The Ultimate Guide to Selecting a Range Hood Insert for Your Custom Range Hood

June 17, 2023 7 min read

Many homes have pre-installed or ready-to-market range hoods because they are the often available range hoods that homeowners could buy. However, these generic hoods may not always meet your kitchen's specific cooking needs or even fit the kitchen's layout. In such cases, opting for a custom hood insert becomes kind of necessary.

Range hood inserts are designed to remove pollutants generated while cooking and other airborne particles that find their way to the cooking area. They are available in different sizes and styles which can make selecting the right one for your kitchen space kind of a confusing decision.

If you are stuck and having a tough time settling on the right range hood insert then this article with be a useful aid for you. Below we will explain what a range hood insert is, its purpose, and why choosing the right size range hood insert for your kitchen is essential. With this information, you can make an informed decision. With that, you can select a range hood insert that meets your needs and will also fit your kitchen perfectly.

Let's dive in.

What are Range Hood Inserts

Range hood inserts are ventilation devices that fit inside a custom-built enclosure or a pre-existing vent hood. They essentially function as the operational center of the range hood just like the way an engine is to a car. It is the part of the range hood responsible for capturing and filtering cooking fumes and smoke from the kitchen area.

Most inserts can be customized to fit a variety of kitchen layouts and cooking needs. This makes them a popular choice for homeowners and contractors as they can be made to match different home and kitchen layouts. They are available in both ducted and ductless versions which makes them a lot more useful.


Types of Range Hood Inserts

There are two main versions of range hood inserts: ducted and ductless.

Ducted Range Hood Inserts

Ducted hood inserts vent smoke, grease, and other pollutants from the kitchen to the outside through ductwork. Ducted range hood inserts are more effective in removing contaminants as they vent them outside the house. However, installation may be more complex as it involves mounting the range hood liner, kitchen exhaust fan, and ductwork. All of these steps may require the assistance of a professional installer.

Ductless Range Hood Inserts

These range hood inserts filter and recirculate the air back into the kitchen. The range hood insert contains charcoal filters that capture smoke, grease, and other pollutants before recirculating the air back into the kitchen. Ductless range hood inserts are easier to install and can be placed anywhere in the kitchen, but they are less effective in removing pollutants. The filters must be changed periodically to maintain their effectiveness. Most residential range hood inserts are often ductless inserts.

Several range hood inserts are available, each with advantages and disadvantages.

Under-cabinet range hood inserts

These range hood inserts are installed under the cabinets above the stove. They are commonly used in kitchens where there is limited space.

Wall-mounted range hood inserts

These range hood inserts are mounted on the wall above the stove. They come in various sizes and styles and are ideal for kitchens with larger cooking spaces.

Island range hood inserts

These range hood inserts are installed above the stove on an island in the middle of the kitchen. They are ideal for kitchens with a central island or cooktop.

Downdraft range hood inserts

These range hood inserts are located behind or on the side of the cooktop and pull smoke and steam downwards. They are a popular option for kitchens with limited overhead space or for those who prefer a sleek, minimalist look.

Each range hood insert type has advantages and disadvantages; the choice ultimately depends on the kitchen layout and personal preference.

Parts of a Range Hood Inserts

The main parts of a range hood insert include:

  1. Hood Body:The main body of the range hood insert, which is the outer stainless steel housing that contains the motor, fan, and filters.
  2. Motor:The component that powers the fan to draw air and smoke out of the kitchen.
  3. Fan: The device creates airflow, pulling air and smoke into the hood.
  4. Filters:Typically, range hood inserts have two types of filters: baffle filters that capture grease and oil and charcoal filters that capture odors.
  5. Controls:This interface controls the fan and lighting of the range hood insert. Controls can be either mechanical or electronic.
  6. Lighting: Range hood inserts often have one or more light bulbs to illuminate the cooking area beneath the hood.
  7. Duct: A duct connects the range hood insert to the outside of the home and helps to exhaust the air and smoke from the kitchen.
  8. Grease Trap: A device that captures grease and oil droplets drawn into the hood.

Considerations Before Buying a Range Hood Insert

Before purchasing a range hood insert, several important factors must be considered to ensure that the insert meets your kitchen's ventilation needs.

