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Posted on Aug 22, 2008 in Equipment, Review, Tips | 100 comments

Kettle Race: Electric vs. stovetop

Kettle Race: Electric vs. stovetop


Battle: Regular vs. electric kettle

I’m always on the lookout for ways to save time cooking for packed lunches, but never gave much thought to a real basic: boiling water. Whether I’m boiling frozen dumplings, fast-cook pasta, or multi-cooking several different things together to save time, the slowest part of the equation seems to be bringing the water to a boil in the first place. Was there a way to speed this up?

I’d heard that electric kettles were a good way to boil water faster, but I was a little dubious as to exactly how much time they’d save. Was it a marginal amount of time, or substantial enough to justify buying something that would take up more counter space in the kitchen? I bit the bullet and bought a Hamilton Beach 1.7-liter cordless model at Costco, and pitted it in a head-to-head race against a regular kettle on our gas stove. I think I’ve been watching too much of the Olympics lately! (Click for the test results.)

I set up two races: one with 1 liter of water, the other with 1.7 liters (maximum capacity for the electric kettle). I used a heavy Calphalon kettle on our gas stove for the control. The hands-down winner was the electric kettle in both tests.

The electric kettle boiled one liter of 68.7 deg. F water in 4 minutes 10 seconds, 2 minutes 24 seconds faster than the stovetop kettle, which clocked in at 6 minutes 34 seconds. Check the photo finish on the right — it’s not even a close race! (Click on any photo for a larger view.)

The electric kettle also shaved 3 minutes 52 seconds off of boiling time for 1.7 liters of 69.8 deg. F water, coming to a boil at 7 min. 6 sec. as opposed to 10 min. 58 sec. for the stovetop kettle.

I don’t think an electric kettle is a must-have in the kitchen, but if you make a lot of hot drinks or are really focused on speeding up prep time it might be worth a look. My husband drinks a lot of tea and pours the hot water into a thermos, so this’ll get a place on the kitchen counter as long as he makes tea a number of times a week. I figure I’ll use it for speed bentos, as I’m happy to save even a couple of minutes in the morning when I’m rushing around getting everyone ready for the day. (Bring the water to a boil in the electric kettle, then pour it into a hot little pot to cook food quickly.) If my husband cuts back on his tea consumption, though, I’ll probably tuck it into a cabinet underneath the kitchen counters to clear up counter space.

I’m guilty of an impulse buy with this purchase as I didn’t do proper research on electric kettles before tossing it into my shopping cart at Costco (bad Biggie!). The Hamilton Beach model I have is working fine so far, but I see from customer reviews on that it might break within six months. Argh! I’ll do more research if and when that happens, but it looks like Consumer Reports and Cooks Illustrated have yet to do product testing on electric kettles.

What has your experience been with electric kettles? Pro or con? Let us know in comments.



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  1. In Europe, electric kettles are standard - they boil even faster when you pour in just enough water for a few cups of tea, and you can’t burn them even if you turn them on when empty (they just turn off again). I’m on my second Tefal model in 15 years, and the first one (cord-having, as opposed to current cordless one) is still doing a great job in my grandmother’s kitchen.

  2. I love my Braun electric kettle. It only takes around 90 seconds to heat 2 mugs of water. While I don’t know the specifics, I figure it takes much more energy to run the stove (mine is ceramic top) for a kettle of water. Also this time of year, the last thing I want to do is turn on the stove and heat up the kitchen and have the air conditioning kick on to combat it.

  3. haha that’s cool!
    we’ve only ever owned 1 stovetop kettle, but we stopped using it because it was all metal(somehow that’s bad?) and i guess it’s more common to use an electric one(here in europe?).

  4. We use a Rival HotPot for speed boiling. You can’t beat it for ramen and the kids, and for me - I throw in a handful of teabags for a gallon of iced tea with dinner. We even have one in our camper so we have instant coffee, hot chocolate, and dish water.

  5. I bought an electric kettle recently for the same reason. I’ve been meaning to compare the electric vs stovetop too, but never got around to it, so its nice to see you did the work for me, haha.

    Also, the costco in our town opened up two days ago and while I was there I found out that apparently they have a very lenient return policy. So despite the fact that you’ve already used it, there’s probably a good chance that you can swap your model out for a better one.

  6. First thing I bought when moving out on my own (I’m a tea addict). It’s not much faster if you have an electric cooker, but I have gas so making tea would take ages. My mother also swapped her kettle when she started getting forgetful, because forgetting it on the stove really was a problem, and having them turn off automatically was the perfect solution. And they’re standard kitchen equipment here in Germany anyway.

