Are Downdraft Range Hoods Effective? Find Out

The architect designing your new home wants to know what type of range hood you want to install in your new kitchen. You’ve never heard of the one type of range hood he has mentioned. It is a range hood system that the architect calls a “downdraft range hood.” You are now trying to find out what exactly a downdraft range hood is and whether it is effective or not.

A downdraft range hood is a venting system designed to pop up when the cooktop is in use. It rises to about 10 inches above the cooktop. It draws in the smoke, steam and grease from your cooking and blows it with a downdraft out of the kitchen through a duct under the floor. It is not as effective as other range hoods, but it is ideal where other ventilation is not possible.

A downdraft range hood
A downdraft range hood

In this article, I’ll answer most of your questions regarding downdraft range hoods. After you’ve read the article, you’ll be in a better position to determine whether a downdraft range hood system should be your choice.  I’ll first explain why you need a range hood in your kitchen, then discuss the ways range hoods work, and to help you decide, I’ll also refer to updraft systems. And finally, I’ll discuss the effectiveness of downdraft range hoods. 

Why you need a range hood in your kitchen

Even if you are lucky enough to have a kitchen with good natural ventilation, a lot of the smoke, odors and grease from your cooktop when you are preparing food usually stay in the kitchen. A range hood helps to vent this “bad” air out of your kitchen or filter it and recycling it again. 

A range hood helps to make your kitchen more suitable to prepare any kind of food with any method your cooktop can accommodate. The hood ensures that the area around your cooktop stays greaseless and your family members are spared all the odors released when you are cooking. 

Updraft & Downdraft range hoods

To fully understand how a downdraft range hood works and where it is usually used, it is good to know how other hood systems function and where they are used. Let’s have a look at the most common types of range hoods.

Updraft range hoods

The following three range hoods are so-called “updraft” range hoods. This simply means that the hood is above the cooktop and pulls the “bad” air up into the hood. The fans in the hood suck the air upwards.     

1. Wall mount canopy range hoods

A wall-mounted canopy hood provides venting with a variety of fan speeds and design options. Wall-mounted canopy range hoods are external ranch hood systems. In other words, they vent “bad” air outside the home. They are compatible with almost all styles and sizes of cooktops and replace over-the-range cabinets. 

2.  Under-cabinet range hoods

These hoods can be installed against a kitchen wall between the cooktop and the cabinets above the cooktop. Although they are smaller than a canopy hood they are capable of providing powerful venting. 

There are external under-cabinet range hoods with ductwork through the wall or in the cabinets over the cooktop, but many of them are recirculating range hoods. 

3.  Island canopy range hoods

Island canopy range hoods are typically hung from the ceiling over an island cooktop range, usually near the middle of the kitchen. Almost all island canopy range hoods are external systems with ductwork in the ceiling. 

Downdraft range hoods 

A downdraft range hood is designed to fit into the cooktop at the back of the burners and only pops up when the cooktop is in use. It rises to about 10 inches above the cooktop. Just as an updraft hood, it draws in the smoke, steam and grease from your cooking and blows it out of the kitchen, but with a downdraft through a duct under the floor. Some models are equipped with filters and instead of blowing the air out of the house, filter the air and recycle it back into the kitchen from beneath the cooktop. 

Working of a downdraft range hood

How effective is a downdraft range hood?

A downdraft range hood typically rises not more than 10 inches above the cooking surface, and it might be too short to effectively pull all the odors and grease rising from all the burners into the hood. 

Most ranch hood experts consider an overhead, updraft range hood more effective than a downdraft range top because an updraft hood is usually the same size or even a little bit larger than the cooktop and is installed right above the cooktop. Thus, the updraft hood traps pollutants as they rise from your cookware. 

A downdraft range hood is at the back of the burners and has to “suck” the steam, grease and odors almost horizontally from the cooktop towards the hood. The possibility that “bad” air and odors can “escape” into the kitchen is greater than with an updraft range hood. Usually, the downdraft hood effectively removes pollutants, but they are not so effective to draw steam, odors and smoke from the burners that are the farthest away. 

They are also not so effective when you are using tall pots for your cooking. However, when you use shallow pots and pans the downdraft range hood is quite effective. 

Why do people install downdraft ranch hoods?

People are installing downdraft range hoods for several reasons. The most common reasons include the following: 

  • You don’t need any ductwork on the ceiling.
  • The range hood is not visible when it is not in use. People looking for a minimal feeling in their kitchens easily choose a downdraft ranch hood.
  • In a small kitchen you have more cabinet space when you have a downdraft range hood. 
  • Downdraft range hoods are easier to clean than full range hoods.

Given below is the installation video of a downdraft range hood;

Downdraft range hood installation


Q1: Where does the air go with a downdraft ranch hood?

A1: The downdraft vents are located behind the cooktop, pull the air horizontally away from the cooktop, and then send the collected “bad” air to be filtered down below the countertop or out of the house through a duct under the floor. 

Q2: How much space do you need for a downdraft ranch hood?

A2: You need at least the width of the cooking surface. Usually, a 30″ downdraft hood will fit most 30″ wide cabinets and 36″ wide cabinets will accommodate 36” downdraft range hoods.


Although a downdraft range hood is not as effective as an updraft system, it is ideal for a kitchen where another type of range hood cannot be fitted. 

Charles John

Experienced HVAC technician with 8 years of experience in the industry. Capable of handling all sorts of heating and cooling equipment as well as proficient in operational management, construction-related techniques such as preventative maintenance, electrical troubleshooting and AutoCAD

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