/ Home & Energy

Is your kettle as loud as a drill?

Unbelievably, our tests have found that some kettles are as loud as an electric drill. No wonder noisy boiling is one of your biggest kettle bugbears. Does your noisy tea-maker make you boil over with rage?

Whenever we ask what annoys you most about your kettle, noise comes top more often than not. A third of you named it your biggest bugbear in our poll last year, ahead of leaks and difficult lids.

So we wanted to find out just how noisy kettles are compared to other familiar sounds.

For every kettle we test, we measure the decibel level it reaches when boiling. The quietest unit we’ve tested in the past few years reached 79 decibels (dB), while the loudest hit an ear-splitting 95dB.

And that wouldn’t just drown out the noise of your TV – that kettle would be louder than a lawnmower (around 90dB) and as loud as an electric drill in some cases (a drill is typically between 95dB and 100dB).

How to find a quiet kettle

Noisy kettlesHowever, our kettle tests cover more than just volume. We also get a panel of experts to provide a subjective noise rating. This means that they can mark down kettles which make a particularly annoying noise, even though they may not sound too loud on a decibel level.

We combine this with the decibel level to create our overall noise rating. So, if noisy boiling bothers you, use our ‘compare features and prices’ tool to pick out the kettles which get four- or five-star ratings for noise.

Ultimately though, truly quiet kettles just don’t exist. The volume of a conversation is typically 60-65dB – much lower than even the quietest kettle we’ve tested. So until manufacturers figure out a way to make kettles much quieter than they are now, you’re going to need to raise your voice or turn up the volume on the TV while you’re making a cuppa.

How loud is your kettle? Does the noise bother you, or are you able to ignore it?

Comments
Member

The noise made by the kettle does not bother me. When the noise stops, it is time to make the tea, so it is quite useful.

A cordless drill can be very quiet and a mains hammer drill extremely noisy, so I am not sure if a ‘drill’ is useful for comparison. Likewise, lawnmowers vary enormously in the noise they make.

Member

I’ll tell you what does annoy me – my washing machine. I live in an open-plan flat and when my flatmate decides to do his washing while I’m trying to watch Celebrity Masterchef, all I can hear is the whirring of his clothes spinning.

To top it all, when the washing machine is finished it mocks me with a ‘happy tune’ – the beginning of Jingle Bells of all things! That leaves me humming a Christmas tune in Which? HQ in the middle of summer!

My kettle on the other-hand, a Russell Hobbs, might be quite loud at boiling point, but it doesn’t last very long so I can put up with it.

Member
wev says:
1 August 2013

Which is more annoying? A kettle’s weight or its noise?

Member

There is nothing like Which? Conversation for learning about problems you do not realise you have. 🙁

To be serious, ordinary kettles are difficult for those with arthritis or weak wrists. Travel kettles are lighter but the quality of those I have seen is mediocre. It might be worth reviewing the better ones in the next Which? review of kettles.

Member

We purchased the Prestige Eco 55845, a Which? best buy, because it only weighs at 0.6 kg. One reviewer complained that it was flimsy, but if flimsy means light weight then it’s excellent. It certainly boils fast and you can fill just one mug full, so it really is eco.

The downside is it is noisy. But then it is fast at boiling, so boiling just a mug of water means you don’t hear it for very long.

Quieter kettles tend to be much heavier. So you takes your choice!

Member

I find Kettle noise is an issue.
My kitchen has a lot of hard surfaces, granite worktop, original slate floor , so find the kettle has no difficulty masking the radio or TV usually at a critical point !

Member

[This comment has been removed. Please read our commenting guidelines. Thanks, mods.]

Member

Yes electric kettle noise is a big problem and it was much less when kettles had immersion elements. I am an engineer and I feel sure I could design an efficient kettle that is much less noisy than the present offerings, if only I had the time to do it. We have ended up with a Bosch kettle which is not too noisy and heats up quickly, but has other problems. Being designed by a German company and Germans don’t have kettles in their culture, it pours very badly because it doesn’t have a spout; its a bit like a deep saucepan, so when you pour the water it escapes around the pouring edge. I didn’t realise that this could be a problem before we got it, but now I know that the spout is essential.