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External vs. Internal Venting for Range Hood: Which is Better?

April 17, 2023 11 min read

Kitchen ventilation is crucial in maintaining a household's air quality and overall health. Without proper ventilation, cooking can lead to a build-up of pollutants and moisture, which can cause respiratory problems and promote the growth of mold and mildew. One important decision homeowners must make when installing a range hood is opting for external or internal venting.

External venting involves venting the range hood outside the home, while internal venting circulates air through a filter and releases it back into the kitchen. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, and the choice ultimately depends on individual preferences and kitchen layouts.

This article aims to explore the pros and cons of external and internal venting and help homeowners decide which option is better for their kitchen. We will discuss the factors to consider when choosing between external and internal venting, including cost, efficiency, maintenance, and noise level. By the end of this article, readers will better understand the benefits and drawbacks of each type of venting and be equipped to make an informed decision.

What is Range Hood Venting

What is Range Hood Venting

Range hood venting directs the smoke, steam, and cooking odors drawn into the range hood outside your home or recirculates them back into your kitchen. Proper range hood venting is essential because it helps to maintain healthy indoor air quality by removing harmful pollutants and preventing the buildup of toxic gases in your kitchen.

There are two primary range hood venting options: external and internal venting.

External Venting for Range Hoods

External venting, also known as ducted venting, is a type of range hood venting system that directs the smoke, steam, and cooking odors drawn into the range hood outside your home through a duct system.

External venting uses a fan inside the vent hood to draw in the polluted air, which then travels through a duct system to the outside of your home. As the air travels through the duct, it is filtered and cleaned of pollutants, preventing them from entering your home. They are primarily used with a ducted range hood.

Advantages of External Vented Range Hoods

Here are some advantages of externally venting the range hood in your kitchen:

Effective Removal of Pollutants

One of the primary advantages of external venting for range hood systems is its effective removal of pollutants. External venting uses a duct system to carry the smoke, steam, and cooking odors outside, preventing them from recirculating in your home. This is particularly important for removing harmful pollutants from your indoor air that can negatively impact your health and the quality of your living space.

Cooking produces a range of pollutants, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can cause respiratory problems, headaches, and other health issues. External venting removes these pollutants from your home, keeping the air in your kitchen and living space fresh and healthy.

Additionally, external venting can remove excess heat and moisture from your kitchen, preventing humidity levels from rising and reducing the risk of mold growth. This can also help to keep your kitchen and home more comfortable.

Reduced Risk of Fires

Another significant advantage of external venting with ducted range hoods is its ability to reduce the risk of fires. Cooking can produce a lot of heat, smoke, and grease, which can be hazardous if not handled properly. When cooking, grease and other particles can accumulate in the range hood and ductwork, creating a fire hazard.

External venting prevents the buildup of these flammable materials by carrying them outside the home through the duct system. This reduces the risk of fires caused by excess heat or grease buildup in the range hood or ductwork.

Very powerful with a high airflow rate

External venting for ducted hood systems typically allows for a very powerful airflow rate, making it an effective option for removing pollutants and reducing the risk of fires. This high airflow rate is due to using a duct system, which can carry smoke, steam, and cooking odors outside of the home, preventing them from recirculating and improving the air quality in your living space.

The high airflow rate of external venting is particularly beneficial for larger kitchens or those with an island range hood unit. It ensures that pollutants and excess heat are quickly and efficiently removed from the home, making the kitchen a more comfortable and healthy place.

Energy Efficiency

Another advantage of external venting for range hood systems is its energy efficiency. External venting carries smoke, steam, and cooking odors outside the home through a duct system. This allows for using a smaller and more efficient range hood motor, which consumes less energy than a motor required for internal venting.

By reducing the amount of energy needed to operate the range hood, external venting can help to lower your energy bills and decrease your overall carbon footprint. Additionally, because external venting removes excess heat and moisture from your kitchen, it can also help to reduce the load on your home's cooling system during the summer months.

Improved Kitchen Comfort

External venting for range hood systems can also improve the comfort of your kitchen. Cooking can produce heat, smoke, and moisture, making your kitchen uncomfortable and humid. This can be especially problematic during the summer months or if you have a smaller kitchen with limited ventilation.

External venting removes excess heat, smoke, and moisture from your kitchen, making it a more comfortable and pleasant space to cook and spend time in. Some ducted hoods even have external blowers or ductwork with inline blowers that significantly reduce operational noise.

