A high wattage is crucial for electric kettles. That power controls how fast your water will boil, and it needs to be faster than a stovetop or microwave to justify the purchase of an electric kettle at all. Electric kettles range from 1000-1800 watts, and you want to be sure you are getting a good amount of wattage compared to the capacity. A kettle with 1500 watts can boil 1 liter of water in about 4 minutes. A kettle with a concealed heating element is best, since that housing keeps the heating element protected and contained.
Before getting an electric kettle, think about how many people use hot water around the same time. If you have a family or are purchasing a kettle for an office, and everyone likes having hot water for coffee, tea, hot chocolate, or food like instant soup and noodles, you will want a larger-capacity kettle. Capacity is usually included in a kettle’s specs as liters or quarts. 1.7-liters, which is considered “extra-large,” is just over 7 cups. You will need a high wattage-kettle for this amount of water – at least 1500 watts. If you are okay with a smaller kettle, you won’t need as many watts. Larger kettles cost more than smaller ones, but size isn’t a huge factor when it comes to price.
Electric kettles usually include some kind of control panel, even if it just a simple on/off switch. You can also usually see what the temperature of the water is as it heats up, though that isn’t always the case. If you want a kettle that lets you more precisely control the temperature, you need to pay a bit more for a kettle with presets or an LED/LCD screen.
Scale or mineral-deposit filters are important if you plan on using unpurified water. Minerals in tap water can affect the taste of your water (and therefore your tea, coffee, etc), and build up in the kettle itself. These minerals eventually wear a kettle down and cut its life short. The scale filters are usually removable, because they can be rather cumbersome when you’re pouring in water or moving the kettle around, but if you really want pure-tasting water, they are great to have on hand.
Nearly all electric kettles nowadays are equipped with boil-dry protection. “Boiling dry” is what happens when water continues to heat up past the boiling point and begins to evaporate. The kettle will literally boil “dry,” or until the water is gone. This can cause discoloration inside the kettle and makes the exterior extremely hot and dangerous. The boil-dry protection is an auto shut-off that turns off the kettle when the water boils. This is very convenient because you aren’t always around to turn the kettle off when the water starts to boil.
Most electric kettles are now cordless. What this means is that the heating element is concealed within a corded base. It is also common for that base to be rotating, so it swivels 360-degrees with the cord neatly stored in the bottom. The kettle body, which itself does not have a cord, sits on top of the base and heats up that way. When you are ready to serve, you just pick up the kettle and separate it from the base.
Sturdy and long-lasting construction is crucial if you want your kettle to last longer than a few years or so. Avoid plastic kettles, since these wear down very quickly, and many have concerns about BPA-packed plastic coming in contact with their drinking water. Many kettles have some plastic parts, but these often do not actually touch the water, so look closely to be sure. The best materials include stainless steel, a mixture of chrome and stainless steel, or glass.
Important safety features
Electric kettles can be dangerous, especially if you have children who might touch the kettle and burn themselves, or accidentally spill the hot water. Cool-touch housing with double-walled stainless steel, locking lids, and lids that release steam slowly are all great ways to avoid unpleasant burns and spills. These features typically do not add to the price tag of a kettle.
Size and weight
Most electric kettles are fairly compact, even the ones with larger capacities. Without water, a 1.7-liter kettle can weigh as little as 2-3 pounds. Kettles made from heavier materials, like double-walled stainless steel, can weigh closer to 4 pounds. In terms of storage, cordless kettles with a separate base and kettle are pretty easy to store.
Cuisinart’s first big product was a food processor, which gained a lot of fame following support from chefs like Jacques Pepin and James Beard. The brand has been owned by Conair since 1989 and makes a wide variety of appliances like blenders, microwaves, slow cookers, waffle makers, and more. Cuisinart’s kettle line is versatile and includes kettles specifically for steeping tea, large kettles, enamel kettles, and programmable kettles. As one of the largest kitchen brands out there, Cuisinart kettles can be very expensive, though since their line is so big, they have affordable ones, as well.
Hamilton Beach originally made products like food mixers, juicers, and meat grinders. Their lightweight motor created in 1910 by one of the founders made the company’s products unique and effective. Named after L.H. Hamilton and Chester Beach, the first company owners, Hamilton Beach continues to produce affordable small kitchen appliances like toasters, blenders, and electric kettles.
TopNet, Inc gave birth to the Ovente brand in 2009 and began manufacturing all kinds of coffee-and-tea products. Their electric kettles are high-quality and made from materials like glass and stainless steel. You can also get very affordable plastic kettles from the brand. As a supporter of the Green Brand, Ovente tries to be as environmentally-friendly as possible.
Melitta’s USA branch sells and markets the brand’s coffee filters and coffee systems. The larger Melitta group makes a variety of home products like vacuums and humidifiers. Melitta USA has also been roasting their own beans for over 40 years. Their other products include coffee grinders and kettles, including kettles with temperature presets perfect for making tea.
Breville’s products originally had little similarities to their current line. During WWII, they were making mine detectors and floating radios. When the war was over, their focus shifted, and Breville began making small home appliances like TVs. This portion of the company was sold in 1968. It wasn’t until Breville created a sandwich toaster in the 1980’s that the Breville name really found success. In the wake of this success, Breville added to its line with juicers, yogurt makers, blenders, and electric kettles. Their kettles can be very expensive, especially when they include tea infusers and materials like high-quality glass.
Krups has been making home appliances since 1951. Based in Germany, their first popular product was the 3Mix, which was released in 1959. This sold especially well in West Germany, which makes sense considering the economic differences between the East and West at the time. Over the years, Krups was able to find more success with the changing political times and they expanded into different countries. They made a coffee machine, a sausage-and-cheese slicer, and in 1991, they joined with Nestle to create the Nespresso machine. Their electric kettles include stainless steel kettles and tea infusers, which can be pretty pricey.
Included tea infuser
Included tea infusers can be found on more expensive kettles, and comes with models like the Breville TeaMaker and Cuisinart TEA 100. These are kettles specifically designed for tea lovers. You can steep loose-leaf or bagged tea right in the kettle, and even add ice cubes for iced tea. If you love tea like people love coffee, spending the extra money on one of these kettles makes sense.
The ability to control temperature is crucial for kettles designed for boiling water for tea. With temperature presets, you can choose a specific temperature, often in increments of 2-degrees, from 160 F to boiling. This allows you to make teas that require lower brewing temperatures, like white, green, or oolong tea, so they don’t become scorched and bitter.
Glass kettles are often very expensive and high-quality, like the German Schott glass on the Breville Crystal electric kettle. These kettles have the advantage of being totally BPA-free and with a filter, the water boiled ends up being exceptionally pure and clean. The risk of a glass kettle is that they are more breakable than stainless steel, so you have to be more careful.
Some electric kettles are designed with unique spouts, like a gooseneck spout. These kettles provide very precise and controlled pours, which is important for many kinds of coffees and teas. They are usually typically safer, because you have to consciously tip them over to pour; they won’t splash erratically as you move.
One of the less common features come with kettles that have advanced control panels. Countdowns (or count-ups) allow you to see how fast your kettle is heating up the water, so you can plan accordingly. Some kettles even have memory features, which is a 2-minute window where you can lift the kettle off the powered base, and if you return it within 2 minutes, the cycle you selected will continue uninterrupted. This is great if you take the kettle off too soon, realize it isn’t hot enough, and then return it to the base to finish up.