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Cooker hoods and extractors come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes and, with so many options on the market, it can seem overwhelming when trying to find one that best suits your needs. It's important to compare the benefits between ducted and recirculated hoods, weigh up your design and installation options, match the size to your hob and kitchen, consider noise levels, and see which innovative features are worthwhile for you.

The cooking area is the most important part of the kitchen, whether you've got a built in hob, an integrated oven or a freestanding cooker, and everything else is usually built around it. Your cooker hood is no exception. Before settling on a new hood, there are a few things you'll need to decide on. Cooker hoods aren’t just decorative. They are also a hard-working, highly functional appliance, keeping your kitchen area free of unwanted odours, grease and fumes, and helping to keep it a nicer, cleaner place to cook. Before looking at the different styles and clever technologies on offer, it's important to understand the following aspects of buying a cooker hood.

What is the difference between extraction and recirculation cooker hoods?

With recirculated ventilation air is drawn in and cleaned by grease filters and an activated carbon filter. The cleaned air is then recirculated back into the kitchen. With extraction (also known as ducted) ventilation, the air is drawn in and cleaned by grease filters, and  then sent straight to an extraction point on the outside of your home. Most cooker hoods offer recirculated and ducting installation options, but there are the odd exceptions. If this is an issue when choosing yours, make sure you check the manufacturer specifications for that particular hood and consult with a kitchen fitter. 

What size cooker hood do I need?

To keep your kitchen free of smoke, grease and odours, your cooker hood must be at least the same width as your hob. However, 1.5 times wider is the ideal size. Sizes include 55cm, 60cm, 75cm, 80cm and 90cm, and you can also get larger widths to match wide range cookers. 

Are cooker hoods quiet?

Cooker hoods are designed to create a comfortable cooking environment, so the noise level is an important consideration. Cooker hoods have a noise rating, similar to an energy rating, that’s measured in decibels (or 'dB'). Most cooker hoods are rated at around 60-70 decibels, which is equivalent to the noise level of having a conversation. Anything above this is likely to be distracting. If you have an open plan kitchen diner, or like to socialise whilst cooking, you may want to opt for a quieter hood with a lower decibel rating. 

What are extraction rates?

The power of a cooker hood, how much air it can extract, is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM) and is displayed as 'm3/hr' in the specification of all cooker hoods. The minimum hood CFM required for a standard width hob (60cm) is 600CFM.  This number shows the amount of air it processes per hour. It is generally recommended that your cooker hood will filter the air in your kitchen at least 10 times an hour. A good way to work out if the rate is right for your kitchen is to work out the volume of your kitchen (length x width x height) for e.g. 4m x 3m x 2.5m = 30m3. If your kitchen hood says 300m3 per hour, then it will filter your room 10 times per hour (300÷30=10) or once every 6 minutes.

Extraction rates of cooker hoods are often forgotten about, but they can make a big difference to how well the hood works in your kitchen. If it doesn't have a high enough extraction rate for the size of the room it can take a long time to clear any bad smells, or even that they never really clear.

How high up should a cooker hood be installed?

The amount of clearance needed depends on which hob fuel type you have. For standard electric, ceramic and induction hobs, your cooker hood should be between 55-70cm high, while gas hobs need at least 65cm of clearance, and more for larger appliances. It is recommended to check the manufacturer specifications and installation instructions first, and consult with a professional fitter.

What types of cooker hood filters are there?

There are three main types of cooker hood filter- fleece filters, metal grease filters and odour filters, which are also known as activated carbon filters. Fleece filters are simple grease filters used in a few, mostly older, cooker hood models, while metal grease filters are used in both circulating air and exhaust air systems. All cooker hoods are supplied with grease filters, many of which are dishwasher-safe. Odour/activated charcoal filters are only used in recirculating hoods to remove bad smells from the cooking vapors. Replacement filters, if needed, can be bought directly from the manufacturer or found online. 

What is 'Smart' hood technology?

