Which Is Better for Your Kitchen Air: Custom Ductless Range Hoods or Air Purifiers?

March 13, 2023 9 min read

The kitchen is usually a source of delightful aromas, but occasionally, you get unfriendly smells from a cooked meal gone wrong. When your kitchen does not have the right ventilation, this can of course cause a problem. 

Some homes are simply too small for ducted ventilation. When space for ducted ventilation is insufficient, homeowners can opt for either a ductless range hood or else they can get an air purifier. Both are popular options for tight kitchen quarters

Read on to learn about the differences between ductless range hoods and air purifiers...

What are Custom Ductless Range Hoods

Custom ductless range hoods are kitchen ventilation appliances that help clean the air and improve the air quality in the kitchen but are not connected to exterior ductwork or pipes.

Instead of removing air from the kitchen and venting it outside, the ductless system uses internal filters to suck in air and clean it before returning the air to the kitchen.  They are air-recycling units and many have a preference for such systems. Ductless range hoods can also be custom range hoods, because while they are not ducted to the outside of a home, they are still custom made to order with ether wood, stainless steel, or other decorative metals.

They are recirculating range hoods often used in homes without ductwork or kitchens where adding one would be extremely costly. They are inexpensive tools that help eliminate fumes, smells, and steam in the kitchen.

Features of Custom Ductless Range Hoods

A custom ductless range hood operates like this: the suction venting fan kicks on, and the air is drawn into the vent hood from the intake grill, passing through the mesh or activated charcoal filter that traps or absorbs pollutants. The filtered air is then released back into the kitchen area, with the device continuously repeating this process.

Getting a range hood for your kitchen involves choosing certain features that fit your kitchen venting needs. There are several available ductless range hood design options, and their internal parts matter greatly. 

Here are the notable parts of a custom ductless range hood:

1. Custom vent hood

This is the outer shell of a ductless range hood that houses the range hood inserts. It is a very decorative part and can be bell-shaped, pyramid-shaped, or even in the shape of an upside-down T; the design possibilities are limitless. It can be made from wood, stainless steel, or other alloy metal and is usually situated above the cooking surface.

2. Range hood inserts

Range hood inserts are the powerhouse of any custom ductless range hood. They act as stainless-steel housing cases containing several significant parts, like the blower and motor.

The range hood insert rating determines the venting strengths (how fast a ductless range hood will rid the kitchen of pollutants) of ductless hoods, and the more capable your insert is, the quicker the air in the kitchen is cleaned.

3. Control panel

The control panel is found on the body of the fume hood of your range hood. It is usually where the stainless-steel push button or a digital touchscreen panel is located.

You can control the speed of the blower fan, the venting duration, and the lighting system from here. It is connected to a circuit board and acts as the nerve center of the entire system. The circuit board has all the electrical connections that allow the range hood unit to power up and function correctly.

4. Filter System

The filter system is a crucial cog in operating a ductless range hood, as it removes all pollutants in the air that are pulled in.

When air is drawn in, it is pushed through the filters, and all contaminants are deposited on the filter. Finding a mesh or charcoal filter is common, but some custom ductless hoods now use stainless steel baffle filters that can trap grease and oily particles.

5. Lighting

Most custom ductless range hoods have bright LED lights or Halogen lightingThese lights functions as an additional illumination source for the kitchen. They are often bright and usually energy-saving.

Pros of Using a Custom Ductless Range Hood

Using a custom ductless range hood has several significant benefits, as described below.

1. They are very cost-effective

With a custom ductless range hood, you get excellent value for every dime it costs. Most ductless range hoods can be bought and installed at an affordable price. They aid in keeping the cooking environment in good shape without requiring expensive renovations to the kitchen. They reduce the time and money spent on cleaning the kitchen by preventing the build-up of grease, dirt, and other pollutants.

2. Perfect for small urban apartments

Ductless hoods are the best range hoods for city apartments because they don't require much space. They efficiently eliminate cooking-related pollutants such as grease, smoke, odors, and harmful gases without requiring ductwork to be installed that leads outdoors.

