Range hood installation is one of the last steps in any kitchen project. Congratulations! If you’re getting ready to take delivery of your new range hood, you’ll be cooking in no time.
But a range hood is one of the trickiest kitchen appliances to get right. Even when you’re working with an expert, there are so many factors to consider that it’s leave something out or get it wrong.
That’s why we’ve put together this pre-installation questionnaire. Before your range hood arrives, you’ve got time to double-check all the details and ensure you ordered everything you need. It’s actually hard to know all these answers in advance—that’s why we recommend confirming the details now.
Read on to save yourself valuable time and money.
Pro Tip: Our comprehensive range hood buying guide covers ventilation terminology, different hood types, and more.
1. Did you order a blower (aka the motor)?
Most decorative range hoods don’t come with a blower, the internal motor that powers the airflow. There’s a good reason why: Stoves that are the same size can have different levels of cooking power, which means that your blower needs a different power level, too. Manufacturers want to give you the flexibility to mix and match, so you get the size range hood and power blower you need. Plus, different municipalities have differnet motor size requirements. In New York, a 36-inch cooktop and range hood might need a different power blower than is required in Florida.
Almost all high-end range hoods have multiple selections for a blower.
Pro Tip: Check your invoice or ask your salesperson to verify that you’ve ordered the proper matching blower.
Some hoods come with an internal blower, but many don’t. Here are blower types.2. Did you decide how to install the blower?
This is a question you should bring up with your contractor and your appliance salesperson, but ultimately the decision’s actually up to you. The same blower can get installed three different ways, and each has its pros and cons:
- Internal Blower: In this case, the blower’s housed inside your range hood. We like to recommend this installation method since it’s the simplest and it gives you the most powerful ventilation. Most people opt for an internal blower. The only downside? It can be loud.
- External Blower: You can opt to place the blower outside your house (or on your roof). The upside is that you’ll minimize the noise in your kitchen. But an external blower is inherently less powerful because it’s farther from where you’re cooking, and it can look like an eyesore on your home’s exterior. It also needs to be set up properly for winter conditions; otherwise, it can be a conduit for cold air to seep into your house. And you’ll need to take extra measures to fireproof it. All this can get complicated.
- Inline Blower: This installation method positions the blower in your attic or crawl space, between where you cook and where the ductwork vents to the outside of your home. Inline blowers are hard to install and service. We don’t recommend this option.
3. Are you venting out or recirculating?
Your vent hood and blower can be attached to duct work that release air from your kitchen outside your home, or those fumes can flow through a recirculating kit that cleans the air of grease and odors and releases it back into your kitchen. Either way, you need to make sure there’s space for all the components.
If you’re planning to vent out, double check with your contractor to make sure you’re set up to do that.
If you opted for a recirculating system, make sure there’s space to accommodate the recirculating kit in addition to your range hood and blower.
Venting out vs recirculating4. Do you have horizontal or vertical venting?
Now here’s a question you might not know the answer to offhand, especially if you’re replacing an existing range hood. But it’s important to find out if you have horizontal or vertical venting before your new range hood arrives, to make sure it’s compatible.
Double check your invoice or ask your salesperson to confirm that the hood you ordered can accommodate the type of venting you have in your home. Not all range hoods can vent in both directions. When in doubt, match your contractor’s plan to the range hood’s specifications.
Vertical vs horizontal venting5. Did you measure the distance between your range hood and cooking surface?
Your range hood needs to be close to your cooking surface to do its job well. Too high, and it can’t capture all the grease, odors, and fumes. However, you don’t want it to be so close that it burns and/or melts. (Yep, that can happen.)
Here’s the rule of thumb: In general, you want your range hood to hang 32 to 36 inches above your cooking surface.
That can vary depending on the BTUs of your burners and the power of your hood. For instance, commercial-style ranges require pro-style range hoods that can withstand the heat emitted.
Pro Tip: *That 32-to-36-inch guideline is ideal for gas cooking surfaces, which emit excess heat and fumes. Electric and induction cooktops, which transfer heat directly to the pot and emit less fumes, don’t have to be as far away. If you’re going with electric or induction, you have more flexibility. Each hood & cooktop brand may have their own guidelines – verify specifications in your product manual.
Range hood manufacturers also specify the ideal distance from different cooking surfaces for each model. Make sure to read the product manual for yours, and confirm the distance with your contractor and installer.
Now, some people might disagree with the recommendations because they want a certain look or prefer not to have the hood at their eye level. We’re all different heights, so the specific placement of your hood might depend on what the chefs in your household want.
Another consideration: If your range hood is placed lower, you might need an extension to connect it to the vent hole and ductwork.
Obviously, there’s a lot to think through here. It’s smart to do it now because you don’t want to receive your hood only to find out that you need additional parts to install it properly.
The height of your hood can be a little detail that nags at you later. You don’t want to whack your head on it—or have a kitchen that gets smokier than you’d like.
6. Are you getting a hood insert?
Custom-built wooden and decorative range hood covers are really popular right now. The mechanism that fits inside these shells is called a hood insert, and the dimensions of the insert need to match those of the opening in your hood.
Check these dimensions with your cabinet maker or designer and with your appliance salesperson to confirm that everything matches up. Kitchen designs change, and it can be easy to forget to take new measurements into account.
