Kitchen Ceiling Exhaust Fan Replacement: A Buying Guide

Cooking is nice, but the lingering cooking smells not so much. Nor is the steam created while you’re cooking, and that can negatively affect your surroundings. A ceiling exhaust fan can help you maintain the air quality and an ideal temperature in your kitchen – at least until it stops working. The first question that comes to mind when the kitchen exhaust fan stops doing its job is how to replace it. Should you keep the ceiling one or opt for another type?

When shopping for a kitchen ceiling exhaust fan replacement, you must ensure the new fan has an appropriate size for your room. You should also consider whether you wish to keep the ceiling fan or replace it with an easier-to-install option.

5 Types Of Kitchen Exhaust Fans

In broad lines, kitchen exhaust fans can be divided into ducted and ductless. Ducted fans draw the air from your kitchen and release it outside, whereas ductless exhaust fans use a carbon or charcoal filter to purify and remove moisture from the air in your kitchen. Both ducted and ductless kitchen exhaust fans can further be classified into the following categories.

Ceiling Mounted Exhaust Fans

Most ceiling-mounted exhaust fans are ducted, conducting smoke, moist air, and unpleasant smells outside your kitchen through a vent pipe. Most pipes open above the roof (similar to other venting pipes in your house), but some can also open in the attic. The best place to install a ceiling fan is above the stove or kitchen island if you have one. 

Most kitchen ceiling exhaust fans are part of a range hood that removes combustion products and airborne grease.

Wall Mounted Exhaust Fans 

Like the ceiling fans, most wall-mounted exhaust fans are ducted. These fans use shorter ducts that open on the exterior wall. However, you don’t have to cut holes in your walls and install vents if you want to switch from a ceiling to a wall fan.

The market offers a selection of ductless kitchen fans that can be mounted on walls. They do an excellent job of absorbing odors, but they generally can’t remove moisture from the air.

Window Mounted Exhaust Fans

Window exhaust fans are a special category. They are ductless, but they connect directly with the exterior and conduct odors, smoke, and moist air out of your home in the same way a ducted fan does. These fans are relatively easy to install, but they aren’t exactly aesthetically appealing. 

Under Cabinet Exhaust Fans

Mounted under one of your upper cabinets, these fans can be ducted or ductless. Ducted under cabinet exhaust fans generally connect to a vent pipe through the wall, although some may connect to a vertical section of pipe that exits through the ceiling. 

Typically, these fans are located over the stove. They are easy to access, easy to clean, and easy to replace. Newer generation ductless fans can absorb odors, smoke, and moisture alike.

Downdraft Systems 

Downdraft systems are not as effective as the other types of kitchen exhaust fans, but they provide more streamlined aesthetics. Because they connect to a duct in the floor, these exhaust fans are preferred by those living in condos without wall or ceiling vents.

How Much Does It Cost To Install Kitchen Ceiling Exhaust Fan?

Installing a kitchen ceiling exhaust fan can cost anywhere between $280 and $6,000. The final price depends on many factors, such as the fan size and power and any ducting work that must be done.

Kitchen Ceiling Exhaust Fan Costs 

Standard kitchen ceiling fans can cost anywhere between $30 and $300, depending on the power. An exhaust fan’s power is measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), and a good ceiling fan should have about 600 CFM.

That said, you should calculate the minimum CFM requirements based on your kitchen’s size and your stovetop’s BTU output.

As a general rule, you need at least 100 CFM for every 10,000 BTU. Most manufacturers state each burner’s BTU in the product’s manual – or you could contact the manufacturer to find it out. Electric stoves may not give you a BTU output, but you can use a simple formula to calculate the CFM needs.

Simply multiply the stove’s width by 10 to find out how many CFM you need. For instance, a 48-inch stove requires 480 CFM.

Regarding the kitchen’s size, you can determine the necessary CFM based on the volume of your kitchen. 

Multiply your kitchen’s volume in cubic feet by 15 (which is the number of times the exhaust fan should circulate the air in an hour), then divide by 60, which is the number of minutes in an hour. The result is the minimum CFM requirement. 

Now, compare this number with the CFM calculated for your stovetop, and buy an exhaust fan with a CFM that matches or is higher than the highest number you calculated.

If you want a range hood instead, expect to pay anywhere between $150 and $4,500.

Vents and Ducts 

If you’re building or remodeling your home, you may also have to install vents and ducts. The pipes cost about $2 – $3 per linear foot, while labor can cost you anywhere between $150 and $2,000, based on location and home size. In very large homes, a contractor could charge up to $4,000 to install ductwork.

Electrical Work 

Exhaust fans operate on electricity, so if you want to install a kitchen ceiling fan where one doesn’t currently exist, you’ll also have to account for electrical work.

Electrical wires cost about $4 per linear foot on average. Electricians charge between $50 and $100 per hour, although the rate could vary based on where you live and the actual work required. Typically, it shouldn’t cost you more than $300. 

First-Time Installation vs. Replacement

If you want to replace a broken fan, but the exhaust system is otherwise in good working order, you’ll only have to pay for the new fan and labor. Most replacement projects will cost you between $150 and $690, depending on your location, fan’s price, and the actual time required to do the work.

Professional vs. DIY Installation 

If you want to save some money and have some DIY skills, you could install or replace the kitchen ceiling exhaust fan yourself. In this case, the only cost you have to worry about is the cost of materials.

Can You Replace an Exhaust Fan Yourself?

Yes, you can replace it yourself whether you have a ducted or ductless kitchen ceiling exhaust fan. Here’s how. 

  1. Check if you need a permit. Some states prohibit homeowners from carrying out electrical work in their homes themselves, so you should check with your local authorities. Pull a permit if necessary. 
  2. Check the type of fan you have, and buy a similar one to replace it. Pay attention to its design – replacing a ductless fan with a ducted one requires a lot of work and heavy remodeling of your home.
  3. Turn off the power to the fan from the main circuit breaker, then remove the old fan and disconnect its wiring. 
  4. If you have a ducted fan, disconnect it from the vent, then remove the fan housing and replace it with the new fan’s housing.
  5. Fix the new housing to the ceiling joists, then connect the new fan to the vent and electrical wires. Install the new fan cover by snapping it in place and fix it with screws. Turn on the electricity and check if the new fan works.

Which Exhaust Fan Is Best For The Kitchen?

Ceiling exhaust fans are popular, but are they the best choice for your kitchen? Here are a few things to consider.

Ducted vs. Ductless 

Ducted fans are the best choice for kitchens because they remove much more than odors. A ducted fan also removes moisture from your air, fumes, and smoke. Most ductless exhaustion fans can only remove odors.

Ceiling vs. Wall vs. Window 

Most homeowners prefer ceiling fans. They are the best choice if you live in a house. However, installing vents and ducts in the ceiling of an apartment is often impossible. If you live in an apartment block, a wall fan could be a better option. Window fans are another practical choice, as long as you don’t mind having the window covered by the fan.


Replacing a kitchen ceiling exhaust fan isn’t complicated. In most cases, you’ll be able to do the work yourself. However, installing a fan where there isn’t currently one may require you to hire a professional.

Have you ever replaced the kitchen ceiling exhaust fan? Share your tips or questions in a comment.

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