The latest cutting-edge technology, smart technology can allow you to control your cooker hood from an app on your phone. These state-of-the-art smart extractor hoods can also regulate the level of extraction themselves by sensing and responding to the amount of vapour or smoke rising from your hob. Furthermore, manufacturer apps will let you know when to change the filters to ensure your cooker hood is always operating at its best. Each brand has their own name for this technology - AEG call theirs Hob2Hood, Siemens are cookConnect, Bosch use their Home Connect - but the functionality for each is the same. 

Cooker Hood and Extractor Styles

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Ceiling Hoods

Ceiling cooker hoods are the most contemporary, modern style of cooker hood and usually sit flush to the ceiling, directly above the hob, and are therefore less intrusive than other styles of hood. Despite being high up, they are very effective and have powerful extraction rates, so are a great choice for larger hobs and lots of cooking!

Ceiling hoods are often sleek and subtle in design so they blend in seamlessly with their surroundings. Others are more eye-catching and boxier, so they make a statement. Ceiling hoods are also suitable for suspended ceilings or special installation solutions. AEG, Bosch, Neff, Siemens and Culina all do stunning and powerful ceiling hoods, with black, white, stainless steel options, and widths ranging from 90cm up to 120cm, making them perfect for larger kitchens and islands, but also for kitchen where wall space is limited.

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Chimney Hoods

Chimney hoods are a popular statement piece of the kitchen and come in a wide variety of colours and styles. Some are traditional in design and fit in with the ever-popular classic Farmhouse aesthetic. Others are more contemporary, suiting more modern and sleek kitchens.

A chimney hood is both an eye-catching statement piece and an important part of the functionality of a kitchen. They provide powerful ventilation and clear the air of unwanted cooking odours and irritating smoke while you’re cooking. Steam, airborne grease, and other particles are reduced when using a chimney hood. Cooking fumes are extracted out of the air and either sent outdoors using a ducted vent or recirculated into the air.

Chimney hoods are usually fitted between cabinets and directly above a hob or cooker, therefore getting the correct width is the most important part of choosing one. If you're looking to match your cooker with your hood, Rangemaster, Belling and Stoves all do coordinated designs in corresponding cooker widths. Likewise, most popular brands, such as AEG, Neff and Bosch, design their chimney hoods to match the aesthetic of their other cooking appliances.

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Wall Mounted Cooker Hoods

Wall mounted cooker hoods can create a statement feature in themselves and are ideal for kitchens where the hob is installed on a surface directly next to a wall. Wall mounted cooker hoods are integrated into your kitchen, giving you freedom to do what you like with the space around. These designs are also known as 'Decorative Hoods' as they beautifully complement a variety of kitchen styles and make an immediate visual impact.

You can choose from a range of wall mounted cooker hoods to suit your kitchen design, including the super stylish Angled Glass Hoods and the ultra modern Flat mounted designs, all with features such as LED lighting and Hob to Hood technology. Siemens and AEG both do a fantastic range of modern, black glass wall hoods that will look stunning in minimalist, sleek kitchens.

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Canopy Hoods

Built in canopy cooker hoods are built into the kitchen cabinets and are safely hidden away when they are not in use, so they seamlessly integrate with the kitchen design. This hidden style is ideal for those with limited space or who do not wish to make the cooker hood into a feature. They are switched on by pulling a handle or pressing a switch and usually feature bright LED lighting to help illuminate the cooking area beneath.

Canopy hoods are available in a variety of widths and colours, with stainless steel and silver finishes being the most popular. They are also one of the more affordable styles of cooker hood currently available on the market, with prices starting at around £110 for a 60cm width model, and most of the popular brands having their own version.

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Downdraft Extractors

Downdraft cooker hoods are a discreet alternative to a cooker hood. They are built into the worktop and sit next to your hob. They are completely hidden when not in use, so they are ideal for more minimalist kitchens. Simply push a button to raise and activate it when you're cooking, and slide back down once you've finished. Downdrafts are best for recirculation. They work by drawing in steam down through the filters which are situated below the worksurface. They are not recommended with gas hobs but are a great option when partnered with an induction or ceramic hob. Within the unit, you’ll find charcoal filters which remove grease, smoke and smells from the air before pushing it back into your kitchen. 

