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(National) Sept. 29, 2004 - Consumer Reports used a smoke machine to test range hoods. After smoke was pumped around the burners, testers assessed how much the range hood can capture. Some were quite good, but others weren't up the task.
A lot of the smoke escaped around the range hood instead of being sucked into the vent. Another important consideration with range hoods is ventilation. Even a good range hood will do a poor job if it isn't vented properly.
Eileen McCooey of Consumer Reports says, "If you don't vent the range hood to the outside, the smoke and heat won't be eliminated from the kitchen. They'll just get stirred up."
Consumer Reports also measured how noisy the fans were. A sound meter showed some are a lot noisier than others.
And, there were differences in range hood lights, too. Some weren't particularly good at lighting the top of the stove.
When shopping for a range hood, the good news is you don't have to pay top dollar. Consumer Reports says a good choice is the $200 model found at Sears, the Kenmore 52349. It's a Consumer Reports Best Buy. Another Best Buy is the GE Profile JV535H for $180.
No matter which range hood you have, if it has either a filter or grease trap, testers say you'll get the best performance if you keep it clean. Consumer Reports says if your range hood has a mesh filter, you should clean it at least once a month. You can put it right in your dishwasher.
If you're planning to redesign your kitchen, you can get a free checklist in the Home & garden section of ConsumerReports.org to insure that the job is done right.