Ductless vs Ducted Range Hood | What’s the Difference?

One of the most essential things to consider when setting up a brand-new cooking range is going to be figuring out which type of range hood is the most effective, efficient, and convenient for you. However, there are 2 range hood options you must choose from, a ductless or ducted range hood.

A ducted range hood will gather cooking fumes and odors with help from a suction fan, then it will rapidly pass through a ducted vent system to the outdoors. Ductless range hoods will gather and filter cooking fumes but then recirculate that same air back into your kitchen. 

What are Range Hoods?

A range hood (or a vent/exhaust hood) is a canopy-style vent that hangs overtop of your range, with fans built in that are used to collect smoke, steam, and other fumes, as well as filter out anything that comes off the stovetop.

Range hoods are a vital accessory for any kitchen, no matter how often you cook from home. It can help to remove carcinogens and deadly toxins from the air, as well as reduce build-up of grime that can accumulate in the kitchen over time. This is why they are so important for keeping your kitchen cleaner and also the air within in it, a good range hood will make your cooking space safer and more comfortable.

What is a Ductless Range Hood? (recirculating range hood)

A ductless range hood is a type of vent that doesn’t need a duct to operate, instead it will recycle and recirculate the air rather than remove it from the environment. Ssince they are not attached to a duct, you can install them basically anywhere in your kitchen.

It operates by sucking in the odors, smoke, and soot with activated charcoal (or activated carbon filters), and recycling the air back into the kitchen. Since the filter and recycling process is so vital for ductless range hoods, the filter is going to need to be cared for regularly. It is widely recommended to change a ductless range hood filter at least two or three times a year to guarantee top-level efficiency and functionality.

All In all, ductless range hoods are the perfect choice for people who have limited space in their kitchen, or would just prefer to have the additional flexibility.

What is a Ducted Range Hood?

Whereas a ducted range hood is a type of range hood that uses the duct to suck in the dirty air/smoke, and pushes it outdoors. One downside to this design is that it can be difficult to install depending on the design of the kitchen, and offers less flexibility in terms of placement. Ducted range hoods will need a (you guessed it) duct in order to function properly, which will limit kitchen space. However, it will also be more effective at removing harmful gas, and are most commonly found in restaurants and high-end kitchens.  All in all, ducted range goods are the ideal alternative for people that are mostly concerned about removing the unwanted smoke, steam, or humidity, and don’t care about spending a little more to get it.

What Type of Range Hood is Best?

In order to make the perfect choice, you are going to need to fully understand the functionality of each type, as well as the certain pros and cons that each unit carries. Keep in mind that some homes are going to be better suited for certain types of range hoods, like if your home comes with a duct pre-installed, then you can easily install a quality ducted model.

However, if you do not already have a duct in your home, then you may want to opt to go with the ductless route because it will be much less expensive. Bear in mind that you will most likely be getting a range hood that is louder and causes more humidity by opting to go with a ductless range hood.

Ducted range hoods are best because instead of simply recycling smoke, odors, and fumes, you are fully removing them from your kitchen, which is removing the potentially harmful bacteria from the environment entirely.

When is it Better to Choose a Ductless Range Hood?

Ducted range hoods are not always best, especially if there is no duct available, or you need more flexibility in terms of placement. For the most part, people choose to install a ductless range hood when they currently have no ducting installed. Adding these ducts for a range hood would cost a significant amount of money.

You can expect to pay anywhere from 30-60 dollars per foot of ductwork, plus you may have to remove exterior siding and also drywall just to set it up. These projects quickly begin to add up.

You will often see people install ductless range hoods in smaller apartments and who need more flexibility as to where they can install the hood.

Often people won’t install ducted ranges because they don’t feel it’s necessary to spend the extra money because they only cook from home so often. Much of your decision is going to rely on lifestyle, and personal preference, as the amount you cook, how often you clean, and how much noise/humidity you can handle will vary depending on the individual.