Downdrafts are very sleek and minimal in design when not in use, but make sure you have enough space beneath your worktop to accommodate the fittings. Each one is different so be sure to check the manufacturer installation guides before ordering. Some manufacturers, such as Neff and Siemens, have made informative installation video guides on their YouTube channels. 

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Island Cooker Hoods

A classic kitchen statement piece, Island cooker hoods are, appropriately enough, fitted above a kitchen island and are the best choice if you have a central island at the heart of your kitchen. These hoods are suspended from the ceiling and are designed to be viewed from all angles. Island hoods feature elegant design and often have powerful lighting to make cooking beneath easier. These eye-catching hoods are typically used in large open-plan kitchens.

Island cooker hoods come in a variety of designs. They can be integrated into the ceiling for a completely seamless look or suspended above the worktop to create a stylish focal point. The most common is the chimney look, and most of the popular brands feature this classic style in their collection. An increasingly popular design is the designer recirculation hood that resembles a more glamorous lighting fixture rather than an extractor. Siemens have combined this contemporary style with convenient functionality with their Retractable Hood range. These impressive models allow you to alter the height of the hood, so it can be flush to the ceiling when not needed and fully lowered, depending on your needs. AEG's 6000 Series ExtractionTech range could easily be mistaken for sleek, modern light fittings, and are available in black, stainless steel and white finishes.

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Telescopic Hoods

Telescopic cooker hoods are built into the cabinet above your hob or cooker and are hidden behind a panel or door, so they blend in perfectly with their surroundings. They have a telescopic canopy that extends out out when your cooking and is pushed back out of sight when not in use. They are easy to use, with simple electronic controls, and are great for smaller spaces or minimalist interiors. Most telescopic models are 60cm or 90cm wide and often feature convenient built in LED lighting. They are also kinder on the wallet than other styles, with designs starting at around £130 and featuring A and B energy ratings.

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Visor Hoods

Visor hoods are usually fitted to the underside of a kitchen unit, directly above a hob or cooker, and feature a small plastic or glass visor that extends out when in use. The traditional design of these hoods makes a perfect match in all kitchens. They are a great option for smaller kitchen spaces as they can fit underneath a cupboard, so they save valuable space. They tend to be more subtle in design than other hoods so they will easily suit most kitchen interiors. Due to their size and design, they do not intrude on space or limit the view of your cooking, and often feature powerful LED lighting and easy to use controls. Another bonus - they are easily the most affordable cooker hood style currently on offer, with models by Bosch, Zanussi and Hotpoint for under £140 each.

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Venting Hobs

An exciting new innovation in kitchen appliances, venting hobs are fast becoming a popular choice due to their convenience and practicality. Streamlining two important appliances into one impressive model, a downdraft extractor is built into the induction hob, meaning odours and steam are effectively removed directly at the source. They are not only extremely efficient, quiet and powerful but also make a stunning part of any kitchen.

Venting hobs have a recirculating extractor built below the cooktop. The vent is usually located in the middle so that can draw vapours evenly from across the cooking surface. These innovative hobs have been designed to ensure the vent is protected from food spillages and can also be easily cleaned. The 2-in-1 design of extractor hobs means you can position your hob anywhere in your kitchen without having to worry about extraction. 

Not only do these venting hobs provide powerful extraction, but they also boast impressive technology and flexible cooking features, with such models from Bosch, Neff, Siemens and AEG retailing anywhere between £1000 to £3000. Culina also have a range of models on offer that start at £629.99. Functional and stylish, they are a cheaper alternative to other brands. 

Venting hobs are sleek and minimal on top, but make sure you have enough space beneath your worktop to accommodate the fittings. Each one is different so be sure to check the model installation guides before ordering. Some manufacturers, such as Neff and Siemens, have made informative installation video guides on their YouTube channels.