    Well, for an impulse buy it does fulfill one important criterion: it’s metal. I’m really icky about plastics, and especially about hot things in plastics. Plastic electric kettles always spread the smell of hot plastics everywhere, and whether it actually gets into the water or not, my tea always tastes of plastic because of that. I guess there could possibly be a bit of apprehension because if there’s a bad contact, touching it might kill you, but I do hope they’re built so that there’s no possibility of that. And the handle is plastic anyway.

  7. We use our electric kettle all the time.

    Unfortunately, our kettle’s heating element is not concealed, and there’s a lot of calcium buildup. Calcium flakes may come loose in the boiling water, which is not very nice when used for cooking or making tea. Maybe we should get a new one.

  8. I couldn’t justify the cost or electricity cost of buying one (the Japanese models that Asian families have a lot of - the Zojirushi style that stays on and keeps water at optimal temperatures). But I have a coffee maker (single serving) that has a reservoir and sometimes in the mornings I’ll flip that on, it seems to have hot water much faster than if I’d taken the time to fill my kettle and boil that way (plus I don’t have to run and turn this one off). I just don’t put a coffee pack in and it works great for a Cup of Noodles (yes I occasionally eat those in the morning… I know how terrible they are, but… fast and easy! or don’t eat). I’ve made tea as well… and I’m sure it’d work for blanching small chopped veggies in the morning too, though I haven’t tried. Thanks!!!

  9. @Anthony:

    Or pour some vinegar in and let it soak for a while. You’ll need to boil a few kettles of plain water afterwards to rinse it clean, but vinegar will get out calcium buildup pretty easily.

  10. I have no kettle at all! I had one years ago - the handle came un-welded and I never replaced it. Can’t say I’ve missed it - having a hard time remembering what I ever used it for in the first place~

  11. We LOVE our stainless steel model & use it daily…

  12. Electric kettles are stock standard here in the South Pacific (Australia/New Zealand). I don’t know anyone who uses a stovetop kettle (except where they don’t have electricity).

    Electric kettles have been reviewed by (Australian consumers’ association) and (NZ consumer’s institute) several times - the most recent will be available from their website (you may have to pay a couple of dollars to view the report if you aren’t a member)

    To speed up boiling time and save on electricity, only put as much water into the kettle as you will actually need for the thing you are making - this is more efficient.

  13. And I forgot to add - both Australia and NZ consumers association indicate that it is quicker and more cost effective in terms of energy cost to use an electric kettle than it is to use either gas or electric stove to heat the water. I think this has something to do with the fact that in an electric kettle the element is right there in the water, so less heat is lost heating the air or the container.

  14. I have a stainless kettle from Red Devil (a german brand). It boils 2 litres of water in a minute. It’s not cordless but you can set the temperature from 35 degrees C - 100 c.
    I just adore it :)!

  15. I love my electric kettle! I use the stove at home, but at work the electric kettle is valuable precisely for its speed, lack of noise, and the fact that it shuts off on its own.

    One thing though: I prefer green teas to blacks or oolongs so I find I have to let the water cool down quite a bit in an electric kettle before it’s the right temp. for green tea.

  16. @16, James, you’d love mine and the fact that oyu can set the temp interval. I am a fan of the same teas as you are and heating water to boiling point and then letting it cool until it’s suitable for green tea… takes forever and turns kinda annoying.

  17. We use an electric kettle in the office at school, we like it better than heating water in the microwave. They are so fast.

  18. I love the electric Kettle, but I’ve bought two of the Hamilton Beach model that you bought (work and home) and they both broke at the little plastic flip-switch after only six months. But Costco accepts returns graciously!

  19. Pro! I love mine!
    3 tips about them:
    Get metal, if you’re at all worried about plastic in your food.

    Get one that detaches from the base, so you can move it away from the wall if you need to.

    Pouring it into a new container will cool the water - since the container that your pouring it into isn’t warm. (an obvious one, but still)

  20. I pretty much love my cordless electric kettle. I’m on my second one (my first lasted about 5 years) and I use it almost every day, mainly for tea.

    My favorite way of getting rid of the calcium deposits that build up is to squeeze half a lemon into the kettle, toss the half lemon in and fill the kettle up with water and let it boil, discarding the lemon and the water and rinsing out the kettle. It works better than vinegar for me!

