Typically when one thinks of a kettle only tea comes to mind. However, its versatility, efficiency and convenience are highly underrated. While the electric kettle may come across as a very simplistic appliance its usefulness and expediency in the kitchen cannot go unappreciated. Starting with the most basic units which are cost effective and moving on to the ones having very complex designs and features, electric kettles serve the needs of billions of homes across the globe. Selecting the electric that will best serve your personal needs requires the consideration of numerous variables.
Important Aspects in Electric Kettles
Material of Kettle
Stainless steel kettles tend to be the most sought after due to sturdiness, easy maintenance and aesthetics. Glass kettles too are very appealing, especially when you can clearly see what is happening to the water inside, however there is the risk of breakage. Ceramic kettles come with thicker edges that sustain temperature of the water over long durations and are not prone to scale deposits. Aluminium kettles are light weight so can conveniently be taken along on trips. They are also energy efficient.
Kettles that have wider lids are easier to clean out while those having gooseneck spouts optimize the flow of water. Heat resistant handle means not having to worrying burning hands while non-slip features eliminate accidental slippage while handling hot water. Heating elements that are hidden are not exposed to water which means minimal scale. Heating elements that remain submerged in water tend to build up lot of scale.
Water Capacity: Typically kettle sizes range from one to two litres. Some people prefer to have large sized kettles for when they entertain friends but also need smaller quantity for day to day purposes. Hence, checking the minimum capacity is also important. Many models accommodate boiling just one or two cups instead of the full kettle.
Most one litre kettles take only three to four minutes to boil the water. However, there are some that work faster. However, the faster working kettles also take more watts of electricity. A kettle taking three thousand watts or more is generally known as a “quick boil kettle”. While it consumes more energy, it gets the job done faster so in the long run it is not really more expensive to use, but may be more expensive to purchase initially. An important point to keep in mind is that, while the quick boil kettles are faster, they are only faster by seconds and not minutes. So, is the initial additional cost worth the seconds it saves?
It is understood that the more features a kettle has packed into it the more it is going to cost. This feature is perfect for example, when you decide to relax with a mid-morning cup of French Press coffee or tea, but get interrupted because you have to fulfill the needs of the kids first. Having the water ready when you return is great. Perhaps you like to heat water in the morning and go get ready before returning to use it for your hot cereal. The heated water waiting for you at the desired temperature is perfect in those situations.
Auto-off & Dry Boil Protection
These two features may sound unimportant but are a major convenience. Turning off a kettle and forgetting to adding water before turning it on play havoc with the live of a kettle, not to mention that are a great fire hazard. While these features are not vital, having them assures a certain peace of mind.
Another feature that one can do without, but having it is great, as it saves embarrassment in front of guests and creates less of a mess.
Variable Temperature: Kettles offering a range of temperatures can be great for those who enjoy drinking different types of tea. They are also convenient when a specific temperature is needed for say baking bread or preparing a baby formula.
Water Level Gauge
This is typically a window through which the level of water can be seen without having to remove the lid. Again this is a huge convenience, especially since the cups are marked along the outside edge and you can easily judge if the quantity remaining is sufficient for your needs or more water needs to be added just at a glance.
Cordless Vs. Cords
Cordless kettles fit on a base which is hooked to power supply. Many models make use of a base that can swivel a full 360 degrees for greater convenience. Such kettles can easily be removed from the base and carried anywhere for serving without having to bother with the cord. While kettles with cords are still fairly popular, they do require greater care.
Filters & Lime Control
The build-up of lime is a common problem with electric kettles, especially in areas having hard-water. Some kettles have lime scale filters which remove the minerals responsible for causing the problem. The removable filters tend to be easier to clean than a kettle with lime scale. Additionally as lime scale accumulates, the performance of the kettle is hindered. Some kettles use gold heating elements as they resist lime scale and are easier to clean. While kettles with gold elements tend to be costly, many people find the expense worthwhile.
Best Electric Kettles
Chef’s Choice 680 Cordless Electric Glass Kettle
The Chef’s Choice 680 is a very futuristic looking kettle but lacks any temperature controls. It is a basic kettle that simply boils water efficiently and comes with a price that matches. The 1.5 litre capacity kettle is fabricated out of glass that sits in stainless steel housing. The handle, lid as well as all the accents are also brushed stainless steel. The good thing about this unit is that water never comes in contact with any plastic or metal, only glass. The unit switches off automatically once the water starts to boil, however there is no signal when the boiling point is reached. The unobstructed glass top gives a clear view of the boiling water and looks rather amazing.
This kettle is designed for those who enjoy that old world nostalgia. Available in several colours, there is sure to be one that will complement the décor of your kitchen. The BPA-free interior means there is no need to worry unnecessary chemical ingestion. Fabricated out of high quality materials, and lacking any frivolous bells and whistles, there isn’t much that can go wrong with this little gem. The 1.25 litre capacity ensures there is plenty of water to make up to five cups of your favourite beverage.
Bonavita Bona Voyage
This half litre capacity electric kettle makes a great travel companion. It is sufficient to fill an aeropress with sufficient water to pre-wash the filter paper. The all stainless construction is ideal for travel as there is nothing that can break regardless of how carelessly it is packed. The 900 watt element is not too heavy on electricity yet fast and efficient. There is no major cleaning involved, just rinse and you are done. It is ideal for preparing an early morning bowl of hot cereal or coffee when traveling, which adds up to big savings compared to having breakfast ordered in your room!
Bella 13622 Electric Ceramic Tea Kettle
Sporting a delicate teapot design with a gooseneck spout and a comfortable handle this elegant electric kettle is sure to perk up any kitchen. Available in a large variety of patterned finishes with a looped lid, it houses a single button operation, making it very easy to operate. The kettle sits on a circular base that makes serving convenient and works efficiently using a 1200 watt element.
The LiBa 1.7L Stainless Steel Electric Kettle
Crafted out of brushed stainless steel this kettle is built to last. The heating element is packed with 1500 watts of power for quickly boiling water. The round base makes cordless serving hassle free. The stay cool handle means hands don’t burn while you pour water while the drip-free spout means no spills while serving. The capacity is large enough to entertain friends or serve a large family. The auto-off feature means you don’t have to worry about walking out of the house and leaving the kettle on.
T-fal Balanced BF6138 Living Kettle
The T-Fal kettle with a capacity of four cups is small enough to take on vacations or to save counter space. The economically priced kettle houses features not common in this size and price range. It allows for adjustment of temperature through a twist knob, which is great for brewing different types of tea. The kettle sits on a base which swivels a full 360 degrees. The black exterior is black and supports light green lights to emphasise the shape. A water level indicator lets you know when it is time for a refill and the anti-scale filter keeps water tasting great. The push button lid locks prevent accidental spills.
There is a very large variety of electric kettles available in the market with wide ranging capacities and varying degrees of power. The kettles using more power tend to boil water a bit faster but naturally also cost more. They also have many features including filters to keep water fresh, cordless to prevent getting tangled and make mobility easier, bases that swivel so they can be picked up from any angle and many others. The bottom line is that they are easy to use and a fast way to heat water. There is sure to be one out there that is just right for you.