Disadvantages of External Vented Range Hoods

The downsides of venting your range hood outdoors include the following:

Installation complexity

One of the potential disadvantages of external venting for range hood systems is the complexity of installation. External venting requires a duct system to carry smoke, steam, and cooking odors outside the home. This can be a complex installation process that requires cutting holes in walls and ceilings and may require the services of a professional installer.

Installing a duct system can be particularly challenging in older homes or buildings with limited exterior access. Additionally, the installation process may require modifications to the house's structure, which can be time-consuming and costly.  

Higher upfront costs

Compared to internal venting, one of the potential drawbacks of external venting for range hood systems is the higher initial costs involved. Installing a duct system for external venting can be more expensive than internal venting, which may require only a simple filter.

In addition to the cost of the duct system itself, the installation process may also require modifications to the home's structure, such as cutting holes in walls and ceilings. This can add to the overall cost of installation.

Limited placement options

Another potential disadvantage of external venting for range hood systems is that it may be limited in placement options. Since external venting requires a duct system installed, the range hood must be located near an exterior wall or roof where the duct can be vented outside.

This can limit the options for where the range hood can be installed in the kitchen, which can be problematic in some layouts. For example, external venting may be impractical in kitchens with islands or other non-exterior wall configurations.

Not eco-friendly

One top disadvantage of external venting for range hood systems is that it may not be environmentally friendly, as pollutants are released into the air outside the home. While external venting effectively removes cooking odors and smoke, it can also release potentially harmful environmental pollutants.

These pollutants can contribute to air pollution and negatively impact local air quality. Additionally, some jurisdictions may have regulations in place that restrict the release of certain pollutants into the air, which can limit the use of external venting in certain areas.


Another drawback of external venting for range hood systems is the noise that the vent fan can generate. External venting systems require a powerful fan to move air through the duct system and outside the home. This fan can generate significant noise, which can bother some homeowners.

Also, if the duct system is not installed correctly or there are any leaks or obstructions, this can further increase the noise generated by the fan. This can be particularly problematic in open-concept kitchen designs where noise from the range hood can travel to other home areas.

Internal Venting for Range Hoods

Internal venting, or ductless venting, is a range hood ventilation system that filters the air and recirculates it back into the kitchen. This type of system doesn't require ductwork(ductless range hood) to be installed and instead relies on a filter to capture grease and other cooking pollutants.

When an internal blower draws air into the vent hood, it passes through a filter that removes grease, smoke, and other cooking byproducts. The cleaned air is then recirculated back into the kitchen. Some internal venting systems use a combination of filters, including activated carbon filters, to further purify the air and remove odors.

A ductless range hood will have an internal venting system, which is typically less powerful than an external one.

Advantages of Internally Vented Range Hood Systems

Some of the benefits of internally venting your range hood include the following:

Ease of Installation

One of the main advantages of internal venting for range hoods is the ease of installation. Unlike external venting systems that require ductwork, internal venting systems are much easier and less expensive to install. This is because they don't need any ductwork to be installed, which can save homeowners time and money during the installation process.

The installation process for internal venting systems is typically much quicker and simpler than external ones. This can be a significant advantage for homeowners who want a range hood system that is easy to install and maintain.

Flexibility in Placement

Since internal venting systems don't require any ductwork to be installed, they can be placed in various locations in the kitchen. This gives homeowners more flexibility when choosing the location for their range hood system.

Internal venting systems can be placed under cabinets, above cooktops, or on a kitchen island, making them a versatile option for homeowners who want a range hood system customized to their needs. This flexibility in placement also allows homeowners to choose a range hood system that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing, as they can choose a design that complements their kitchen decor.

Low Noise Levels

Another advantage of internal venting for range hoods is that they typically operate at lower noise levels than external venting systems. This is because internal venting systems are designed to recirculate the air back into the kitchen after filtering it rather than expelling it outside.

Internal venting systems typically use a combination of charcoal and grease filters to clean the air and remove impurities, which results in quieter operation. This makes them a good choice for homeowners who want a range hood system that operates quietly and doesn't disrupt conversations or activities in the kitchen.

Lower Initial Cost

Internal venting systems typically have a lower upfront cost than external venting systems, making them a more budget-friendly option for homeowners installing a range hood. This is because internal venting systems do not require ductwork or the installation of an inline blower motor, which can significantly reduce installation costs.

