Cooker Hoods: Buying Guide
It’s hard to exaggerate how many important appliances and accessories go into creating everyone’s ideal kitchen. Ovens, dishwashers, and even the humble coffee machine are all vital ingredients, but one appliance you can’t afford to overlook is your kitchen’s cooker hood. A cooker hood is the hood that sits above your oven’s hob. It houses an electric fan which sucks up all the unwanted smells, grease, and moisture created when cooking so they don’t stain your kitchen’s worksurfaces.
Cooker hoods are a must, even for the smallest kitchens, but the type of hood you choose will depend on numerous factors, such as your kitchen size, a particular hood’s mounting options, its extraction power, and the hot zone of your hob. You’ll also need to consider the style options available and whether they’ll match your current kitchen aesthetic. Classic options like a stainless-steel or glass setups go well in most kitchens, but more contemporary models also come with great smart features.
All this might sound like a lot to consider, which is why we’ve created this in-depth cooker hood buying guide to help you pick the best extractor fan for you no matter the style and size of your kitchen.
Before you start
Before we delve into the various aspects that make each type of cooker hood unique, you first need to take into consideration your budget, hob size, and kitchen size, as well as a hood’s power and noise level. Knowing your hob and kitchen size is especially important when deciding which type of cooker hood to buy as picking a hood that doesn’t fit the space above your hob, or lacks the necessary power for your kitchen’s size, may result in inefficient performance in your kitchen. Measuring and prior planning are essential to avoid unwanted fitting problems.
First and foremost, your available budget is going to dictate which types of cooker hoods you can purchase. The cost of a cooker hood will vary considerably as its size increases, as will the addition of any bonus features. On top of this, you’ll also have to bear in mind the additional installation costs required if you’re not fitting it yourself.
In general, the best cooker hoods cost anywhere between £100-500 upon purchase, with installation costs ranging from £100 upwards. Installation costs will vary depending on the size of the hood and the amount of accompanying duct work required. Be sure to ask what the expected fitting cost will be before buying so you can factor it into your budget.
Size is the most important thing you’ll need to consider when you buy a cooker hood as it will dictate the types of cooker hoods available for your kitchen. To find the right sized hood, you’ll need to know the surface area of your hob to ensure your hood covers its entire width, otherwise it won’t effectively do its job.
Most hoods sit between 25-120cm, but 60-90cm are the most common widths. On top of this, you’ll need to measure how high your hood will sit above your hob to keep it within a hob’s hot zone. This measurement should be done from the hob to the base of any kitchen cupboards and should ideally fall within the 65-75cm range.
After both these measurements, you’ll need to measure the height, width, and depth of your kitchen to work out the specific extraction rate your hood will need for maximum ventilation. Once you have these measurements, you’ll need to multiply all three together and then multiply this number by ten. This is your required extraction rate. Compare this number with the extraction rate listed in a cooker hood’s product description to find one that matches your needs.
Be sure to conduct all these measurements accurately so you don’t purchase a hood that underperforms or is incorrectly sized for your chosen space.
All cooker hoods provide varying levels of power. Energy efficiency will depend on the model though the best cooker hoods will have at least a D rating. Power also determines a hood’s CFM measurement. This is the cubic feet per minute of air that a hood can take in. The higher the CFM, the more efficient your hood will be. To work out your hob’s minimum CFM needs, multiply the width of your hob by ten and then look for a hood that matches that number. Essentially, if you do a lot of hob cooking, you’ll want a hood with a powerful CFM.
There’s no getting around the fact that, like many other important kitchen appliances, your chosen hood is going to produce some degree of noise. Some hoods will be noisier than others, depending on the size of the fans installed and whether they come with a noise reduction feature. Always look at hood’s decibel rating (dB) to get an idea for its noise level, especially if you have an open kitchen space. A dB rating of 60 is ideal, being a similar level of noise to a normal conversation. However, the best way to find out which cooker hoods are loudest, is to inquire about your preferred model in a showroom setting or check reviews online to see what other people are saying.
