There are several main factors to consider when buying a kettle; firstly who is going to be using it and are there any practical features it needs to have? Decide what features you would find most beneficial (fast boiling time? Lightweight? Non-drip spout? Low on noise?), then think about the style; does it need to be a certain design to match your kitchen décor? Do you want a set with a matching toaster? Or is this not important? Whether you want a kettle that's super quick, boils at different temperatures or one that filters the water, here's what you need to know when buying a kettle.
What to consider
Most kettles have different wattage, usually falling somewhere between 2.3kW and 3kW. The more powerful the kettle, the quicker it boils. Whatever the wattage, the same amount of energy will be used per volume of water boiled. Did you know? Electronic kettles that offer 'keep warm' features and multiple temperature options are often left on standby, therefore constantly wasting electricity.
If noisy appliances cause you irritation, then check if the kettle has a decibel reading. As a gauge, a conversation is usually held at 60dB while an electric drill can reach 95dB.
How much water do you usually need to boil? A kettle with cup measuring windows will help you boil only the water you need, saving time and energy. If you only boil small volumes then a smaller size kettle may suit you. If you use your kettle to boil water for cooking, then you may need a kettle with a larger capacity.
If the weight of the kettle is important then consider the material it is made from, especially if you generally fill your kettle to the maximum. Plastic will of course be much lighter than metal. Capacity also effects weight; 1ml of water weighs 1g, so if you don't want a heavy kettle remember 2 litres of water will weigh 2 kilos. Try to only boil the water you need. TIP: Pour water into the mug or pan you are using and then decant this into the kettle so you don't use too much water. The kettle will boil faster, saving energy and reducing your carbon footprint.
Different colours from bold accent colours, metallic shades, pastel hues and patterns are now widely available, giving the choice of matching your kettle closely to your kitchen interior or opting for a classic colour that will withstand changes in décor. There are many different finishes available too, from polished or brushed stainless steel, glossy polymer to matt effect.
Ease of Use
When lifting the kettle, consider how easy the handle is to grip, if there is enough space between the handle and the body to fit your hand and whether there are any safety or comfort features such as a knuckle guard. If you have trouble gripping, then a push-button lid will be the easier than a lid that needs to be pulled open. A large measuring window with an easy-to-read water gauge and buttons in contrasting colours will help if your sight is limited.
The element heats the water. Most modern kettles have hidden elements in the kettle base. It doesn't come into contact with water, reducing the build-up of lime scale and is also much safer should the kettle malfunction. Look for a boil-dry safety feature, where the kettle will switch off if there is not enough water inside, stopping it from burning dry.
Many kettles have removable lime scale filters that can be washed, though some can be easier to remove than others. A plastic kettle is easily wiped down, whereas a metal kettle will require buffing after wiping to remove smears. Water drips lead to a build-up of limescale, so go for a kettle with a non-drip spout to avoid limescale drip marks and keep your kettle looking good.
Reliability and Repairability
Take a look at the fittings and joins - do any look like weak points? What are they made of? The lid hinge works twice as hard as other kettle parts, opening and closing with every boil. If the hinge looks thin and the lid flexes when you twist it in the open position, then it is very likely to break. If you are investing in a kettle at the higher end of the price scale, it is worth finding out if the manufacturer offers replacement parts. Dualit's Classic Kettle has a fully replaceable heating element.