If you want to find the best ductless range hood that recirculates air, you are in the right spot!
In this guide, you'll learn:
- How ventless range hoods work
- The different types of ventless kitchen hoods (pros and cons)
- The top 4 ductless range hoods for your kitchen
- And much more!
Over my career as a home inspector, I have tested hundreds of different ductless range hoods.
Many times when I inspect a home, the ventless range hood doesn't even have a charcoal filter. The activated charcoal filter always has to be installed with a recirculating range hood!
Some ventless range hoods are terrible at exhausting cooking fumes, but others do a great job and look fantastic. That's why I made this list of ventless range hoods to save you frustration!
Below is a shortlist of our top products. Keep reading to learn more about how to choose and use the best ductless range hood. Let's go!
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Our Overall #1 Rated Pick
Our overall top pick for the best ductless range hood goes to the Broan-Nutone 413004 because it is designed only for ductless installation from the start.
The great thing about this vent hood is that it already comes with the activated carbon filter!
The carbon filter is always a necessary part of ductless range hoods and it filters out the smoke and chemicals from cooking. There is a simple rocker switch for the two fan speeds and another switch for the lighting.
It is the best ductless range hood with charcoal filter if you don't have a vent!
What Are The Best Ductless Range Hoods?
In a hurry? Check out our top 4 ductless range hoods! Keep reading to discover more about our top picks.
Top 4 Best Ductless Range Hoods Reviewed
(Best Ductless Under Cabinet)
If you want a no-fuss ductless range hood, you can't go wrong with this one!
One problem with most range hoods is that they aren't designed for solely ductless installations — you have to make some adjustments if you want a ventless install.
But the Broan-NuTone 413004 was made for ductless from the start and already comes with the charcoal filter!
The filter is a combination aluminum mesh and charcoal filter that will capture smoke and grease even if you don't have a duct.
You can control this 30-inch Broan ductless range hood with a simple rocker switch for the two fan speeds and another one for the light. The light is for a 75-watt incandescent bulb and you will have to purchase a bulb separately.
Another thing to note is that this ventless range hood is designed to be hardwired. If you want to plug it into an outlet, you will have to buy the plug conversion kit HCK44.
Check out this Broan ductless range hood! It is the perfect ventless range hood that is installed underneath a cabinet and already comes with the charcoal filter.
They have a few different models and styles for this ductless hood:
- Colors such as stainless steel, black, bisque, white, and biscuit
- A variety of widths like 30-inch, 21-inch, 24-inch, and 36-inch
After having inspected so many of these Broan-NuTone hoods, I can say that they are the 'tried and tested' range hoods across the U.S. It is the #1 best ductless range hood with charcoal filter.
(Best Ductless Look)
If you want a great looking ductless range hood, you can't beat the Cosmo 5MU30.
Probably the best feature of this Cosmo under cabinet hood is that it looks fantastic! It has a slim design that tapers towards the front — and it has a distinctive European look.
This 30-inch range hood is convertible so that it can be installed ventless or vented, but you have to purchase the carbon filter and it is not included (buy the carbon filter # CFK4 here).
The body of the hood is made out of 430 grade stainless steel and a 20-gauge thickness. This compact range hood will be great for apartments, condos, or smaller sized kitchens. It comes in a 30-inch model as well as a 36-inch model (5MU36).
This 30-inch ductless range hood comes with 3 fan speeds, push button controls, and 65-decibels on high speed. It comes with energy efficient LED lighting (3-watts) for extra cooktop illumination.
The filters are made out of aluminum mesh and are multi-layered which helps capture more grease. It is also nice that the filters cover a large portion of the underside of the hood, which helps capture more smoke and fumes.
(Best Ductless Insert)
If you are looking to make your own custom cabinet, then the IKTCH is a great option that can be used ductless.
Ductless range hood inserts are a type of vent hood that is 'inserted' into a cabinet, custom enclosure, or a wood hood shell.
The charcoal filter that is needed for a ventless install is already included with the purchase, but you can find replacement filters here.
The top of the insert is where it is vented so if you use a custom wood hood, the top will need to be kept open where it vents so the air can recirculate back into the kitchen.
This 30-inch ductless range hood insert has a powerful motor and it is rated at a very high 900-cfm which is great if you want to convert it to ducted in the future.
It comes in a 30-inch, 36-inch, and 42-inch models. The hood has 4 speed settings, and in regards to noise, it is rated at 65-decibels on maximum speed.
One unique feature of this IKTCH convertible range hood is that it has gesture control!
Basically, you can increase or decrease the fan speed by moving your hand across the front of the stove hood.
(Best Ductless Wall Mount)
Wall mount range hoods can also be installed as ductless and the Cosmo 63175S is a great looking pick.
This stainless steel hood has a buttonless control panel that is backlighted and comes with permanent stainless steel baffle filters!
