Fume hoods provide protection from fumes and vapors that are created by processes in the biotechnology, life sciences, forensic and pharmaceutical industries. Fume hoods can be ducted into an existing HVAC system or operate via ductless technology.

Traditional “ducted” fume hoods are straightforward pieces of laboratory equipment. The hood is connected to existing facility ductwork. Contaminated air is pulled through the hood, into ductwork and finally directed outside the facility and into the atmosphere. Ducted fume hoods can be filtered or unfiltered depending on the design and application.

Ductless fume hoods contain filters in the fume hood itself. Instead of tying into existing laboratory ductwork, contaminated hood air is cleaned by the filter and recirculated directly back into the laboratory. No additional ductwork is required to exhaust air to the outside. Ductless fume hoods provide the same filtration capabilities as ducted hoods for low volumes of hazardous substances, but are easier to install, have lower initial installation costs and can be highly efficient.


Ductless fume hoods are sustainable solutions for laboratories that deal with a wide variety of chemicals or particulates. By incorporating high efficiency carbon filters, ductless fume hoods capture a large volume of harmful fumes. Optional HEPA/ULPA filtration captures particulates larger than 0.3 microns (HEPA) or 0.12 microns (ULPA) with >99.999% efficiency. Additionally, the carbon filters can be customized to capture a wide variety of chemical families, saving money and resources by allowing more work to be performed with a single fume hood.

Ductless fume hoods also help cut energy bills by filtering and recirculating heated or cooled air back into the laboratory. This means that unlike ducted fume hoods, which constantly send treated air outside the facility, ductless fume hoods keep more treated air inside of the facility and reduce the load on the HVAC utilities.

Learn about more sustainable ductless solutions.


Ductless fume hoods can achieve cost savings in initial infrastructure enhancements through reduced need for ductwork, exhaust fans, mechanical systems, roof elements and electrical hookups. Because filtered air is returned to the room, no extra demands are required of facility HVAC capacity for make-up air. Essentially, a ductless fume hood can be placed in any laboratory space without consideration of the adding ductwork or major utilities.

Additional costs for ducted fume hoods can exist in terms of the load on an existing HVAC system. In some cases, the existing system in a laboratory cannot support the additional load associated with more ducted fume hoods. Increasing the size of the existing HVAC system for a laboratory could be a major expense that far outweighs the initial purchase price of a fume hood.

Installation and Portability

Installation costs for ductless fume hoods are exceptionally low. No special considerations need to be made for ductwork, so the fume hoods can be placed in the most convenient location to ensure easy hookup of power and utilities (if applicable). Ductless fume hoods are designed for very straightforward installation on almost any countertop or base stand. Minimum clearances are necessary to ensure proper airflow and usability.

Many ductless fume hoods are portable and may be moved from one location to the next with minimal downtime and without filter changes. This helps save time and increase the efficiency and ability of a laboratory to react to ever-changing scientific landscapes.

Improving LEED Credits

The USGBC LEED® 2009 rating system recognizes performance in seven key areas of sustainability for new and existing construction. Ductless fume hood products may contribute to LEED points in a number of areas, including energy and atmosphere and indoor environmental quality.

Ductless fume hoods require very little energy, particularly when compared to ducted hoods. This can help achieve energy savings. Ductless units also provide powerful filtration of low-level hazardous vapors and do not require ventilation to the outside.

Learn more about earning USGBC LEED credits.

Polypropylene Construction

Polypropylene fume hoods are acid resistant and non-corrosive, making them ideal for use in environments with harsh, corrosive acids. Additionally, polypropylene construction helps guard against electrical sparks and limits conductivity to help ensure operator safety in high risk environments.

Polypropylene is also extremely durable and long-lasting. Polypropylene fume hoods have non-porous surfaces and are immune to odors from various chemicals. Typical applications for polypropylene fume hoods include food research laboratories, wet processes, laminar flow, cleanrooms and custom environmental solutions.

Steel Construction

The vast majority of ductless fume hoods are constructed of steel framework, which can be stainless or epoxy-coated depending on the application. Steel is durable, low maintenance and fire resistant. When epoxy-coated, steel is impervious to a variety of chemical types.

Steel is commonly used for non-corrosive applications in a variety of industries, including research, forensic and environmental laboratories.

Return on Investment

The initial purchase price for a fume hood is not the only or the best comparison of cost associated with fume hood purchases. The total life cycle cost of fume hoods is a more accurate comparison model and is based on initial purchase price, laboratory improvement costs, additional utility costs and other factors that contribute to fume hood cost over time.

Use the Return on Investment calculator to learn more about the items that can affect the overall cost of a ductless fume hood over the course of its life cycle.