Getting an insert that won’t fit in your final hood is a common mistake.
Verify the dimension of your hood insert against the opening in your decorative cabinets.7. Is your ductwork ready?
We’ve had delivery and installation teams show up with a customer’s new range hood only to find that they haven’t had the ductwork installed. They thought that we were going to take care of it—and we don’t blame them.
It’s confusing to keep track of who does what when you’re renovating your kitchen, especially if you haven’t done it before.
You need a licensed HVAC pro with expertise to install ductwork for your range hood. That needs to happen before we arrive with the parts.
8. Are the ductwork connections ready too?
Your contractor needs to know what type of range hood you’re getting to prep the connections properly.
For example, if you’re venting to the outside wall, you’ll need a wall cap. If you’re venting to the roof, you’ll need a roof cap.
You might require an adapter to fit the range hood opening to the ductwork. Do you have 6-inch, 7-inch, 8-inch, or 10-inch duct? (The standard size is 7 inches, but a range of diameters is possible.) Some range hoods come with round connections; other ones have rectangular connections. Compare the opening of the ductwork with the duct opening of the range hood.
A damper is another potential component you might need if you’re venting to the exterior of your home and want to stop outside air from getting in. When you turn on your hood, the damper will open to let out the air; when you turn it off, the damper closes and seals. You can have one inside and outside, or one at both spots.
Some hoods have two discharge locations.
The moral of the story is: Stay in good communication with your contractor and HVAC installer.
Pro Tip: Provide to your contractor the specifications and installation document of your range hood. Manufacturers list parts, adapters, and kits supplied with the product.
9. Did your contractor center the vent hole?
This issue crops up most often when you’re changing the dimensions of your range—say you’re going from a 36-inch range to a 48-inch one—or when you’re reconfiguring your kitchen and moving your range from one spot to another.
The vent hole has to be in the center of your range and range hood, or nothing is going to line up properly. You wouldn’t want your range hood to be even two inches to the right of your range, right? You want them to line up at the center perfectly.
If the vent hole isn’t positioned the right way, have your HVAC contractor correct it before you get your range hood installed.
Pro Tip! If you are changing the size of your stove or shifting the location of your stove make sure your vent is centered.
10. Are you all set up for makeup air?
Check in with your HVAC contractor on this point. Sometimes when you’re removing dirty air from your house via your kitchen ventilation system, you need to replace it with clean air from another source to keep your home’s air pressure balanced. In that case, you need a makeup-air-compliant range hood.
Pro Tip: It will say on your permit if you need a makeup-air-compliant hood. Triple-check your permit and your invoice to be sure the hood you picked out will work.
11. Is the electrical connection in place?
Forgive us if this sounds obvious, but your range hood’s blower and lighting need to connect to electricity to function. That means you need to ensure there’s an electrical connection in an accessible and serviceable location.
You might need an outlet or a direct wire—you can check in your range hood’s installation manual to find out which it requires.
12. For replacement range hoods: Did you check the specs of your old hood against your new one?
If you’re replacing an existing range hood, it pays to do this again—especially if you’re getting a different shape hood. Make sure that the width fits, the depth is proper, and (once again) that there is enough space between the cooking surface and the vent hood.
Also, once again, confirm whether you’re venting out or recirculating, and make sure your plans match up to the equipment you ordered.
13. For over the range microwave range hoods: Did you double-check your new microwave’s height?
Over the range microwave dimensions vary. The one that really matters for ventilation purposes is the height. Be sure to double check the height of your new microwave. You need to confirm there’s enough space between your cooktop and the bottom of the microwave for it to function without getting too hot.
Double check the dimensions of your old and new over the range microwave.14. For downdraft range hoods: Double-check your cabinets and countertop
Downdraft range hoods are a great option for islands. They rise up out of a covered cutout in your countertop behind your cooktop, and disappear when you’re not cooking. That gives you a clear view and an optimal space for entertaining.
They do, however, require a few extra steps to prepare. In addition to checking that you’ve got the right dimensions and built the right foundation for your system (whether it vents out or is recirculating), you need to:
- Make sure you’ve alotted enough space on your countertop for both your cooktop and the downdraft hood to fit.
- Confirm you’ve got enough space in the kitchen cabinets underneath your cooktop for the downdraft components to fit.
- Know the electrical and duct connections in the cabinet are good to go.
We recommend consulting with your contractor to review the specs and make sure everything’s in order.
15. Does your tile or stone contractor know about your range-hood plans?
Appliance suppliers aren’t qualified to drill through time or decorative stone. If you have a backsplash made of one of these materials, you’ll want to coordinate with your stone or tile pro in advance to drill the holes for your range hood.
If we arrive and the stone or tile isn’t prepared, we can’t install your range hood, so let’s coordinate with all the parties prior to your installation date.
You need the right ventilation for your kitchen to function smoothly and be enjoyable to cook in. But we find that ventilation is often an afterthought. And buying the right range hood and blower and configuring your ductwork properly actually requires careful consideration.
However, it’s hard to know all the details when you buy. That’s why it’s so important to double-check them before installation day arrives.
After you’ve gone through all these questions and followed up on any you don’t know the answers to with your contractor, you’ll be ready for a smooth install.