How to buy the best cooker hood
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.
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, 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
Built-in cooker hoods (sometimes called integrated cooker hoods) fit inside a kitchen wall cabinet.
- A good choice if you're short on space and don't want to make a feature of your cooker hood.
- Suitable for standard-width or narrow cookers and hobs.
- Tend to be on the small side, usually measuring 52-60cm wide.
Canopy hoods sit flush with the underside of kitchen wall units.
- Consider a canopy hood if you have limited space.
- Some canopy hoods have an extendable telescopic section to provide a greater surface area for extraction. You may see these hoods listed as telescopic hoods, rather than canopy hoods, on retailer websites.
Chimney cooker hoods
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.
- These consist of a canopy plus a chimney.
- Chimney cooker hoods 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 with 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.
- Downdraft extractors are a new, relatively expensive type of cooker 'hood' that 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 - 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.
- These 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.
- Visor hoods 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 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.
Best cooker hoods: features to look for
Cooker hoods aren't terribly complicated, but there are a few key features to pay attention to.
- Controls - For easy control, choose a hood with controls on the front rather than the inside or the underside.
- Power settings - 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.
- Lights - Cooker hood lights help you to see better as you cook. Most cooker hoods have 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. Lower-scoring hoods have unfriendly metal edges which can be tricky to prise open.
Extraction or recirculation?
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.
Cooker hood filters
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.
How to find a quiet cooker hood
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.