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What pushes you to boiling point with your kettle?

Kettles can really get the steam and conversation going. We’ve popped the kettle on to work out, well, what makes a good one. Our latest results have found one of the top performers of the last few years.

Have you ever wondered what makes a kettle good or bad, and how we decide on our star ratings? There are a number of factors that affect how we judge a kettle’s performance. These include speed, noise, minimum-fill level, over boiling and the quality of the limescale filter.

The best kettles achieve four or more stars in a range of tests, but you may want to avoid those scoring two stars or less on factors that are important to you.

The fast and furious

Kettles get a rating of two stars or less if it takes more than three minutes 20 seconds to boil a litre of water. On the other end of the scale, the good ones take less than two minutes 26 seconds to boil a litre.

Noise is another big factor in the big boil off. In our previous kettle poll, noise topped the list of annoyance factors. The nosiest kettle we tested measured 95dB – which is as loud as a drill! The ideal noise level will allow you to carry on your kitchen conversation while waiting for your brew. Jonas131415 once told us:

‘Noise is the main problem for me. My sister once owned a kettle that sounded like a booster rocket. At night the sound of a kettle is especially annoying and I avoid making a drink for fear of disturbing others.’

Had it up to here

A good kettle can boil less than 400ml of water so you won’t waste time and energy if you just want one cupful. And if you have to boil at least half a litre of water at a time, the kettle will score two stars or less in this category.

Overboiling is a big factor too – a kettle should switch itself off within 10 seconds to save energy. If the kettle boils for more than 15 seconds once it’s reached boiling point it gets a black mark in our books.

The quality of a limescale filter is also a contender in kettle testing. If the kettle allows flakes of scale into your cup it’ll get two stars or less in this category. Wavechange told us previously that he likes his stainless steel filter, saying:

‘Compared with plastic filters it is coarser but still prevents limescale getting into my coffee.’

Who fancies popping on the kettle (and don’t forget the digestives) and browsing through our latest kettle test results or sharing what pushes you to boiling point with your kettle?


I believe that the Which? rating of kettles and other electrical goods should take into account the length of the guarantee.

Modern kettles can rarely be repaired if the heater burns out or they start leaking.

We should be be moving towards ten year guarantees. I have had a Swan and a Philips kettle last for over ten years. My current Breville is a few years old. I hope it will last ten years because it is a replacement for one that lasted just a few months.

Every Morphy Richards kettle I’ve ever had has leaked, but not other brands.

My kettle appreciation faculty switches off at around the £25 mark and it is good to see that there are quite a few Best Buys under that level, including two that have more stars for noise [or lack of it, presumably]. In general, I think most of the lower priced models look much better than the expensive ones, but that is a personal opinion and I recognise how important it is to minimise worktop presentation anxiety.

My top priority when buying a kettle is to find one with as little plastic as possible. The thought of having a powerful electric heater in a plastic container worries me. If a kettle is accidentally switched on without water you are generally reliant on ONE safety device that can fail. I have a vivid memory of seeing a blackened and charred teak bench after a kettle had failed to shut off and the safety device had failed. Likewise I have seen a plastic-cased fan heater with a charred and broken casing.

I would like to know if Which? tests kettles to find out what happens if the overheating cut-out fails. I remember the front cover of one issue of Which? magazine that showed the melted sole-plate of an iron that had overheated because the thermostat had failed.

The most annoying thing about kettles is when, because of poor manufacturing standards, they take a long time to switch off when they have reached boiling point. It wastes energy and steams up the kitchen. I do not want to have to stand over the kettle while it is heating it would be good if it reached boiling point and switched off.

Normal electric kettles detect the boiling point by monitoring steam pressure rather than water temperature. This means that the lower the level of water in the kettle, the longer it takes to detect that the boiling point has been reached. It also means that any significant steam leakage will delay the switch-off as well. If using a kettle at the minimum water level it is worth keeping a eye on it and switch off manually as soon as the water is seen to be boiling, this will save more power.

Nearly six years ago I replaced our kettle with a cheap SS one. Since then we have had nine or ten more as mostly they last about six months and then go back to the shop for a free replacement or refund. We have had Argos (Breville), Tesco (own brand) and Asda (own brand). They all seem to meet the Which? test criteria except for noise, so long live the warranty. If we ever have to pay for a replacement again I will restart the process. Failures include a lid that would not stay shut. Thermostats that failed, leaks, and one element that gave up. I keep the receipts and only once have I had an argument about a replacement. Argos could not provide a replacement as the item was no longer sold (because of unrelability!) and wanted me to pay the difference for a slightly more expensive unit. I refused and ask for my money back and they gave me the more expensive unit.

We bought a Morphy Richards kettle (the third of its type we have bought). It was kept in its box for some months. When we eventually used it we found it scalded our hands. Since we had bought it from Tesco during a grocery shop we no longer had the receipt. We spoke to Morphy Richards helpline but they said we must return it to the retailer, which we could not. As we could only pour it when we were wearing an oven glove we decided to send it to MR’s complaints department. They returned it to us saying their engineer had checked it and it was fine. We no longer use it, but we do continue to use the other two similar kettles we bought from them. Poor aftersales service from them means we will avoid purchasing Morphy Richards products in the future.

Your contract is with Tesco, the retailer. If you paid by card there would be a record of the transaction and if you used a Tesco Clubcard that might have been acceptable evidence because everything you buy is recorded. It is certainly worth telling them about your concerns.

It is reasonable to inform a manufacturer if you believe a product is unsafe and a kettle should not scald you. It could be worth taking this up with Trading Standards, but have a look on websites such as Amazon to see if there are any complaints about the same problem. If there are, TS is more likely to take action.

Best of luck Erik.

Nigel Morris says:
10 February 2015

I bought a new stainless steel hob top (gas) whistling kettle when I last moved house in 1989 and it is still going fine. It will boil as little water as you need and isn’t noisy until it whistles! (but you can leave the whistle off). True it doesn’t have a limescale filter but then we don’t have particularly hard water. I suspect the running cost is substantially lower than for an electric kettle – maybe 1/3 of the energy cost even without taking into account the 3 or 4 times I would have needed to replace an electric version by now. For both those reasons I suspect it will also remain greener until substantially more of our electricity is generated from renewable sources. I would like to see Which include more hob top kettles in their tests and do a proper comparison of their energy use, running cost and environmental impact against electric models.