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How to buy the best cooker hood

By Jane Darling

The best cooker hood will be great at extracting and keep your kitchen smell free. Consider the type and size of hood and additional features. 

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Which cooker hood is best for my kitchen?

To start with, you'll need to decide what type of cooker hood you need. This will mostly be determined by the size of your cooker and your budget.

There are five types of cooker hoods to choose from: built-in, chimney, freestanding, integrated and island.

Built-in cooker hoods: If you've got a standard-width (or narrow) cooker or hob, a compact built-in cooker hood may be for you. They are between 52cm and 60cm wide and fit into kitchen cabinets.

Chimney cooker hoods: If your cooker backs onto a wall, a powerful, chimney-style hood is an option. These consist of a canopy plus a chimney and come in either stainless steel or glass – their large size can make them quite a feature in your kitchen, so choose one you like the look of. You'll want to get one that has a canopy that spreads all the way across the width of your cooker – so whether you've got four-rings on your hob or you've a cooker with eight burners, make sure you choose an appropriate size.

Freestanding cooker hoods: If you want to go down the budget route, a freestanding cooker hood will be your cheapest option – the downside is that they are also the least powerful. Freestanding cooker hoods need to be fitted directly to the wall above a four-ring cooker or hob.

Integrated cooker hoods: If you want your hood to be hidden away, an integrated cooker hood, designed to fit snugly into integrated fitted kitchen units, is a good option. They're not as powerful as chimney or island hoods – so are suitable for standard four-ring cookers or hobs rather than larger models.

Island cooker hoods: Island hoods are the biggest and the most expensive type of cooker hoods around – and will add a touch of professional glamour to your kitchen. Island hoods attach directly to the ceiling, so you’ll need plenty of space in your kitchen to accommodate one.

To find out what is the best cooker hood for you, take a look at our cooker hood reviews.

How much do I need to spend to get a good cooker hood?

For around £100 you’ll be able to buy a built-in, freestanding or integrated cooker hood large enough to fit over a four-ring hob or cooker. But some are much better than others, and some hoods at this price are not powerful enough to do a decent job of extracting steam.

For £200 to £300, you'll find larger cooker hoods, big enough to be fitted above a 110cm hob or range cooker. Larger hoods will usually do a better job of extracting steam than smaller hoods. Good-looking stainless steel chimney hoods are available for this price. Features to look for on cooker hoods at this price include three power settings, an additional power boost and the option to set the hood to switch off after a short period.

If you're willing to pay more than £400 for a cooker hood, you’ll be able to consider large island hoods or designer cooker hoods which bring together all of the helpful features found on cheaper hoods with striking looks and design touches.

Cooker hood filter: what should I consider?

All cooker hoods have grease filters – these capture grease as it rises from your hob, preventing it from settling on kitchen surfaces and leaving difficult-to-remove residues. 

Grease filters come in several different materials: aluminium, stainless steel, fleece material or paper. To keep the grease filters clean, you'll need to wash or change them regularly. 

Metal filters need to be washed – if you have a dishwasher, you can let it do the job. Metal filters are easy to remove, as they clip in and out of the underside of the hood. Fleece or paper filters will need to be replaced every two months. Some hoods come with a handy saturation indicator that lets you know when the filter should be changed or washed. Removing a greasy fleece filter can be a messy job, so if you don’t like getting your hands dirty choose a hood with metal grease filters. You’ll be able to get replacement filters from your hood manufacturer – make sure you’re specific about the size and type that you need, though – we've been sent the wrong ones more than once.

How do I find a quiet cooker hood?

Cooker hoods vary as to how much noise they make – the best we've tested are only around 54dB but the worst are around 20dB louder, which will sound four times as loud. If you like to chat or listen to the radio while you cook, or if your kitchen and diner or kitchen and living room are in the same room, choose one that scores well in our noise tests. 

Check out our cooker hood reviews to discover which ones are the quietest.

What else should I consider?

Controls

For easy control, choose cooker hoods with the controls on the front rather than the inside or the underside.

Power settings

If you regularly cook foods that are smelly, such as fish, you might want to choose a canopy with a short high-power burst option – these quickly clear a kitchen of smells and steam. In general, most cooker hoods have two or three speeds.

Lights

Cooker hood lights help you see better as you cook. Most cooker hoods come with two or more lights to illuminate your cooking. Changing cooker hood lights can be a struggle though. The lights on several hoods we've tested were very difficult to change. The best hoods have quick-release light casings which are ideal for getting this job done easily.

Extraction or re-circulation

Cooker hoods can be set up to extract air through a duct to a vent in your wall. Alternatively, they can be used in recirculating mode, where the air is passed through carbon filters before being recirculated back into your kitchen. We test all cooker hoods in extraction mode as this is the most effective way of removing steam and smells.

Take a look through our top scoring cooker hoods in our cooker hoods Best Buys.

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