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Custom Ductless Range Hoods or Air Purifiers: Which Is Best for Your Kitchen?

January 24, 2023 9 min read

The kitchen is usually a source of sweet, wafting aromas from wonderfully prepared meals. But occasionally, you get unfriendly smells from burnt dinners, strongly smelling ingredients, or pungent odors from the garbage. When there isn't enough room or ductwork to install a powerful ducted range hood, this becomes a problem.

Most contractors offer two options when space is an issue: a ductless range hood or air purifiers. They are the most popular options for closed-off kitchen areas like those in urban apartment buildings, and they both share similar air-cleaning features. 

Read on to learn about the differences between a range hood and an air purifier, despite their similarities.


What is a Custom Ductless Range Hood

A custom ductless range hood is a kitchen ventilation appliance that helps clean the air and improve the air quality in the kitchen but is not connected to exterior ductwork or pipes. Instead of expelling air from the kitchen, it uses a filtration system to purify the air, typically involving a charcoal or mesh filter that traps grease, smoke, and other pollutants.

They are air-recycling units and are regarded as one of the best range hood appliances available. This type of range hood is ideal for kitchens where ductwork is unavailable, or the homeowner wants a more flexible and customizable ventilation solution. They share the custom range hood tag because, like ducted range hoods, their vent hood is also made from durable wood, stainless steel, or other decorative metals. 

A custom ductless hood can be wall-mounted, downdraft, island hood, or an under-cabinet range hood. They can be designed and built to specific sizes and aesthetic requirements, making them a popular choice for homeowners who want to create a unique and personalized kitchen environment.

What are Air Purifiers?

Air purifiers are portable appliances that remove pollutants from the air and are ideal for clearing the air in the kitchen. They are devices designed to improve indoor air quality by eliminating minute pollutants and are particularly effective at collecting allergens, dust, and smoke particles.

They work by drawing in air, filtering it, and then returning clean air into the room. There are many different types of air purifiers based on their filter units, including HEPA filters, activated carbon filters, UV-C light filters, and ionizers. 

Each type of air purifier uses a different method to clean the air, but they all have the same goal: to improve the health and well-being of the people who live or work in the space by reducing exposure to indoor air pollutants. Air purifiers are extensively used in homes, businesses, schools, and other indoor locations to help reduce disease transmission, enhance respiratory health, and provide a more pleasant living or working environment.

Pros of Using a Custom Ductless Range Hood In Your Kitchen

  • Powerful ventilation device.
  • Effective at removing grease, smoke, strong odors, and harmful gases from the cooking area with no need for external ductwork.
  • Relatively cheap with a simple installation process and even plug-in models available
  • Environmentally friendly as no outdoor emission is involved.
  • Most models are very energy efficient, with little increase in energy consumption.
  • It adds a modern and aesthetic touch to the kitchen.

Features of a Custom Ductless Range Hood

A custom ductless range hood uses its suction fan to pull air into its intake grill, passing through the mesh or activated charcoal filters that trap or absorbs pollutants. The filtered air is then released back into the kitchen area.

Getting a range hood for your kitchen involves choosing certain features that fit your kitchen venting need. There are several available ductless range hood design options, and their internal parts matter greatly.

Here are the notable parts of a custom ductless range hood:

    Custom vent hood

    This is the outer shell of a ductless range hood that houses the range hood inserts. It is a very decorative part and can be bell-shaped, pyramid-shaped, or even in the shape of an upside-down T; the design possibilities are limitless. It can be made from wood, stainless steel, or other alloy metal, just like any custom ducted hood.

    Range hood inserts

    Range hood inserts are the powerhouse of any custom ductless range hood. They act as a stainless steel housing case and contain several significant parts, like the blower and motor. The range hood insert rating determines the venting strengths (how fast a ductless range hood will rid the kitchen of pollutants) of ductless range hoods.

    Controls panel

    The control panel is found on the body of the fume hood of your range hood. It is usually where the stainless-steel push button or a digital touchscreen panel is located. You can control the fan speed, the venting duration, and the lighting system from here. It is connected to a circuit board with all the electrical connections that allow the range hood unit to power up and function correctly.

