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Ducted vs. Ductless Range Hoods: Pros, Cons, and Comparisons

March 13, 2023 6 min read

Building or remodeling a kitchen requires making tough decisions that get harder as you add more appliances. This is especially significant when selecting a kitchen ducting system, as choosing between a ducted or ductless range hood for your kitchen is always challenging. If you have trouble deciding, you are reading the best article to help you. This article provides a complete analysis of the two major range hood venting systems, which are either ducted or ductless. But before comparing both, let's take a moment to refresh our memories on range hoods and get an overview of the ducted and ductless models.


What are Range Hoods?

Range hoods, commonly called ventilation or exhaust hoods, are kitchen appliances that help reduce smoke, foul odors, or grease in the kitchen air. They are often built above the cooking area, covering the stove or cooktop. They have powerfulsuction fans inside that suck in any airborne grease, smoke, fumes, or steam. Range hoods help create a well-ventilated kitchen area and vastly improve the indoor air quality of the kitchen. They are essential kitchen devices due to the constant fresh cooking environment they help provide and the added safety value of having a less polluted space.  Range hoods come in different shapes and sizes, each with advantages, but they are categorized into two types: ducted and ductless.


What are Ducted Range Hoods?

Ducted range hoods are among the most common and efficient kitchen range hoods. They constantly keep the kitchen air pollutant free by vacuuming the air around the cooking area and expelling it outside. Ducted hoods are connected to ducts or pipes in your kitchen wall, ceiling, or floor. They suck in air that contains airborne particles, vapors, or smoke and expel them outdoors via vents or pipes. They are external ventilators or superior versions of kitchen exhaust fans because everything drawn into their hood gets released outdoors. It is common to find a ducted hood in large kitchens that require vent hoods with more power to rapidly clear all the smoke, dirty air, and grease generated when cooking.  

What are Ductless Range Hoods?

Ductless range hoods are range hoods that have no external ducts connected to them. They are recirculating ventilation systems that improve the kitchen's air quality by constantly cleaning and redistributing the air around it. Rather than releasing airborne kitchen pollutants outside, they pull in polluted kitchen air, filter it, and return it to the kitchen. Ductless range hood systems rely on degreasing,activated charcoal, or mesh filters to clean any air the suction fans bring in. They do not use a ventilation duct and have no link to any external vent.  Ductless hoods are suitable for any chef or homeowner with a light cooking style. They are commonly used in homes with few or no piping systems and are ‌less powerful than ducted hood systems.

Ducted vs. Ductless: Which is Better?

Comparing both systems and declaring one superior would be over the top. Both range hood systems can effectively serve most kitchens and are very popular, but in certain case studies, one system trumps the other.  The best way to effectively show how both systems stack against each other is to list the pros and cons of installing either range hood in your kitchen.

Pros and Cons of a Ducted Range Hood System

Ducted range hood systems are much more popular and offer noticeable advantages over ductless range hood systems. Below are some pros and cons of installing a ducted range hood.


  1. Ducted range hoods have powerful suction fans that are remarkably effective at removing unpleasant odors, smoke, vapors, and heat.
  2. They are perfect at maintaining the humidity level in the kitchen by preventing condensation build-up as it effectively removes steam and vapors.
  3. Reduced risk of contaminants escaping back into your kitchen as everything sucked into the duct gets vented outside.
  4. Most ducted range hoods are sturdy and tend to last a long time.
  5. They are cost-effective, with lower maintenance costs and a system with few intricate parts.
  6. Ducted range hoods are the recommended air ventilation units for outdoor kitchens as they have enough suction power to counterbalance the outdoor air.
  7. Ducted range hoods are much quieter as the blowers can be installed further down in the ductwork(in-line blowers) away from the kitchen, which generally reduces the noise from the unit.
  8. The operational run time of most ducted hoods is low. The powerful suction fan in a ducted hood means a massive amount of air is filtered and vented out in little or no time.
But not everything is rosy with installing a ducted range hood system. Some of the notable disadvantages are below.


  1. Installation of a ducted range hood system is quite expensive and often involves hiring professionalHVAC installers, which will run up the cost.
  2. It requires the addition of extensive ductwork or a piping system to your building or apartment, which can sometimes be impossible, especially in urban centers.
  3. They have a limited adoption range, as installing them in small kitchens is unwise.
  4. Very complex installation, and you must hire a seasoned contractor to install one for you.
  5. All pollutants from the cooktop that gets pulled in the ductwork of a ducted hood are released outdoors, which makes these units not eco-friendly as these pollutants are released directly into the atmosphere.
  6. Ducted hoods are immobile and often permanently attached to one kitchen space.

Pros and Cons of a Ductless Range Hood System

Ductless range hoods have functional advantages that make them very attractive to homeowners. They are more modern and sophisticated and have perks, as shown below.


  1. Ductless range hood units are cheaper than most ducted hood systems.
  2. They are practical and can be installed in congested or multi-family apartments.
  3. Ductless range hoods are often plug-in models requiring low installation costs.
  4. Very mobile, versatile, and space friendly.
  5. Ductless hoods require no ducts or external piping and can be installed in any room or apartment.
  6. Most ductless range hoods are very power efficient.
  7. Perfect for heating as the kitchen loses no air through external ducts.
  8. Installing a ductless hood is considered better for the environment as they don't release any smoke, pungent odor, or pollutant.
The pro list is extensive, but installing a ductless range hood system has some notable drawbacks, as shown below.


  1. Ductless hoods are ineffective in homes with high ceilings or obstacles that restrict the airflow to their suction fans.
  2. Unusable with gas stoves as their cooking exhaust is too hot and will quickly damage the filters.
  3. High maintenance costs with constantly cleaning and replacing clogged charcoal and mesh filters.
  4. No charcoal or mesh filter can properly handle heavy grease or oil-based cooking, limiting any ductless hood's functionality.
  5. They are loud compared to ducted hoods as their blower and fans are housed in the hood and can get quite noisy.
  6. Most ductless hoods rely heavily on their filter to clean polluted air before venting it back into the kitchen. Clogged filters will vary their pulling and filtering strength which tends to allow contaminated pollutants to linger in the kitchen.
  7. Ductless range hoods are perfect for enclosed kitchen spaces where they can build enough suction power to pull and clean air not ideal for outdoor kitchens.

Factors You Should Consider When Making Your Ducted Hood vs. Ductless Hood Comparison

The comparison you should make when deciding which system is the best for your kitchen should fall along the following lines:
  • Practicality

It is self-evident that commercial kitchens producing tons of grease with a high volume of smoke will best suit a ducted range hood system. But residential kitchens with lighter cooking habits and low cooking odors will do fine with a ductless hood system.
  • Cost

Installing a ducted system incurs a considerable financial cost, especially if you are freshly installing the duct system. To save cost, installing the cheaper ductless range hood system might be a budget-friendly alternative.
  • Personal taste

Ductless systems have modern features, are eco-friendly, and have flexible installation processes, which are attractive properties for some individuals. Others prefer the imposing look, efficiency, and practicality of ducted systems for their kitchen. It all boils down to every individual's taste.

So, Ducted vs. Ductless: Which Is Better?

Both systems have excellent features that make them perfect, but they also have difficulties installing them. Personal taste, practicality, and price all play a role in selecting a suitable range hood system. The range hood that checks those boxes is the best one for you. If you can't settle on a choice, then find a brand that offers a recirculating hood with features from ducted and ductless range hoods.