Shopping for a vented range hood. Why is this so annoying?
June 7, 2007 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Looking for advice/reviews/comparisons/details on simple, inexpensive under-cabinet vented range hoods. Not interested in the luxury "home-improvement porn" design-y stuff. This is not a sexy appliance, and I don't need it to be. For pete's sake.

Relevant details:
* Gas stove
* Plenty of general ventilation/circulation: Ceiling fan, windows, and kitchen door
* Ductwork to vent to outside already in place (one of the few things salvaged from the previous incarnation of the kitchen)

I don't need a super-powerful hood to suck up every whiff of food – we love to cook and eat and don’t mind general cooking odors. I don't expect we'll use it all the time when cooking. The only reason we want a range hood at all is to help with grease and for certain smells we really would want to exhaust (frying in oil, after burning something, etc.)

I don't want to spend a lot of money on this thing. Went to my local Home Depot and Lowe's, but they both have one super-dinky $30 model, then shoot straight up to $150, then into the $500 zone. (I was thinking more like $70ish?)

I do want something that is reasonably easy to clean. I can't seem to find much in the way of comparisons or reviews, particularly on lower-end models.

Anyone love or hate their relatively cheap range hood?
posted by desuetude to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This may not be the solution you're looking for, but when I was researching this for my kitchen remodel I found that an inexpensive under-counter microwave with range hood built-in was the best solution. The venting is much better than the $30 model and it's only marginally more expensive than a similar microwave without the hood. The microwave was much bigger/nicer than my countertop microwave, so the combo was worth it for me.

You absolutely MUST vent it outside rather than re-circulating. Night and day.
posted by underwater at 11:41 AM on June 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am more than pleased with the Sears models. I’ve installed 2 at different homes. Although they run about $300, they are variable speed and very quite. Being such, I use it far more often than not. Additionally, with 2 lights you can select the level of brightness. I usually leave one (of smaller wattage) on as a kitchen night light if you will.

I was shocked at the cost when I initially shopped, but was pleased enough with the first, to buy the second.
posted by mrleec at 11:44 AM on June 7, 2007

You could buy direct from Nutone Sales (one of the largest makers of these things). Looks like they have a good selection of sizes and features in the under $100 range, and they have a "returns/open box" sale area, too, if you wouldn't mind those.
posted by paulsc at 11:48 AM on June 7, 2007

We were fussy when we redid our kitchen last year. The criteria for a range hood were:
- of course venting outside!
- powerful enough for smoky cookin (eg blackened catfish) or a 4-alarm Indian curry
- decently quiet at normal settings
- good filters that are easy to clean
- lights
- durable
- looks

We didn't see anything we liked for under $300. The unit we bought (Broan Elite) was around $450 and had all the above, plus some extras like dimmable light 4 fan speeds, delayed fan shutdown. We will have to use it for years, so i don't regret the purchase. I hate cheap crap that has to be replaced every 5 years.

if you can find a Sears outlet store, or a place that sells scratch-and-dent appliances, you might be able to score a good unit for 30 to 50% off.
posted by Artful Codger at 12:16 PM on June 7, 2007

Best answer: If I recall correctly, the Sears (Kenmore) units are manufactured by Broan. I've installed three over the last 5 years (both Broan and Kenmore-tagged units). Two of those were under $100 and they all worked very well. The one over $100 (about $120, if I recall correctly) was stainless, but otherwise identical to the less expensive units. I'd check Sears first (they always have sales going on) and then check online - Like here, at Amazon, where a number of the vented hoods (or convertible for vent/vent-free) are under $100.
posted by flyingrock at 12:43 PM on June 7, 2007

Best answer: One place I lived had a really cheap hood. I don't remember the model. It was noisy and on the inside I discovered that grease was dissolving the white paint it was painted with.

My current hood is a 3 speed stainless Broan that is fairly quiet and can move ~200 CFM, but I mainly run it on low. I think it was around $150. This was the minimal acceptable one I found locally. A really cheap hood will cause you to curse it.

Whenever you cook anything that involves fat or oil you should at least run the hood on low to avoid grease deposits on your kitchen walls.