    Filter System

    The filter system is a crucial cog in operating a ductless range hood, as it is responsible for removing all pollutants in the air that get pulled in. When air is drawn in, it is pushed through the filters, and all contaminants are deposited on the filter. Most ductless range hoods use a charcoal filter for odor and stainless-steel baffle filters to trap grease and oily particles.


    Most custom ductless range hoods have bright LED lights or a Halogen lighting system. This functions as an additional illumination source for the kitchen. They are bright and energy-saving, and because your range hood is often above the cooking area, it will ensure the cooking area is adequately lit.

    Features of Air Purifiers

    The primary suction fan of an air purifier draws in polluted air, which is then cleaned by passing the contaminated air through a series of filters. After being filtered out of contaminants, a secondary fan returns the cleaned air to the kitchen.

    Some of the essential parts of an air purifier include:

    Housing case

    The housing case of most air purifiers is usually made of high-density polyethylene and high-impact polystyrene plastic. It covers the remaining components and is a durable and highly unreactive plastic. 


    There are two fans, the primary suction fan,and the secondary fan. The primary fan acts like a suction pump and draws polluted air into the filter section of the purifier. In contrast, the secondary fan pushes the cleaned air out of the air purifier and back into the room.

    HEPA and electrostatic filters

    Two filters are commonly found in an air purifier: HEPAand electrostatic filters

    HEPA filters are excellent, disposable, high-grade particulate filters that remove 99.97% of pollutant particles from the air after multiple passes through them. 

    Electrostatic filters are secondary, reusable units that catch dust, pollen, and other airborne particles that the HEPA filter didn't get. They use the difference in electrical charge states to capture dust, pollen, and other airborne particles. 

    Control panel

    The control panel has all the dials, buttons, and controls of the air purifier unit. It is connected directly to an internal circuit board that contains all the electrical connections. You can start or stop the unit and adjust the fans' speed from the control panel.


    The heat sensors and the air quality sensor are the significant sensors that control how the air purifier works. The heat sensor is calibrated to sense a change in the kitchen’s temperature. The air quality sensor detects contaminants, pollutants, or toxic gases in the kitchen environment.


      Pros of Using a Custom Ductless Range Hood

      Using a custom ductless range hood has several significant benefits like:

      1. They are cost-effective

      With a custom ductless range hood, you get excellent value for every dime it costs. Most often, the best ductless range hoods can be bought and installed at an affordable price. They aid in keeping the cooking environment in good shape without requiring expensive renovations to the kitchen.

      1. Perfect for small urban apartments

      Ductless hoods are the best range hoods for city apartments, especially those with tiny kitchens because they don't require much space. They efficiently eliminate cooking-related pollutants such as grease, smoke, odors, and harmful gases without requiring ductwork to be installed that leads outdoors.

      1. Easy installation and maintenance

      Installing a custom ductless range hood in your kitchen is relatively easy; the only complicated part is the elaborate fume hood. Also, maintaining a ductless range hood is pretty straightforward. The ductless hoods' filter units are the most maintenance-intensive part because they often require regular cleaning or replacements.

      1. Very eco-friendly

      Custom ductless range hoods are environmentally friendly, as their use involves no outdoor emissions. Every bit of pollutant taken out of the kitchen air is either left on the mesh or stainless steel baffle filters or absorbed by the charcoal filter.

      1. Adds a modern aesthetic touch to the kitchen

      Custom ductless range hoods have very modern-looking and decorative hoods. They add an aesthetic, modern touch to the kitchen and can be a focal, attractive piece that boosts its general décor.


        Cons of Using a Custom Ductless Range Hood 

        The benefits of using a custom ductless range hood are evident from the list above, but there are some drawbacks to installing them, such as:

        1. They have high maintenance costs

        The maintenance cost of a ductless range hood is quite steep, and these expenses can add up. It includes everything from the special maintenance needed for the external vent hood, which needs to be cleaned frequently to stay shiny, to the constant replacement of the charcoal filter. 

