For years, many Americans primarily used stovetop tea kettles. After visiting family in London a few years ago, I was astonished to learn that most Brits actually use electric kettles to boil water.
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Maybe you’ve heard the same and are considering purchasing an electric kettle. But are there any disadvantages of electric kettles?
Like any small appliance, electric kettles have many advantages but you should also be aware of the disadvantages. Here are a few things you should know before purchasing one.
Disadvantages of Using an Electric Kettle
1. Safety Issues
A big question many consumers ask is are electric kettles safe. First, electric tea kettles can be hazardous if not used properly.
Almost all manufacturers of electric kettles will provide a list of instructions for safe use. It is important that these directions are followed to avoid any accidents.
Top safety instructions for using electric kettles include:
- Keep out of reach of children and pets
- Do not allow kettle to boil dry
- Do not immerse kettle, base, cord or components in water
- Unplug kettle when not being used
- Place kettle away from hot stoves or ovens
- Power cord should not hang over edge of counter or shelf
- Do not use them outside
- Do not overfill kettle
- Do not use to heat any other liquids than water
- Do not plug or unplug with wet hands
- If plug or cord is damaged do not operate the kettle
2. Overcrowds Kitchen Space
Stovetop kettles will normally remain on the stove or are small enough to place in a cabinet when not in use. However, an electric kettle normally takes up residence on a kitchen counter or pantry shelf.
Related: Best Tea Kettles For Gas Stoves
The typical electric kettle will be about 7.5” in width and about 9.5” in height. That may not seem very large, however, if you live in an apartment or have minimal counter-space then an electric kettle can overcrowd space that’s already at a premium.
3. No Whistle Alert
Many stovetop tea kettles whistle once the water has reached boiling. Another one of the disadvantages of electric kettles is the lack of an audible alert to signal boiled water.
An electric kettle won’t whistle but will shut-off once water is boiled (which is excellent and necessary for safety). However, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to turn my electric kettle on back to back because I was busy and forgot I had water boiling for my tea.
4. Cleaning and Care Difficulty
Electric kettles can also be difficult to clean, especially for those with larger hands. Since the kettle cannot be submerged in water or placed in a dishwasher, you’ll need to wash it by hand.
To avoid any scale/lime/mineral deposits you’ll need to make sure to empty the kettle after every use. Even if you do empty it every use, you’ll still need to descale the kettle from time to time. Trust me you’ll pay for it with mineral build-ups in your kettle if you do not.
Lastly, an electric kettle disadvantage is the cost. There are budget options in the $15 and $20 range – but you certainly get what you pay for.
The budget options are made mostly of plastic and can give your water a “plastic taste” no matter how many times you wash it. The safety of a low-priced electric kettle is also questionable as they may not be manufactured under strict safety standards.
If you want to combat some of the disadvantages we’ve noted above you’ll need to opt for a majority stainless steel electric kettle which we’ve seen as high as $150.
Are There Any Benefits of an Electric Kettle?
Okay, let’s get to the good. I hope the disadvantages didn’t scare you off because there are a couple of worthy advantages of electric tea kettles.
One advantage of an electric kettle is that it uses considerably less energy than boiling water on an electric stove. This can save you money on your utility bill..
As we mentioned earlier, an electric kettle will shut off automatically once your water has reached boiling point. This removes any worry of the kettle remaining on and possibly reaching the point of boiling dry. It’s a necessary safety feature that does not exist with stovetop kettles.
Check out our full comparison of Electric vs Stovetop Tea Kettles
3. You Don’t Need a Stove
There are some places you’ll need boiling water but may not have a stove available. With an electric kettle, you can boil water in places where there is no access to a stove.
Here are a few places in which it would be helpful to have an electric kettle:
- Dorm rooms
- Office break rooms
Remember, to be sure the use of a small appliance is allowed in any of the above places to avoid any issues beforehand.
4. Boils Water Quickly
Another advantage of an electric kettle is that it boils water really quickly. Options like the Mueller Ultra Kettle with Speed Boil will have your water boiled within minutes.
5. Control Options
Perhaps the coolest advantage of electric kettles are the available temperature control options on some of the higher-end models. This is perfect for those who want to enhance and get the best flavor from their tea and coffee by using water boiled at the most accurate temperature.
Our favorite electric kettle with temperature controls is made by Cuisinart. I really like it because it takes the guesswork out of the ideal temperature by incorporating preset buttons for specific types of tea and coffee. There are 6 preset temperature settings including 175℉ for Green Tea and 200℉ for French Press.
How Does an Electric Kettle Work?
Electric kettles are designed to use electricity to heat water to a boiling temperature. The electricity flows through a heating element located in the kettle. The generated heat is what brings the water in the kettle to a boil.
The automatic shut-off feature of electric kettles is triggered by a thermostat built into the kettle. Similar to the thermostat of your home that shuts on or off with a set temperature – the thermostat of a kettle is set to turn the unit off once boiling temperature is reached.
So, should you buy an electric kettle? I’d say yes because they’re a great arsenal to add to your kitchen and can be a great tool for boiling water when a stove isn’t available.
Although there are some disadvantages of electric kettles, the benefits seem to outweigh any negatives – especially if you follow the safety precautions.
Before purchasing one, consider whether or not the negatives listed above are deal breakers for you. If not, then go ahead and add an electric kettle to your kitchen collection and be on the way to boiling water more quickly and efficiently.