Perfect for bringing water to a near boil or hotter when making a cup of tea, hot cocoa, instant coffee or foods such as soups, sauces or ramen, an electric kettle works faster than a stovetop model. Electric kettles also don't create hotspots as a microwave does. For these reasons, they are more efficient in terms of time and energy consumed. Appliance makers such as Breville, Cuisinart, Krups, Chef's Choice, Russell Hobbs, KitchenAid, T Fal and more offer one or more electric kettle models. Generally priced anywhere from $20 to $150, including mini travel models, electric kettles provide an alternative to the old fashioned varieties.
Electric Kettle Design
There are several notable distinctions between traditional and electric kettles. Most importantly, electric kettles feature an integrated, high-wattage heating element concealed either in the bottom of the kettle itself or within the power base. Corded electric models have a power cord attached directly to the kettle, while cordless units use a separate power base on which the kettle sits. The advantage of cordless models is that filling and serving from the kettle is much easier. Electric kettles feature either a stainless steel, tempered glass or heat-resistant polypropylene jug with cool-to-the-touch handles.
Electric kettles require some safety features so as to protect users from getting burned as well as not to damage the heating element or scorch the kettle. In order to prevent hot water from scalding the skin, the lids on electric kettles may feature a locking mechanism and a drip-less pour spout. Other important safety features include the automatic shutoff circuit which is generally set to kill the power once the water reaches the boiling point. Finally, a boil-dry protection mechanism prevents the heating element from remaining on until all of the water evaporates, potentially ruining the element and warping the jug.
Capacity and Power
Mini travel electric kettles offer a smaller capacity, typically holding 0.5 to 0.8 liters, or enough for 2 or 3 cups. Full-size kitchen models range in capacity from about 1.0 to 2.0 liters or up to 8 cups. The most common heating element is a 1,500-Watt unit, although anywhere from 1,000 to 2,200 Watts is customary. Electric kettles require standard 120-volt power, while select travel models may come with a universal voltage adapter, allowing a traveler to use their kettle in foreign countries.
Basic features found on all electric tea kettles include an on/off switch or start button, water level indicator and an easy-pour spout. Other features commonly found are dual water level indicators for left- or right-hand operation, a keep-warm or hold-temp button and a power-on indicator LED. Select units may feature an anti-scale filter to prevent mineral deposit buildup, an integrated water filter to improve its overall quality and multiple brew temperature settings. This last feature allows the user to choose a specific temperature, accurate to within 2 degrees F, usually between 175 and 212 degrees. Different types of tea prefer water of varying temperature, so tea steeps under ideal conditions. Most cordless models feature a 360-degree rotational base, meaning the kettle may be set back in place from any direction.