How to buy the best cooker hood
By Jane Darling
The best cooker hoods will be great at extracting grease, moisture and smells. Read on to find out what type will be best for your kitchen.
A cooker hood is a long-term investment for your kitchen, so you'll want to pick one that not only does its job well but looks good, too.
Some cooker hoods can be ineffective while making a lot of noise; the best will work quickly and quietly, eliminating moisture and odours and stopping grease from settling on your kitchen surfaces.
Read on to find out more about the key features to look out for when shopping for a new cooker hood.
If you want to head to the best cooker hood for your budget, go straight to our round up of the best cooker hoods available now.
Which type of cooker hood is best for my kitchen?
To start with, you'll need to decide what type of cooker hood you want. This will mostly be determined by the size of your cooker, the style you are after, and your budget.
There are several types of cooker hood to choose from. Not all retailers categorise them in the same ways, but we've summarised the main types below:
Built-in cooker hoods
Built-in cooker hoods (sometimes called integrated cooker hoods) fit inside a kitchen cabinet and are a good choice if you're short on space and don't want to make a feature of your cooker hood. They are suitable for standard-width or narrow cookers and hobs, so tend to be on the small side, usually measuring between 52-60cm wide.
Canopy hoods sit flush with the underside of kitchen wall units, so are also a good option if you have limited space. Some, like the one in the picture above, have an extendable telescopic section to provide a greater surface area for extraction.
Chimney cooker hoods
If your cooker backs onto a wall, you might want a chimney-style hood. These consist of a canopy plus a chimney and come in either stainless steel, glass, or a combination of the two. Their large size can make them a stylish feature in your kitchen.
You'll need 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 a wide cooker with eight burners, make sure you choose an appropriate size.
If your kitchen has a minimalist look, then a downdraft extractor might be tempting. They are a new, relatively expensive type of cooker 'hood' which hides away under your worktop, behind your hob, when not in use. At the press of a button, they rise up to suck in the moisture, smells and grease from your cooking.
Island cooker hoods
Island hoods are large and can be very pricey, but can give a large kitchen a striking look. Island hoods attach directly to the ceiling, so you’ll need plenty of space to accommodate one.
This is the original type of cooker hood, and these models are sometimes referred to as conventional hoods. They fit at a right angle to the wall, usually on the underside of a kitchen wall unit. They tend to be relatively cheap and, like integrated or built-in cooker hoods, are good for kitchens with limited space.
How much should I spend to get a good cooker hood?
The cheapest types of cooker hoods are usually visor-style, built-in (integrated) or canopy-style hoods that are designed to fit over a four-ring hob or cooker. Many of these are available for less than £100. 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.
Chimney-style cooker hoods can be found for less than £100 too, but it's easy to spend more like £300 to £500 on one of these, and prices go as high as you like for larger, fancier models.
If you are looking for one big enough to be fitted above a 110cm wide hob or range cooker, you'll find plenty of chimney-style hoods to choose from. Features to look for on cooker hoods at this price point include three power settings, an additional power boost and the option to set the hood to switch off automatically 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 downdraft cooker hoods which bring together all of the helpful features found on cheaper hoods with striking looks and design touches.
Find the best model for your budget using our independent and in-depth cooker hood reviews.
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.
These days, grease filters are usually made of metal - aluminium or stainless steel, though you do still come across some made of a 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 regularly – they are easy to remove, as they clip in and out of the underside of the hood. They are usually suitable for dishwashers. Fleece or paper filters should be replaced every few months, depending on how much frying you do. 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.
How do I find a quiet cooker hood?
Cooker hoods vary as to how much noise they make – the best cooker hoods we've tested are only around 50dB, which isn't much noisier than the humming of a refrigerator, but the worst can be as many as 20dB louder, which will sound four times as loud.
If you like to chat or listen to the radio while you cook, or if you often eat in an open-plan kitchen, we'd recommend you choose one that scores four or more stars in our noise tests. Check out our cooker hood reviews to discover which ones are quietest.
What else should I consider?
For easy control, choose cooker hoods with controls on the front rather than the inside or the underside.
In general, most cooker hoods have three speeds. If you regularly fry strong-smelling foods, such as fish, you might want to choose a hood with a short high-power burst option – these quickly clear a kitchen of smells and steam.
Cooker hood lights help you see better as you cook. Most cooker hoods come with two or more lights to illuminate your cooking. These days, most are LEDs and should last a long time.
If you do need to change a light, it can be a struggle. The best hoods have quick-release light casings which are ideal for getting this job done easily. Poorer hoods have unfriendly metal edges which can be tricky to prise open.
Extraction or recirculation?
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 a more effective way of removing steam and smells.
Take a look through our top scoring cooker hoods in our cooker hoods Best Buys.