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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

This must be the crapest thing i have ever heard of you all need to get a LIFE.

Member

I guess that you design kettles for a living.

Member

Hello Jimbo, if you don’t think you have anything to add to the conversation, please hold back from commenting. Read our guidelines for more: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines

Member

I think that this discussion has reached the end of the line, but it does show that there are many design features that manufacturers have not thought about, especially about new technology to heat the water with less noise. It also underlines the need for the Which labs to up their game in the quality of their tests; are you listening Which?

Member

Look at the Which? reviews and I think you will find the main strengths and weaknesses of kettles listed, David.

One of the problems is that companies introduce new models without adequate testing. I expect that the kettles that don’t pour well have replaced models that are satisfactory in this respect.

What concerns me is the safety of plastic kettles. Putting a powerful electric heater in a plastic container is asking for trouble, in my view, whether it is a kettle or fan heater. I would like to know if plastic kettles are a fire hazard or give off toxic fumes if the overheating cutout fails.

I suggest contacting the manufacturer if you spot problems and posting comments online, as we are doing here.

Member

Hi wavechange. The problems that I know of, in the use of plastics in kettles are:

Potential leaching of plasticisers into the water with unknown health effects (I prefer to buy bottle water in glass bottles for this reason)

The plastic itself might add to the fire (as a fuel) or get burnt up without adding energy. eg If you burn PVC you can make small amounts of Dioxine although it does not add to the flames, but I doubt that PVC is used in food containers for this reason.

I am planning to write to Bosch about my kettle, so maybe they will listen and produce a better product in future.

Member

David, I pretty much agree with Wavechange and your conclusions.

The ‘plastic’ electric kettles are made of fire resistant material. But the kettle is unlikely to start a fire. It doesn’t just rely on the auto cut off when it reaches boiling, it also has a second ‘over-heating device’ usually called ‘boil dry’ cut off. So from a fire perspective they are probably safer than some earlier generations of kettles.

I’ve always been a little concerned about plasticiser leach and for that reason I never leave water in my kettle. I always fill with fresh water from the tap approximately what I need and always empty the dredges after I I have finished. (This both ensures that the water still has the maximum dissolved gases and minerals for a good cuppa and that furring is minimised because cooling water isn’t left standing in the kettle.) I never buy bottled water, so that aspect doesn’t concern me.

What the manufacturers need to do is to stop making kettles using the principal of design over function. As I said in a previous post, the important criteria are comfort, filling, pouring and efficiency. If any of those are wrong, then the kettle is woefully inadequate. IMO, the other functions such as speed, noise and looks are quite secondary to the basic requirements and everyone will have different priorities over those.

One conclusion I can draw is that from reading Which? and other reports and reading users’ reviews, there is no perfect kettle: they all have a failure rate regardless of cost. It is difficult to judge the real failure rates because people naturally tend to report dissatisfaction far more than satisfaction (why praise something that does what it is suppose to do!).

Member

David and Terfar

I do hope that ALL plastic kettles are made of fire-resistant material and that it does not produce toxic fumes if it is overheated. A kettle normally contains a 2 – 3 kW heater, which is a great deal of power to dissipate if something goes wrong. 🙁

I hope that branded kettles are either made of unplasticised plastic or made using plasticisers that are safe for food use.. That might not apply with some of the cheap kettles on the market.

If a kettle is switched on when it is empty, it will not shut off in the normal way because there is no steam. The modern kettles I have taken apart have only a single self-resetting thermal cut-out. These work like a crude thermostat and it is well established that this sort of cut-out can fail if contacts weld together as a result of arcing during operation. What there should be, of course, is a thermal fuse, but these are non-replaceable by the average householder. Forty years ago it was common for kettles to eject their power connector if they overheated. That was probably more reliable and in these days, kettles were made of metal. Kettles are often listed among the appliances responsible for house fires, but I have not seen numbers.

I used to make oxygen-free water for biochemical research in my university lab. Simply bringing water to the boil expelled the oxygen, so I reckon that it is a myth that freshly boiled water contains oxygen. Maybe the mineral content is different in freshly boiled and reboiled water, but I did not measure that.

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