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Ducted Range Hood or Exhaust Fan Which is Better?

January 24, 2023 4 min read

Kitchens need proper ventilation and airflow outlets as they generate a lot of smoke and dangerous air particles that should not be inhaled. The easiest way to do this is to open windows and doors to encourage cross ventilation, but that is usually ineffective.

Most contractors recommend installing a ducted range hood or an exhaust fan to help maintain good kitchen air quality. If you are having trouble telling one from the other, you are reading the right article.

This article is a full review of both ventilation systems. We have detailed their features, the advantages and disadvantages of installing each system, and a comparison of the two. After reading this, you should be able to discern which is better: a ducted range hood or an exhaust fan.

Let's dive in.

What are Ducted Range Hoods, Features, Pros, and Cons?

Ducted range hoods are kitchen ventilators with suction fans that extract pollutants such as smoke, vapors, and foul air and expel them outdoors via pipes or connected ducts.

They are easily identified by their big hoods mounted on the wall or suspended from the ceiling. If you go to your local restaurant or drive-by and observe smoke or hot vapor spewing out from a chimney-like top, you are most likely looking at the exterior vent of a ducted range hood unit.

Features of Ducted Range Hood

Ducted range hoods are usually designed to be wall-mounted, under-cabinet, or ceiling-mounted over the cooking area. They consist of the following five major components:

  • Hood Canopy:this large surface area is the most recognizable part of a ducted range hood system. It is a hooded structure, usually metal, that contains parts like the control panel and the grease filter.
  • Vent system:This part of a ducted system draws in air from your kitchen and removes odors. It contains parts like suction fans and air blowers.
  • Control panel:The control panel contains all the controls for starting the device or controlling the fan speed and the lighting. It can either be touch or dials, depending on the manufacturer.
  • Illumination:Most range hoods come with lightings system like LED or Halogen lights that offer additional illumination for the cooking area.
  • Grease filters:these are a series of filter pads found in the hood canopy and are responsible for catching grease.


There are pros and cons to installing a ducted range hood system in your kitchen.

Pros of Using a Ducted Range Hood

  • They are very efficient at extracting large volumes of smoke and air from the kitchen.
  • Very efficient at eliminating solid odors
  • Silent operating noise as the vent systems are far from the stove.
  • Easily prevent condensation build-up in the kitchen as they can extract vapors or steam.
  • Usable in outdoor kitchen systems
  • In most cases, they last for a very long time if properly maintained.

Cons of Using a Ducted Range Hood

  • Can be pretty expensive
  • Installation of an extensive duct/piping system is required.
  • Limits on the areas where they can be installed
  • It is always necessary to hire a contractor for installation.
  • It is heavy and not portable.

What are Exhaust Fans, Features, Pros, and Cons?

Exhaust fans, often known as ventilation fans, are low-cost kitchen appliances deliberately designed to improve air quality. They are expected to force air outside the kitchen rather than allowing it to remain within. They are simple to use and remove pollutants such as damp air, dust, stink, and floating oil droplets before they escape into the kitchen air.

 Features of Exhaust Fans

Exhaust fans are vital indoor tools designed for kitchen use and can be window or wall-mounted. They are usually encased in a safety finger-guard grill to prevent damage to the fan blades. They have the following parts:


  • Fan Blades:This handles the extraction of moisture and steam from the kitchen
  • Motor:The motor provides the mechanical power that propels and spins the fan, providing the necessary suction power.
  • Shutter Grill: This protects the fan and prevents damage to the blades.
  • Housing Guard: Houses and covers the fan and the motor, providing structural protection against damage.


Pros of Using an Exhaust Fan

  • Quick removal of odors and smoke from indoor areas.
  • Simple installation process.
  • Very cost-effective
  • Easy maintenance
  • Portable and requires less space

Cons of Using an Exhaust Fan

  • The fans can get very noisy
  • Ineffective when removing large volumes of pollutants at once.
  • You have to keep it on all the time when cooking, which increases your electric bill.
  • Can’t effectively extract floating grease particles.
  • Not good at extracting steam and vapor, increasing the chance of condensation build-up, which can lead to molds.
  • They cannot be used outdoors since they are only designed to remove air in one direction.

Ducted Range Hoods or Exhaust Fans?

The table below illustrates the differences between systems and areas where one trumps the other.


Ducted Range Hoods

Exhaust Fans


Expensive as it requires extensive ductwork.

Very cost-effective as no ductwork is needed.


Extremely effective at removing large volumes of smoke and air irritants.

Ineffective at the removal of large volumes of kitchen pollutants.


A complex installation process requires the expertise of an HVAC contractor.

Simple installation with average expertise needed.


It runs quietly and intermittently, leading to low noise levels.

Fans can get quite noisy, and it runs constantly.


Not easily movable once installed and will require extensive work to move to another part of the kitchen.

Very portable and can easily be moved to different parts of the kitchen.


Built to last for decades with proper maintenance.

Designed not to last a significant amount of time.


Final Words

It is essential to have a ventilation system in any kitchen. Despite their flaws, both systems are excellent for maintaining and improving air quality in your kitchen. Compare and contrast them and pick the best one that meets your needs.


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