3. Easy installation and maintenance

Installing a custom ductless range hood in your kitchen is relatively easy; the only complicated part is the elaborate fume hood. As no pipes or ductwork are needed, one or two HVAC technicians can finish the installation in little or no time and usually at a reasonable price.

Also, maintaining a ductless range hood is pretty straightforward. The ductless hoods' filter units are the most maintenance-intensive part because they often require regular cleaning or replacements of the mesh or charcoal filters.

4. Very eco-friendly

Custom ductless range hoods are environmentally friendly, as their use involves no outdoor emissions. Every bit of pollutant taken out of the kitchen air is either left on the mesh or stainless-steel baffle filters or absorbed by the charcoal filter instead of released outside. Ductless range hoods are also very energy efficient, with limited energy used in cleaning the air.

5. Adds a modern aesthetic touch to the kitchen

Custom ductless range hoods have very modern-looking and decorative fume hoods. They add an aesthetic, modern touch to the kitchen and can be a focal, attractive kitchen piece that boosts its general decor.

Cons of Using a Custom Ductless Range Hood 

The benefits of using a custom ductless range hood are evident from the list above, but there are some drawbacks to installing them, such as:

1. They have higher maintenance costs

The maintenance cost of a ductless range hood is quite steep, and these expenses can add up. It includes everything from the special maintenance needed for the external vent hood, which must be cleaned often to stay shiny, to the constant replacement of the carbon filters. Neglecting these maintenance tasks can adversely affect the effectiveness of the ductless range hood. 

2. Reduced Efficiency

All ductless range hoods rely heavily on their ductless hood filter systems to clean the polluted air. With each passage of polluted kitchen air, the pollutants are deposited on the mesh or charcoal filter, which clogs it up. This means that most ductless range hoods operate at a lower capacity most of the time because a smaller volume of air is cleaned at each pass. This reduced efficiency means it takes much longer to clear the kitchen air.

3. Less effective in high-ceiling kitchens

Ductless hoods are generally ineffective when clearing kitchen space with high ceilings. High-ceiling kitchen space means a larger volume of air, which can be problematic for most ductless hoods, especially if the fume hood is lower. Because the suction power of the ductless hood blower may not reach there, the high ceiling offers a suitable escape path for most pollutants.

4. Not ideal for high-heat kitchens

Most ductless range hood filters are mesh or charcoal, easily damaged when exposed to extreme temperatures. Since the filters do most of the air cleaning, a ductless range hood will be ineffective in kitchens where hot stir-frying and intense cooking happen. Homeowners with a gas stove will be well advised to get ductless range hoods with stainless steel baffle filters instead of charcoal or mesh filters.

5. Sometimes more noisy

A ductless range hood can make the kitchen space quite noisy. Most ductless range hoods include parts like blowers and motors that are loud, and that may become annoyingly noisy and irritating over time. Because they often need to be turned on while cooking, discussions in the kitchen may grow considerably louder.

What are Air Purifiers?

Air purifiers are portable appliances that remove pollutants from the air and are ideal for clearing the air in the kitchen.

They help eliminate minute pollutants that other types of ventilation miss. They effectively collect allergens, dust, and smoke particles that linger around the kitchen.

They are efficient at ridding the kitchen of contaminants and strong odors by drawing in contaminated air, passing it through several filters, and releasing the cleaned air back into the room. Most can be placed anywhere, mounted on the wall, or hung from the ceiling.

Features of Air Purifiers

The primary suction fan of an air purifier draws in polluted air, which is then cleaned by passing the contaminated air through a series of filters. After being filtered out of contaminants, a secondary fan returns the cleaned air to the kitchen.

Essential parts of an air purifier include:

1. Housing case

The housing case of most air purifiers is typically made of high-density polyethylene and high-impact polystyrene plastic. It covers the remaining components and is durable and highly unreactive plastic, capable of withstanding bangs and bumps.

2. Fans

An air purifier typically has multiple fan units. First, there is the primary suction fan and next there is the secondary expulsion fan. 

The primary fan acts like a suction pump as it draws polluted air into the filter section of the cleaner. In contrast, a secondary fan pushes the cleaned air out of the air purifier and back into the room.

