The type of range hood most people are most familiar with is called a recirculation range hood, also commonly called an “under-cabinet range hood.” These are inexpensive, and easy to install underneath any line of RTA kitchen cabinets. Recirculating hoods exist in practically every kitchen in apartments and condos, and most older, smaller, or lower-cost houses. They’re so ubiquitous, that many people don’t know there’s any other option!
What Is a Recirculation Hood?
Essentially, a recirculation hood is a stainless steel hood that bolts onto the bottom of the cabinets above your stove. They typically include a fan with a basic air filter, and a light of some kind. Depending on the level of quality, these filters may be simple grease filters, or they may include one or more layers of carbon filters to filter out smoke and soot as well.
Whether a cheap basic model left over from the ‘70s, or a sleek modern model with advanced carbon filters, the fact of the matter is that recirculating range hoods don’t actually get rid of any of the cooking fumes, smoke, or other exhaust, or the heat rising from the stove. Once the air is filtered, it just gets recirculated back into the kitchen; hence the name. Sadly, they’re often neglected in many homes; the filters may literally never have been replaced, resulting in degraded performance at best. Even on their best day, however, they will never match a true range hood.
In terms of cooking techniques, a recirculating hood will do very little to reduce serious smoke, soot, or grease splatter from things like grill pans and high-temperature searing of meat. Though far better than bare wood cabinets over the stove, they still do relatively little to prevent the spread of fire, in the event of a grease fire, or a flambé gone horribly wrong.
On the Plus Side…
If you’re the kind of home cook who mostly sautés, boils, and bakes, a recirculating hood may be plenty. They can certainly handle a typical holiday feast, or the occasional frying of bacon. If that’s you, then a recirculating hood may be your best bet, because they’re less expensive, and a lot easier to install. The wiring is almost certainly already in place, so all you’ll have to do is turn off the kitchen circuit breakers and install it, and you’re done. Just one more small step in your DIY RTA cabinet adventure!
We do still recommend replacing the range hood, unless the old one is in fabulous shape. Even recirculating hoods have come a long way in recent years, and include much more advanced filters, and much better fans that do a better job of capturing all of the fumes rising from the stove and oven.
Don’t get caught not in-the-know! Learn more about how to shop for and buy kitchen cabinets and accessories in our new e-book, The Consumer’s Guide to Kitchen Cabinets, available free on our website. Check it out today, and make your decision with the best knowledge available.