Types of cooker hoods
There is a wide range of cooker hood types for you to choose from when deciding which hood might be best for your kitchen. Designs have evolved extensively from the traditional square hoods mounted to the wall above the hob. Nowadays, there are free-hanging hoods, pull-up hoods, and even ductless hoods. All of these have their own benefits and drawbacks that you’ll need to consider before choosing the best extractor fan for your kitchen.
Under cabinet hoods
Under cabinet hoods, or integrated hoods, are a very common form of cooker hood. Small and compact, they easily match any kitchen aesthetic by using covers that blend seamlessly with surrounding cabinets. These hoods are great for small kitchens, particularly studio flats, as they usually only sit between 52-60cm. However, they will underperform in large kitchens as they lack the substantial power required to properly ventilate large spaces. They can also be expensive to install due to the required cabinet work.
Composed of a canopy and chimney, a chimney hood offers a very traditional look for your hob and oven. Chimney hoods vary greatly in size, meaning they can fit practically any hob, making them great options for large hobs and kitchens thanks to their powerful extraction capabilities. They’re also ideal for filling the gap between kitchen cupboards thanks to their size variation and can easily match a variety of kitchen aesthetics with their glass and stainless-steel options.
Unfortunately, chimney hoods are not free-hanging and must be fitted to a wall, meaning you won’t be able to make use of one if you cook on a kitchen island hob or lack the room to fit them. The amount of ducting and mounting they require also makes their installation cost rather steep.
If you have a kitchen island hob then an island hood is likely the best cooker hood option for you. These hoods are entirely free hanging, meaning they hang from your roof over the hob. Varied in size and style, they can fit a range of kitchen designs and power requirements, with some models even doubling as fancy light fittings. But their size also makes them expensive to buy and install. Again, you’ll need to be sure you have the space to fit an island hood as most models are rather big.
Ductless hoods are exactly as the name suggests. This type of cooker hood has no ducting attached, instead working entirely through air recirculation. These hoods draw all the air in your kitchen through a series of aluminium or charcoal filters, cleaning it and then venting it back into the kitchen. A ductless hood is perfect for anyone who cooks infrequently or owns a gas hob, being relatively inexpensive and easy to install.
However, ductless hoods do require more maintenance than normal extractor fans as their filters will need to be replaced or cleaned every 4-6 months; this is dependent on how much cooking you do. They’re also not nearly as powerful as some of the larger extraction models, making them ill-suited for large kitchens.
Another brilliant option if you have an island setup, but perfect for any kitchen in general, a downdraft hood is hidden inside your worksurface or hob. With the press of a button, you can reveal or hide it, making it a very discreet option for those who don’t want to find something specifically tailored for their kitchen design.
Being very new, however, means that they’re currently the most expensive type of cooker hood you can purchase. They’re also not recommended for gas hobs and can obstruct your view when cooking.
The smallest type of cooker hood available, a visor hood is specifically designed for cosy kitchens. Cost-effective to buy and install, and easily fitted to any right-angled space, visor hoods sit neatly under kitchen wall units, saving cupboard space while being inconspicuous enough to match most kitchen aesthetics. But, due to their small size, a visor hood is only practical in a small kitchen. Much like an under cabinet hood, they’re not the most powerful types of kitchen extractor fans available.
Built into cupboards and other kitchen units, canopy hoods are also one of the best cooker hoods for anyone after an inconspicuous look. Their seamless incorporation means they can sit under or inside kitchen units’ unseen before being pulled out for use. Their telescopic design also allows for the covering of greater surface areas while taking up minimal space.
Cooker hood ventilation systems
When deciding which cooker hoods are best for your kitchen, it’s helpful to understand how cooker hoods work. Most types of kitchen extractor fans come with a standard externally venting fan setup, but if you want something less expensive, then a recirculation system might be exactly what you need. The majority of cooker hood types can be tailored for either type of ventilation systems so your decision will come down to personal preference and budget.
The normal setup for most cooker hood types, an extractor fan works by sucking up a kitchen’s air via electric fans and then venting it outside through a network of ducts. Extractor hoods are powerful and extremely efficient, with an extractor fan able to provide the best extraction rates of any hood. This comes at a cost, however, as even the smallest models can be quite loud and the necessary venting can be expensive to install on top of the required wall mounts.
