What Is CFM? How Much Do I Need in My Kitchen? (Full Guide)

What is CFM? In this article, we will cover CFM, how it's measured, and how to select a range hood with the right CFM for your specific kitchen.

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?

This article will discuss what CFM is, how it’s measured, and how to select a range hood with the right CFM for your specific kitchen. 

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. 

Beautiful kitchen modern kitchen with custom insert range hood.
Beautiful kitchen modern kitchen with custom insert range hood.

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. For example, some high-volume cleaning services will utilize machines that pump out 20,000 CFM to properly clean commercial air ducts.

How do I calculate the CFM I need?

Now that we’ve discussed CFM, here’s how to calculate it.

How do I calculate CFM for a 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. For example, a range with 90,000 BTUs should have a 900 CFM range hood at a minimum.

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

How do I calculate CFM for an electric range?

On the other hand, electric ranges are powered by an electrically created heart. Since they don’t produce as much heat, 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 purchase a more powerful range hood than they think they will need. 

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

What is the average CFM rating for a range hood?

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

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

Check out these options if you’re interested in purchasing a high CFM range hood.

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 your ride. This will ensure your cooking utensils have a long life.

If you cook regularly or are a fan of Asian cuisine, you should have 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 for a large kitchen. The larger the kitchen, the higher your CFM should be.

Also, remember that a larger CFM hood will likely lead to a larger range hood, so ensure you have enough space in your kitchen or under your cabinet to facilitate a larger range hood. If you have enough room, we recommend getting a hood that is six inches wider than your range to maximize efficiency.

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. It’s 60 times larger in size since there are 60 minutes in each hour.

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

While this may appear to be small, 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 configuration and local codes. However, 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. 

If you are wondering how to select the right range hood for your kitchen, watch this video from Build with Ferguson that discusses choosing the right range hood.

A video called How to Choose the Right Range Hood from the Build with Ferguson YouTube channel.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions regarding CFM.

What is CFM?

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. 

What is CFH? 

CFM stands for cubic feet per hour.

What is BTU?

The term “BTU” stands for “British Thermal Unit.” This unit of measurement tells you how much energy your air conditioner needs to remove an hour’s worth of heat from your home. BTU may seem too technical, but it is an important measurement that can help you figure out what size air conditioner you need for your home.


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. 

This article 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, multiply the width of your stove by inches by 10.

So, do you feel confident that you can choose the right range hood with the right CFM? Let us 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 for 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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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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