This is what makes a good kettle: design, technology, power consumption

My own kettle is broken. It lasted eight years. It cost less than 40 euros at the time, or 5 euros per year. With 3-4 pots of tea a day, I get less than 0.3 cents in acquisition costs per heating.

Then recently discovered in a friend’s kitchen: a new design kettle with special functions. They go around. While others, like me in the past, stick to the model that is relatively close to the electronics store checkout and above all cheap. So the question: what really matters?

Because there are still factors that can hardly be measured in money: countless times, for example, I have steamed my hand with my old kettle. The design was so poorly thought out that hot steam inevitably flowed towards the handle when pouring. Everytime

In this article, I will show you the compromises I made when buying the kettle. Until now, I look forward to it every day.

The spout of the kettle conducts water vapor

I have already described my suffering: my old kettle may be curved, especially in the position of the handle and the spout. But when pouring, hot steam should not enter your hand. Good designers know it: form follows function.

No chance of hot water vapor reaching the holding hand (Image: Peter Giesecke)

My new kettle has a handle large enough for me to grab it lower. I still have a firm grip on the weight and can pour comfortably. Hot water vapor continues to rise. But my hand is elsewhere.

In addition, the spout of my kettle has a lid that opens only slightly when pouring and therefore retains a little steam.

Easy to read water level on the kettle

I was also annoyed by the water level indicator on my old kettle. It was a small window in the stainless steel case through which I could see the water level. At least initially.

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Gave me trouble: Water level indicator under the handle: hard to read and impossible to clean (Image: Peter Giesecke)

So as not to disadvantage left- or right-handers, the designers did not position the water level indicator on either side, but below the handle. However, since it was overcast, I had to bend my knees slightly to be able to see the water level.

In addition, the window did not point towards the inside of the kettle, but only towards a tube in which the water was just as high (principle of communicating tubes). The only problem was that the window got cloudy over time and I couldn’t clean the tube.

My new kettle has a window on both sides that gives a view inside and is easy to clean inside and out.

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It’s better this way: water level indicators on both sides, easy to read against the light (Image: Peter Giesecke)

The water level indicator is traditionally inside. Open the lid, let the water flow and look at the divisions on the interior wall. However, the measurement scale often faded over time and was no longer easy to read. Well done, that would have worked for me too.

Don’t waste energy with the kettle

Another problem comes from a water level indicator that does not work: I often add too much water for fear of not heating enough water. But when I heat water that I don’t need, the heat is eventually transferred to the air in the room. I then heat my kitchen with the kettle. I don’t notice it on the number of degrees, but I notice it on the electric bill at the end of the year.

You should also pay attention to the correct filling quantity if you take into account another energy-saving tip: when cooking, heat the water in the kettle and not on the hob.

Kettle Graef WK 502
Kettles with temperature selection are ideal for tea drinkers (Image: Graef)

Attention tea drinkers: if you often heat water for a single cup, look for a kettle with a small minimum capacity of 250-300ml. For many models, this is already 500 ml.

If you do not need water at 100 degrees, but rather 70-80 degrees for certain types of tea, it is better to choose a kettle with temperature selection or a teapot like the WMF Lono.

How many watts does a kettle need?

The rate at which water boils depends on the power. Kettles usually have a power between 500 and 3000 watts. For larger models with a capacity of 1.5 to 2 litres, this is often between 2,200 and 3,000 watts.

Higher wattage doesn’t mean higher power consumption, just faster heating. In the end, the same amount of energy is pumped into the water, just in less time.

A 3000 watt kettle takes about 2 minutes to heat 1 liter of water from room temperature to 100 degrees. A 1500 watt kettle already lasts 4-5 minutes, a 500 watt appliance even 10-12 minutes.

About 0.1 kWh is used, for which just over 4 cents currently appears on the electricity bill. Kettles with more watts use slightly less energy. You can therefore reach the kettle of 2,000 watts and more without bad ecological conscience.

The information on power consumption refers to one liter of water. With smaller quantities, the relative energy consumption increases. Thus, heating half a liter of water twice consumes more energy than heating a whole liter once.

I didn’t pay attention to the power when choosing, but I chose a model that works quickly and quietly.

A kettle with an exposed heating coil is more energy efficient than a kettle with a closed bottom (although it is also harder to clean).

A plastic kettle is more energy efficient than stainless steel or glass ones because they release heat faster.

Only a few kettles carry the eco-label blue angel. Then you can count on its effectiveness. However, this label is not assigned automatically, but must be requested by manufacturers. Therefore, not all of these energy-saving devices carry it.

Which kettles are easy to clean

A beautiful design often becomes a problem when cleaning the kettle. Glass can quickly become unsightly. Curved shapes prevent access to dirty places inside.

Instead of regularly wiping the kettle, you should then use vinegar, baking soda or other agents that chemically dissolve what has settled over time.

Limestone removed halfway up the kettle
If the inside of the kettle is not freely accessible, chemicals should be used for cleaning (Image: Peter Giesecke)

Kettles with an exposed heating coil (like a built-in immersion heater) are also difficult to clean and can only be cleaned with tools. On the other hand, this design results in slightly lower power consumption.

That’s why I opted for a kettle that is cylindrical in shape and not made of glass or stainless steel, but of high quality plastic. Additionally, it has a stainless steel base plate that covers the heating element. And I can remove the lid instead of just opening it.

Conclusion: kettle more practical than beautiful

Manufacturers such as AEG, Bosch, KitchenAid, Krups, Severin, Siemens or WMF often advertise their kettles with the wattage. Comparisons on the Internet are often aimed at this. There are other criteria that become important in everyday life: functions that are determined by design and power consumption.

The really important criteria when buying a kettle:

  • big catch
  • visible water level indicator
  • quick and quiet heating
  • cylindrical shape with removable lid

I didn’t choose a temperature because I drink black tea, but not green.

It doesn’t matter which model I chose. There are so many kettles for sale that fit my criteria.

Just so you understand what I was really talking about: it turned out to be the Krups BW 2448. I’m very happy with it. He is quite handsome too. And not expensive.

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