  21. We’re at the hospital a lot, so I bought a hotpot for making my coffee (with a french press). I’ve wound up using it for a lot more, noodles and such. But I think I may have to have it out when we’re at home after reading this. Boiling eggs — ooh, I’m going to have to experiment.

  22. You can also hard boil eggs inside the electric kettle. I drop in (gently)eggs turn on the kettle set timer for 18 minutes and your eggs will be perfect. I have never had my eggs crack open in my kettle.

  23. @17, Jessika, great idea - when this kettle breaks down (which will probably be soon, considering how old it is) I’ll definitely be looking into one with a temperature setting.

  24. I saw a great tip on Rachael Ray for boiling eggs: put eggs in pot with water, bring to a boil, turn off heat, and cover.

    Eggs are perfect 10 minutes after turning the heat off-and they STAY perfect, so you can feed the baby, change diapers, take out the garbage, do the dishes, whatever, and when you’re ready for the eggs, they’re perfect!

  25. I have a big plastic blue electric kettle. My old roommates introduced me to the idea of an electric kettle. It really is an amazing thing. Growing up I only knew of boiling water on the stove or over a camp fire. I hadn’t even heard of an electric kettle until a couple years ago, and a lot of people I know didn’t know what one was until they saw mine. My kettle was a snag in a tea set at K-Mart 2 years ago. It’s by the Desert Pepper Trading company.

  26. I LOVE my electric kettle. I drink 3-5 cups of tea a day so I use my kettle several times a day, every single day. Just today I used it to hydrate my bulgur for a yummy tabouleh that I made for dinner.

    Seriously, I’d give up my microwave before I’d give up my electric kettle. I switched from a “plastic” kettle to a stainless steel model about four years ago and I really prefer the stainless steel model. Either way, an electric kettle is the way to go!

  27. electric kettles are the only way to go! after living in Ireland where every kitchen had one, i was thrilled when i finally spotted a “real” electric kettle (cordless, to boot) in 1989 that wasn’t just a glorified hot pot.

    i am still using the same one i bought back then (made by Oster). 19 years old. works like charm, and as speedy as it has ever been. gets at least two workouts a day for my morning and evening tea, not to mention whenever boiling water is needed.

  28. I love my Braun and wouldn’t be without it. I first saw them on Nigella Bites and I was sold after seeing her use it.

  29. Fascinating! I switched to an electric kettle myself about 2 years ago but only because I got on as a gift. I hadn’t noticed the time difference but now, I’m feeling quite glad that for 2 years I’ve been using less energy on a regular basis.

    Thanks for giving me reason to celebrate!

  30. Electric Kettles have got to be one of the best things ever. I definitely don’t always feel like boiling water on the stove and honestly microwaving it is just too much bother for me (I’m sensitive to heat and it’s hard to get ANYTHING that doesn’t get hot when it’s full of boiling water, plus I like to check it partway through, etc) so I adore electric kettles.

  31. I’m an avid tea drinker and boiler of water. I don’t know want I would do without my electric kettle. Having tried several brands, I believe Bodum is the best brand.

  32. Electric kettle is always win, great for oatmeal, ramen, anything that just requires hot water and covering to get done, as well as starting water for the stove.

    Best ones are European brands and stainless steel. Plastic isn’t good to heat things in as a rule, at least not US based things that may contain BPA.

    Descale once a week in hard-water areas with half cup of white [pickling] vinegar in the boil water, boil-and-cool a couple times and then rinse clean. Hot vinegar water is good for cleaning itself so needn’t go to waste. I use mine to clean my stovetop.

  33. Hi.

    I got my first electric kettle at 16 after returning fro Australia where they were a standard kitchen appliance. I am on my 3rd kettle 16 years later. My first one was plastic with an unconcealed heating element, I don’t remember what happened to make me throw it out though. The second one was plastic with a metal bottom and a concealed heating element, but at some point it started leaking water through the bottom so I believe the metal and plastic separated a tiny bit letting water seep out.
    My current kettle is metal with a concealed heating element and plastic lid, handle and base, but the “pot” part is entirely made from metal so I don’t expect it to ever leak.

    For calcium buildup I use citric acid, it’s a powder and it’s a little dangerous (not super duper dangerous, so no gloves and mask required, but I don’t use it around my children) I just put a teaspoon of the powder into the pot, pour water over it to cover the calcium buildup, bring it to a boil, let it sit for a little bit, pour it out into my sink (taking care of the calcium spots there, too) and refill with water, boil again, pour out, give it a quick rinse with water and I’m done. Takes maybe 10 minutes, tops.

