Our expert testers
Our rangehood expert Peter Horvath spends a lot of time watching steam rise. He can see what makes a good rangehood, and he can hear what makes a good one, too – one that makes as little noise as possible!
How we choose what to test
Rangehoods come in all shapes and styles, so it's always a challenge choosing which ones to test. At present, we test the ever-popular wall canopy models, along with pull-out rangehoods, and undermount or integrated models that fit into kitchen cabinets. We don't currently have the lab space or capacity to test "silent" rangehoods with external motors, such as ones from Schweigen, or "island" canopies that sit in the middle of large kitchens. There's a huge range of rangehood brands and models, and unfortunately our time and budget can't accommodate them all.
Once a list featuring a range of brands and price points is chosen, our buyers then go through the arduous process of ordering the rangehoods just as a consumer would, along with their associated installation kits. We test in both ducted and recirculating modes (where available; recirculating is common in apartments and other situations where air is not ducted outside, but circulated back into the kitchen). Recirculating mode needs separate carbon filters, and our buyers also need to order these prior to testing – sometimes these take weeks to arrive.
Once all the equipment is ready, Peter installs the rangehoods in our small appliances lab, ensuring that manufacturers' installation instructions are correctly followed.
How we test
In both ducted and recirculating mode, Peter conducts a steam removal test. He boils a litre of water in two saucepans then leaves them to simmer. Using suitable lighting, he assesses how much steam is collected in both low and high fan settings, and how much escapes from the front and sides. The more steam escapes, the lower the steam removal score (a continuous stream of steam escaping at the sides and front will only score 20%). He repeats the test with four saucepans.
We score how well the rangehoods remove steam in both high and low fan settings.
Peter records a video of the steam escaping to ensure that his scoring is correct. Rangehoods also trap grease from cooking fumes, but unfortunately it's not feasible to test how well each model manages this.
Noise in the hood
Peter measures noise levels at each fan setting then converts those levels to a meaningful score – the higher the noise, the lower the score. Noise makes up 30% of our overall score because it's a crucial part of the buying process. A rangehood that is louder than a normal conversation will be less pleasant to use, especially in today's open-plan kitchen/living areas.
Both noise and steam scores form part of the performance score. Peter also measures power consumption and light output.
We don't assess how much smell has disappeared as this can be subjective.
Ease of use
For ease of use, Peter looks at how easy the filter(s) are to access, remove, replace and clean. Controls for the fans and light need to be easy to access, and lighting must be sufficient. Replacing the carbon filters must not be a fiddly task.
Test criteria explained
We test rangehoods in both ducted and recirculating modes. Test criteria comprises performance (60%), noise (30%) and ease of use (10%).