CFM, for instance, will be unable to provide the expected results at home.

So, how do you measure CFM accurately?

Fortunately, there are brands using authentic CFM labeling.  These manufacturers implement rigorous testing methods certified by HVI  (Home Ventilation institute), a highly-regarded organization that sets the standard for wind force detection in home exhaust systems.

FOTILE proudly joined HVI in 2016, and in 2018, HVI’s chief engineer John Rose joined our North American press conference to share his evaluation of our range hoods!

Still, while a higher flow rate translates to faster exhaust speed, the CFM number alone does not paint the whole picture, as flow rate is just one of many factors that affect your range hood’s ability to capture and remove cooking fumes.

FOTILE’s range hoods are unique in that they feature large smoke screens to prevent resistance, allowing our hoods to capture airborne vapors during the smoke collection stage.  This results in an oil filtration rate of over 95%, with 98% odor reduction , so you can prepare aromatic dishes like curry without having to worry about lingering smells.

View a quick demonstration of FOTILE’s side suction hood:

2)Coverage Area

Your range hood should be large enough to cover all edges and corners of your stove top.  Similarly, the smoking port must also span to absorb any and all vapors generated while cooking— on any burner— without allowing these particles to escape.

Cooking vapors are dispersed in three stages: frying, rising, and spreading.  Once these particles rise to about 23 inches above the stove, they begin to spread throughout the air.

FOTILE’s side range hoods are designed to be installed roughly 23 inches away from the burners (AKA the “Golden Distance”) to sufficiently cover the cooking station and prevent smoke and vapors from spreading.

3)Fan Speed

Because different cooking methods produce different vapors (for example, stir-frying creates heavy smoke, whereas cooking soup may only produce a light steam), it’s important to choose a range hood that’s equipped with multiple speed settings to choose from.

While nearly all range hoods have at least two fan speeds, some are built with as many as six, but that doesn’t necessarily equate to better absorption or cleaner air.  The key is to find the appropriate setting— and that doesn’t always mean using the highest fan speed possible.

FOTILE’s newest range hood, the JQG7505 model, features four different speed settings, with the lowest speed being ideal for boiling soups, and the highest speed perfect for heavy frying.  The two intermediary speeds work best for most small, light dishes and general cooking, respectively.  This model also boasts a delay shut-off feature to keep the fan running for two extra minutes after you’ve finished cooking so vapors can’t linger.

Learn more about JQG7505 specs and performance at

 4)Cleaning/ Maintenance

There are some "cleaning-free" range hoods on the market that use a spray gun with high temperature steam to clean the units’ interiors.  Unfortunately, however, cleaning the internal corners of fans through this method has proven quite difficult, and oil stains quickly create sticky, dark spots when they’re exposed to high temperatures.  And neglecting to disassemble the range hood for truly thorough cleaning will eventually start to hinder the unit’s performance significantly.

With that said, regular internal cleaning is crucial to prolonging the life of your range hood, and therefore, you’ll want to consider how easily regular cleaning and maintenance can be done when comparing models.

Unlike most other options on the market, FOTILE’s range hoods feature an interior fan with a grease-proof coating that can be wiped down with a mild cleaner, for added convenience.

Learn more about how to thoroughly clean your FOTILE range hood

5)Noise Level During Operation

When in use, many range hoods initiate high-speed operation, causing excess noise.  Because of this, trying to talk while cooking can understandably be quite difficult.

Luckily, this problem does not apply to all range hoods.

The JQG7505, launched by FOTILE in 2019, is the world's first range hood to feature dual DC motors with infinite acceleration and ultra-quiet operation, reaching noise levels as low as 39dB.

Learn more about JQG7505 specs and performance.


Based on the factors mentioned above, pricing for range hoods can vary anywhere between $40 and $2,000.

For a budget between $40 and $200, you’ll mostly find basic range hoods with no external exhaust.  Units ranging from $200-$400 are generally made of stainless steel and may include additional features like LED lights and button controls.  These options are generally suitable for most Western-style cooking (other than heavy frying), and some of the top brands in this price range include Broan and Cosmo, among other names.

As for budgets ranging from $400 to $700, Pacific Ocean and Sakura are among the top brands. Range hoods in this tier tend to have a higher suction power than their less expensive counterparts, and are therefore sufficient for basic Asian- and Chinese-inspired recipes.  Noise levels among these units are average, and the overall design is relatively traditional.

And lastly, if your budget is anywhere between $800 and $2,000, the top brands to choose from include FOTILE, Miele, and Zephyr, to name a few.  Within this price range, suction capability and general operation are engineered for the optimal user experience across a variety of cooking methods.n capability and general operation are engineered for the optimal user experience across a variety of cooking methods.

Compare FOTILE range hood models or shop now.

Learn More About FOTILE

FOTILE has nearly 100 store locations in the United States. Our products and service have earned us a great reputation on mainstream e-commerce platforms, and we’ve established a large service network spanning more than 50 cities across the country.

In addition to thorough pre-sales consultations, we also provide our customers with on-site installation, FOTILE’s five-year limited warranty (which covers labor and accessories for the first 2 years), and a lifetime limited warranty on our range hood motors.

And with more than 3,500 partner technicians available throughout the United for on-site maintenance, it’s easy to see how FOTILE’s brand and products have earned our company such a strong reputation.

Learn more about FOTILE and our industry-leading warranty policy

Related Blog Posts
How to install a FOTILE range hoods2020.06.19
8 Ways To Make Your Kitchen Appear Bigger!2020.06.26
How to Clean Your Range Hood: The Ultimate Guide2020.04.13