What Is a Range Hood Insert? And How do You Choose One?

June 04, 2023 9 min read

Imagine a kitchen where a bulky range hood is absent, but the powerful ventilation needed to keep your kitchen air pristine is very much present. Okay, now shake off that imagination because I am telling you that beautiful scene can move from being an imagination into reality thanks to the range hood insert. 

Range hood inserts offer a sleek, sophisticated ventilation solution tucked discreetly beneath your cabinets or within a custom hood. But these nimble range hoods have been around for a while now, which means there are tons of options available. These diverse options make choosing the right range hood insert a tad bit overwhelming for the average buyer. But fear not because we are about to lift the lid, metaphorically speaking, and delve into the wonderful world of range hood inserts. But first, a simple introduction to range hood inserts. 

What is a Range Hood Insert?

A range hood insert is a kitchen exhaust fan that is installed inside a custom hood. They are not like standard range hood units and are just the ventilation part fitted inside a separate hood to work. Think of them like the engine of a car, and the custom hood is like the car body. The insert powers the suction of fumes and smoke to keep your kitchen clean and odor-free.

What is a Range Hood Insert?

Parts in a Range Hood Insert

Range hood inserts come with a variety of features that can make them more efficient and convenient to use in your kitchen. These features can include multiple fan speeds, lighting options, automatic shut-off, and more.

They also typically have several components, including a blower, filter, motor, ducting, sensors, and controls. Here's an overview of their functions.

Blowers

The blower is one of the most important parts of a range hood insert. It is the main part responsible for moving air out of the kitchen and requires adequate power to remove smoke and cooking odors effectively. Range hood inserts can come with different blowers, including internal or external options.

An internal blower is built into the range hood insert, while an external blower is located outside the kitchen and connected to the range hood insert through ductwork. External blowers are typically more powerful and quieter than internal blowers.

Filters

The filter is another critical part of a range hood insert. The filter captures and removes grease, smoke, and other airborne particles from the air, preventing them from settling on kitchen surfaces. Range hood inserts can come with different filters, including baffle, mesh, and charcoal filters.

Stainless steel baffle filters are popular for efficiently trapping grease and are easy to clean. Mesh filters are also effective at trapping grease but can be more difficult to clean. Charcoal filters are designed to remove odors and are typically used in recirculating range hood inserts.

Motor

The motor is a critical component of a range hood insert that powers the blower responsible for expelling air from the kitchen. It significantly influences the efficiency and effectiveness of the range hood insert in eliminating smoke, steam, and cooking odors.

Range hood inserts are equipped with various motor types, including single-speed, multi-speed, and variable-speed motors. Single-speed motors function at a fixed speed, while multi-speed motors permit adjustments to different fan speeds. Variable-speed motors offer the greatest flexibility, allowing a range of fan speeds based on the specific cooking activity.

Ducting

Ducting is essential to a range hood insert, as it carries the air and cooking odors from the kitchen and outside the house. The ducting typically consists of a metal or plastic pipe that runs from the range hood insert to the outside of the home, and it needs to be properly installed and sealed to prevent air leaks.

Lighting (Adjustable LED lights)

Range hood inserts frequently feature adjustable LED lights that can be directed to illuminate the cooking area brightly and efficiently. These LED lights prove advantageous for tasks requiring precise lighting, such as chopping vegetables or sautéing. Additionally, some range hood inserts come equipped with dimmer switches, enabling users to customize the light's brightness to their preference.

Touch control/ Dials

Range hood inserts commonly include touch controls or dials, providing users with straightforward means to adjust the appliance's speed and settings. Touch controls are usually situated on the front or underneath the range hood insert, activated with a simple touch of a button. Conversely, dials found on the front of the range hood insert are used to adjust the fan speed and lighting level. Both touch controls and dials deliver a convenient way to fine-tune the range hood insert's settings while cooking, and they remain easily operable even with wet or greasy hands.

