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PainFree Shopping Guide To Buying a Tea Kettle
This used to be the choice, now we have 1000s to choose from
Kettles (Tea Kettles) boil water, what could be simpler?
Buying one should be straightforward, But it isn't.
There are 1000's of kettles on the market and so many features, it turns a simple buying exercise into a bit of a pain.
How To Choose The Right Kettle
You can pick one you like the look of and hope it works for you, but seriously, this is not be the best option.
Here's why: A kettle is something you use at least once every day to handle boiling water.
If it's electric you're going to use mains electric in very close proximity to water, if it's stove top you're going leave it on the hob on max.
Above all you want it to be safe and not scald anyone with water or steam, electrocute anybody, start a fire and certainly not fall to pieces when carrying a full load of hot a water in it.
It's not just how it looks but how you are going to use your kettle that should determine what you buy.
The basic things to look for in any kettle are:
Does it pour without dribbling? Some kettles have very narrow spouts which makes pouring difficult others have too wide spouts which throw out so much water they flood the cup and splash hot water everywhere.
Does the lid open wide enough?
If its a flip up does it open wide enough to fill properly, can you get your hand inside the kettle to clean it?
If its a lift off lid make sure the that the lid fits snugly but not so tight you have to wrestle it open.
A loose lid will add to the boiling time and allow steam to escape from the top of the kettle. which can scald you when you grip the handle.
Your going to be carrying hot water in it, does it feels flimsy or poorly made, if it's a stove top kettle how thick is the base, too thin and it will quickly melt or catch fire if it boils dry.
We test non whistling stove top kettles by boiling them dry for 10 minutes, very few survive!
If you already know what kind of kettle you're looking for, then jump straight to our Electric Kettle best buys, our Stove Top Kettle best buys or our Hot Water Dispenser best buys. If you want a little more info' before you decide what you need then please read on.
If you are looking to buy an Electric Kettle or hot water dispenser jump to Electric Kettle Buying Guide.
If you are looking for a Stove Top Kettle jump to Stove Top Kettle buying guide.
Electric Kettles are the most popular and convenient way to quickly boil water.
Available in colours to match your home or kitchen décor, lights to show they are working and even glass bodied so you can see the water boiling.
Some Electric Kettles are loaded with gadgets, many are just superfluous gimmicks, but if you are seriously into gadgets then try out the Hi tech WiFi linked Appkettle with its smartphone app control.
The downside is an Electric Kettle needs space to sit on your worktop.
Electric Kettles - What to look for
A cordless one with 360º positioning on the docking plate.
The days of trailing cords to the sink or plugging your kettle out to fill it are over.
The 360º docking plate means you can position the kettle in any position, so like stove top kettles they can be used comfortably by left or right-handed people.
Buying any other type of Electric Kettle is not worth it unless you are into genuine retro and can live with the hassle.
A cordless kettle mounted on a 360º base
Does the sound of boiling water irritate you? Some kettles can be as loud as 70 decibels, that's as loud as your vacuum cleaner!
If noise is an issue opt for a quiet boil feature. All tea kettles will produce louder noise as they reach boiling point, this is normal.
Size & Weight:
Got a big family, then you need a large capacity kettle. If the kettle is for a single person or small household then a smaller capacity one may be suitable
1.7 Liters is the capacity of the standard kettle, this weighs 1.7KG when full, and the kettle can weigh up to 2KG so you could be hefting 3.7Kg ( 8.15Lbs) each time you pick up a full kettle.
As you may be lifting it several times a day Is it going to be too heavy for you to handle safely or do you need a lighter kettle?
How does the handle feel?
A funky off the wall design may look appealing but if it is poorly balanced or uncomfortable to use it's best left unless you want it as a kitchen ornament.
Most Electric Kettles have a jug like handle but some (like the Russell Hobbs Legacy) have a traditional over the top stove kettle type handle.
You must feel comfortable with the weight and feel of it, using a kettle should be a simple hassle free process, not a chore.
Most electric kettles are made of plastic, a common complaint is that when boiled in a plastic kettle the water has a 'plasticy' taste.
All kettles should be boiled a couple of times with fresh water before use to get rid of any contaminants left as part of the manufacturing process.
With plastic kettles this process is usually enough to get rid of any after taste.:
Boil with fresh water and rinse, repeat. Then soak overnight with a mix of white vinegar or bicarbonate of soda and water. Rinse then boil again with fresh water and rinse.
With some cheap kettles the taste will not disappear which is why (apart from safety concerns) we advise not buying cheap kettles.
These, and most supermarket electric kettles, are usually low cost generic Chinese kettles with different brand names stuck on them.
This Chinese plastic kettle cost under £3 from the factory
Using an aluminum kettle, or kettles with heating elements exposed to the water can cause a metallic taste (we don't recommend aluminum or exposed element kettles).
With stainless steel kettles the water level gauges and limescale filters can be plastic.
To avoid plastic coming in contact with your boiling water use a glass kettle with the element concealed in a stainless steel base, the limescale filters are plastic but you can remove them before boiling your water.
The Bertelin glass jug style kettle has all these functions, It is not one of our recommended best buys due to poor build quality.
Also we don't like glass kettles, they shatter when dropped, limescale clouds the glass and many come adrift from the heating base.
