Ducted vs recirculating cooker hoods – what’s the difference?

Ducted vs recirculating cooker hoods – what’s the difference?

All cooker hoods contain a motor that pulls air from the kitchen to clean it. Ducted hoods remove air to the outside, while recirculation hoods recycle purified air back into the kitchen.

Recirculation hoods are also called recycling, recirculating or ductless extractors. Ducted hoods are sometimes referred to as vented extractors. Below we explain the differences between ducted and recirculation cooker hoods.


Can all hoods be used for ducting out and recirculation?

Most hoods can be used in either ducted or ductless mode, but some exceptions exist. BEST ceiling hoods are only suitable for ducting out, while most pendant hoods are only available for recirculation. Check the extraction options for each product in our cooker hood catalogue.

How do ducted hoods work?

Ducted hoods remove air from the kitchen through a pipe to the outside. This is how it works:

  1. The cooker hood motor draws air from the kitchen into the hood;
  2. The air passes through grease filters which trap grease;
  3. The air including fumes, odours and condensation, is removed through the ducting pipes to the outside.

How do recirculating (or ductless) hoods work?

Recirculating cooker hoods recycle air back into the kitchen after removing grease and cooking odours. This is how it works (the first two steps are exactly the same as for ducted hoods):

  1. The cooker hood motor draws air from the kitchen into the hood;
  2. The air passes through grease filters which trap grease;
  3. The air then passes through charcoal filters which absorb cooking odours;
  4. The purified air is recycled back into the kitchen.

What is the difference in extraction for ducted vs recirculating hoods?

When the air is forced through the charcoal filters in recirculation mode, the air flow is reduced. It is realistic to assume that using the same hood in recirculation mode will reduce extraction by around 30% compared to having it ducted out.

The extraction of a ducted hood will mainly be affected by the length and type of ducting and the number of bends in the ducting run. A cooker hood with a shorter ducting run will extract more air from the kitchen than a hood with a longer ducting run. In a similar way, a hood with fewer bends in the ducting will perform better than one with more bends.

Another key difference is that a ducted cooker hood will remove steam from your kitchen and prevent condensation from building up. A recirculation hood will reduce odours, but will not remove steam.

What accessories are required?

For ducted hoods, you require a ducting kit. As a minimum you require pipes (depending on the length required), 90° bends and a wall vent. Make sure you select the right diameter for your cooker hood. All BEST cooker hoods require ducting with a diameter of 150mm.

For some cooker hoods you may need to buy a separate chimney kit to hide the ducting run. Check our product pages for information on each hood (if an optional chimney kit is required, then it will be listed under extraction options).

For ductless hoods, you require charcoal filters. Sometimes these are included when you buy your cooker hood; sometimes you need to purchase them separately. Also, charcoal filters need to be replaced every two to three months (or more often if you use your cooker hood a lot).

What about installing ducted and ductless hoods?

 Recirculation hoods are easier to install because you don’t need to worry about your ducting run.

When you have your hood ducted out, there are a few things to consider:

  1. Positioning of your hood. Try to plan your cooker and hood close to an outside wall if possible, because it will shorten the length of your ducting; and improve your cooker hood performance.
  2. Island and ceiling hoods. Consider the direction of the joists, because it is not possible to run ducting in the opposite direction of the joists.
  3. Downdraft hoods. These are usually ducted out through the floor. Make sure you plan your cooker hood ducting run before you begin your kitchen build or renovation project!

For more information check out our guide to cooker hood installation.

Further information:

6 important things to consider before ducting out your cooker hood

Essential questions about recirculation hoods