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 make a lot of noise yet be ineffective. 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.
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, where it's located, the style you're 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 (sometimes called integrated cooker hoods) fit inside a kitchen wall cabinet.
Canopy hoods sit flush with the underside of kitchen wall units.
If your cooker backs on to a wall, you might want a chimney-style hood – particularly for larger cookers, or cookers that are located where wall cupboards would look out of place.
If your kitchen has a minimalist look, then a downdraft extractor might be tempting.
Island hoods - also called freestanding hoods - are large and can be very pricey, so take this into account if you're designing a new kitchen and deciding where to locate your oven and hob.
This is the original type of cooker hood, and these models are sometimes referred to as conventional hoods.
The cheapest types 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.
You can find chimney-style cooker hoods for less than £100 too, but it's easy to spend £300 to £500 on one of these. Best Buy canopy cooker hoods start from around £300, and larger, fancier models can be much pricier.
If you're looking for a cooker hood 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 in this price range include three power settings, an additional power boost, and the option to set the hood to switch off automatically after a short period.
If your cooker is on an island, or you want a minimalist look, you're likely to end up paying more than £400 for a large island hood or a downdraft cooker hood.
Cooker hoods aren't terribly complicated, but there are a few key features to pay attention to.
You can either set up your cooker hood to extract air through a duct to a vent in your wall, or use it in recirculation mode. This is where air passes 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.
All cooker hoods have grease filters – these capture grease as it rises from your hob, preventing it from settling on kitchen surfaces and leaving hard-to-remove residues.
These days, grease filters are usually made of aluminium or stainless steel, although 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 are washable – they're 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 will need replacing 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.
The best cooker hoods we've tested aren't much noisier than the humming of a refrigerator; the worst can 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 a cooker hood that scores four or more stars in our noise tests.