The Pros and Cons of Different Range Hoods

Ducted Range Hoods


  • Quieter than ductless hoods
  • More efficient at maintaining air quality
  • Removes larger amounts of smoke, odors, soot, and harmful particles


  • Limited in terms of placement (needs ducting that leads to the kitchen from outside of the home)
  • More expensive (on average)

Ductless Range Hoods


  • Flexible to place anywhere
  • No ducting vents needed (more space-efficient)
  • Easier to install (no ventilation system)
  • Less expensive (on average)


  • Noisier than ducted range hoods
  • Makes the kitchen more humid (due to the recycling process)
  • Less energy-efficient (requires more fan power)
  • Harder to maintain (filters need to be cleaned and changed out consistently)

What to Consider Before Installing a Range Hood?

Consider the Cost of New Ductwork

The most important thing to consider before installing a range hood is how much money you’re going to have to spend on the installation process, as well as cleaning and maintaining the unit. This is especially important if you are considering a ducted range hood, because if your home doesn’t already come with a duct pre-installed, it could cost you more to install one rather than buying a brand-new ductless model.

The cost of ductwork is a major setback for people because the installation process can sometimes outweigh the cost of a brand-new ductless vent. Making it hard to justify spending the extra money, even while you will be getting a more efficient, and effective air ventilation system. So, take into account what you’re going to need to spend money on before you purchase the range hood, because the ductwork alone is often a large deterrent for people that are in the market.

The Location of the Range Hood

Another important factor to think about before installing a range hood is where you’re going to place the hood itself. This is going to shape your decision dramatically because if you are more limited in terms of space, or don’t have ducts pre-installed, then your decision has essentially been made for you.

Ducted range hoods are typically used in bigger environments like those found in commercial kitchens, restaurants, homes with gas stovetops, or higher-end households. This is because they are bigger, and more effective at pulling out all of the bad air, and removing it from the environment. Since ductless range hoods only recycle the filtered air, they typically work better in smaller apartments, or kitchen spaces. Consider where the hood should be placed for maximum efficiency, and where it will be the easiest to install, clean, and blend in with your kitchen’s aesthetic.

How Often You Cook

Also, consider how often it is that you actually cook because if you only are going to use the stove periodically, then you may not need to invest in a ducted range hood. However, if you are the type that enjoys cooking from home, and you know that you’re going to use the range for cooking a lot of the time, then your decision becomes easier.

In general, ducted range hoods are more effective at removing potentially harmful air pollutants, and are much quieter than ductless range hoods. But if you rarely use the range itself, then none of these factors are really relevant. If you only cook from home seldomly, the only logical choice would be to go with the less expensive, and more flexible ductless range hood.

Air Filtering Quality

The final point that you are going to want to consider before installing a range hood is the air filtering quality of the hood itself. If the effectiveness of the filtering process is your primary concern, then ducted range hoods are guaranteed to filter better. Ducted hoods are ideal for removing cooking odours, and heat from your kitchen, and they can also remove moisture from the cooktop with tremendous efficiency thanks to the powerful fan speeds. It’s often wise to think about what could be entering the kitchen’s environment from cooking when considering which of the two is best for you. Just keep in mind that the more effective the unit is in filtering out the bad air, the more expensive the unit will be as well. So, be sure to adjust accordingly based on your individual needs as a consumer.

What’s the Verdict?

In conclusion, to choose between a ducted range hood and a ductless range hood, you are going to have to take into consideration things like budget, location, convenience, and personal preference.

Taking everything into account, we believe that ducted range hoods are the better option for most people because they are more effective at removing harmful air particles, and maintaining air quality.

However, if you are limited in terms of where you can place the range hood, or you don’t want to spend as much (and are ok with the few side effects), then investing in a quality ductless range hood is a solid alternative.

Ductless range hoods are perfect for those who enjoy the additional flexibility, and don’t have a lot of space (or don’t cook very often) to need the maximum air ventilation. It’s perfect for those that don’t mind the slight increase in noise, and humidity, and occupy a smaller space that won’t produce as much dirty air, smoke, steam, or soot.

But if you already have a duct, and are ok to spend a little extra money, ducted range hoods are the more effective option of the two.