  34. I’m in the UK where not having an electric kettle is pretty much unheard of, and I thought your times sounded really slow. I just timed a boil of 1 litre of water and it took 2 minutes 7 seconds, and the last ten seconds it was boiling and I was just waiting for it to click off. I guess having electricity at double the voltage makes a big difference!

  35. Given all the discussion here and following up on my earlier comment on calcium buildup and getting a new one (our current one is a plastic one, which is not good either), I just went out and bought a stainless steel kettle from Tefal (the model is named “Tefal Express”). The fact that it comes with a “removable scale filter” that filters the water while it’s poured out (never calcium flakes!) really convinced me to take this specific model.

    In a test run, it cooked 1 liter of tap water in 2:41

  36. I have read all the comments and well I had a brain lapse, my kettle is indeed cordless.
    The kettle I got must be a super kind since it does boil 2 litres in a minute but well it does.

  37. An electric kettle is definitely the best all round, the fastest I know is an eco-model which measures the water into “cups” so as not to waste energy.
    Doesn’t actually do any better a job than I can do measuring by eye but for some reason it’s a great deal faster.

    One warning should you go in search of yet faster methods, there is a device out there called something like the One Touch which produces “instant hot water” for your coffee at a touch of the button.

    The important word there is Hot, not boiling, so while fine for coffee it won’t be very helpful in speeding up cooking times or for things like tea which require boiling water.

  38. @3 from Aileen: Good point on the electric not heating up the kitchen when it’s hot — so not needing the extra energy of the air conditioner to adjust. Energy-saving on a secondary front!

  39. @5 from LizAndnrsn: Ah, this would be great in a camper with electricity! Good use. When you say you throw in teabags, that’s outside of the kettle, right?

  40. @6 from AngelPeach: I’m glad I saved my receipt — I should do some research, get a better model, then go return this one. Thanks for the Costco return tip!

  41. @7 from attie: Wow, I hadn’t thought of how the electric kettle would help keep the elderly and forgetful stay safe. Now we’re well stocked for my future “senior moments”! ;-)

  42. @13/14 from jeneration: Thanks for the links to the Australian and New Zealand consumer associations’ reports on electric kettles. Good point also on only heating as much water as you’ll be using — I like the way you think!

  43. @15 from Jessika: I now officially have kettle lust for your adjustable model that can boil 2 liters of water in 1 minute! What’s the brand & model number? Maybe I can find their U.S. equivalent with lower voltage…

  44. @19 from annenayne: Thanks for the feedback on this model — I think a return to Costco is in my future…

  45. @23 from limetulips: I’ll have to try that with hard-boiling eggs in the kettle.

  46. @25 from Alison: This is like the Cooks’ Illustrated method: Bring eggs to a boil, turn off heat and cover, leave for 10 minutes, then transfer the hot eggs to an ice water bath to halt cooking (avoiding that green/grey ring around the yolk).

  47. @32 from Diane: Why do you like Bodum brand the best?

  48. @34 from nicole: Thanks for the tip and instructions on how to descale with citric acid. I actually have some citric acid downstairs, so I’ll try this out once the kettle needs a more thorough cleaning.

  49. @44, Biggie, I noted the wrong name, it’s Dirt Devil.I got the kettle, initially, because of the temp interval possibility since it solved having to let water cool before I could brew tea. I got it at a tea shop. Later it has shown to be great for much of anything. If I don’t need boiling water, well, then I don’t need boiling water so I can set it for lower.

    Maker: Dirt Devil, name of design line Aquagrad, prod no. m3005.

  50. @35 from kirsty: Okay, that’s really valuable information right there: the U.S. models boil slower because of the difference in electricity. Couple that with Commonwealth countries being tea-drinking nations, and now I have a better understanding of the differing popularity of electric kettles in the U.S. vs. Europe. Fascinating! And thanks for taking the time to run your own “time trial”.

  51. @36 from anthony: I got all excited about your 2:41 time for one liter until I realized that you’re in Belgium. Good for you, but I guess I can only dream of those speeds in the States. If anyone in the US has run across a super-speedy model I’d love to hear about it!

  52. @38 from Amelia: Thanks for the info on the “hot water” model. How does the eco-model work with measuring the water into cups? I’m not 100% clear — it pours out in one-cup increments? It has a cup-by-cup measuring scale along the side?

