Ducted vs. Ductless Range Hood – Which Is Better and Why?

Kitchens have changed a lot over the years, and, today, there’s no need to make sure the cooking room has a generous window to evacuate all the smoke and the odor resulted from cooking, as more convenient methods have come to replace this practice. Thus, you can either install a ducted hood that can quickly evacuate the airborne particles or go for the best ductless range hood with a slim outline and fancy filters designed to keep the air fresh even when baking accidents happen. The only thing you’ll need to decide is the type of the unit, and here is where our article can prove useful.

In the paragraphs below, we will explain how the two types of hoods work, what advantages they bring, what downsides they have, and what you should consider when it comes to purchasing one for your home.

What Is the Difference between a Ducted and a Ductless Range Hood?

If you’ve ever been inside a professional kitchen, you may have noticed that the range hood seems to have a considerably large size compared with the one you have seen in people’s houses. This is because professional chefs are big fans of ducted models. These units need to be connected to a ducting system and use a fan to draw the odors, smoke, and even humidity from the kitchen and evacuate them outdoors.

Ductless models differentiate from the other type through the fact that they don’t require a ducting system. Therefore’ they are independent units that can be mounted in any place in the kitchen. So, how do they deal with the polluted air if they cannot dispose of it outside? The solution is quite simple and convenient for people who don’t have access to ducting. These models use filters (usually carbon filters) and a fan. The fan draws the air through the filter, which captures the smoke and odors, and then releases it back into the kitchen.

Ducted Models – Pros & Cons

As we have already mentioned, they are mostly used for commercial purposes, but it isn’t that uncommon to find them in homes as well. So, let’s take a look at their features and see what the benefits and the disadvantages are.

Why Pick Them?

  • They are more efficient in removing odor and smoke – as the air is released outside and not recirculated, the eviction is done faster, and, thus, they can deal with large quantities of steam and smoke in a shorter time.
  • They remove moisture – this is a big advantage as most kitchens tend to become good environments for mold due to a large amount of steam released during the cooking.
  • They are quieter – most users tend to find these models more silent, and an explanation could be that they don’t have to work as much as a ductless model to clean the air. In the end, the fumes are vented, not filtered.
  • Maintenance is easier – there’s no filter to deal with, so you’ll only need to wipe clean the unit every time you clean the range.

What Are the Drawbacks?

  • They must be installed near a duct exhaust system – you don’t have the luxury to mount them wherever they would fit or look best. Thus, you’ll have to think about your kitchen design and arrange the furniture so the range is close to the exhaust. In case you don’t have a duct system, you will have to add one, and this will generate extra expenses.
  • They are usually bigger – this will also impact the looks of your kitchen, and, in some cases, it may even be impossible to fit in a unit of this type.

Ductless Models – Pros & Cons

More at hand than their ducted counterparts, these models are more popular, and you will have bigger chances to find them in your friends’ homes. Let’s see where the convenience comes from, and if the downsides are important enough to make you reconsider.

Why Pick Them?

  • They are versatile – as they don’t depend on an exhaust system, you can basically install them wherever you consider it fit to do it. They are usually more compact and easy to handle.
  • They offer good performance – they may not reach the level of a ducted model, but if you are planning on using yours at home, then you can expect it to work flawlessly and remove all the smoke and dirty air. The filters are highly-efficient in containing not only odor but the tiny particles in smoke that are responsible for breathing illnesses.
  • They are easy to mount – you won’t need to pay a specialist to make the installation nor get your hands dirty trying to install them yourself. Plus, you won’t need to provide a venting system.
  • They are cheaper – most models come at a slightly smaller price. Plus, you don’t need to spend extra on workmanship when it comes to installation.

What Are the Drawbacks?

  • They tend to be louder – most users noticed an increase in decibels compared with ducted models, but most units produce a sound level that isn’t disturbing.
  • They require more maintenance – a few times a year, you will have to replace the filter to keep the unit working properly. This will also increase the cost of using it, but in most cases, the filters are quite affordable.
  • They don’t remove moisture – as the air isn’t vented, nor is the moisture, which tends to build up inside. Thus, you’ll need to find another way to maintain the humidity within optimal limits. AC could help. Or you can use a dehumidifier for better efficiency.

How to Choose the Right Range Hood

A side-by-side comparison can make your picking easier, as it isn’t about what each model has to offer but what you actually need. The configuration of your kitchen, along with the amount of cooking you are doing weekly, can play an important part in your decision.

Here are a few criteria you should follow:

  • The size of the range and the amount of cooking – if you are serious about your kitchen operations and have installed a huge range with a stove to allow you to cook multiple dishes at the same time, you’ll need a unit that can handle the pressure, and the ducted version is the best in this case.
  • Noise – trying to keep it quiet? Once again the ducted type is the answer. Plus, if your kitchen is big, its sound will probably even get unnoticed.
  • Exhaust system – if it is already present, you can install a model that can vent the air outside. On the other hand, in the absence of one, there’s no need to go through all the trouble to mount one. Just go with a filter unit.
  • Humidity control – the hood can be a good way to keep humidity under control, and the ducted model is better in this case, but, if the moisture stays high most of the time, you may need to install a humidity management system, no matter the hood used.
  • Maintenance – replacing a filter isn’t difficult at all. In fact, you will be done in 5, maybe 10 minutes. Nonetheless, if even this task seems difficult, go for a ducted model.
  • Versatility – if you are looking for a model that can easily fit any space in the kitchen or are a big fan of home remodeling, the filter model is definitely the one for you.


Not only a matter of taste but convenience, the right range hood can make a difference. A great model should be able to clean the air in the kitchen fast before it gets the chance to deposit on the walls, upholstery, your clothes, or your hair. No matter the type of unit you choose, it should also be powerful enough to cover the extent of your cooking while preserving a decent sound level. As shown, a ducted model will offer you both performance and quietness, but if you are looking for a versatile fit that can be installed quickly, we recommend picking a ductless unit.

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