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What is CFM and How Much Do I Need in my kitchen? (Full Guide)

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If you’re shopping around for a range hood, you might have run across the term “CFM” a few times, but what is CFM, and how does it relate to range hoods?

CFM (cubic feet per minute) is the unit of measurement used to quantify the movement or displacement of air. The greater the quantity, the more air it can displace. 

But there are a lot more things to consider about CFM. So, In this article, we will discuss what CFM is, how it’s measured, and how to select a range hood with the right CFM for your specific kitchen. 

What is CFM?

CFM is an abbreviation for cubic feet per minute. CFM measures the amount of air a fan can move in one minute. CFM is typically associated with home ventilation, i.e., range hoods.

You may find residential range hoods between 400 and 2,000 CFM. Commercial hoods can move up to can even move up to 5000 CFM. A higher CFM will lead to faster removal of smoke and steam from your home.

In addition, you may likely find CFM rates for high-performance specialty equipment. Some high-volume cleaning services will utilize machines that can pump out 20,000 CFM to properly clean commercial air ducts.

How do I calculate the CFM I need?

Now that we’ve discussed what CFM is, we’ll go over how to calculate it.

Gas Range

To determine the CFM you will need for your range hood, divide the total BTUs of each burner on your range by 100. This will provide you with the bare minimum CFM you should consider. A range with 90,000 BTUs should have a 900 CFM range hood at minimum.

This calculation only takes into account the heat produced by your range. However, you must take your cooking habits into account as well.

If you regularly cook Asian or oily foods, and your range outputs 90,000 BTUs, you’ll be better off getting a 12,000 CFM range hood.

Three gas range stove burners with blue flame - what is cfm
Three gas range burners with a blue flame.

Electric Range 

Electric ranges, on the other hand, are powered by a heating element beneath the burner. Since they don’t produce as much energy, they do not require a powerful range hood.

It’s also a simple calculation for an electric range. Multiply the width of your stove by inches by 10. That’s it! So, if your cooktop is 36 inches, you will need a minimum of 360 CFM.

While electric cooktops do not require powerful hoods, we still recommend everyone to purchase a more powerful range hood than they think they will need. 

Having a greater CFM hood ensures that you can turn the fan up to maximum in an emergency. You can also use lower settings to save the motor from getting hot and wearing out.

What is an average CFM rating for a range hood?

A range hood CFM rating of 600 is a good option for most cooks. You’ll likely be OK with a 600 CFM hood unless you’re cooking with a large amount of heat or using really strong-smelling ingredients.

For people who are passionate about cooking or have larger stoves, 900 CFM is preferable to 600, and 1200 CFM is better still. A 1200 CFM fan can help clear up your exhaust system by venting off heavy smoke and grease particles quicker and more efficiently. 

Does higher CFM mean better performance?

You’ll want a kitchen fan with the highest CFM possible. You can use a high-powered hood at a lower-speed setting throughout the duration of your ride. This will ensure your cooking utensil has a long life.

If you cook regularly or are a fan of Asian cuisine, you should own a powerful exhaust fan in your kitchen to keep oil from building up on your walls and other appliances.

You may also need a higher CFM range hood if you have a large kitchen. The larger the kitchen, the higher your CFM should be.

Also, keep in mind that a larger CFM hood will likely lead to a larger range hood, so make sure you have enough space in your kitchen or under your cabinet to facilitate a larger range hood.

Kitchen with subway tile range hood backsplash
Kitchen With Subway Tile Range Hood Backsplash

If you have enough room, we recommend getting a hood that is six inches wider than your range to maximize efficiency.

If you are wondering how to select the right range hood for your kitchen, take a look at this video from Build with Ferguson that goes over how to choose the right range hood.

‘How to Choose the Right Range Hood’ by Build with Ferguson.

What is CFH? 

Range hood power is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM). However, sometimes you’ll see cubic feet per hour (CFH) or cubic feet per second (CFS) on other kitchen appliances. 

Compared to a CFM measurement, this will be a far greater figure. To paraphrase, it’s 60 times greater in size since there are 60 minutes in each hour.

An example of equipment measured in cubic feet per hour is a gas line. Because gas is being carried rather than air, this value is typically fairly low, particularly in residential applications. Residential safety is ensured by a set of strict codes and standards that must be followed. A common home gas line runs at a rate of a few hundred cubic feet per hour (CFH).

While this may appear to be a small amount, one cubic foot of gas each hour provides around 1,024 BTUs for your home’s gas appliances. So, to calculate the capacity of your gas line in BTUs, multiply the CFH by 1,024. If your gas appliances are capable of doing so, they can use up to this amount of BTUs in total. This is your gas line’s maximum BTU capacity.

For instance, if your gas line has a capacity of 200 CFH, you can connect gas appliances totaling 200*1,024 = 204,800 BTUs.

Keep in mind that this is just an estimate. You may be able to install more gas appliances depending on your configurations and local codes. You should always consult an expert or contractor before you put in any extra gas appliances since they can tell you the exact BTUs and CFH your gas line can handle. 


Well, now you know what CFM is. We hope you will use this information to help you choose the range hood that is right for you. 

In this article, we will discuss what CFM is, how it’s measured, and How it is calculated so you can choose the one that’s right for you. Below are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • CFM is an abbreviation for cubic feet per minute.
  • 600 CFM is a reasonable rating, but not ideal.
  • The higher the CFM, the better the performance.
  • Always get a range hood with more CFM than you think you’ll need.
  • To determine the CFM for a gas stove, divide the total BTUs of your range by 100.
  • To determine the CFM for an electric stove of your stove multiply the width of your stove by inches by 10.

 If you’d like to learn more about range hoods, check out our full blog here. Stay safe!

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Written By Roger Harris

Hey there, My name is Bradley, and I've been riding fixed for over ten years. I love all the joy and pain that comes with this unique style of cycling and the passionate community that drives it. If you love fixed gear and single-speed bikes, this is the place for you.

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