Range Hood Vs Exhaust Fan: Can I Use An Exhaust Fan Instead Of A Range Hood?

Kitchens emit a hefty amount of smoke and toxic air particles on a daily basis, which is why they have special ventilation needs. When you look at the options you have for kitchen ventilation, range hoods are on top of the list. It makes one wonder, are range hoods necessary for kitchens? Can’t we make do with secondary options such as exhaust fans? If these are the questions in your mind, allow us to explain their answers in this article.

You can use exhaust fans instead of range hoods but you won’t get the same results in terms of effectiveness. A range hood offers maximum air suction, while exhaust fans do enough to just get rid of smoke and humidity. No building code requires a kitchen to have an exhaust fan or a range hood. These are all appliances you can optionally use to maintain the air quality of your kitchen. So, what are some of the features of both options? Let us explore:

Exhaust fans: features, pros, and cons

As you already know, exhaust fans help indoor contaminated air get outside. They are best for places where humidity, smoke, or toxic air in any form may build up. Exhaust fans do a great job at improving air quality by providing a significant amount of ventilation indoors. Moreover, they offer additional benefits such as cooling down areas where heat levels are high and eliminating moisture as well. Note that these features cannot be availed through ductless range hoods. This makes exhaust fans ideal for places where the temperature might rise, particularly bathrooms and kitchens. In terms of maintenance, exhaust fans require occasional cleaning which is mainly wiping off the dust from the blades.

An exhaust fan
An exhaust fan

Though exhaust fans are good for improving the indoor atmosphere, they’re not ideal for kitchens where heavy cooking sessions are conducted regularly. This is because exhaust fans usually have smaller blades and less power to remove toxicities. For small kitchens where cooking is done occasionally in moderation, exhaust fans can play a significant role in keeping the air fresh. They also don’t need to be directly above the stove, unlike range hoods. As for their cost, it can depend upon how advanced the appliance is, but generally, exhaust fans are relatively affordable. 


  • Ideal for eliminating moderate level pollution
  • Removes humidity and regulates temperature
  • Inexpensive


  • Cannot handle excessive pollution

Range hoods: features, pros, and cons

Range hoods are designed especially for kitchens to remove toxic pollutants from the environment. These are big machines that sit at the top of stoves and suck humid air into them. The air is then released outdoors through a vent. Range hoods and exhaust fans have a lot in common. Both of them get rid of humidity, improve air quality, and need to vent outside. However, range hoods are bigger, more stylish, and bring value to a kitchen. They’re similar to exhaust fans, but boast several additional qualities that set them apart. What truly makes them superior is their ability to handle high volumes of toxic air with ease.

A convertible range hood
A range hood

The specialty of range hoods is complemented by their style and automation. Most hoods come with timers and sleek designs which gives them a plus point in both performance and presentation. You might need to give them extra attention in terms of maintenance, but that’s justified since they are better at filtering out the dirty air. Though range hoods come in ductless versions too, the common hood requires to be vented outside. For a kitchen that does not have an exterior wall, a duct would be needed. So, you’re probably looking at a considerable expense if you go for a range hood.


  • Can handle loads of smoke and toxic fumes
  • Brings style and design to your kitchen
  • Battles moisture and restores quality air


  • Can be a bit pricey

Should I go for an exhaust fan or range hood?

You should go for an exhaust fan if you have a small kitchen and are looking for an inexpensive way of keeping proper kitchen ventilation. However, if your cooking gets the entire place up filled with smoke, then a range hood would be a better investment. Both exhaust fan and range hood have significant features that help keep your kitchen smelling fresh, but they differ in certain aspects such as efficiency, style, and cost. At the end of the day, deciding which one best suits your needs is up to you.

Other alternatives for range hood

We discussed previously that range hoods are not necessarily required in residential buildings. Despite being best for kitchen ventilation, kitchen hoods have alternatives that are ideal for homes with small kitchens. For example, you can opt for a ductless range hood if you’re short on space and cannot afford to vent. Another candidate is an air purifier which helps keep the atmosphere hygiene as well. If these alternatives don’t seem to be your thing, check out some other kitchen ventilation ideas here.


An exhaust fan may beat a ductless range hood in performance, but the victor is a ducted range hood when it comes to ideal kitchen ventilation. Nonetheless, several factors such as space and cost might push one to go for exhaust fans, which isn’t an issue. After all, the main goal is to keep the kitchen free from pollutants.

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

Latest Posts