Electric Kettle Comparison
Electric Kettle Buying Guide
What is an Electric Kettle?
Electric kettles are convenient, useful appliances that make drinking tea even more enjoyable because of how fast the water boils. They come in a variety of styles and sizes and can be either corded or cordless. There are many things to consider when it comes to purchasing the right electric kettle. Everything from how easy it is to use, to the type of kettle it is to the features it has are all important to look at and compare.
This electric kettle buyer’s guide will give you all of the important information that you will need to compare the styles and models available and decide which one is the best for your needs and preferences. When you know this valuable information can ensure that you get the most for your money and not end up with an electric kettle you never use.
The History of the Kettle
Electric kettles came onto the scene during the 19th century. Compton and Co was the first which was invented in 1891. The earlier models of electric kettles heated water from an external element. The efficiency of the kettle depended a lot upon the design, with different designs being more efficient than others.
In 1922 the first electric kettle with an internal element was produce by the Swan Company. Other manufacturers jumped on board quickly with similar designs of their own. Styles and designs have changed over the years including ceramic as a material which was used a lot during the 40s because of the metal shortage.
In 1955 Russell Hobbs invented the first automatic electric kettle. It was one of many different unique designs that came out of the 50s. The kettle that was invented by Hobbs had an off switch that was automatic and triggered by steam that traveled along a metallic strip. This eliminated the common problem of kettles boiling dr. In 1960 He improved the design which remained popular through the 60s and onward; made of chrome and curved with a black handle.
Cordless kettles came onto the market in 1986 and in 196 the 360 degree cordless connection was invented. With all of the advancements over the years, the one thing that has remained constant is the popularity of electric kettles for boiling water for tea enthusiasts.
What to Look for When Shopping for Kettles
All of the factors listed below are the important things to consider when you are comparison shopping for electric kettles. These are the questions you want to answer about each model you’re considering.
- Capacity of the Kettle - Electric kettles can usually hold anywhere from 1 to 1 liters of water. The most common size seems to be 1.5 liters. This is going to be enough for the majority of users. If you only need to boil enough water for 1 or 2 cups you can get away with the 1 liter styles but having the larger one will come in handy if you ever have guests over for tea.
- How Fast Does it Boil Water? - A kettle that boils water fast is a plus for most tea drinkers so they don’t have to wait too long to enjoy that cup of hot tea. Most of the better kettles on the market will only take 3 to 4 minutes to have your boiling hot water ready. If you have an electric tea kettle that is prone to scale build up, the speed in which it boils the water will be reduced. Make sure that deposits are reduced and look for models that are designed to alleviate this problem.
- Does it have a “keep warm” feature? - This is a real handy feature that keeps the water warm after it has boiled. Most models will keep the water warm for about 30 minutes after it’s boiled. Some might for up to an hour after.
- Auto shut off/Boil Dry Protection - these are two features that are great for protecting the safety of users as well as extending the life of the electric kettle. The auto shut off and boil dry protection shut the kettle off if the water gets down below a certain level or if it’s left on for an extended period of time, so it doesn’t burn up the kettle.
- Cordless base or a detachable cord – Serving doesn’t get any more convenient than having a kettle that is cordless. No cords to worry about getting tangled in and you can bring the kettle out to the garden or deck to have tea with no worries. Many models have a base that is attached to a cord and the kettle can just be lifted off the base and taken wherever you want to go.
- Drip-free spout - Spilling water on the counter or tablecloth while trying to serve the guests is annoying and can be embarrassing too. It can also be hazardous if the water spills on someone you’re serving or spills near the base or cord.
- Minimum water capacity –Users don’t always need to boil water for several people at one time. Sometimes they just want one cup of tea or cocoa or soup. Finding an electric kettle that allows for smaller amounts is very convenient. There are models available that allow for boiling just one or two cups at a time.
- Temperature Selection Feature - Several of the newer and higher end models are equipped with temperature selectors that allow the user to set the temperature of the water that is boiled. This is beneficial for specific types of teas that you may want to drink.
- Non-slip/Cool Touch Handle- Having a cool touch handle is very important as it can prevent burns when trying to pour the water into the cup. In addition, having the handle be non slip makes it safe even if the user’s hands are wet when they pour. Having a hot kettle of water slip out of your hand while pouring is not a good thing at all and the non slip feature can prevent this.
- Hidden heating element - The benefit to a hidden heating element is that they are not subjected to the water at all and therefore don’t have the scale buildup that immersed heating elements have. The more scale that builds up the more the performance of the electric kettle will suffer. Many of the models on the market today have this hidden element feature.
- How Easy is it to Use? – There are certain features that can make one kettle easier to use or another one. You should look at your own needs when looking for an electric kettle to make sure that it takes those needs into consideration. An example would be a user that has arthritis. Using a model that allows the kettle to be filled through the spout is much easier for them to handle than having to take the lid off each time. Make sure the handle is comfortable to grip and non slip as well. Whatever features you need are the ones you should ensure your electric kettle has.
- Water Level Indicator - This see through indicator allows users to be able to see how much water is in the kettle. Their purpose is to shoe the least and most water that should be in the kettle during use. If you want water for several people, fill it to the max level, if you want just a cup or two, fill it less but don’t drop below the minimum level. It’s always marked in measurements and is great for when you only want to boil a specific amount of water. Most kettles have the water level indicator on both sides so it can be seen from any direction.
