Cooker hoods jargon buster
By Jane Darling
Downdraft, visor, island or chimney? Find out the cooker hood terms you need to know to choose the best one for your kitchen.
Once you've decided which type of cooker hood will be best for your kitchen, go to our cooker hoods reviews and to find out which ones scored highest in our rigorous tests.
Built-in cooker hoods
Built-in (integrated) cooker hoods are compact and designed to be installed into fitted kitchen units. They're not as powerful as larger chimney or island hoods, so are most suitable for smaller kitchens.
This is a discreet type of hood that sits flush to or just below your kitchen wall cabinets above the hob. Some canopy hoods, like the one pictured below, have a telescopic section that you pull out when the hood is in use.
Carbon or charcoal filters help purify air by absorbing odours. If you use your cooker hood in recirculation mode, you will need to replace the carbon filter once every four to six months, on average.
Chimney cooker hoods
Chimney-style hoods are made of stainless steel and sometimes glass, too. They comprise a canopy, to capture the steam and smells, and a chimney with a fan to extract them. They need to be fitted to the wall and can be found in sizes small enough for standard four-ring hobs or large enough for eight-burner, 120cm-wide range cookers.
Downdraft extractors are installed below your kitchen worktop, usually just behind the hob, and are particularly popular for kitchen islands. They sit flush with the worktop when not in use but, when activated, rise up to suck in moisture, grease and smells.
Although there are budget models around that you can pick up from around £200, downdraft extractors tend to be pricey and many cost between £1,000 and £2,000.
Most cooker hoods can be set up either to extract (or evacuate) air through a duct to a vent in your wall, or to pass the air through carbon filters before recirculating it back into your kitchen.
We test cooker hoods in extraction (evacuation) mode, which is the most effective way of removing steam and smells.
Grease filters capture grease as it rises from your hob. Most grease filters are made of several layers of metal mesh, such as aluminium or stainless steel. They can be easily removed for cleaning and clipped back into position afterwards.
Metal filters are dishwasher-proof, and should be washed regularly to remain effective. If your cooker hood starts getting noisier than usual, there's a good chance the filters need a clean.
You may still come across fleece or paper grease filters on cheaper models – these are disposable and need to be replaced regularly.
Island cooker hoods
Island hoods are the biggest type of cooker hood. They attach directly to the ceiling above your island and hand down like a pendant light, so you’ll need a big kitchen with a lot of space to accommodate one. They can make a showy statement, but can be quite pricey, too.
Most cooker hoods now use LEDs, which should last a long time. If the bulb does go, it is usually possible to change it yourself.
Most cooker hoods have two or three speeds, and some come with a short high-power burst option to quickly clear a kitchen of steam and smells. Some hoods come with helpful indicator lights that tell you the speed the hood is operating at and when the grease filter is saturated.
Cooker hoods with the controls on the front are easier to use than those with the controls on the inside or underneath.
Most cooker hoods can be set up in extraction or recirculation mode. If you cannot position your cooker hood on an outside wall, then you'll need to set it up to work in recirculation mode. The extracted air gets passed through grease filters and carbon filters – which absorb odours – and then the air is returned to your kitchen.
Cooker hoods tend to be more effective when set up in extraction mode, so if you can, try to set up your kitchen with the hob on an external wall.
Some visor hoods and built-in hoods have an extra section that can be extended when the cooker hood is in use. This makes the cooker hood less obtrusive in the kitchen, but gives a greater surface area to extract steam, smells and grease when you are cooking.
This is a traditional style of cooker hood that sticks out horizontally from the wall, sometimes just below a cabinet. Some models are telescopic, so that you pull out an extra section when the cooker hood is in use, and slot it neatly back in when you're done.