  53. @50 from Jessika: Thanks for the model info on your uber-kettle, Jessika. Absent a proper U.S.-based consumer report comparing kettles, that’s a good place for me to start. Dirt Devil…

  54. I’ve got a braun electric kettle that I’ve had for years, and it still works pretty much perfectly. It has a seperate base and kettle, and it autoturns off when its finished boiling the water, which is pretty nice as well. Also the heating element is enclosed, which from what I’ve read, tends to make them last longer and be better saftey-wise.

  55. it has a cup by cup measure: basically you fill the kettle (central reservoir)then push a button on top to release water into a second chamber which is marked along the side (in teacups since that’s the most common use over here).
    then turn on the kettle and it boils.
    Really, really fast (I suspect because it only heats a fairly small space and also must be well insulated as the water in the reservoir stays cold)

  56. As my good friend (and his family) drinks a lot of tea (and use it for miso soups, ramen etc) they have a airpot style hot water dispenser. They’ve had it for years. (I don’t know the model, but since it has peeling stickers in Japanese writing, I’m sure it doesn’t matter anyways. :D )It heats and then stores the water to be ready at any time. Probably a little much for your needs, but I have my eyes on a new one at the local Mitsuwa.

  57. Oh and Alton Brown touts the Electric Kettle in many of his episodes, perhaps he recommends one in his book, Gear for your Kitchen.

  58. @38 from Amelia:

    Here’s a review of something very similar to the One Touch (from the Australian Consumers’ Association)

    PS the last electric kettle review from that site is available free, here:

    The New Zealand one is here, but you have to pay to view if you’re not a member:

  59. I was given 2 electric kettles as high school graduation gifts. One had a removeable lid & the other is more kettle-like with only a spout. I forget what happened to the lidded one but I still have the kettle one (16 years later!) & it is a wonderful tool. I use it to heat up water for hot chocolate, hot water to put in the thermos for school lunches[to help keep foods warm] & lots of other little uses. If I have extra water left over I usually pour it down a drain in the house (kitchen or bathroom sinks).

  60. Bodum has a long history of high quality products and after having several other company’s kettles break on me within several months, my bodum has lasted me 3 years now. As long as you clean it regularly, it works like new every time.

  61. I’d actually grew up with the Japanese/Asian style electric water boilers where they heat up the water and maintain it at a certain temperature, so you can pretty much “always” have hot water.

    If you want boiling water, just press a button to reboil it.

    It wasn’t until I moved to Australia that I saw the stove top boilers and found them to be much slower.

    I definitely use electric kettles now, but it’s plastic, and I boil just enough for a cup of tea, or for boiling egg noodles/pasta, soup etc.

    I used to wonder why they didn’t have the Japanese style electric heated water holders/kettles. I have heard tidbits of concerns on electricity used to maintain water temperature. Anyone else know much about this?

  62. I have a cheap Sanyo cordless that has lasted me about 5 years now. I never thought about boiling water for cooking (always used it for tea and coffee only) until my boyfriend started doing it to speed up cooking pasta, and it does seem to make the process quicker. Usually my kettle lives in the cupboard until needed like my toaster as I don’t use it regularly enough and have limited counter space.

  63. When we want to boil water in a hurry, we use the hot water tap off the water cooler. It’s hot, not boiling, but it dramatically speeds the time to bring a pot to boil.

  64. @61 from An: We don’t use enough hot water in a day to justify one of those high-end Asian air pots, although they’re good for an office kitchen. I too wonder about the electricity consumption…

  65. I was sort of surprised at the brand name of the kettle I got, Dirt Devil. In googling it now, I find out they are largely into vacuum cleaners. The jump to kettles seems a bit far fetched to me but it got me that kettle so whatever ;).

    All I can find about that product number is European. I do recall a friend mentioning having a similar kettle but of another brand. I believe it was a Braun.

    As to the maintaining of temp of water, mine also has such a feature, it does not use as much electricity as a stove does since the temp regulator senses the drop in temperature and adds whatever heat is required. A stovetop will start from the beginning and although not much heat will be needed to boil already warm water, it still takes kicking it to starting mode etc.
    With a stove using as much electricity as a kettle (about) it is still more lenient on your electrical bill, and on the power grid, to use a kettle. Or so I’ve read on this on environmental consumer group website. I only use the “keep warm” feature as long as required. If you keep it on forever, it is probably not a good thing. Yet, the latter is probably only required if you only have cold water. Or is there other uses?

  66. I’m surprised you don’t have one of those Japanese hot water pots. We love ours…hot tea in an instant…not the best if you’re looking for energy efficiency. Nice thing about Costco is that if your product breaks…just take it back. They have a history of your purchases on file so even if you don’t have a receipt, they’ll still give you a refund/store credit. Good Luck!

