What Is a Downdraft Range Hood? How Do They Work? (Answer)

If you have a small kitchen, you need a compact vent hood. But is a downdraft the right choice for you? Are they expensive? And how do they work?

Most ranges and cooktops are ventilated with a range hood, but a downdraft is another option for a modern kitchen. But what is a down draft range hood?

In this post, we will discuss the downdraft range hood, how it works, the benefits of a downdraft range hood, and the drawbacks of a downdraft range hood so that you can improve the quality of the air in your home.

Retractable downdraft hoods are installed behind your cooktop or slide-in range and extend while you are cooking, then retract to sit flush with the cooking surface when not in use.

Image of a kitchen with a table and chairs, a fridge, white cabinets, a countertop, an induction stove, and above it is a range hood. Source: pixabay
Image of a kitchen with a table and chairs, a fridge, white cabinets, a countertop, an induction stove, and above it is a range hood. Source: Pixabay

What is a downdraft range hood?

If a conventional range hood isn’t an option for you, a downdraft hood is a great alternative for removing smoke, heat, and odors from the kitchen. This high-tech tool has a sleek, telescoping design that extends from under the cooktop when used and goes back into the wall when it’s not. These downdraft hoods are great for small kitchens because they take up little space and can be made to fit different islands, peninsulas, and custom designs.

How do downdraft range hoods work?

In a downdraft system, there is no hood. Instead, a fan inside the system pushes dirty, warm air down through a vent under the floor and out of the house.

Most downdraft range hoods have vents that send fumes outside the house. However, if that isn’t an option for you, a handful of them can be converted. The air in the room is recycled by this flexible ventilation system, which sends it through filters before sending it back into your kitchen. The standard material for downdrafts is stainless steel.

The benefits of a down draft range hood?

There are several reasons why a downdraft hood may be something you’re looking at.

1. Sleek and stylish looks

Downdraft units have another, more personal benefit: they look good. Separate kitchens may provide an appealingly uncluttered aesthetic for certain homeowners. It’s a distinct and uncommon style, yet many are drawn to it.

2. More free space

This hood provides room for more storage and cabinets and gives you options for where to put appliances, such as a stove.

3. Makes cleaning easier

Cleaning is simplified with this setup for the stove and cooktop. No longer will you have to worry about taking care of the mesh or baffle hood filters to keep the hood working well. With a downdraft, you don’t have to worry about that, and you can clean the stove top or range the same way you would with any other kind of appliance.

The drawbacks of a down draft range hood

Cooktops and stoves with downdraft vents aren’t perfect.

1. Weak performance & poor ventilation

Hot, contaminated air from a stovetop rises, so since a downdraft unit’s extractor fan is already going against physics, it might not be strong enough to get rid of steam or smoke from the whole kitchen. A range hood above the cooking surface doesn’t have to deal with these different forces, so it can easily pull in air to either get rid of it or send it back through the system.

2. Difficult to install properly

Installing a downdraft is complicated and requires a lot of work. Since installing ductwork safely and correctly is usually not something you can do on your own, the job’s complexity usually means more money and time.

However, many downdraft range hoods come with recirculation kits with filters that are easy to change. Another downdraft venting option is available with a standard range or cooktop.

3. It might extinguish the burners.

Because the airflow is so close to the burners, there’s a chance that the downdraft vent hood may extinguish the flames of the burners. Or, at the least, give you poor performance from the burners. In addition, the flames may flicker without the fan, which is annoying and leads to uneven cooking.

Image of a kitchen with table and chairs, cabinets, a countertop, a stove, and a range hood above. Source: pixabay
Image of a kitchen with table and chairs, cabinets, a countertop, a stove, and a range hood above. Source: pixabay

Does a downdraft fan impact the gas range or gas cooktop performance? 

Yes. If you use a downdraft range or cooktop with gas burners, you may need to change the way you cook to get the same results you’re used to. Gas stoves operate better when the fan is turned down or the burner is turned up. To keep cooking, you may need to slow down the fan or change the wattage of the burners.

If you want even more tips and insights, watch this video called “Is downdraft ventilation a worthy upgrade?” from the CNET YouTube Channel.

A video called “Is downdraft ventilation a worthy upgrade?” from the CNET YouTube Channel.


Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you still have questions? Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about a downdraft range hood.

Are downdraft hoods effective?

No, downdraft range hoods are not as effective as regular range hoods. However, any ventilation is better than none. Additionally, having downdraft ventilation on your appliances gives your kitchen a more modern look and feel without taking up valuable counter or cabinet space above the range.

Do downdraft ranges need to be vented?

Due to their design, downdraft ranges are often installed in vented format. However, recirculation kits are available for many downdraft variants.

What is CFM?

The standard unit of measurement for airflow is the cubic foot per minute (CFM). A square unit is a unit of measurement used to express a square of an area (like square feet). Cubic feet per minute (CFM) is a unit of measurement used to express the rate of volumetric transfer between two points, such as the volume of air in a room.


There are benefits and drawbacks to downdraft range hoods to consider. Before purchasing this cooking equipment set, you should think about how it will fit into your home’s layout, kitchen aesthetic, and your unique requirements.

This article covered a downdraft range hood, how it works, and its benefits. Here are some key takeaways:

Key takeaways

  • A downdraft hood is a great alternative for removing smoke, heat and stink from the kitchen.
  • In a downdraft system, there is no hood.
  • A ceiling duct is connected to the vent, carrying the smoke outside.
  • If you have a downdraft, you may install cabinets above your stove.
  • They provide a classy flair to the space and elevate its aesthetic appeal.
  • A downdraft ventilation system or pop-up vent employs proximity ventilation to suck smoke, odors, and grease downward.

So, are you using a downdraft range hood? And did I cover everything you wanted to know? Let me know in the comments section below (I read and reply to every comment). If you found this article helpful, check out my full blog for more tips and tricks in your kitchen. Thanks for reading, and stay safe.

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Written by Roger Harris, Staff Writer

Hey there! My name is Roger, and I've been selling range hoods for over six years. I now run this blog all about range hoods and kitchen ventilation! If you're looking for a new range hood for your kitchen, this is the place for you.

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Edited by Jordan May, Staff Editor

Jordan is a seasoned editor with over seven years of experience. His passion for writing and storytelling started when he was a teenager, spending countless hours reading books and creating his own stories.

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