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Aug 27, 2010 04:31 PM

Help on "hob kettles" versus electric ones

Hello, everyone.

It seems like pot luck when buying an electric kettle these days. Some seem to be programmed to self-destruct after a year or two, meaning even a stream of cheap ones can end up costing an arm and a leg over the years.

With that in mind, I've been stewing over whether a "hob kettle" (ie. one that sits directly on the stove/heat source) might be a better investment?

Can anyone provide some insider information on what to go for? I have an induction hob and need boiling water for tea/coffee and cooking on a daily basis. Do they boil as quickly as their electric counterparts, for example? Do they ever "break"?

I see that Le Creuset has a range made with "enamelled steel". And Alessi have a stainless steel one famously designed by Michael Graves with a whistling bird on the spout. Twit-twoo.

I hope you can help - I'm spitting feathers over here waiting for a brew!

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  1. EnglishFood,I think that functionally, electric kettles are generally better -- faster, and more features/customization options (e.g., temperature control, etc.). I highly recommend the Pino kettle -- it's the only one I've found with no plastic hitting the hot water and its completely variable control. I've had it for about half a year and it still works great. It doesn't have the top of line substantial feel -- e.g., the plastic handle is lightweight and isn't constructed that well (on mine, anyway), so there's a slight squeak every time I handle it -- think it must have been a bad glueing job or something. But it works amazingly well and it was the best I found after a LOT of research. You can read extensive reviews here: http://www.amazon.com/PINO-ST-8706-Di....

    I've heard mixed things about the Le Creuset - rusting problems, etc. Many reviewers commented that the kettle didn't meet the typical Le Creuset standards.

    2 Replies
    1. re: iyc_nyc

      Many thanks for your reply, iyc_nyc.

      I had read about the Le Creuset problems, too, but nothing bad about the Alessi one as yet.

      My trouble is, I saw a documentary about how a growing number of electrical/white goods manufacturers are purposefully using inferior parts in their products so they'll stop working after a year or two. The problem can often be a small, inexpensive part on a complex circuit board. Conveniently, you can't identify the fault without specific, expensive equipment. So the "repair" is to replace the whole circuit board, or better still, throw the whole thing away and let the customer buy a new kettle/TV/washing machine. The plan is that we all get used to replacing everything every couple of years. That's why you're lucky to get a 12 month guarantee these days - even on expensive goods.

      I have to say, my wife is not convinced by my cunning spend-more-now-to-save-money-later plan... She'd rather I stopped all the dilly-dallying and shilly-shallying and bought a cheap electric kettle.

      It's all a conspiracy, I tells ya! Perhaps I'll see how long I can live without a kettle of any type...


      1. re: EnglishFoodSpotlight

        Did this documentary also explain about bigfoot? Yeah, there's lots of crap being made, but it's not "oh, if we make *this* wrong, it'll blow up in 17.5 minutes longer than the warranty" its "If we hire a guy who failed engineering school, it's cheaper" and "if we hire the factory that doesn't check anything, it's cheaper".

    2. I have a stainless steel hob kettle, it is very solid and heavy, but I don't recall the maker. I have gone through a number of cheap hob kettles because I tend to fill them, fire them up and then forget about them. This kettle has survived a number of those incidents and other than a couple dark stains is in perfect shape.

      I have toyed with the idea of an electic kettle, but I am trying to simplify my life and I don't see it as truely necessary.

      1. this is one of those things that when we Brits move to the USA we are astounded by the lack of American homes with electric kettles. You have every electric device known to mankind, coffeemakers, crockpots, electric juicers, mincers, graters and so on and yet people come to my house and look at my stainless electric kettle sitting on the counter top and declare it an alien being!
        Mine was about 30 bucks from Walmart. It works great. How else do you boil water? Mine turns itself off as they all do these days. Take a leap of faith and get one.

        1 Reply
        1. re: smartie

          I boil water for tea in a cup in the microwave. I agree, those electric kettles in Europe are nice; I just never felt the need for one.

        2. You probably have had a lot more experience with electric kettles than most of us Americans. I have used a small simple one at the office, but don't use one regularly at home. But I do like using my induction hotplate to boil my coffee water. In terms of speed and energy use it is just as good as the electric kettles. It lacks the 'hold hot' function.

          Induction burners have as much electronics as electric kettles; probably more. But if you use it for other cooking, you might as well use it to heat your water.

          1. http://www.zojirushi.com/ourproducts/...

            The Zojirushi "hot pot" works extremely well. I use mine for tea and french press coffee a lot. It really is nice to always have 3L of near boiling water waiting for nice cup of tea.