  67. When my aunt in Maine found out that I have an electric kettle she said that my “Canadian heritage” was showing. I think I’ve read somewhere that New Englanders and Maritime Province Canadians are the biggest tea drinkers in North America. Red Rose tea, anyone? :)

  68. I find the fascination with electric kettles in this thread quite strange, as they are de rigeur in most Australian kitchens! It hadn’t occurred to me that it wasn’t the same in the US.

    I have a cheap, plastic kettle that was donated to me when I was a very poor student, by a friend who was the last in a large family of international students. Being Malaysian, they used it constantly for ramen, tea etc. It’s been in regular use for probably 14 years without any problems!

    In addition to using it for normal things like tea, I also boil water for pasta etc in the kettle, transfer it to a pot and place it on the stovetop. It’s a LOT quicker than waiting for a huge pot of water to boil, and uses much less energy.

    To be extra energy efficient, I only put as much water in the kettle as I require at that time - that way you’re not using energy to boil water you don’t need. I even have a similar style cordless espresso pot which gives me an Italian style espresso in about 1.5 minutes, to save on time & energy!

  69. I can help here!!! For the readers above whose electric kettle is covered with calcium, I have a tip. You take plain white vinegar, about 1/4 to 1/2 cup depending on the size of your kettle) and pour it in. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes and then add water to fill the kettle and turn it on. Another option is to put the vinegar in right after you have used the kettle, but sometimes this makes vinegar-steam, and doesn’t smell so great! Let it sit for another 15 minutes or so, and then rinse it once or twice with plain water, turning it on each time. The bonus part is that the vinegar is food save, so no nasty chemicals in your meals! (this is also great for rinsing the sink drains, coffee machines, and any other warm water appliances.)

    We use our hot pot to pre-boil water for pasta, potatoes, soups, teas, and even a sinkful of dirty dishes. It’s faster than the faucet in our home too!


  70. @41 & 6 Biggie - I work at Costco - they’re usually pretty good about picking the best for their stores that are a decent price for the consumer. You can return most things there ANYTIME for ANY REASON. Even if you’ve lost your receipt - or let’s say your kettle went out in 6 months - or 10 years - you could still return it.

  71. We bought the Capresso kettle based on Cooks Illustrated recomendations. Its very attractive and works great.

  72. Our friends in Australia turned us onto electric kettles. I love ours - I use it to heat water for hot beverages, hot water to warm up thermoses, boil water for recipes. It is great!

  73. I have been an electric kettle user for years. I originally used it because I had a cat that would jump on gas stove.Until we got him trained this was a must. Also it shuts off automatically. While not an absolute necessity, it is a time saver, a safety item, and does not heat up kitchen. I have a Braun cordless stainless steel. Use it every day. Fast!! Now they have the hot water available in kitchen sink, but we don’t have that-older home. May install that when we remodel kitchen.

  74. Nine years ago, not long after we moved into our house, dear Hubby left the kettle on the stove while he went upstairs to do a “quick” check of his email. I came home, noticed something smelled hot, and found a small disaster in the kitchen. The kettle had boiled dry, the aluminum bottom had melted completely off, and some of it had splattered around the stove, melting dime-sized holes in the vinyl floor. We were very lucky I came in time, and that the aluminum blobs didn’t land on something really flammable.

    The next day I went to a local kitchen shop and plopped down $70 for a stainless steel electric kettle. He was a little mad that I spent that much, but that thing has lasted 7 years so far! I drink a few cups of tea almost every day, and he used to make French press coffee. It’s one of my favorite kitchen gadgets.

    It took us 5 years to replace the kitchen floor….

  75. @67 from Adara: I hadn’t realized that I could return purchases to Costco if I didn’t have the receipt. Thanks for the highly useful information, Adara!

    On the air pots (Japanese “mahoubin”), I don’t drink all that much tea or I’d be more tempted. They were great in the office when I worked in Japan, though!

  76. @70 from Alie: Thank you for the detailed, step-by-step directions for descaling an electric kettle with vinegar, Alie! I’m sure it’ll come in handy in the future.

  77. @73 from Gudrun: Hmm, Kitchen Gadget Girl likes electric kettles, eh? They must be good! :-) What brand/model do you have, and are you happy with it?

  78. @74 from PW: Cat on a hot gas stove, cat on a hot tin roof… You captured my imagination with that one! Our cats haven’t shown much interest in the stove yet; hopefully that’ll continue.

