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Do Range Hoods Have To Be Vented Outside? | Complete Guide

Range hoods in the kitchen are essential for keeping the kitchen SMOKE-FREE and maintaining good air quality within the home.

Do Range Hoods Have To Be Vented Outside

This is usually done by sucking smoke and blowing it out through an outside vent. But the big question is, "do range hoods have to be vented outside?"

Actually, it depends on the range hood you're using at home, specifically if it's a ducted range hood or ductless range hood.

But that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are still more things to consider when installing range hoods at home. Several factors would change the answer to your ultimate question: "do range hoods have to be vented outside?"

So keep reading, and we'll tell you everything we know!

Can You Install a Range Hood Without an Outside Vent?

Can You Install a Range Hood Without an Outside Vent?
© Homesthetics - Monica Hewitt

Do range hoods have to be vented outside? This is the most common question we get, especially among homeowners worried about spending too much time installing ductwork.

Here's a quick answer to this query: YES, you can install range hoods without an outside vent. But this is only when you go with DUCTLESS range hoods (a.k.a. recirculating range hoods).

Ductless range hoods don't need an outside vent or ductwork to do their job. Hence, it can be installed and used in any home and apartment.

Since you don't need to install ductwork, you can simply mount the ductless range hood to your wall, ceiling above the island, or under the cabinet.

But if there is no outside vent, where does the smoke go? We're certain you're also curious to know the answer.

As we all know, range hoods absorb smoke to improve kitchen ventilation.

Unlike a ducted range hood that sucks and blows the air off, ductless models utilize a carbon filter or mesh filters with activated carbon to clean the contaminated air.

Once cleaned, it will recirculate air back into your kitchen. This is the reason why ductless hoods are also called recirculating range hoods.

Ducted Range Hoods vs Ductless Range Hoods: The Differences

There are many key differences between ducted and ductless range hoods. These factors might alter your thoughts on which range hood you should get for your home.

To help you choose, let's make a ducted vs. ductless range hood face-off! Learn their differences here to help you choose the best range hood for better air circulation. 

Efficiency and Performance 

This is probably the most basic information to consider, and we've already discussed this in the previous section.

As we all know, a ducted range hood is a type that requires a vent/duct. It absorbs the smoke and expels it through an external vent.

A ductless range hood, on the other hand, doesn't need a vent to clean the air. Instead, it uses layers of carbon or charcoal filters to cleanse the air.

Performance-wise, vented range hoods are more efficient in cleansing kitchen air, promoting better airflow and air quality in the home.

This is because it eradicates cooking odors and cooking fumes, unlike recirculating range hoods that recycle the "cleansed air" back.

Frequency of Use

Regarding the frequency of use, ducted range hoods work better if you're likely to spend a lot of time cooking. If you're looking forward to long hours in the kitchen, vented range hoods are the way to go.

This is also the case if you're using a gas range at home and are likely to do high-heat cooking, grilling, and deep-frying.

This is because vented range hoods are MORE EFFICIENT in removing smoke, cooking fumes, and odor.

But, if you're not fond of cooking, a recirculating hood should suffice for your needs. This is also true if you're utilizing electric stoves because these produce less heat, thus producing fewer fumes from burning gas.


As for the price, ducted hoods appear to be MORE EXPENSIVE compared to ductless hoods.

The price likely varies depending on the size and materials of the ducted hood you wish to buy. Installing ductwork would also add to the cost if ducting is not yet available in your home.

But, despite its pricey initial investment, the ongoing cost to maintain ducted hoods is minimal.

On the other hand, ductless hoods are more expensive in the long run because you need to replace the mesh or charcoal filter from time to time.


If you're living in a small home or apartment, you are free to choose from ducted and ductless models. However, if you have a massive kitchen, the only option is vented range hoods.

A ducted range hood size is customizable and can fit in tight and wide spaces. On the contrary, a ductless range hood follows a more STANDARD SIZING and better suits small houses.