Sensors

Sensors are an important part of modern range hood inserts and can be used to enhance the functionality and convenience of the appliance. One example of a sensor in a range hood insert is a heat sensor, which can automatically adjust the fan speed based on the temperature of the cooking surface. This ensures that the range hood insert operates efficiently and removes smoke and cooking odors as effectively as possible.

Another type of sensor found in some range hood inserts is a smoke sensor, which detects smoke and automatically triggers the fan to turn on.

Types of Range Hood Inserts

1. Under-Cabinet Range Hood Inserts

An under-cabinet range hood insert is a common type of range hood insert and is designed to fit seamlessly beneath a kitchen cabinet, effectively ventilating the cooktop or range. Made from durable materials, commonly stainless steel, these inserts are available in multiple dimensions and style variations. They are renowned for their space-efficient design, simple installation, and efficient operation, making them particularly suitable for kitchens with space constraints.

Wall Mount Range Hood Inserts

Another popular type of range hood insert is the wall-mounted range hood insert, which is installed directly on the wall above the cooktop or range and can be customized to match the style and décor of your kitchen. Wall mount range hood inserts come in various sizes, styles, and materials and can be designed to complement any kitchen design aesthetic. They are also typically quieter than under-cabinet range hood inserts due to their distance from the cooking surface.

Island Mount Range Hood Inserts

Island mount range hood inserts are designed to be installed over a kitchen island to provide adequate ventilation and lighting for cooking tasks. They come in various sizes, styles, and materials and are designed to be functional and aesthetically pleasing. They are also ideal for kitchens with a central island or peninsula, where traditional range hood inserts may not be practical.

Downdraft Range Hood Inserts

Downdraft range hood inserts, although less common, effectively extract air and cooking fumes downward through a duct system. These inserts are usually positioned directly on the cooktop or range and feature adjustable speed settings for tailored ventilation. They are well-suited for kitchens with a modern, minimalist design, as they can be customized to complement any decor style.

Factors to Consider Before Getting a Range Hood Insert

Consider a few of the following factors before purchasing a range hood insert for your kitchen. These factors will help you pick the best range hood insert for your custom hood.

1. Design/Size of your custom hood

Choosing a range hood insert requires careful consideration of your custom hood's design and size. The custom hood's dimensions dictate the appropriate size for the range hood insert. Ensuring that the range hood insert matches the custom hood is crucial – an undersized insert won't provide sufficient ventilation, while an oversized one will appear awkward and may not fit correctly.

2. Its filters

Note the type of filters and their maintenance frequency when choosing a range hood insert. Various filter options are available, including mesh, baffle, and charcoal filters. Mesh and baffle filters are usually made from aluminum or stainless steel, offering easy cleaning. In contrast, charcoal filters, which serve the purpose of odor absorption, are non-recyclable. The cleaning or replacement frequency depends on your cooking habits and style. Generally, it's recommended to clean mesh and baffle filters every 1-3 months, whereas charcoal filters should be substituted every 6-12 months.

3. Ducting

Ducting plays a pivotal role in the selection of a range hood insert. Ducting, in this context, refers to the ventilation system responsible for transporting cooking byproducts such as smoke, grease, and steam from your cooking area to the outside of your residence.

Begin by determining whether a ducted or ductless range hood insert suits your needs. Ducted range hood inserts are linked to an exterior vent, effectively eliminating cooking pollutants from your living space. But ductless range hood inserts use a series of filters to cleanse the air before recirculating it back into the room.

Also, note the length and number of bends in your ductwork because extended length or increased turns in the ductwork will require a stronger range hood insert to compensate for the added resistance.

4. Noise level

When selecting a range hood insert, it's important to consider its noise level. A range hood that produces too much noise can be a nuisance while cooking, especially in an open kitchen. Manufacturers typically specify the noise level of their range hood inserts in decibels (dB). The lower the decibel rating, the quieter the range hood insert.