4. HEPA and electrostatic filters

Two filters are commonly found in an air purifier: HEPA and electrostatic filters. 

HEPA filters are the regulatory-recommended primary filters that offer excellent air filtration features. They are disposable, high-grade particulate filters that remove 99.97 percent of pollutant particles from the air after multiple passes through them.

Electrostatic filters are secondary, reusable units that catch dust, pollen, and other airborne particles that the HEPA filter didn't get. They use the difference in electrical charge states to capture dust, pollen, and other airborne particles.

5. Control panel

The control panel has all the air purifier unit's dials, buttons, and controls. It is connected directly to an internal circuit board that holds all the electrical connections. You can start or stop the team and adjust the fans' speed from the control panel. It also houses a display unit that indicates the operational level of the device.

6. Sensors

The heat and air quality sensors are the significant sensors that control how the air purifier works. The heat sensor is calibrated to sense a rapid increase in the kitchen’s temperature. The air quality sensor detects contaminants, pollutants, or noxious gases in the kitchen environment.

The Benefits of Using an Air Purifier

Installing an air purifier in your kitchen comes with the following benefits:

1. They are perfect for eliminating microparticles

Microparticles are objects that range in size from 0.1 to 100 micrometers. They are tiny particles, with notable examples being dust, skin cells, dirt, and pollen. Because of their small size, they readily pass through the mesh filters and are not absorbed by charcoal filters in a ductless range hood. However, air purifiers use HEPA or electrostatic filters, effectively capturing these microparticles.

2. Removes strong odors

Air purifiers are very good at eliminating strong odors from the kitchen. Most air purifiers come with a carbon filter kit that absorbs gases and chemical odors. They also quickly remove pollutants from the air in the kitchen, which are often the cause of strong odors. They pull in lousy air, run it through a carbon filter kit that deodorizes it, and the clean air is returned.

3. Portable

One of the notable features of air purifiers is their size, which can be very useful in most kitchens. Air purifiers are usually compact and portable to be optimally located in the kitchen. Their small size also means they don’t take up much kitchen space and can easily be moved around.

4. Quiet operations

Air purifiers are one of the few kitchen appliances that don’t produce much noise. They are incredibly quiet, with noise levels as low as 23dB when the air purifier’s fans are maximum. They can be operational most times and won't be a noisy distraction when cooking.

Cons of Using an Air Purifier

Air purifiers are top-notch devices, but some annoying flaws and notable quirks tend to pop up when using them:

1. More easily damaged

Air purifiers are notoriously fragile and prone to malfunction. They tend to break down relatively quickly, often caused by various reasons. Its compact size means most of its internal components are close to each other, which can lead to several unintended faults. A common issue, for example, is material from the filters seeping into the fans and motors and inhibiting their movement.

2. Requires frequent filter change

When cleaning the air, air purifiers depend significantly on their filters, which tend to do a good job. The downside of that is that most HEPA filters have limited operational lifespans. This means the filters are often replaced, significantly increasing the device's maintenance cost.

3. Difficult to absorb large airborne particles

Air purifiers are typically very effective at removing small particles from the air. Their vent holes are small, and the particle-removal technology is designed for microparticles like dust. This makes them relatively ineffective with large particles. Since air purifiers can't pick up solid particles in the air, they aren't beneficial in most kitchens that generate large amounts of air pollutants.

4. Less eco-friendly

Using an air purifier in your kitchen has numerous negative environmental consequences. The major ones are the effects of using HVAC filters that are not recyclable or electrostatic filters that cause secondary pollution if they lose power.

Also, the ions produced using electrostatic filters react with oxygen in the air to produce ozone, which is dangerous at high concentrations.

Custom Ductless Range Hoods or Air Purifiers: Which is Best for Your Kitchen?

Choosing between a custom ductless range hood and air purifiers depends on which device's advantages fit your needs and which disadvantages you can live with.

Custom ductless range hoods are more powerful and have more functions, and those with stainless steel baffle filters can withstand extreme heat better. However, the mobility and flexibility of air purifiers, low noise, and the ability to clean smaller air particles should counterbalance this.