Kettle reviews: FAQs
Is it worth paying more than £30 for a kettle?
You can buy a no-frills own-brand kettle these days for under a tenner, while other branded kettles come in at around the £100 mark – so how much more kettle can you get for your money?
At the top end of the scale you're often paying for a premium brand name and the style and finish of the kettle – including shiny glass and glossy, metallic exteriors – plus a quality, solid build. Cheaper models under £20 will be less likely to include useful extras such as variable temperature settings for making different drinks, or a quiet-boil feature.
However, plenty of our Best Buy kettles are priced between £20 and £50 and complete the principal job in hand, boiling water, both quickly and efficiently.
You can compare kettle features and prices of all the models we've tested using our product finder tool.
How long does it take to boil a kettle?
Unsurprisingly, the answer is: it depends on the kettle. Our Best Buys boil a litre of water in less than two and a half minutes – enough for four large cups of tea.
Of course, if you’re just boiling the kettle for yourself, you won't need anywhere near that amount of water and boiling times for each kettle can vary greatly, as we found in our 2007 test.
|Kettles: time to boil|
|One cup (250mls)|
|Most||1 min 11 secs|
|Two cups (500mls)|
|Least||1 min 17 secs|
|Average||1 min 26 secs|
|Most||1 min 47 secs|
|Four cups (1 litre)|
|Least||2 mins 3 secs|
|Average||2 min 34 secs|
|Most||3 mins 13 secs|
How much energy does a kettle use?
On average a kettle uses the same amount of energy to boil a litre of water as it takes to run a fridge for about seven hours, so it’s a good idea to boil only as much water as you need. The British boil their kettles on average four times a day, so you should buy a kettle that's as energy-efficient as possible.
A slow-boiling kettle isn’t necessarily the most inefficient one. Some kettles waste energy, continuing to boil for up to 10 seconds before the automatic cut-off switches the kettle off – a period we refer to as 'overboil'. We measure overboil times and energy consumption for all of the kettles on test in the Which? lab.
|Kettles: Energy consumption|
|Boiling one litre|
Manufacturers have created alternative products that are designed to make it easier to save energy:
The Eco Kettle is fast to boil and uses less energy than all the kettles on test, although it’s not intuitive to use. It has an inner and outer chamber with three sets of water level graduations, which can be confusing at first glance, and the centre button used to transfer water between chambers is stiff to press.
Hot water dispensers
Hot water dispensers such as the Breville Hot Cup, Morphy Richards Meno One Cup, and Argos Cookworks Signature 423/7611 are similar to kettles, with the differences being that they'll provide you with hot water at the touch of a button, and they only heat as much water as you need.
We think hot water dispensers are useful for people who only want to boil a small amount of water - but if you want to boil a large amount of water for cooking, need to fill a tea pot or you have a round of hot drinks to make, then a kettle is still the better option. Read our hot water dispenser reviews if you're interested in finding out more about these innovative products.
Do illuminated kettles use a lot more energy?
We found the LED illumination used in kettles which glow or change colour only use about 1W, which is tiny compared to the 3000W used by the heating element. Even in the few kettles that remain illuminated whilst on standby, the cost of that 1W over the course of a year is going to be less than £1.
Of course, you should think carefully about whether you really need a kettle which glows with all the colours of the rainbow.
Do I have time to make a cup of tea in the adverts?
All our Best Buy kettles boil a litre of water in less than two and a half minutes – enough for four cups of tea. That's fairly quick, but with around three and a half minutes of adverts on terrestrial commercial channels you’ll be hard pressed to fill, boil and brew a round of tea in the space of one ad break.
Watching back-to-back programmes on the BBC will leave you higher and drier, with around a minute and a half between shows. But there's still hope.
Coffee is best made with water that isn't boiling, and it takes about a minute to boil one cup's worth of water, or a minute and a half for two cups. So if you want to be back in your seat for the opening credits, switch off the kettle just before the water boils and make it an instant coffee for one.
What's the best way to boil water for coffee?
Whether you want proper coffee made in a proper coffee pot or a simple instant coffee, experts agree you shouldn’t use boiling water. Boiling water can create a slightly bitter and burnt taste – it can even be noticeable with instant coffee, although adding milk helps to disguise it.
There's no definitive answer as to how hot water should be to make coffee, but our expert recommends somewhere between 92 and 96 degrees celsius.
So how long should you leave the kettle once it’s boiled? We timed each of the kettles in our 2007 test to see how long freshly boiled water took to cool to 95 degrees celsius. The fastest cooled in around 78 seconds, but for most kettles you’ll need to wait between three and five minutes.
A faster alternative is to intercept your kettle before it boils – a matter of skill and judgment with most kettles. Some offer dedicated coffee settings or temperature adjustments - the 'Extra features' tab on our compare kettle features and prices page shows which kettles have these settings.
How can I judge the capacity of kettles?
Some kettles measure capacity in cups, others in litres. If you work on the premise that a mug of coffee will need the equivalent of 250ml you can't go far wrong.
Others display very few water level graduations and over half in our most recent test had no minimum level mark at all, which can be frustrating. Only a few kettles have a minimum filling requirement of one cup.
Most specify filling with at least 0.5 litres or two cups-worth of water before boiling; inefficient if you’re just after a quick cup of coffee on the run.
How often should I clean it?
All manufacturers recommend cleaning and descaling your kettle to keep it in good working order. This will also ensure it remains as efficient as possible .
You can use vinegar for cleaning, but previous Which? tests found that even after rinsing repeatedly kettles can still retain an unappetising vinegary aroma.
How often you need to descale your kettle depends on how hard your water supply is, but it's advisable to check the spout filter regularly for any build-up that can be easily cleaned off.
What about this Quooker thing I saw advertised?
To get boiling water at the push-and-twist of a tap, you can get your sink kitted out with a Quooker.
Available in three- and seven-litre capacities, the insulated tank sits under your sink and provides you with filtered, boiling water from your mains supply through a dedicated boiling water tap.
The boiling water is stored in the tank ready for when you need it, but if you use a whole tank full in one go you’ll have to wait 10 to 20 minutes for it to refill and boil.