The 63175S by Cosmo is a convertible ductless range hood, which means it can be made to be non-ducted with the additional purchase of a carbon filter kit #CFK1-TM on Amazon.
This 30-inch ductless range hood on Lowes is a bit more expensive but already includes the carbon filter.
The carbon filter kit comes with two carbon filters, and one carbon filter gets screwed onto each side of the motor. The top of the chimney needs to remain open (it isn't visible) so that the air can get recirculated back into the kitchen.
This ductless hood is rated at 380-cfm, 30-inches wide, and it comes with three different fan speeds.
The Cosmo wall mount range hood comes with two energy efficient LED lights, and they are 2-watts each.
What Is A Ductless Range Hood?
A ductless range hood is a special type of range hood that recirculates filtered air back into the kitchen.
Most ductless range hoods are also known as convertible range hoods because they can be installed either as vented or ventless.
The range hood only becomes ductless when an activated charcoal filter (and grease filter) is installed onto the vent hood. The activated charcoal is a highly porous substance that captures smoke and cooking fumes that usually go to the outside.
What Are The Different Types of Recirculating Range Hoods?
Ductless Under Cabinet Range Hoods
The most common type of range hood that is used as ductless is the under cabinet.
Under cabinet range hoods are installed underneath the upper cabinet that is above the cooktop or gas range.
When it is used as a ventless install, the air is recirculated back into the kitchen through vents at the top or sides of the hood.
- Cooking fumes and smoke are recirculated back into the kitchen through the front or side vents (rather than up top through a cabinet)
- Installation is very easy and it is simply secured to the wall joists and upper cabinet
- Some homeowners don't like the appearance of a hood sticking out from underneath the cabinet
- These range hoods are usually lower powered and smaller
Read Also >> How To Install An Under Cabinet Ventless Range Hood?
Wall Mount Ductless Range Hoods
Wall mounted ductless range hoods are installed on the wall and have a vertical chimney.
The chimney usually has a rectangular shape and it can go upwards a few feet or even all the way up to the ceiling.
Many people like the appearance of wall mount range hoods and they are a great option if you don't have cabinets around the oven.
- Wall mount range hoods are usually much more powerful than under cabinet hoods. So if you plan on installing a duct in the future, wall mount hoods are a great option that are convertible from ductless to ducted.
- Wall mount range hoods have a nice look and can be a focal point of the kitchen
- When installed as ductless, the exhaust is usually recirculated back into the kitchen through the top of the chimney. It shouldn't terminate very close to the ceiling or stains will likely form.
- Wall mount range hoods are more difficult to install than under cabinet hoods.
Read Also >> How To Install Wall Mount Range Hoods?
Insert Ductless Range Hoods
Insert ductless range hoods are perfect if you want a custom cabinet with your range hood. If you want the range hood to exactly match the wood of your cabinets, you can do that with an insert.
Inserts are installed into a custom cabinet or wood hood.
Range hood inserts can have a cabinet above it, but usually there isn't an upper cabinet.
- You control the exterior appearance by making your own wood/metal enclosure for the range hood. You can also buy custom 'wood hoods' that the insert goes into.
- Insert range hoods are usually more powerful and larger than the average under cabinet vent hood
When installing a ductless insert, they usually vent on the top of the hood, so if there is an upper cabinet, you will need to cut a hole. It can also leave some grease residue behind in the cabinet.
Read Also >> What Are The Best Range Hood Inserts?
How Do Ductless Range Hoods Work?
Ductless range hoods work by recirculating cooking exhaust back into the kitchen rather than to the exterior.
The main difference between recirculating range hoods and ducted range hoods is that ductless hoods have activated carbon filters. The activated carbon filter helps to remove smoke and fumes before it is recirculated back into the kitchen.
Ductless range hoods also have a layer of aluminum mesh filters or stainless steel baffle filters which captures cooking grease. While stainless steel baffle filters are permanent (and dishwasher friendly), aluminum mesh filters and the activated carbon filters have to be regularly replaced at least every few months.
If you cook a lot, you may need to replace the filters even more often.
Read Also >> How To Vent A Range Hood On An Interior Wall?
What Is A Convertible Range Hood?
Convertible range hoods can be installed either as ducted or ductless at the preference of the homeowner.
If it is installed as ductless, a charcoal filter is required, and you may need to close off one or two of the vent holes. You need to make sure that the airflow isn't block and that it is being recirculated back into the kitchen.
How Do Ducted Vs Ductless Range Hoods Compare?
Ducted range hoods will always be superior to recirculating range hoods.
In fact, virtually all new buildings and houses are built with ducted range hoods.
But sometimes it doesn't make sense to install a ducted range hood in an older home, older condo, or if you have to move the range. Some kitchens will require a major renovation just to install a ducted range hood.
A ductless vent hood isn't as good, but it will get the job done and remove grease and smoke from the kitchen air.
Read Also >> How Do Ductless Range Hoods Work?
How To Pick The Best Ventless Range Hood?
