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Feb 27, 2008 04:37 AM

Kettle: Electric or Stovetop?

My Cusinart cordless, electric kettle just conked out on me. It seems to me the electric ones aren't very durable as this one lasted me less than 2 years. I think stovetop kettles are more reliable but they also take longer to boil water.

Which do you think is better: electric or stovetop?
Also, can you recommend a good kettle that holds a greater volume of water?

Thanks in advance, 'Hounds!

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  1. The cordless ones seem to fail much more quickly than the corded units. Of course a stive top unit will last until you flatten it with a steam roller!

    Electric is MUCH faster, probably more energy efficient too -- element is in direct contact with water.

    1. I much prefer the electric kettle. Mine is corded and nothing fancy, white plastic Melita, but I love it. I love how quickly water comes to a boil and I especially love that it shuts itself off so when I forget about it there's no harm done.

      1. It's very, very, rare for us in Europe (UK, me) to be ahead of our pals in the US on this kind of thing, but in automatic electric kettles we seem to be some years in advance of you. In my household we could never be without one. We have a cheapo plastic Hinari brand which maxes at 2 litres (nearly 4 pints).

        1 Reply
        1. re: Robin Joy

          Actually, Robin Joy, you are very wrong. European (and Asian) appliances are way ahead of those available in the US. There are many more appliances available and they have more capabilities/features, better design, and much more advanced technology. The North American brands don't come close.

          Here in Canada, we seem to get more European and Asian choices than our friends to the south. Unfortunately, this is somewhat offset by the US products that are inexplicably unavailable here.

          It's not something for the kitchen, but have you ever seen a Japanese toilet seat? We're in the appliance dark ages in North America.

        2. Electric for sure. A good one is much faster than boiling on the stove, as well as freeing-up a burner.

          This used to be the great Canadian appliance secret, always suitable as a gift for someone in the US. It's one appliance where our brand selection probably exceeds yours, with prices from about $6.95 to a couple of hundred bucks. There is very little relationship between price and quality.

          Look for:

          - The heating element should be within the kettle itself. The best design is a metal heating plate at the bottom, which is easiest to clean. Some kettles have the heating coil right inside. This boils water fast, but is much more difficult to clean. If you don't see a metal plate or a heating coil inside the kettle, get a different unit.

          - Cordless is preferable for several reasons. There is no dangling cord to get in the way, making them much more convenient, and likely safer. Note that "cordless" means that the cord is attached to the base rather than the kettle. The base must be plugged in for the kettle to heat. (While rechargeable cordless kettles exist, they don't work reliably or well.)

          - Wattage is everything! Don't get any kettle rated at less than 1500 watts. Ours is a T-Fal Vitesses, made in France, 1750 watts. Other brands to look for are Seb, Russell-Hobbs, and Morphy-Richards. Mainstream North American brands are not at the forefront of electric kettle design or technology. Many brands at every price level are now made in China.

          - If you are willing to spend more money, the best units are Asian brands and are not exactly kettles. They are usually called water warmers or boilers. Zojirushi is top of the line. National is another reputable brand. They operate on a different usage principle from an electric kettle, bringing water to a boil very slowly, but holding it just below the boiling point for hours without boiling dry. See for details.

          - An electric kettle MUST have an automatic shutoff for safety. This prevents the kettle from boiling dry and burning out (or worse). Some units don't have this simple feature. Some kettles will hold the water at a specific temperature - this is a frill rather than a requirement. Zojirushi and its ilk can hold a set temperature for hours.

          - It is best to use filtered water. Some kettles have built-in filters, but they aren't adequate and it's often difficult to find replacements. If you don't use filtered water, you will need to descale the kettle regularly.

          2 Replies
          1. re: embee

            Wowee, Embee! Thank you for taking the time to provide me with detailed info! I'm also a fellow Canuck (in Toronto). The European brands you suggest (T-Fal Vitesse, etc.) sound good but I'm guessing they're available at specialty kitchenware shops and not at, say, the local Canadian Tire, right?

            I need a kettle that boils water quickly without the ability to hold it at a set temperature.

            I don't mind paying premium prices as long as the quality is there to match them. From my experience, the inexpensive stuff made in China just don't hold up well.

            1. re: DishyDiva

              You don't need a kitchen specialty shop. Actually, they aren't likely to have a large kettle selection.

              I got mine at a Home Outfitters store. I got it because it had the highest wattage and we had enough power for it in the kitchen - not because of price. However, I had a 20% off coupon and it was on sale, so it was less than $40.00. It's $51 on the HBC website at the moment.

              Crappy Tire has a good selection at their renovated stores, as does Sears. Even Zeller's has a fairly wide range at their best stores. If you are in the Northern reaches, check out Cayne's in Thornhill.

              The Gerrard Sq Zeller's (NOT one of their better stores) has T-Fal, but they are all 1500 watt units, made in China. They don't have a good selection at that store.

          2. I still like my old large corningware tea kettle, probably from the 70's. I picked it up at a yard sale for almost nothing and have had it forever. Look on ebay for one. Not the small one, there is a larger one out there.