Electric kettles came about in the 19th century and Compton and Co is credited as being their inventor in 1891.
In 1922, he first electric kettle with internal elements was made by the Swan Company, and in 1955 Russell Hobbs designed the first automatic electric kettle.
What was special about the electric kettle invented by Hobbs is that it had an auto shut off feature that was powered by the steam produced by the kettle. Finally, the cordless electric kettle was introduced in 1986 and the design, material, ceramics and efficiency of these devices has been evolving.
The Benefits of Electric Kettles
The main reason for using an electric kettle is to heat water quickly. Many Americans simply pop our water in the microwave and zap it for a couple of minutes. Admittedly, I used to do this as well until I realized how much I was missing out on. A kettle heats water evenly and quickly to the desired temperature.
By the way, Australians and Europeans damn near view Americans as savages for heating their water in a microwave. Pretty funny story here.
Types of Kettles
There are essentially two types of kettles – electric kettles and stovetop kettles (whistling kettles).
Although they both heat water quickly and efficiently, they do so in different ways. What are the pros and cons of each?
In short, a classic stovetop whistling kettle appears more elegant to some, while an electric kettle tends to heat up water more quickly and typically comes with more advanced features.
Electric Kettle Must Have Features
Electric kettles only require an outlet and a little countertop space within reach of the cords’ length. That’s it. Many of them also have advanced features and temperature control.
They vary in price point, capacity, color, features (such as auto shut down), and much more. We’ve reviewed several models: Bodum Kettles, Best Kettles under $50, and Krups Kettles for your consideration.
Auto Shut Off
One feature I’d like to point out is the auto shut down feature. It’s imperative that you buy a kettle with this feature for safety reason. Once the water has finished heating, the kettle should automatically shut off.
Anything less would be a potential fire hazard and potentially damage the kettle if it is still hot with no water present.
Variable Temperature Settings
Did you know that different types of teas taste better at different temperatures? For example, the ideal temperature for green tea is 185 degrees while black tea should be much hotter at 212 degrees celcius
Well a good electric kettle should allow you to simply program your desired temperature and heat your water up precisely to that level. Temperature control is just one reason to spend a little more on a quality electric kettle.
It’s not rocket science. There are really only a few things that matter when choosing a kettle.
Speed: how fast does it heat your water Up? After all, if you’re running late for work, you don’t want spend an eternity waiting for your tea to be ready.
Temperature Control: Can you heat the water up to a preset temperature? This is for real tea drinkers who appreciate the difference between white and oolong tea being drunk at different temperatures.
Everything else is table stakes – Durability, auto shut off features and after that it’s simply a matter of budget and design preferences. Check out any one of our kettle reviews for more.