  79. @75 from N: I could totally imagine that happening at our house if our stovetop kettle didn’t have a loud whistle! How lucky that you found it in time!

  80. I have a Sunbeam HotShot Water Dispenser - it heats up 2 cups of water in about a minute - faster than the microwave!…. used to use it a lot at work (at my desk) in the winter … Now I use it at home (& I don’t get the leftover coffee flavor from using DH’s coffee maker hehe!)

  81. Ditto what Alie says. I live in South Korea and boiling water on the burner takes forever. When I cook pasta, do dishes, make tea, I always use my “hot pot” I could not imagine not having one.

  82. I love electric kettles. I have one that is almost like a pot. The base, handle and lid are plastic but they’re the nice heavy duty type (won’t flex if you try to bend them). The pot that touches water is completely stainless steal with hidden heating elements. It heats really fast because the whole bottom of the pot is steel whereas in my sister’s plastic version, only a small part of the bottom is the heating part. I love mine because it has a temperature dial but it has a cord and the only way to turn it off is to pull the plug. The manufacturer also says I could cook soup and noodles IN the pot as well. I’ve haven’t tried that yet but it’s great for college. I expect mine to last a long time. If anyone’s interested I can go look up the product name.

    My family has one of those Japanese electric kettles that stay on all the time. It’s so convenient. My friend has a smaller version that only makes about a gallon or so of water and takes up less counter space. It even had a digital reading for temperature readout and more. Just letting you know it’s out there!

  83. i was just going to say.. in germany you’re a weirdo if you dont have a “water cooker”… an electric kettle. they think were crazy that this isnt standard. invest in one.. they are super cheap and save tons of energy. takes about 15 seconds to cook the water for a cup of tea… and preboiling your pasta water is also a timesaver..

  84. And the winner is electric kettle.:)

  85. ah, never mind, my question got answered at the bento faq, didn’t realize it was there.


  86. I lived in the UK for a number of years, and no one would DREAM of not having an electric kettle. (We did without for a while after ours broke, and waiting for the kettle to boil on the gas stove, combined with worrying it’d go dry or the flame would go out from a breeze or something drove me NUTS.) (Yes, I know the flame shouldn’t go out, but it was a very badly designed stove.)

    The thing about it to make it worth it’s counter space is you have to NOT think of it just as a tea-making machine. I know plenty of people who used them to hard-boil eggs, and I personally used one to make spaghetti. (I didn’t boil it in the kettle, I should add- I started with quick cook or angel-hair type pasta, put it into a container, poured boiling water in, and wrapped it up to keep the heat in. Works well for couscous also, and some boil-in-the-bag products, like the packets of pre-cooked rice you get now, which you only have to heat up.)

    Plus, it’s also a time saver when boiling water for other things which you want to do on the stove. There’s no reason at all why you have to wait for the stove or microwave to boil your water- start with pre-heated water from the kettle, and the cooking time drops significantly. (Assuming you don’t use hot water from the tap, which I never do.)

  87. @87 from Joe: Ah good, that spares a comment directing you to the FAQ! ;-) Glad you found it.

  88. Cook’s Illustrated has reviewed kettles:

    I bought a cheap-o on eBay some years ago (mostly for tea/soup/oatmeal), much like you did: no up-front research. I’m quite happy with mine and if it breaks I won’t shed any tears at all.


  89. sorry if someone said that before. Euro electric kettle seem to boil faster. Once in the US, I asked around why electric kettle were absent from kitchens. I was told that because of the different electric system, 110v vs 220v, US electric kettle were not really efficient.

  90. This comment thread is totally overwhelming!

    I loved my electric kettle while in the UK, but don’t have the patience to wait while my slow USA electricity heats up the water, LOL.

    However, in college I was completely enamored with my roommate’s “Sunbeam Hot Shot” which I don’t think has been mentioned in this thread yet. It only makes enough water for one cup of coffee or tea at a time, so for people who want to use this as a cooking device, it’s no good, but the thing had a tiny footprint, which was perfect for our tiny dorm, and it made hot water in about 15 seconds. I think you can buy them at Target. They’re not really a high-end item, heh.

  91. My parents got me a cheap electric kettle when I went to college, claiming that it was essential for the dorm room. I used it to boil sausages and make ramen for three years! I probably used it more than I ever used the microwave.

  92. We have a Zojirushi electric kettle that keeps the water hot through the day. Took a small one to college. Basically, you fill it up, it’ll boil to one of the preset temperatures. Then you can dispense whenever you want.

    It is a combination of an air pot (push or electric dispenser) and an electric kettle.

