We’ve found some good options for your morning cuppa.
Given the simplicity of an electric jug, it’s hard to believe they’re not all the same. But they’re not. Some are noisy, others not easy to fill and, in some cases, styling impedes function. We’ve tested a range of models for ease of use, noise, boiling performance and energy efficiency.
If you’re thinking about buying an electric kettle, here’s what to consider.
Speed: Most models will boil a litre of water in around 3 minutes.
Minimum capacity: You’ll save on power costs and get a faster result if you only boil as much water as you need. The ideal jug will boil as little as 1 cup (250mL).
Pouring: Models with a wide spout can make it tricky to pour water into a narrow opening.
Safety:Auto-boil-off and boil-dry protection are common to all the models we tested. Also consider:
Materials: The sides and lids of stainless-steel models get very hot and could burn you. Lightweight plastic jugs stay cooler to the touch and are easy to lift and use, but they’re more at risk of being knocked over than heavier, wide-bottomed jugs.
Cord storage: The unit should have some way of storing excess cord so it doesn’t curl around loose or, worse, hang over the edge of the bench so a toddler could pull on it.
Safety lock lid: Some models have a locking device to keep the lid on if the jug is overturned.
Power on light: A valuable convenience and safety feature.
Filling: The spout should be large enough for easy non-spill filling, or the lid should be easy to open.
Central connector: Many cordless jugs now have a circular base with the electric connector in the centre. This means they can be turned on the base and easily used by left- and right-handers.
Water-level gauges: Some jugs don’t have an exterior gauge, which is a distinct disadvantage.
Switches: They should be easy to use and locate without having to look for them.
Spout cover: This is a handy feature that helps limit spills. It’s also good if you have trouble with insects in your kitchen.
Scale filter: It won’t filter the water, but it’s useful if your water supply is "hard" (or high in calcium carbonate). Otherwise, follow the instructions here to descale your kettle.
Cleaning: A smooth surface with few crevices will help prevent dirt accumulating. Plastic jugs are easier to clean unless the dirt is ingrained.
To get to the boil quickly, a filled jug has to transfer plenty of heat into the water within a short time. That requires a powerful electric element.
This noise reduces as the water heats, because the bubbles stop collapsing (instead they start forming the visible bubbles that you can see).
The problem is often worse in areas where the water is “hard” (it has a higher concentration of minerals). The furry scale that the minerals leave on the element seems to make the noise problem worse.
How to descale your kettle
You can descale your jug or kettle by covering the element (or the bottom of the jug if it has a concealed element) with a 50:50 mix of white vinegar and water – use just enough to cover it. Do not boil the jug. Leave the solution to soak for an hour or 2, shaking occasionally. Then rinse the jug thoroughly.