It's essential to note that the noise level of a range hood can also depend on the quality of its construction and installation. A well-constructed and correctly installed range hood insert can produce less noise than a poorly installed or low-quality model, even with the same decibel rating.

5. Width of your cooking range or cooktop

Another important factor to consider when choosing a range hood insert is the width of your cooking range. The range hood insert should be at least as wide as your cooktop or range to ensure proper ventilation. If your cooktop is wider than the standard 30 inches, you must choose an appropriately sized range hood insert.

Additionally, suppose you have a large cooking surface, such as a professional-grade range with multiple burners. In that case, you may need a more powerful range hood insert with higher CFM to ensure sufficient ventilation. Measuring the width of your cooktop or range before selecting a range hood insert is essential to ensure it fits properly and performs effectively.

6. Heat output of your range

Consider your range's heat output when selecting a range hood insert. Heat output is usually measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). It's crucial to choose a range hood insert with ventilation power that matches your range's heat output. If the range hood insert lacks the necessary ventilation power to handle your range's heat output, it won't effectively remove smoke, grease, and odors from your kitchen. 

7. CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute) rating

When selecting a range hood insert, consider the CFM rating, which signifies the amount of air the hood can move in a minute and dictates its ventilation capacity. The CFM rating should align with your range's size and cooking output. A practical guideline is to have a minimum of 100 CFM for every 12 inches of the range. However, keep in mind that a higher CFM rating may lead to increased fan noise. Therefore, it's vital to strike a balance between ventilation power and noise level

8. Type of stove

When selecting a range hood insert, it's crucial to consider the type of stove you have. Different types of stoves generate different levels of heat and smoke, which can impact the effectiveness of your range hood insert. For instance, gas stoves generate more heat than electric stoves and thus require more powerful range hood inserts with an outer stainless steel housing.

It's also worth noting that the type of stove you have may impact the type of range hood insert you choose. For instance, downdraft range hood inserts are residential range hood inserts better suited for electric and induction stoves. On the other hand, large commercial kitchens with gas stoves, wall-mount, and island-mount range hood inserts are the recommended options.

9. Installation options

When selecting a range hood insert, consider the available installation options. Some inserts are suitable for under-cabinet installation, while others are designed for wall or island mounting. It's crucial to choose an insert that harmonizes with your kitchen's design and layout. Moreover, assess the installation process's complexity, particularly if you intend to do the installation yourself. Some models may necessitate professional installation, whereas those with ductless range hood inserts are more straightforward to install with basic DIY skills.

10.  Aesthetics

When choosing a range hood insert, aesthetics is important, as it affects your kitchen's overall look and feel. You can choose various designs and finishes to complement your custom hood or range hood liner. Some range hood inserts are designed to be hidden behind custom cabinetry, while others are meant to be displayed as a focal point. Additionally, some range hood inserts come with customizable options, such as interchangeable faceplates, so you can change the look of your range hood insert as desired

Benefits of Installing a Range Hood Insert

Range hood inserts offer several benefits for homeowners who love to cook. Here are ten benefits of using a range hood insert:

  1.    It helps remove smoke from your kitchen, making it a more pleasant environment.
  2.    Reduce cooking odors by venting them outside.
  3.    Enhances indoor air quality by eliminating harmful pollutants and particulates.
  4.    Safeguards kitchen cabinets from grease and moisture damage.
  5.    Adds value to your home, a sought-after feature for many homebuyers.
  6.    Conserves energy by decreasing the need for air conditioning and dehumidifying systems.
  7.    Prevents fire hazards by removing excess heat from your kitchen.
  8.    Available in different styles and design options, making it easy to find one that complements your kitchen's décor.
  9.    Provides additional lighting and illumination for your cooking surface.
  10. It helps reduce the cleaning your kitchen needs by constantly venting out cooking grease and debris.

    Final Words

    A range hood insert is a hidden ventilation system mounted inside a custom vent hood with all the benefits of a standard range hood. For a better definition, one can call range hood inserts the powerhouse of a range hood system.