Picking the best ductless range hood really depends on your kitchen size, cooktop, preferred hood style, and a few other factors. Below are some essential buying considerations for ductless kitchen hoods:
Verify That It Can Be Used Ductless
Homeowners should always verify that the range hood can actually be used in a ductless installation.
Most kitchen hoods are convertible from ducted to non-vented with the addition of a charcoal filter but you will need to verify it with the manufacturer.
Hood Size Or Width
The hood size is an essential buying consideration when shopping for a ductless vent hood.
The width of the range hood should at least match the width of your cooktop or gas range and the most common size is 30-inches.
But if you can buy a range hood that is a few inches larger on each side, then it will do an even better job of capturing smoke, fumes, and water vapor.
Choosing The Filter
Homeowners can choose between stainless steel baffle filters and aluminum mesh filters for recirculating range hoods.
Stainless steel baffle filters are known as permanent filters and effectively capture cooking grease. Aluminum mesh filters are also grease filters but they are not permanent and need to be regularly replaced.
Besides the grease filters, all ductless range hoods need to have an activated carbon filter which filters out the smoke and cooking fumes.
Selecting The Range Hood Power Or CFM
Range hood power is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute) which tells you how much it can exhaust in 60 seconds.
Ductless range hoods usually have a lower CFM rating that the average range hood and sometimes they are even unrated. CFM is less important for ductless range hoods since they aren't exhausting to the outside.
However, if you plan on renovating the kitchen in the future and installing a duct, you should buy a properly powered range hood at the start.
The recommended CFM for wall mounted or under cabinet installations is 100-cfm per linear foot. So if you plan on installing a 3-foot wide (36-inches) range hood, multiply it by 100-cfm (if installed on the wall) which will give you a recommended 300-cfm for your stove hood.
Ductless Range Hood Noise
All range hoods make a decent amount of noise, but if you want a quiet range hood, you will need to look at the decibel rating.
Decibels is a measurement of loudness, and a quiet range hood is rated at 65-decibels or less when on high speed.
Since you are buying a ductless range hood, you can opt for a lower CFM range hood which will also reduce noise.
Read Also >> What Is The Venting Code For Range Hoods?
How To Install A Ductless Vent Hood?
Ductless range hoods are installed in a very similar way to ducted range hoods.
The main difference is that there isn't a duct to the exterior so it dramatically reduces the work involved. The ductless range hood will need to be secured directly to the wall studs. If you install it on drywall, it probably won't take the weight.
Also, you need to make sure that the proper vents are closed or open for a ductless install so that the air is recirculated back into the kitchen. Some ventless range hoods even have a switch that needs to be manually activated.
Homeowners will need to take into account the height of the existing cabinet and the minimum distance from the cooktop to the bottom of the kitchen hood.
Depending on your manufacturer, the distance from your range will usually be at minimum 24 to 30 inches.
The closer the range hood is to the cooktop, the more effective it will be.
If you plan on installing a wall mount or island range hood, you will need to verify that the size of the 'chimney' will fit with your kitchen ceiling but most chimneys are adjustable.
For vent hood inserts, you need to verify that it will fit into your existing cabinet or make sure you have a custom cabinet enclosure that will match the insert.
Read Also >> How To Vent A Range Hood Through The Wall?
Frequently Asked Questions
How Effective Are Ventless Range Hoods?
Ductless range hoods are effective at capturing grease, smoke, and smells but they will never be as good as ducted range hoods.
Ventless range hoods will do the job, but if it is possible to install a duct, we always recommended.
Recirculating range hoods though are great for older homes, condos, or apartments where installing a duct just isn't possible or it would require a major renovation.
How Does It Work?
Recirculating range hoods are designed to have the exhaust recirculate back into the kitchen. A duct to the outside isn't needed with a ductless vent hood.
It is important to make sure that the vents aren't blocked and that there is an activated carbon filter and grease filter installed.
How Is The Performance?
Ducted range hoods will always be better than ductless vent hoods. That being said, ventless range hoods will get the job done and capture smoke, grease, and smells.
Sometimes it just doesn't make sense to install a ducted range hood and would require an expensive kitchen renovation.
What Is The Purpose of a Recirculating Range Hood?
The purpose of a ductless range hood is to filter cooking smoke, fumes, and grease without using a duct to the exterior. Ductless range hoods are common with apartments, condos, and old homes. Older properties weren't required to have exterior ducting for range hoods, and they are usually exempted from modern building code due to age.
Even though ducted range hoods are always preferable, sometimes you just can't get around the need for a ventless range hood.
You may have an older home or condo where a duct would require moving the range or doing a renovation. Sometimes a ductless range hood that isn't required to go to the outside is just simpler, easier, and it gets the job done!
The most important thing is to make sure that the range hood has an activated carbon filter. The carbon filter removes the smoke and fumes from cooking that is normally sent to the exterior.
You will also have to replace it at least every few months depending on how much you cook.