Restaurant Ventless Hood Systems And How They Help Food Service Thrive

One of the more costly investments every restaurateur must make is a high-quality hood system for their grills, fryers and cooktops. Hood systems filter odors, smoke and grease away from food prep surfaces and appliances to help maintain a higher standard of quality and safety. The drawback for many small food service businesses is the often prohibitive cost of a vented hood system. 

Vented hoods require ductwork to pull air outside, and this can be very costly if your location doesn’t have an existing kitchen ventilation system. For smaller commercial kitchens that operate at a lower volume, a ventless hood system is an excellent solution to this problem. Ventless hood systems come with their own benefits and drawbacks, but they can be the perfect fit for your kitchen depending on your needs. How do you choose the right ventless hood system to help your foodservice business thrive? Let’s take a look at how these unique ventilation hoods work, and whether they are a good fit for your commercial kitchen.

How Ventless Hood Systems Work

Fundamentally, ventless hood systems function like standard vented hoods without pulling the air outside of the building. They use heavy-duty filters to remove smoke, odors and grease from the air before recirculating it into the kitchen. Additionally, most ventless hood systems also have an automatic shut-off feature to alert staff when hood systems need to be cleaned.

Many are designed for specific cooking appliances like grills, griddles and fryers, and they can be purchased in any size necessary for a low-volume kitchen. According to most local fire and safety codes, any hood system for a fryer must have a fire suppression system. This is a critical consideration when making a purchase, so make sure you know how your ventless hood system will be used before buying. 

Pros And Cons Of Ventless Hood Systems


  • Significantly less expensive than traditional exhaust hoods.
  • More efficient and effective in small spaces.
  • Easier to integrate into smaller kitchen spaces.
  • Daily maintenance and maintenance costs are lower than exhaust hood systems.
  • Fire suppression systems may be less costly due to the smaller size of ventless hood systems.


  • Fans tend to be much noisier than traditional exhaust hood systems.
  • Not designed for use over large, high-volume appliances.
  • Air is recirculated inside the kitchen and increases interior air temperature.
  • Filters must be exchanged and cleaned more frequently than exhaust vent hoods.
  • May not include a fire suppression system

Important Considerations

Air Volume Capacity

Your ventless hood system needs to meet certain criteria for the volume of air it can move and how quickly it can move it. Light duty hoods are fine over ovens, steamers and small kettles provided they don’t produce grease. These hoods operate at about 150-300 cubic feet per minute (CFM). Medium duty and heavy-duty systems are required for fryers, charbroilers and large kettles. These systems typically move between 200-600 CFM. Plan accordingly.

Cleaning And Maintenance

Be prepared for daily cleaning with a ventless hood system. The baffles, filters and fans may need daily steam cleaning and weekly pressure washing to maintain optimal function. Most systems will have easily removable parts to cut down on maintenance time, but you must remain consistent with your cleaning schedule. 

Automatic shut-off systems can and will shut down your hood system when you don’t maintain your hood system properly.  That downtime costs you business and money, and these are easily preventable losses with proper, consistent maintenance.

Make-Up Air

Since ventless hood systems do not redirect air from the kitchen to the exterior, you will need to consider how fresh air is circulated in the kitchen. Your HVAC system should be venting hot air and pulling in cool air throughout the day automatically. However, when using a ventless hood system, you may find that your HVAC system runs more frequently to keep the kitchen cool. 

It is critical that your HVAC draw sufficient air to keep working conditions in the kitchen bearable. Additionally, you may need to find alternative ways to add make-up air flowing into the kitchen from outside as well if your HVAC isn’t cutting it.

Design & Installation

Ventless hood systems are the most versatile kitchen hoods to install since they don’t require ductwork. That being said, you need to ensure you have sufficient hood coverage for your cooking appliances. Wall-mounted and ceiling-mounted ventless hoods can be installed virtually anywhere you can connect them to electricity. 

The only thing you will need to consider besides placement is how they will affect airflow in the kitchen. If your ventless hood system doesn’t have sufficient incoming air where it’s installed, it may require more frequent cleaning and generate more heat.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately, the ventilation system in your kitchen is one of the most expensive investments you will make as a fledgling restaurant.  A ventless hood system can provide a significantly less costly kitchen ventilation solution. If you are just starting out, this cost savings can mean the difference between thriving and surviving. 

You should carefully weigh the pros and cons, and choose the system that’s right for your kitchen. Your most important consideration is whether a ventless hood system is sufficient for the volume of food you prepare each day. Most small kitchens are just fine with a ventless hood system, but if your business expands you may need to consider upgrading and installing a traditional exhaust hood system.

Do you run a small restaurant near Grand Prairie or Irving, Texas? Texas Restaurant Supply has a wide variety of new and used ventless hood systems that are sure to meet your commercial kitchen’s needs. Contact us or visit one of our locations today. Let us help you thrive safely and efficiently without going over budget.