- Colors and Designs – Electric kettles come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Finding one that will fit with the kitchen décor is actually pretty easy. Finding one that matches AND that has the features you’re looking for can be a bit harder, but with all the choices available and the newer models on the market today, you will be able to find the perfect electric kettle for your kitchen.
- Thermostat Control - Having a thermostat control allows the kettle to “know” when to shut off. This will prevent damage to the heating element and is an important feature in all modern styles.
- Power/Wattage - Electric kettles can be much more efficient to use than stove top varieties or using the microwave. The wattage that an electric kettle has determines how fast the water will boil. The faster the water boils the less energy it uses. If the wattage is 3000 watts or higher, the model is considered a quick boil kettle. It uses a lot of electricity initially but since it boils so fast, the time required is much shorter.
- On/Off Indicator - This isn’t a particularly important feature but does provide convenience for the user. It can be a help in identifying problems with the kettle though. If the indicator light is on but the water doesn’t heat you will be able to ascertain that the problem is in the heating element and not the power supply.
- Whistle Indicator – whistling when the water is boiling used to be a mainstay of the stovetop kettle designs which was great is the user was in a different part of the house when the water was ready. Some electric kettle models still have this feature which can be convenient for the same reason it was before. For those who like the nostalgic feel of the tea kettle, a whistling feature is perfect.
Cordless Vs. Corded Kettles
There are two main types of electric kettles; cordless and corded. In most cases, cordless models are preferred over corded. When you are deciding between a corded and a cordless model think about who is going to use the kettle most often. If an elderly person or children are in the house, it is better to have a cordless model that has extra safety features such as the auto shut off which can avoid any accidents that can happen.
Features of Cordless Models - Cordless electric kettles sit on a base that is attached to a power source, so you can lift the kettle right off and take it with you. It is perfect for those who may like to take their tea outdoors. Many models have a swivel base for even more convenience.
Features of Corded Models - Less convenient than their cordless counterparts, corded models are still popular will some users. They typically feature a storage space on the bottom where the cord can be wrapped and put out of the way. They do require more awareness, especially around pets and children due to the cord.
Removing Scale from Your Electric Kettle
Descaling your electric kettle is an easy process. Fill your kettle with lemon juice or vinegar about a ¼ of the way full. After an hour, add water to the max fill line and boil the water/acid mixture. Pour the mixture out after it has boiled and rinse it out with cool water several times so no vinegar or lemon juice residue is left.
Reducing the Chance of Scale Buildup
Limescale is buildup of calcium and other minerals that are in the water. When limescale builds up it can reduce performance of the electric kettle and cause other problems too. Since hardwater is usually the culprit for limescale and it can be a real pain to remove once it has built up. Below are some measures you can take to prevent and reduce lime scale buildup. When you’re shopping for your kettle, look for these features.
- Limescale Filters - Some of the kettles on the market have limescale filters which get rid of the problem causing minerals before they ever get into the kettle. They’re easy to clean.
- Gold Elements -When the heating element is made of gold it is resistant to lime scale and is also easier to clean. They are expensive, but some users find it worth the expense to not have to deal with the common problem of lime scale buildup.
- Water Filter on the Faucet – Water filters don’t have anything to do with the kettle itself, but what they can do is filter the water straight from the tap so it never even reaches the kettle.
Taking care of you electric kettle keeps the water pure and the tea tasting great. It also extends the life of your electric kettle as well. Cleaning the kettle is easy. We’ve outlined the steps below.
- Make sure that your electric kettle is turned off and unplugged before you start cleaning it. Allow it to cool down completely before you begin.
- Taking a damp rag, clean the outside of the kettle and the base too. Dry both items off with a dry towel.
- Using dish detergents on a wet rag wash the inside of the kettle out. Do not, under any circumstances, immerse the kettle in water or wash in the dishwasher.
- Dry the inside of the kettle after you rinse it out thoroughly (still no immersing!) and let it air dry the rest of the way before putting it away in the cabinet.
- Don’t use abrasive cleaners or scouring pads on the electric kettle at all.
Perfect Steeping Temperatures and Times for Perfect Tea
Sitting down in the evenings or in the morning and having a perfect cup of tea is a really enjoyable thing to do. What you may not know is that certain types of tea do best with certain temperatures and steeping times. We’ve outlined these below for you, so you can make the perfect cup of tea too.
You will start by boiling the water and then turning it off so it cools down to the right temperature. All you need is a thermometer and a timer and you’re set.
- White Tea - 149-158 degrees for 1-2 minutes
- Yellow Tea – 159-167 degrees for 1-2 minutes
- Green Tea – 167- 176 degrees for 1-2 minutes
- Oolong Tea – 176-185 degrees for 2-3 minutes
- Black tea – 210 degrees for 2-3 minutes
- Herbal Tea – 210 degrees for 3-6 minutes
Electric kettles make fast work of preparing a terrific cup of tea. With the information in this buyer’s guide you have all you need to compare and find the perfect electric kettle that will work for your needs and preferences. It can be frustrating to sort through all the choices available but when you have the information you need, the choices become a lot simpler. There are some great electric kettle designs on the market with a lot of features that can make brewing the perfect cup of an enjoyable part of every morning or evening.
- Cuisinart - https://www.cuisinart.com/products/tea_kettles/cpk-17.html
- Chef’s Choice - http://www.chefscatalog.com/
- Hamilton Beach - http://www.sears.com/