The placement of a range hood above your cooking surface and its capture area is a critical decision point when outfitting a new kitchen, or simply replacing your old, outdated, model for improved air quality. By determining the optimal height for your new hood, you can be confident that you are getting the best performance and reliability out of your new ventilation system.
Range hoods serve a critical purpose by ventilating fumes, and odors released during the cooking process, both from the food being prepared as well as the cooktop itself (in the case of a gas range). The proper positioning of your hood, in relation to the cooktop, ensures that it can keep your kitchen healthy, safe, and odor-free.
There are several factors you need to take into consideration when purchasing and installing a new exhaust system in your home. Obvious things such as the stove type; for instance, whether it is gas or electric will influence what height of the vent hood above the cooktop will be ideal for your setup both in terms of performance and safety.
Additionally, other less thought about items (not related to the height above the cooking surface) need to be factored in as well; the type of range hood ducting, the number of elbow bends and the optimum CFM (the airflow rate) that is required based on a combination of these factors. You can use my free online CFM calculator to determine what you need and learn more about what it means.
What Is the Typical Range Hood Installation Height?
In general, a typical mounting height for range hoods is 20 to 24 inches above the cooktop for electric stoves and 24 to 30 inches for gas stoves. Note that these are general averages and it is crucial that you look-up your range hood installation manual.
Other Factors to Consider
A point not taken into account by many is the ideal height in relation to the person most likely to be cooking. The last thing you need is a hood that gets in your way. You may want to keep it above eye-level and definitely not in a position where you'd knock your head. This is something you will most likely discover after the installation is complete, if not carefully considered beforehand.
Possibly the most important factor is the CFM, or cubic feet per minute, of the unit you will be installing. Depending on the capacity of your range hood, you may be able to install it at a farther distance or install it closer for less powerful models. Do not install lower than the recommended minimum height because the minimum height is defined by safety tests, whereas the upper limit is based only on performance.
The installation height is something that needs to be thought about both during the kitchen design and while shopping for a new range hood. Generally speaking, if you can remember to follow a few steps, you can make an informed decision.
- While shopping for a range hood go into the process knowing you will be searching for range hoods designed specifically for your cooking application, gas or electric. Every product tends to have slightly varying mounting recommendations. The range hoods themselves are not built differently for gas or electric cooktops, but limited space based on the minimum installation height may limit your options.
- When laying out your kitchen cabinets consider the amount of space you will need for your desired kitchen hood. If you are replacing an existing model with cabinets already installed, find out how much space you have available before you go shopping.
- Consider the CFM needed for your desired height. If you want to increase the distance between the cooktop and the bottom of the range hood, you are likely going to need an increased CFM. Some sources recommend adding 100 CFM for every 3 inches above the maximum recommended positioning.
It is always suggested to follow the manufactures' suggested installation procedures. By following the installation guidelines provided in the product manual, you can be assured that the kitchen hood is working at the peak efficiency it was designed for in addition to ensuring your warranty is not void.
If for some reason you must deviate from the recommended instructions, such as a space limitation, or simply because a lower hood is likely to get in your way, you will want to carefully consider the effect a change in distance will have.
At best, a machine installed at the wrong height is going to reduce the benefit you are hoping to receive, increasing the chance of particles, grease and oil buildup around your kitchen and surrounding cabinets, and an inability to remove odors created as a byproduct of cooking. The worst-case scenario is a fire if the hood is placed too close to the cooktop.
The height of the ventilation unit may seem like one of the less important things to consider when planning your kitchen exhaust/filtration system, but a bad decision can have lasting effects. Together with the capture area and its corresponding depth and the effective CFM, the installation height, in my opinion, are three of the most important factors when choosing and installing range hoods. Having the right duct size and shape is also important.
Range Hood Height: Some FAQs
What is the maximum height for a range hood?
There is no set maximum per law, every manufacturer suggests their own for a specific product and you should stay within their allocated range. This is typically up to 24 inches for electric stoves and 30 inches for gas stoves. Moving higher up than this reduces the effective CFM and therefore the efficiency of your range hood.
Can you vent a range hood down?
Yes, but you shouldn't. Doing this results in a lot of 90 degree turns in close proximity to each other and you are drastically increasing the CFM you would need to get the same job done had the venting been through a wall or the ceiling.
Some Additional Information
- When determining the position of range hoods the countertop height is irrelevant and you only need to take into account the recommendation of the distance from the cooktop (the burners) to the capture area of the hood.
- Whether you've got an island cooktop with a corresponding island hood or a wall backed stove and a wall-mounted range hood or under cabinet vent/hood is irrelevant when it comes to range hood height.
- It is highly suggested that your ductwork does not use an extendable duct. This over years of operation tends to collect relatively larger oil and grease deposits which could turn into a fire hazard. Please note that this is not a common occurrence, but definitely one to keep in mind. Also, some building codes require you to use rigid ducting for your kitchen ventilation for this very purpose.
- Keep in mind any building codes and the requirement of makeup air systems (required for CFMs above 400 in some municipalities).
- When the machine is placed at the optimum level and it is designed with a good capture area and the CFM is based on your cooking and exhaust needs it would capture grease droplets, exhaust carbon monoxide, smoke, and moisture in the form of steam. This is your end goal. In the case of a non-vented system, the charcoal filters would take care of the odor and some fine particulates.