  1. Available Ventilation Options:The location of the range hood insert should be determined by the available ventilation options in your kitchen. A ducted range hood insert may be the best option if your kitchen has existing ductwork. A ductless range hood insert may be better if ductwork is unavailable.
  2. Cooktop Size:The size of the cooktop will influence the size of the range hood insert needed. The range hood insert should be wide enough to cover the entire cooktop.
  3. Cooking Habits and Frequency:If you cook frequently and use strong-smelling ingredients, you may require a more powerful range hood insert with a higher CFM (cubic feet per minute) rating.
  4. Kitchen Layout:Your layout will influence the type and range hood style you should get. For example, an island range hood insert suits kitchens with central islands or cooktops.
  5. Electrical and Ductwork Requirements:The installation of some range hood inserts may require electrical or ductwork modifications. Ensure that your kitchen meets the electrical and ductwork requirements for your chosen range hood insert.

Features To Look For in a Range Hood Insert

When selecting a range hood insert, it is important to consider various features. These features ensure it meets your needs and the necessary ones include:

  1. It is essential to consider the noise level of the range hood insert before you buy it. Look for models with lower sone ratings that still provide effective ventilation. This would mean you can cook in relative silence which I believe is every chef's dream.
  2. Having enough light to cook safely and see what you're doing is important. Look for range hood inserts with built-in lights that are well-spaced and with the proper level of brightness. You can also look for ones with extra lighting for even better coverage. .
  3. Range hood inserts are made with multiple fan speeds. Higher fan speeds are helpful when cooking with high heat. Lower fan speeds are ideal for simmering or keeping food warm. Ensure the range hood insert you get gives you the option to select the appropriate fan speeds for your cooking needs.
  4. Pick a filter that matches your cooking style because different types of filters are used in range hood inserts. These include baffle and charcoal filters. Stainless steel baffle filters are more effective at capturing grease while charcoal filters are better at removing odors. Consider which type of filter will work best for your cooking habits and ventilation needs.
  5. Range hood inserts require regular maintenance and cleaning. This ensures optimal performance. Look for models with easily removable and washable filters. Also, consider how easily the range hood insert can be cleaned and maintained.

Installation Requirements for Different Types of Range Hood Inserts

Proper installation is critical to the performance and safety of your range hood insert. Some of the standard guidelines for the different range hood insert types are listed below:

Under-Cabinet Range Hood Inserts

When it comes to under-cabinet hood installations, it's crucial to ensure enough space beneath the cabinets to accommodate the insert. The range hood insert should be mounted at an optimal height that provides the best coverage for the cooktop. Usually, the bottom of the range hood insert should be positioned between 18 to 24 inches above the cooktop surface.

Wall-Mounted Range Hood Inserts

Installation of wall-mounted range hood inserts requires a secure attachment to the wall. The range hood insert should be mounted at a height that provides optimal coverage for the cooktop. Typically, the bottom of the range hood insert should be 24 to 30 inches above the cooktop surface.

Island Range Hood Inserts

Installation of island range hood inserts requires a secure attachment to the ceiling. The range hood insert should be mounted at a height that provides optimal coverage for the cooktop. Typically, the bottom of the range hood insert should be 28 to 36 inches above the cooktop surface.

Downdraft Range Hood Inserts

Installation of downdraft range hood inserts requires careful consideration of the location and placement of the insert. Downdraft range hood inserts must be installed for proper venting and airflow. They are typically installed directly behind or to the side of the cooktop.

Maintenance and Care for Range Hood Inserts

  1. Range hood inserts come with various types of filters that require your regular attention. These filters trap grease, smoke, and other pollutants which can block the filters. They must be cleaned or replaced regularly to ensure proper ventilation.
  2. The exterior of the range hood insert should be wiped down regularly. This will ensure the prompt removal of any grease or dirt buildup. Use a mild cleaning solution and a soft cloth to avoid discoloring or scratching your range hood finish.
  3. If your range hood insert is ducted, make sure the ductwork is free of obstructions and properly installed. Any leaks or gaps in the ductwork can reduce the effectiveness of the ventilation system.
  4. The fan and motor of the range hood insert should be checked regularly. They are mechanical devices with moving parts so they require frequent maintenance to ensure they are functioning properly. It may be time to replace the fan or motor if you notice any unusual noises or decreased performance.
  5. Most range hood inserts come with built-in lighting, which is important for cooking and safety. Replace any burnt-out bulbs promptly to ensure adequate lighting in your kitchen.

Final Thoughts

Selecting and maintaining a range hood insert is an important aspect of kitchen design and function. Investing in a quality range hood insert that meets your specific needs and cooking habits is crucial. Homeowners should prioritize properly maintaining their range hood insert to ensure a safe, healthy, and comfortable cooking environment.