Additionally, internal venting systems do not require any modifications to the home's exterior, which means that there are no additional costs associated with cutting holes or installing vents in the walls or roof of the house. This can make internal venting systems a more affordable option for homeowners who want a range hood system that is effective yet budget-friendly.

They are eco-friendly

Internal venting systems are often considered more environmentally friendly than external ones due to their ability to recirculate air and use filters to remove pollutants and odors instead of expelling them outside. This means that internal venting systems do not release contaminants like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide into the environment as external venting systems do.

Moreover, internal venting systems are more energy efficient than external venting systems because they do not need to expel hot air to the outside. This can reduce the energy required to heat or cool the home, resulting in lower energy bills and a smaller carbon footprint.

H2> Disadvantages of Internally Vented Range Hood Systems

Some of the notable disadvantages of having an internally vented range hood unit are:

Limited venting power

One disadvantage of internal venting for range hoods is that they may have limited venting power compared to external venting systems. Internal venting systems rely on filters to trap pollutants and odors, reducing the airflow rate and limiting the amount of air being circulated. This can result in less effective removal of contaminants and odors, leading to a less comfortable and healthy kitchen environment.

Requires regular maintenance and cleaning

Internal venting for range hoods has the disadvantage of needing frequent cleaning and maintenance. Since the air is not being vented outside, the filters inside the range hood can quickly become clogged with grease and other contaminants, reducing the effectiveness of the venting system. This can lead to unpleasant cooking odors lingering in the kitchen and decreased smoke and pollutant removal. Most ductless hoods using internal venting require regular cleaning of their vent hoods and replacement of the filters to maintain optimal performance.

Heat and moisture retention

One of the potential drawbacks of internal venting for range hood systems is that it can lead to heat and moisture retention. Unlike external venting, which expels hot air and steam outside, internal venting systems filter the air and recirculate it back into the kitchen. This means that the moisture and heat generated during cooking can get trapped inside, leading to higher humidity levels and potential mold growth.

In addition to creating an uncomfortable kitchen environment, heat, and moisture retention can also affect the longevity of kitchen appliances and cabinetry. Excessive moisture can cause wood to warp or rot, while high heat levels can damage electronic components.

Reduced indoor air quality

One potential disadvantage of internal venting for range hood systems is that it can reduce indoor air quality. This is because the pollutants and moisture are not entirely vented outside, which can lead to the accumulation of grease, smoke, and odors in the kitchen and home. This can be especially problematic for people with allergies or respiratory issues. Keeping the filters clean and replacing them regularly is essential to improve indoor air quality.

Comparison Between External and Internal Venting

External and internal venting are two options available for range hood systems. This is a head-to-head objective comparison of the two options regarding cost, performance, noise level, and ease of installation.


External venting systems generally have a higher upfront cost than internal venting systems, requiring additional ductwork and installation. However, external venting systems may be more cost-effective over time due to their higher energy efficiency and improved air quality.


External venting systems are generally more robust, with higher airflow rates that can effectively remove pollutants and odors from the kitchen. On the other hand, internal venting systems may not be as effective in removing contaminants and may require more frequent maintenance to keep them functioning properly.

Noise level

External venting systems tend to be noisier due to their more powerful motors and ductwork. Internal venting systems are generally quieter but may still produce some noise depending on the type of system, installation, and the absence of an external blower unit.

Ease of installation

Internal venting systems are generally easier to install as they do not require additional ductwork and can be installed directly above the cooktop. On the other hand, external venting systems require additional ductwork and may be more complicated to install.

Personal preference

Personal preferences, lifestyle, and cooking habits can also affect the decision-making process when choosing between external and internal venting. For example, if the kitchen is located in a small apartment or shared living space, an internal venting system may be more practical due to its ease of installation and lower noise level. However, suppose the kitchen is in a larger house with more space and frequent cooking. In that case, an external venting system may be more effective in removing pollutants and maintaining better air quality.

Final Thoughts

The choice between external and internal venting depends on personal preference, lifestyle, and cooking habits. While external venting systems may be more powerful and effective, they may also be noisier and require more complicated installation. Internal venting systems may be more practical and cost-effective but require more frequent maintenance and may be less effective in removing pollutants.

Ultimately, the decision should be based on careful consideration of the advantages and disadvantages of each system and how they align with individual needs and preferences.