I like deep fried squid, but squid grease smells particularly nasty, so I go to high for that.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 1:24 PM on June 7, 2007

A vent hood is worth spending some money on, in particular, venting it outside. If you can vent it outsid than you can get a nice over the stove variety by Broan or anyone else. You can get super high end if you are willing to take clearance which is how I got a very nice vent-a-hood. You can pick up one of the microwave with vent hood combos for less than 200 at appliance outlets.
posted by jadepearl at 3:08 PM on June 7, 2007

Just a comment: fan noise can be obnoxious, especially on cheaper hoods. I understand not wanting to have lots of bells and whistles or spend a ton of money, but if there's a single key feature, it should be the ability of the hood to do its job without driving you out of your mind. From personal experience, try to listen to the noise level of a floor model before buying. Our range fan (built into the bottom of the microwave installed by the previous owner, damn him!) has two settings, LOUD and JET PLANE ON FLIGHT DECK. And sadly, for all that noise it isn't even a very good fan. Paying more for less operating noise is a worthwhile consideration, IMHO.
posted by mosk at 3:16 PM on June 7, 2007

Fan noise - holy hell yes. Just moved into a place with a gas stove and microwave/hood combo. In addition to being a fabulously sucky microwave that can't even make popcorn without producing charcoal (seriously - goddamn thing was charred!) it has a handy "automatically turn on when the stove is warm" feature. Cannot be overridden. We can hear it running from the living room. We live very near a large airport. The fan noise on "low" drowns out the planes landing.

Buy a dedicated hood. Spend a little more than you think you wanted to (but not so much you're mad about it and resent purchasing it). The fan noise alone is worth it.
posted by caution live frogs at 9:11 PM on June 7, 2007

Response by poster: Clarifications:
* Zero interest in a microwave. I have a little one that we use for the twice a year that we want to microwave something.
* Definitely venting to the outside.

MonkeySaltedNuts and flyingrock, what is the sones rating for your hoods?
posted by desuetude at 6:49 AM on June 8, 2007

Best answer: My hood says Broan Allure on it. That site says 5.0 Sones for 220 CFM and 1.5 Sones for 110 CFM.

However they must have changed the model since mine was bought maybe 4 years ago. My model has 3 speed settings and 3 lamp brightness controls, not 2 for both as described there. More like the Alure II which is 300 CFM. However I looked inside the hood and there was a sticker saying LOW: .9 Sone 100 CFM, HIGH: 3.5 Sone 250 CFM, with no mention of the 3rd speed.

Anyway, at my lowest fan setting I sometimes can't hear the fan over cooking noise and am sometimes glad that there is an indicator light.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 8:11 AM on June 8, 2007

Best answer: I believe this is the one I got (in stainless, though). It's an "economy quiet" model rated at 4.5 Sones. Not silent, but livable, and better than the others, which were 6.5-7.0. We've sold the houses with all those range hoods and now we have a downdraft model. So, I don't have access to them, only my memory. :) Hope this helps.

IMO, if you want a less expensive range hood, get a decent brand (Broan, etc.) and the noise will be bearable and usually brief. Parts and filters are also easily obtainable. Good luck.
posted by flyingrock at 8:14 AM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: Anyway, at my lowest fan setting I sometimes can't hear the fan over cooking noise and am sometimes glad that there is an indicator light.

Not silent, but livable, and better than the others

Perfect -- that's the reassurance I needed. Ordered this Kenmore on sale for 99 bucks at Sears. Sounds like it's similar to what you two got -- 4.5 sones, variable speed, 200 CFM.
posted by desuetude at 9:28 AM on June 8, 2007

4.5 sones, variable speed, 200 CFM.

I hope it works out. One criteria I had in choosing a hood was that it was not 200 CFM but that it was over 200 CFM - to me that seemed to be the dividing line between crap from good because most of the bad and cheap units claimed 200 CFM.

For people who are not installing a hood themselves with a pre-existing vent the cost of the hood should be compared with the cost of say a contractor to hammer drill through a brick wall and install the hood and vent. It really sucks to install an annoying $100 hood if the installation costs are triple that.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 6:52 PM on June 8, 2007

Response by poster: Update: We liked the range hood just fine. Until the motor burned out.

Sears repair dept were jerks -- sent a guy out who was in a big hurry to finish up for the day and diagnosed our wiring as faulty, thus invalidating the warranty. Problem with this is that his diagnosis was wrong -- he saw the cord for the under-counter lights (connected to the same box as the range) and somehow thought that we were using a lamp cord as an extension cord. And there is no "second opinion" option -- the repair customer service manager pretty much told us to pound sand and that their experienced techs do not make mistakes. WTF?

Anyway, we just ordered a replacement motor for $30, which we can install ourselves. Pretty sure we just got a bad motor.

Annoying, but I don't regret getting the cheaper model -- same thing could'a happened with the expensive range hood.
posted by desuetude at 1:12 PM on May 18, 2008

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