    Wouldn’t live without it and when the last one broke, it was replaced in 24 hrs.

    We refill the 3L pot at least twice a day with just 3 people living at home so the $100 feels like a bargain.

    Korean markets also sell a hot water maker similar to those “office cooler” types except it has a dial to adjust the temp. from hot to chilled and purifies the water from the pipe supplying your sink.

  93. Having just been in the British Isles in the last month, not only is the electric kettle used for tea, instant coffee (my daughter now loves), but putting boiling water into foods to cook like pasta, sped up the time.

    I agree with your results, however here are a couple of physic things related to your test. A flat bottom kettle would have provided better heat transfer then the round (cool looking) kettle. Too much heat transferring off the kettle, being wasted. The electric does much better in using heat efficiently. In general gas is not as efficient as there is some heat loss, since it never has the concentration of heat as electric has. Applies to all things that use gas. Also on hot days, using an electric kettle only heats up a small amount of water and the rest doesn’t sit around heating up (giving off energy) as it cools off. You think about these things when its blazing outside.

    And one more thought, I like the cooking with gas, but don’t like the extra CO2 that is the by product when using it, except in an oven where it is confined better. I only use electric now. Check into PG&E’s Time Use Meter if you’re all electric that has a good savings.

    Thanks for the test, sure seemed timely!

  94. I just impulse-bought the same kettle…and then saw the same reviews on amazon…boo. Anyway, there are two rubber (well, soft, translucent “stuff”) inside the kettle that seem to cover the things that would indicate the water level inside the kettle. Are they supposed to be removed?

  95. i recently picked up a tiny electric kettle for a couple of bucks in a thrift store to keep on my desk at work. timed it against my MICROWAVE and the kettle is faster! kettle - enough water for a cup of tea: 45 seconds. microwave: 1 minute 30 seconds

    then i got creative and filled a giant tea ball with pre cooked refrigerated rice and it steamed the rice perfectly, hot to the touch, in about a minute. also faster than the microwave.

  96. It’s so weird hearing you people talk about kettles as something new. In Australia EVERYONE has one, even if they don’t have a kitchen. You can get them for $20 from supermarkets, and i use mine about five hundred million times a day. I guess it’s our english-heritage tea-drinking habit : ) BUT, I’ve heard that it in fact takes more energy to use the kettle than a gas stove, it’s quicker but uses a hell of a lot of electricity to make it that fast. Of course, electric stoves are stupid and should be banned. I grew up with one, then moved into a house with gas and finally understood the phrase “now we’re cooking with gas”. It’s hot straight away, and you can control the heat!

  97. Mom used to use a small teapot on the stove for heating water for her tea (whether it was to make a pitcher, or just a cup or two), but having burnt it dry a few times, and just plain forgot about it, getting an electric kettle was one of the best things we ever did. Initially we were going to go with one like what Alton Brown uses in his shows, but were worried about the wide mouth not pouring as well into smaller containers (mug) so we went with the same brand, but a different model. We have the Chef’s Choice 677 Cordless Electric Kettle and have been very very pleased with it. It’s not as useful for things like, boiling eggs in, which we still do on the stove, but it’s perfect for boiling water for tea, or coffee drinks. The biggest plusses for switching from stovetop to electric kettle are the time difference, and the safety feature of the auto-off. Practically speaking, it being cordless is also very handy. We tend to have things spread all over, but even if the measuring cup (4cup measure that we use to brew tea in for pitchers) or mug is next to it, I can’t imagine how awkward it would be to have to work ’round having a cable attached.

  98. We have a stove top kettle at my house, but last semester, my roommate had an electric kettle and I’ve learned I can’t live without one! I drink tea all the time and I had to buy myself one when the new semester started.
    I’ve never used it to help boil my pasta or dumplings, though it sounds like an awesome idea! I find I just don’t have that much time in the morning to make lunch (I try to do it the night before) but this could help me out considerably.
    I love your blog entries … :)

  99. How does it compare to the hot pot? I don’t need hot water often and was thinking of the electric kettle.

    Which one provides better energy efficiency?

  100. We were gifted an electric kettle from european house stay guests over 6 years ago and wondered how we ever lived without one!

    I currently have a Breville stainless steel kettle, as I did not like the idea of heating plastic as a vessel for hot water over and over.

    Quick cup of tea, warm your thermos, fill your Fashy hot water bottle, warm your neti solution, fast boiling water for pasta/steaming/soups… Electric kettle, used and loved throughout europe, still a mystery in the USA…


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