        1. Reduced Efficiency

        All ductless range hoods rely heavily on their ductless hood filter systems to clean the polluted air. With each passage of polluted kitchen air, the pollutants are deposited on the charcoal filters, which clogs it up. This means that most ductless range hoods operate at a lower capacity most of the time because a smaller volume of air is cleaned at each pass.

        1. Ineffective in high-ceiling kitchens

        Ductless range hoods are generally ineffective when clearing kitchen space with high ceilings. High-ceiling kitchen space means a larger volume of air, which can be problematic for most ductless hoods, especially if the fume hood is lower.  Because the suction power of the ductless hood blower may not reach there, the high ceiling offers a suitable escape for most pollutants.

        1. Not ideal for high-heat kitchens

        Most ductless range hood filters are either mesh or charcoal and cannot withstand extreme temperatures. This means ductless range hoods will be ineffective in kitchens where hot stir-frying and intense cooking happen. Homeowners with a gas stove will be well advised to get ductless range hoods with stainless steel baffle filters instead of charcoal or mesh filters.

        1. Ductless hoods are noisy

        A ductless range hood can make the kitchen space quite noisy. Most ductless range hoods include parts like blowers and motors that are loud when operational. Because they often need to be turned on while cooking, discussions in the kitchen may grow considerably louder.


          The Benefits of Using an Air Purifier

          Installing an air purifier in your kitchen comes with the following benefits:

          1. They are perfect for eliminating microparticles

          Air purifiers utilize HEPA or electrostatic filters, which capture microparticles like dust, skin cells, dirt, and pollen. Because of their small size, they readily pass through most filters and are not absorbed by charcoal filters in a ductless range hood.

          1. Removes strong odors

          Air purifiers are very good at eliminating strong smells from the kitchen. Most air purifiers come with a carbon filter kit, which is very good at absorbing gases and chemical odors. They also quickly remove pollutants from the air in the kitchen, which are often the cause of strong odors. They pull in bad air, run it through a carbon filter kit which deodorizes it, and the clean air is sent back out.

          1. Very Portable

          One of the notable features of air purifiers is their size, which can be very useful in most kitchens. Air purifiers are usually compact and portable, so they can be optimally located in the kitchen. Their small size also means they don’t take up much kitchen space and can easily be moved around, unlike a range hood.

          1. Quiet operations

          Air purifiers are one of the few kitchen appliances that generally do not produce that much noise. They are incredibly quiet, with noise levels as low as 23dB when the air purifier’s fans are at maximum. They can be operational most times and won't act as a noisy distraction when cooking.

          Cons of Using an Air Purifier

          Air purifiers are top-notch devices, but they have some notable flaws like:

          1. They are easily damaged

          Air purifiers are notoriously fragile and tend to break down relatively quickly. Its compact size means most of its internal components are close to each other, which can lead to several unintended faults. A common issue, for example, is material from the filters seeping into the fans and motors and inhibiting their movement.

          1. Requires constant filter change

          When cleaning the air, air purifiers depend significantly on their filters, which tend to do a good job. The downside of that is that most HEPA filters have limited operational lifespans. This means the filters get replaced often, which significantly increases the cost of maintenance.

          1. Can't absorb large airborne particles

          Air purifiers are typically very effective at removing small particles from the air. Their vent holes are small, and the particle-removal technology is designed for microparticles like dust. This makes them relatively ineffective with large particles.

          1. They are not eco-friendly

          Air purifiers have HVAC filters that are not recyclable and electrostatic filters that cause secondary pollution if they lose power. The ions produced using electrostatic filters react with oxygen in the air to produce ozone, which is quite dangerous at high concentrations.

          Custom Ductless Range Hoods or Air Purifiers: Which is Best for Your Kitchen?

          Choosing between a custom ductless range hood and air purifiers depends on which device's advantages fit your needs and which disadvantages you can live with. You can upgrade your kitchen with the best ductless range hood, which effectively removes all cooking odors and smoke while adding a sleek and modern look to the space. But the flexibility of air purifiers, low noise, and their ability to clean smaller air particles is a big plus.