Why a Ducted Range Hood is Better than Ductless Range Hoods
© Homesthetics - Monica Hewitt

Why a Ducted Range Hood is Better than Ductless Range Hoods

There are many reasons why a ducted range hood works better than a ductless model. But for this article, let's sum it up into four:


For one, ducted hoods are more versatile than ductless hoods. These allow you to work with different types of cuisine, as they efficiently remove smoke and grease in the home while you're cooking.

You also have to worry less when slow-cooking dishes because a ducted hood can suck up the dirty air and prevent grease buildup compared to recirculating hoods.


A ducted or ductless hood is an excellent investment, ideally lasting up to 10 years. However, a ducted one is more practical if you're looking forward to CUTTING COSTS.

Price-wise, a ducted hood is more expensive upfront. But, on the flip side, it is more cost-effective than a recirculating range hood in the long run because it's cheaper to maintain.

You'll only need to purchase a replacement hood if your current range hood is already worn out to ensure that it has enough power for maximum efficiency.

Easy to Maintain

As previously mentioned, most range hoods ideally last up to 10 years. However, in terms of maintenance, a ducted hood is much better than a ductless hood.

With ductless hoods, you'll need to replace the charcoal filters, along with the mesh and baffles filters, after a few months.

Additionally, since ductless hoods have less energy and power, they can easily capture grease and oil and might build up quickly on the surface.

On the contrary, a ducted vent hood efficiently removes and expels the contaminated air through a duct. Hence, you don't need to clean it as often.

Powerful Performance

A ventless hood can only produce up to 600 CFM, unlike ducted hoods that can be as powerful as 2000 CFM. Hence, if you wish to have a more reliable kitchen hood, invest in a higher CFM range hood.

Avid cooks who are likely to use gas stoves over electric ones might need to take advantage of powerful range hood inserts to keep the kitchen air clean.

Should I Replace My Ductless Range Hood with a Vented Range Hood?

You must consider many factors before replacing your recirculating range hood with models that are vented outside.

You should consider your budget, kitchen layout, building codes in your state, and contaminant build-up. Allow us to discuss each.


Remember that in every home renovation project, you'll need to spare some cash to materialize the plan. If you're using a recirculating hood, you'll need to install ductwork at home, costing around $200 to $500.

The price depends on the size, material, and complexity of the installation.

Kitchen Layout and Building Codes

Electric work or studs in the wall might make it difficult (or even impossible) to install a vented hood. You have to ensure that there are NO OBSTRUCTIONS to the site where ductwork must be installed.

Additionally, certain areas won't allow installing a ducted vent hood. In most cases, apartment complexes prefer ductless hoods over ducted ones, unlike residential areas.

To help you with this, ask a contractor if your area is suitable for a vented range hood.

Contaminant Build-up

If there is too much grease that builds up near heat sources over time or cooking odors are not eliminated efficiently, it's likely that your range hood is NOT powerful enough.

In cases like this, ductless hoods wouldn't suffice in maintaining clean air. So, switching to ducted hoods is more ideal.

Do Range Hoods Have To Be Vented Outside FAQs

  • Here are some related questions you might also ask regarding our topic:

  • How Do I Convert a Ductless Hood into a Ducted Range Hood?

    YES, but on a case-to-case basis. Convertible hoods feature a port to install a duct that can be vented outside.

    Some models have an opening that allows you to easily connect the duct any time you want, while others feature removable panels.

    On the other hand, you can turn your vented hoods into ductless ones with a recirculating kit, which includes a stainless steel vent and charcoal filters.

  • Do Range Hoods Have To Be Vented Outside conclusion
    © Homesthetics - Monica Hewitt


    A kitchen hood is an essential appliance to maintain clean air at home, as it helps eliminate hot air, odor, and harmful pollutants, like formaldehyde and carbon monoxide.

    While choosing between one type over the other is quite confusing, you must understand that both have advantages and disadvantages.

    We suggest you choose the one that suits your needs, budget, and home situation. Always consider these essential factors before deciding the best model for you.