We would recommend the Sage Crystal Clear but at £100 we think its too much for a Glass kettle. Instead we opt for the Phillips Avance as our best buy glass kettle
Some kettles are available with a built-in Brita water filter, you pour the water into the filter and it runs out into the kettle, however this means boiling the kettle with the filter inside.
We recommend giving these a miss, if you want filtered water then buy a separate Brita water filter and pour the filtered water into your kettle, then you can also use it to filter water for drinking, squashes cordials etc..
Some kettles seem to take forever to boil. A rapid or fast boil kettle will use more power (typically 3000 watts) and should do a full kettle in under 4 minutes.
To make a single cup of your favorite beverage you want a speedy boil, some Electric Kettles now have virtually instant single cup boiling.
The easier the better, a flip-up lid is best, as taking off and refitting a lid can be irritating. Filling through the spout is great, as long as the spout is wide enough to do it without splashing water everywhere.
Check the minimum fill, if you are making just one or 2 cups often you need one with a low minimum fill or you will be wasting money boiling water you won't use.
VonShef Variable temperature kettle
Temperature Control :
Cup soups and some beverages, such as green teas and coffee, need the water hot but not boiled to get the best taste.
Some Electric Kettles have controls that switch it off at a pre-selected temperature and some will keep it at your chosen temperature for up to 30 minutes our best buy temperature control kettle has 5 pre-set temperature settings and a keep warm feature.
Every penny helps and less energy used mean less pollution, so go for an energy-efficient kettle, ones with low minimum fill and that turn off as soon as the water has boiled.
Some common issues with regards to leaks and crackling noises are scale related, depending on water hardness, you need to descale your kettle every 1-3 months this will extend the life of the kettle, see our descaling page for tips on how to do this quickly and easily with common household products or cheap commercial descalers.
With most electric kettles there is minimum amount of water that can be boiled in a kettle at once (usually about 330ml or 1 mug), if there is too little water the kettles boil-dry protection will stop the kettle from switching on.
If the lid is not closed completely before the kettle starts to boil it will take longer for it to shut off.
Hopefully you should now have an idea of what kind of electric kettle you need. Visit our 'Electric Kettle Page' to see our recommended best buys.
A follow on from the electric kettle is the Hot Water Dispenser these are ideal for making a quick cuppa'. Fill it up in the morning then press a button whenever you want a hot drink.
Some dispense a fixed volume of water, some have pre-set variable settings for different sized cups or mugs and with some you hold down the button until it has dispensed the amount you want.
This is a great idea but some manufacturers add on too many features and gimmicks, as a result they don't work well.
The Morphy Richards 131004 Redefine Hot Water Dispenser looks fantastic, but is so over engineered it gives a disappointing performance.
If you need to keep water boiling for more than a few seconds you cannot use an electric kettle, you will need a Stove Top Kettle.
They take longer and use more energy than Electric Kettles to boil, but there is no minimum fill as they will boil anything from 1 cup up to the fill limit.
Stovetop kettles range in size from tiny 1 pint (0.5litre) Tea Kettles to huge 1 gallon (4.5 litre) farmhouse ones.
PainFree Buying A Stove Top Kettle Guide
A Stove Top Kettle with its hiss of steam or whistle telling you it's boiling has traditional appeal.
Using one is the best option in a small kitchen with limited workspace.
A collection of traditional stovetop tea kettles
Make sure it is designed to be used on your stove (Gas / solid fuel, electric or induction).
You want something you like the look of and are comfortable using, so think about colour, stainless steel blends in with most kitchens.
There are also coloured and enameled cast iron and copper stove top tea kettles
Retro farmhouse, traditional round, modern or contemporary, there are designs to suit every taste, you will be looking at your kettle everyday for a few years so choose something you are comfortable with not a spurious choice you will tire of in a couple of months.
Thick based and well-built is always better than a cheap thin one. A good Stove Top Kettle such as one from The Stellar Range can last for 20 years or more but the best ones may be too heavy to be comfortable to use.
Don't expect to get the same longevity from a designer kettle as your paying for style not durability.
Whistle or not:
Whistles were put on kettles as a safety feature, when people forget the kettle's on it boils dry then burns and melts, sometimes causing fires.
Our Guide to buying Kettles highlights some of the things to think on when choosing your kettle. We hope this helps you with your decision.
Most importantly don't be swayed by the advertising hype, decide what you need before buying then stick to it.
A traditional stove top kettle
We prefer a whistling kettle, but many people like the old traditional steam kettle.
If you choose a non whistling kettle make sure it has a good thick base so it can survive boiling dry without melting, just in case you forget it's on.
Stellar Black Whistling kettle
With Stove top Kettles price does make a difference, designer and specialty kettles aside, the more you pay the better the quality.
Stove top kettles range under £10 for cheap basic whistling kettles, (these are tin cans with thin bases and we don't recommend them) to over £300 for a hand crafted copper one.
Our best buy budget kettle is a whistler and at time of wiring (September 2018) is under £15 and has a 5 year guarantee.
We don't recommended any budget non whistling kettle as all the cheaper ones have failed the boil dry test sitting and either caught fire or melted after 10 minutes of dry boiling.
We recommend paying around £40 - £100 for a Stellar or Mastercraft, this may seem expensive but these kettles we are of the highest quality, come with 15 - 20 year replacement guarantees and should last a lifetime.
Take a look at our Recommended Best Buy Kettles each has a short review on the product page