Recirculating hoods are a more modern feature available for kitchen extractor fans. They operate by cycling your kitchen’s air through a series of filters and then back into the kitchen. This makes them quieter than normal types of kitchen extractor fans and they can ideally be fitted anywhere with minimal issue. They also have reduced installation cost and don’t require you to remove any kitchen cupboards, though this does come with the downside of reduced power output and the necessity of replacing or cleaning the hood’s filters every few months.
Kitchen hood features
Now that we’ve answered the important question of how do cooker hoods work, it’s time to look at additional features. As important as your cooker hood type is, it’s still just as important to consider which features you want your hood to come with. These will allow for improved levels of extraction rate and power performance while offering useful bonus options for the enthusiastic chef.
Good airflow is a must for any cooker hood. Finding a model with a reliable power and extraction rate is useful but you’ll also need to account for its filters. Filters get dirty overtime and affect the airflow quality of your hood. With recirculating hoods, this can be solved through the use of replaceable charcoal filters. The majority of hoods though will need to have their filters cleaned every 4-6 months. A hood that has removable metal filters is much better than those that use fleece or paper as these can be hand cleaned instead of being replaced.
The speed of your cooker hood’s fans is just as important as its power. Finding a model with at least 3 different speed settings means that even the smallest of hoods will be capable of tackling most things thrown at it, whether that’s boiling pasta or sizzling stir-fry.
While not necessary, a hood with thermostat controls is handy if you find yourself unsure of which fan setting to use. A thermostat control lets your hood measure the temperature of your hob’s hot zone and then activate when the temperature reaches a certain level, meaning you’ll always have your extractor fan active when you need it.
Sometimes you’ll need to leave your cooker hood running even after you’ve finished cooking in order to fully ventilate your kitchen. The addition of an exhaust timer means you can set your cooker hood to run for a set time after cooking and then switch off automatically, rather requiring you to disturb your evening routine.
A small consideration but one that shouldn’t be ignored, your cooker hood’s lights can help properly illuminate your cooking area. While you can get hoods with LED, halogen, and incandescent bulb options, LED lights are the brightest and most energy efficient.
As mentioned previously, all cooker hoods are noisy to some degree. However, many of the high-end models come with an inbuilt quiet setting that can take the edge off even the loudest extractor fans for a more peaceful cooking experience.
Finally, many of the newest cooker hoods come with inbuilt smart features. These allow you to adjust the power of your hood on demand, control its lighting, and easily setup any other features like an exhaust timer. Smart hoods take all the controls of a standard hood and streamline them into one app for ease of use.
Cooker hood finishes and colours
Now that you have all the information you need to pick your cooker hood, you can begin looking at style and finish options. Stainless-steel and glass are very popular, being durable and simple to clean, and they work well with a variety of kitchen styles. Though it’s worth bearing in mind that glass hoods will require regular cleaning to avoid permanent staining.
If you’re after a hood that perfectly fits your kitchen aesthetic, then you can also purchase models in a range of colours. Black, white, cream, and copper are all popular, but you’ll also be able to find more unusual colours like green and pink. Again, bear in mind that different colours and finishes will be harder to clean, with black in particular often showing stains more readily.
Where to buy a cooker hood
Here at Wren Kitchens, we stock a wide-range of all types of cooker hoods, including both free-hanging and integrated models. We offer a variety of finishes and a suite of varied colours so you can find the cooker hood that matches your kitchen perfectly. And if you design your kitchen with us, you’ll get to pick the exact type of cooker hood you want.
Our experienced team of experts have decades of experience when it comes to creating dream kitchens. We’ll take you through the process step by step, from viewing to purchasing, taking into account all your requirements. Get in touch and book an appointment at your local showroom today to get started on your dream kitchen.
Feeling inspired? If you want to fit your kitchen out even further but want to do more research, you can find a range of kitchen and appliance buying guides in our inspiration section.