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Proper Range Hood Wire Sizes & Circuit Requirements


What size wire gauge for a range hood?

A range hood reduces indoor air pollution produced by steam or smoke when cooking and help reduce grease buildup in the kitchen. That said, there is often confusion over installation due to their electric specifications in gauge, circuit, and wattage. 

The average range hood requires a 14/2 or a 12/2-gauge wire with ground depending on if they are connected to a 15 or 20-amp breaker. It is highly recommended that range hoods are connected to their own dedicated circuit. A range hood consumes between 65 to 300 watts of power with an average of 105 watts. This roughly translates to 0.105 kWh of energy or 0.012 cents per hour.

I have always used 12 gauge wire on a dedicated circuit. It’s probably a little overkill at times but on most occasions, we hadn’t yet picked out the appliances that would be used and so I was unable to verify wattage. As an old electrician told me one time, safe beats sorry every day of the week.

Read on to learn more about the different types and kinds of hood ranges as well as what they require and consume when it comes to power. I’ll detail the necessary gauge wire for installation, how many watts they typically use, and whether you should have a dedicated circuit for this hefty kitchen appliance. 

But keep in mind that your electrician is the ultimate authority so seek his or her guidance if you need it.

The Basics of Range Hoods

It might surprise you to learn that range hoods are actually a relatively old invention dating back to 1937Opens in a new tab.. This kitchen appliance was initially created for a home in Dallas with a dirt floor and is intended to improve air quality when cooking. 

The invention has been altered and improved numerous times before becoming the modern luxury appliance it is today. 

There are two design types of hoods: ducted or duct-free, and they each have their own pros and cons when it comes to hood functionality and air quality. 

Ducted range hoodDuct-free range hood
Pros* Often made with an outside duct.
* Generally greater performance.
* Quieter than duct-free hoods. Better air quality than duct-free hoods.
*Sends polluted air outdoors rather than recirculating it. 
* Allows more versatility for installation.
* Does not require pipes or ducts because it doesn’t send air outside.
* Uses activated-charcoal filters to clean polluted air.  
Cons* More complicated to install.
* Limited installation locations.
* Overall pricier than ducted hoods because they require additional filters that must be replaced regularly.
* The use of filters tends to make the hoods louder.
* Recirculates air in the kitchen (filters polluted air then sends it back into the kitchen rather than outside)

The type of range hood you have is typically dependent on the setup of your home and kitchen. If you live in a condominium or apartment, you are more likely to have a duct-free hood because it is too difficult or impossible to install a ducted hood that allows you to release kitchen air outside. 

In addition to design types, there are several kinds of range hoods you might have in your kitchen, such as:

  • Wall Mount Range Hoods
  • Island Range Hoods
  • Under Cabinet Range Hoods
  • Professional Grade Range Hoods
  • Downdraft Range Hoods or Ventilation
  • Microwave Range Hoods

Again, the kind of range hood your kitchen can have will largely depend on its setup as well as if you want a ducted or duct-free hood. Wall-mounted range hoods are the most popular choice and easy to install with ducts. 

However, if you want an island range hood, they make spectacular centerpieces and statement pieces for your kitchen, but it is much harder to install them, particularly if you want a ducted option. 

What Gauge Wire Do You Need for a Range Hood?

When it comes to the necessary gauge wire for a range hood to function properly, the most important deciding factor is the connected breaker’s amp.

On average, you can typically use a 14/2 or 12/2 gauge wire to support a range hood. If you need a 15-amp breaker for the appliance, you should use a 14/2-gauge wire, and if you need a 20-amp breaker, you should use a 12/2 gauge wire. If you are unsure about which wire you need for your amp breaker, a copper 12/2 is often suitable for general use. 

Ultimately, if you are considering installing a hood range yourself, be sure you are extremely knowledgeable of your home’s electric system before altering any wires or breakers. Otherwise, it is best to hire a professional for this task. 

Does a Range Hood Need a Dedicated Circuit? 

It is always advised that you put your range hood on its own dedicated circuit for maximum safety and functionality. Article 422.16 of the National Electrical Code outlines specifications for a range hood and states (3) “the receptacle is supplied by an individual branch circuit” (sourceOpens in a new tab.).

Note that this code verbiage speaks specifically to a range hood that is plugged into a receptacle. You could potentially run your range hood on the same circuit as other low-wattage connections such as LED lights if it was hardwired.

If you are ever uncertain about whether you can plug your range hood into a certain outlet, especially if it is a cord and plug system rather than hardwired, you can always consult with an electrical inspector for assistance.  

Should A Range Hood Be Hardwired Or Plugged Into A Receptacle?

If the outlet will not be accessible after installation, the range hood’s electrical connection should be hardwired. Article 422.16 (4) of the National Electrical Code requires that the receptacle be accessible.

Receptacles can go bad over time and with no reasonable means to access and replace them, a repair can be much more complicated. A dedicated hardwired connection prevents this potential point of failure.

I always plan for a hardwired connection because I am never sure of the model and style of range hood that will be used.

How Many Watts Does a Range Hood Use?

A range hood consumes on average 105 watts of power. They range between 65 to 300 watts. Large range hoods will be ere on the higher side towards 300 watts due to their size and increased extraction rate. 

How much power your range hood consumes is ultimately dependent on the kind of hood and its size. If you have a small wall mount range, it will likely require less power than a large customized or professional range hood.

If you have a large kitchen, you’ll need a range hood that can keep up with the air pollution caused by your cooking, which means it will likely have a high extraction rate of around 700m3/hOpens in a new tab.. The higher the rate, the more power the hood consumes. 

This amount of wattage might seem like a lot, but in fact, it is quite affordable compared to other appliances and considering its overall cost. The average rice cooker consumes 105 watts per hour, which means if you have a small hood with a low extraction rate, it isn’t even consuming as much power as this small appliance. 

Additionally, an appliance that consumes 300 watts of power per hour will typically cost a homeowner 3-7 cents an hourOpens in a new tab.. That’s a mere annual cost of $10.95-$25.19Opens in a new tab.

So, if you are hesitant to acquire a range hood because you’re concerned about your electric bills, don’t worry. Appliances such as AC, a water pump, and washer/dryer clothing machines will cost you far more than this convenient kitchen appliance.   

Final Thoughts

The electrical demands of your specific range hood should ultimately guide your decision. The distance the wire travels from the breaker to the range hood, the maximum watts the device is capable of pulling, and whether or not any other electrical demands are being shared all play a role in determining proper wire size.

Related Reading: Wago Nuts Vs. Wire Nuts: Why I Wago-Wired My Whole House

Paul

As a homeowner, I am constantly experimenting with making the structure of my house more energy-efficient, eliminating pests, and taking on DIY home improvement projects. Over the past two decades, my family has rehabbed houses and contracted new home builds and I've learned a lot along the way. I share my hard-learned lessons so that you can save time and money by not repeating my mistakes.

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