Hot water dispenser reviews: FAQs
How much do you have to pay to get a decent hot water dispenser?
Our Best Buys start at £35. A more expensive Best Buy will give you the option of varying the amount of water that is dispensed.
Hot water dispensers range from £35 up to around £80 and most have similar features, but the Which? Best Buys are more accurate, they're quick and consistent every time you use them.
What’s the difference between a hot water dispenser and a kettle?
A hot water dispenser is a kettle-like product that will boil and dispense a single mugful of water at a time. Some hot water dispensers have a variable water setting, which means you can alter the amount of water that’s dispensed, but generally they dispense between 150ml (equivalent to a cup or small mug) and 350ml (a large mug).
They’re useful for people who only want to boil a small amount of water, for people who live on their own, or for anyone who has difficulty using a kettle.
They’re not suitable for boiling large quantities of water, or for making lots of cups of tea in a row. If your lifestyle involves those scenarios, head to our kettles review to find an energy efficient Best Buy kettle instead.
Is a hot water dispenser quicker than a kettle?
An average mug holds 250ml of water and to heat this amount of water in a kettle or a hot water dispenser takes the same amount of time – around a minute.
However, if you have a kettle with a minimum fill volume of more than 250ml then it will take longer to boil and so a hot water dispenser will work out quicker.
Does a hot water dispenser use more electricity than a kettle?
To heat a mugful of water, 250ml, a hot water dispenser uses the same amount of electricity as a kettle.
It costs under a penny in electricity each time you use the hot water dispenser and the costs will be the same if you have a kettle capable of boiling a water volume as low as 250ml.
If you have a kettle with a minimum fill volume of more than a mugful, the extra water that you will be heating, but not using, will be costing you more money. A hot water dispenser is more efficient in this case.
If you'd prefer to get a kettle, head to our handy advice guide How to buy the best kettle to find shopping tips on how to find the best kettle for you, or visit our hot water dispensers features explained page to find out more about hot water dispensers.
Does a hot water dispenser actually boil the water?
A hot water dispenser does actually boil water, but we have found that by the time it is dispensed into the cup it is no longer at boiling point.
Water dispensed into a room temperature mug (so no prewarming) from a hot water dispenser is 91°C. We repeated the same scenario with a freshly boiled kettle and found the temperature of the water when the mug was filled to be 96°C.
In a hot water dispenser there are pipes which connect the heating chamber to the dispensing nozzle. These run up past the water tank so this is where the heat can be lost after it is boiled, so by the time the water is dispensed it has cooled by a few degrees.
Can I descale my hot water dispenser?
Yes, hot water dispensers, like kettles and coffee machines, should be descaled regularly to keep them working properly.
How regularly you descale will depend on how often you use them and how hard the water supply is where you live. Many manufacturers recommend descaling around once every three months, but we’d advise referring to the instruction manual for your product, where detailed information will be given.
How much is a mugful?
We tested using a range of mug sizes, measured as followed:
- 150ml – short mug
- 200ml – tapering mug (wider at the top than at the bottom)
- 250ml – normal, average mug
- 300ml or over – large mug
We’ve added in the volume of water each hot water dispenser gives, and we’d advise measuring your favourite cup or mug to make sure there’s enough room for water as well as tea bags and milk.
What are the Wake Cup and Teasmade?
The Breville Wake Cup and the Swan Teasmade are similar to hot water dispensers, but are designed to brew a cup of tea by your bedside while you are sleeping, and when the alarm goes off your cup of tea is ready for you.
A hot water dispenser is more like a kettle than a Wake Cup or a Teasmade, and would be a better choice if you want to make cups of tea throughout the day.
We’ve tested the Breville Wake Cup, but the Swan Teasmade wasn’t available for us to test this time.
What are Insinkerator and Quooker?
Insinkerator and Quooker are brands of hot water taps which provide instant hot water.
These taps need to be permanently installed, and as such are are different from the freestanding kettle-type hot water dispensers we have tested for this review.