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How are CFM and sones related?

How are CFM and sones related? - Proline Range Hoods

When shopping for a range hood, two of the most important things to consider are CFM and sones. You want a hood with enough power to vent all the grease and smoke from your kitchen and quiet enough to not get in the way of conversation.

As CFM increases, sone (or volume) level increases. Range hoods from big box stores can be quite noisy even if they are a low CFM, because they are lower quality. But, a professional hood will be quieter at every speed, since it’s built with a more efficient motor, and better quality parts.

What is CFM and what is a sone?

CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. It measures the rate of airflow your hood sucks from your kitchen. Sones are a linear measurement of the noise level of your hood. So, six sones is twice as loud as three sones. The higher the CFM, the higher the sones of your range hood.

As you continue your search for a great range hood, here are some resources to help you find the best one for you.

With the right CFM, your hood will keep your kitchen air clean and fresh. But if you don’t have enough CFM this can be a hassle. So it’s important to learn how to calculate the CFM you need accurately. To learn more, check out this complete guide.

If you’re still a little unclear about what CFM is, we have a full article on that topic here.

Or, for more information on sones, check out this article. If you want to learn about a few different ways to make your hood quieter, we can show you how in this article on how to make a range hood quiet.

You might not have heard of sones; what’s more common is decibels. We made a chart comparing the two which you might find helpful. Check it out here.

Is a higher CFM better?

Bright Island Range Hood - How are CFM and sones related?

Let’s compare two range hoods: a 600 CFM hood from a big box store and a 1200 CFM professional range hood.

Both of these hoods are variable speed. The 600 CFM hood has four settings: 100, 250, 400, and 600 CFM. The professional hood has four settings: 400, 600, 900, and 1200 CFM.

To run the hood from the big box store at 600 CFM, you’ll have to use the max speed all the time. This will put a lot of strain on the motor, since 600 CFM is the highest amount it can handle.

Compare that with the 1200 CFM hood that is on its second-lowest speed at 600 CFM. This will be a much quieter setting. Not to mention it puts a small amount of strain on the motor. This means you can get more out of your range hood.

So, if you a buy a hood with more CFM than you need, it can last you much longer. This is what many of our customers do. They save the max speed for emergencies only and run their hood on the second or third speed most of the time.

This increases your flexibility in the kitchen too. So if you ever wanted to do a lot of frying or Asian cooking, you could. But with a 600 CFM hood from a big box store, a lot of the smoke and smells wouldn’t make it out of your kitchen.

When deciding on the right CFM for your range hood, you’re essentially making a trade off. Do you want a high CFM or do you want a quieter hood?

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to find a high CFM, ultra-quiet range hood. But, you can buy a powerful hood and use it on the lower settings.

Finding the Right CFM for You

If you cook a lot, you’ll want a 1200+ CFM hood. If you love Asian cooking, you’ll love these hoods too. Outdoor vent hoods are also popular at 1200 CFM or more.

Finding the right CFM is especially important for an outdoor hood because grills produce a lot of heat and heavy smoke. So you need a fan that can keep up and keep that air clean and fresh.

Depending on your cooking style, you may not need 1200+ CFM. We recommend 600+ CFM for those who live in apartments or those who cook only a few times per week. If you’re not a fan of Asian cooking or greasy or fried food, then at least 600 CFM is a great fit for you.

Tip: If you live in an apartment, your landlord might require you to buy a ductless hood. Most landlords don’t allow you to install ductwork for a ducted hood. But, you may be able to convince them to install one. Give it a try! Here are some of the best range hoods for your apartment.

You can find range hoods under 600 CFM at big box stores. But keep in mind that these hoods won’t last long. Even if you don’t cook often, you’ll still get more longevity out of a professional range hood compared to a hood under 600 CFM.

Because these fans come from big box stores, they’re manufactured in bulk with cheaper materials. To make the most worthwhile investment, look for a high quality hood with durable materials and 600+ CFM.

Keep in mind that you can’t increase the max CFM of a hood, so buying a more powerful hood to begin with is always better.

We have a wide range of powerful, professionally-made hoods at Proline. Check them out below.

CFM isn’t the only thing to consider when shopping for a hood. Another important feature is the noise level, also known as sones.


Take a look at some of our favorite powerful vent hoods below.

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If you enjoyed this article on range hoods, there’s plenty more to choose from. Check them out below.

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How are CFM and sones related?

As CFM increases, sone (or volume) level increases. Range hoods from big box stores can be quite noisy even if they are a low CFM, because they are lower quality. But, a professional hood will be quieter at every speed, since it’s built with a more efficient motor, and better quality parts.

What is CFM and what is a sone?

CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. It measures the rate of airflow your hood sucks from your kitchen. Sones are a linear measurement of the noise level of your hood. So, six sones is twice as loud as three sones. The higher the CFM, the higher the sones of your range hood.
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