How we test cooker hoods
By Jane Darling
Discover how our independent cooker hood tests separate the Best Buy models from those poor value cooker hoods you should avoid.
What makes a Best Buy cooker hood?
We've tested cooker hoods from a range of big brands. Only those that are proven to excel at removing smells, grease and steam are awarded our Best Buy recommendation. Watch the video above to find out why buying a Which? recommended cooker hood will help keep your surfaces grease-free and make a real difference in your kitchen.
We put cooker hoods through a range of rigorous lab tests, giving us the answers to the most important questions about these appliances, including:
- How well does the cooker hood remove steam?
- How good is the cooker hood at removing grease?
- How well does the cooker hood remove smells?
- How noisy is it?
- What's the build quality like?
- Should I buy it?
How well does the cooker hood remove steam?
We test how well a cooker hood will remove steam from a kitchen by boiling four pans of water on the hob until humidity levels in our test chamber reach 90%. We then switch on the hood and record how quickly it reduces the humidity to 60%. The best hoods have no problems with this, but the worst simply aren’t powerful enough to clear the steam.
How well does the cooker hood remove grease?
We see how well each cooker hood can clear the kind of grease produced when you're using a hob by dripping vegetable oil and water into a hot pan on a hob for 30 minutes. This creates a horrible, greasy atmosphere and is a tough test for any hood. We weigh the cooker hood filters before the test, and again afterwards, and record how much grease has been captured.
The best cooker hoods are excellent and will capture around 95% of the grease. But the worst struggle to remove more than 40%, and this means you could be left with greasy kitchen surfaces.
How well does the cooker hood remove smells?
To test how well a hood removes smells, we use the pungent chemical methyl ethyl ketone, which smells like nail polish remover. This is dripped with water into a hot pan to make our test chamber very smelly. Using a flame ionization detector, we record how smelly the chamber is at four points around the room before the cooker hood is turned on, and again after the cooker hood has been on for 30 minutes.
A powerful cooker hood, set up and installed correctly, should have no problem in removing smells. But less powerful cooker hoods will leave you with lingering odours.
How noisy is it?
We record how noisy each cooker hood is in our noise chamber and listen out for any strange noises, rattles or vibrations. The cooker hoods we’ve tested range from a quiet 54 dB of noise to around 74 dB, which some people will find annoyingly noisy.
What's the build quality like?
Cooker hoods need to be attached to a wall, hung from the ceiling or built into a kitchen cabinet, so they must be well built. We check for build quality, sharp edges and finishing in our tests. The best cooker hoods feel solid on the outside and when changing the grease filter. A poor cooker hood has a flimsy feel.
Should I buy it?
All of the tests described above contribute to the overall test score a cooker hood achieves, which we then turn into a percentage.
However, some assessments are more important than others. We think a cooker hood's most important task is the extraction of grease, odours and steam, so we give this more weighting when calculating the overall score. The score is broken down as follows:
- 45% grease, odour and steam extraction
- 30% ease of use and cleaning
- 20% noise
- 5% build quality
A cooker hood needs 70% in our tests to become a Best Buy. Cooker hoods that score 45% or less are ones to avoid and are highlighted as Don't Buys.
Take a look through our top scoring cooker hoods in our cooker hood Best Buys.