Kettle me up!
January 21, 2013 8:46 AM   Subscribe

Tea kettles: electric vs. stove-top. Tell me which one to buy!

I'm looking for a tea kettle. I've had a stove-top model forever but it was recently damaged and can't be used anymore. I was looking at an electric model but I got overwhelmed with choices and the reviews seemed so all over the place.

It doesn't really matter to me which one I end up with (stove-top or electric) but the thought of having super duper hot water really fast is quite appealing, so maybe an electric kettle is the way to go? I am a bit concerned with a lot of the models I see that are plastic, because I don't want my water to taste plasticky or smell hot plastic every time I use the kettle.

So, my fellow hive, what tea kettle should I buy? $50 and under preferred, I have Amazon Prime, and am located in the US. Oh, I have a gas stove-top.
posted by cooker girl to Food & Drink (67 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Electric. They are the best thing ever. I am on my second Capresso model and like it a lot. My first Capresso kettle gave up after I think three years of heavy use, which was a bit of a downer, so I got this one second time around and so far am happy with it (but really, the first one's prettier and cheaper.)

It's not a bad idea to keep a stovetop one around for power-outage emergencies (if you've got a gas stove) but electric boils water more quickly and more safely.
posted by asperity at 8:50 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have this one because it's beautiful. It's plugged into an outlet timer so I have hot water when my alarm goes off.

It's quiet (no whistle), but heats up water pretty fast.
posted by itesser at 8:50 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Electric is the way to go absolutely. I have had various plastic ones and they never tasted plasticky.

Get a cordless one, it's otherwise very irritating.
posted by jeather at 8:51 AM on January 21, 2013 [7 favorites]

I bought a cheap electric kettle, this guy, a couple of months ago and have been regularly using it. It takes all of three minutes or so to boil one mug-full of water for use. I was worried about the plastic too when I bought it, but so far there's been no plasticky taste or plasticky smells coming from it. Prior to getting this, I would boil water on the stove. But on cold nights, I prefer to get out of bed as few times as possible, and this kettle has facilitated that lifestyle quite well.
posted by Geppp at 8:51 AM on January 21, 2013

Electric kettle is go for me! I use this one because for me, TEA IS SERIOUS BIZZNEZZ.

I've had it for nearly three years and no problems with it whatsoever.
posted by Kitteh at 8:53 AM on January 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

I was looking at an electric model but I got overwhelmed with choices and the reviews seemed so all over the place.

What? Just get the cheapest electric kettle that visually appeals to you and that doesn't have a ton of reviews saying it pours like crap.

I am a bit concerned with a lot of the models I see that are plastic, because I don't want my water to taste plasticky or smell hot plastic every time I use the kettle.

I live in Ireland and previously lived in the UK so I've been boiling water in an electric kettle for 15 years now. Believe me, if plastic electric kettles adulterated the taste of the water IN ANY WAY, the entire population would stage a tea driking revolution. I think the average on both islands is like 6 cups of a tea a day and fully 75% of our combined population of 66 million tea drinkers boils water in an electric kettle. (The other 25% buy fancy schmancy ones and probably also make their toast in a €200 De'Longhi toaster. Bugger that: it is hot water, not a lifestyle statement.)
posted by DarlingBri at 8:55 AM on January 21, 2013 [14 favorites]

I adore my electric kettle. If it ever dies (5€ about 10 years ago, and still going strong) I might replace with cordless, and stainless steel, but it's the most dependable and most used item in the kitchen. No plastic taste, but it does require occasional descaling (which I just do with vinegar, and then flush it a lot).
posted by taz at 8:55 AM on January 21, 2013

Electric for sure! I'm pretty sure this is the one I have, and I've never noticed anything smelling or tasting of plastic, but I do love the heck out of it. So convenient to have hot water in minutes, and useful if all the burners are cooking, too.
posted by hungrybruno at 8:58 AM on January 21, 2013

Electric, but of course. I've got a plastic Braun that has never imparted a plasticky taste to the water, or given off a plastic smell, and before that I had a plastic Oster (made in NZ); tea-drinking nations have been buying plastic kettles for long enough that they'd notice. For cordless ones, the biggest concern is leakage and that the electrical contact doesn't die.

If you like green/white tea, then having one that switches off at temperatures below 100C is worth the extra money.
posted by holgate at 8:59 AM on January 21, 2013

I have used both and I would definitely say electric. I've never had an issue with an off taste, even with cheap dorm ones. If you do have hard water, definitely be pro-active about cleaning off the mineral deposits-- depending on where you are, vinegar might not be strong enough if it gets built up enough.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:00 AM on January 21, 2013

I have to refute Kitteh's recommendation for the Cuisinart CPK-17. They have a tendency to die -- ours did, just as did many others owned by Amazon reviewers. It will just stop heating and flash blue and make a sad beep. Cuisinart has a shit policy for dealing with in-warranty repair: you must ship the unit back on your own dime, as well as include a cheque for return shipping.

I just over the weekend bought a BonaVita 1.7 model that is UL listed for commercial use. Haven't got it yet but have super high hopes based on reviews.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:01 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm gonna say stovetop, because there are more things to an electric kettle that can break and render it non-functional. (Meaning: either physical damage OR electrics damage could break on it, so it could be structurally sound but still not work - but structural damage is the only kind of damage you can get on a stovetop kettle.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:02 AM on January 21, 2013

Although, I have also used an electric kettle and it doesn't taste "plasticky" at all. And Alton Brown has deemed electric kettles the best tool for making hard-boiled eggs (insert water and eggs, let come to boil and then switch off - lots of electric kettles automatically switch off when they come to a boil - and let sit for 10 minutes).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:04 AM on January 21, 2013

I moved from stovetop to electric kettles a few years ago and never looked back. I, too, was concerned about the plastic issue, but none of the electric kettles I've used has ever imparted a plastic flavor or smell to my boiled water. I sadly just found out that the Braun kettle I've owned and used regularly for several years has been discontinued in the US, but other people I know have other brands of electric kettles, and none of them have had plastic flavors.

I generally only heat up as much water as I'll immediately need, so I don't leave water sitting around in the thing for hours. I also open the top to let it dry out between uses.
posted by wondermouse at 9:05 AM on January 21, 2013

I'll also say that once you've had an electric kettle, stove top kettles seem to take an eternity, which can be fine if it's part of a contemplative, meditative process or ritual, but if not, it's just so much faster there's no comparison. As for the possibility of damage, I've accidentally bounced my cheapo – but not ugly! – one off the floor a couple of times, and it's apparently crash-proof... but it's the kind that sits on the base that plugs into the outlet, so there's not that much to actually break with this version, if the body doesn't crack.
posted by taz at 9:08 AM on January 21, 2013

EmpressCallipygos, I usually go for simplicity, too, but even the cheapest plastic electric kettle is ridiculously durable. I've had my current Canadian Tire cheapo for over 5 years and it shows no sign of flagging.
posted by maudlin at 9:10 AM on January 21, 2013 [3 favorites]

Nthing- cordless electric. Though the true secret to getting fast hot water is to only put what you need in the kettle. Electrics are by far the fastest way to get a boil in general. The only good reason to get a stovetop one is if you are desperate for counter space.

Another tip: don't store any water in the kettle. It will develop limescale. Put in just what you need, boil it, use it, then empty it out. My kettle is about 12 years old and has no buildup and still works fine.
posted by chairface at 9:12 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm going to get on a bit of soapbox here and say that just because no one notices a "plasticky" taste, doesn't mean that Bad Things aren't happening. For reference, read Our Stolen Future for a good scare. After I heard a panel of scientists say they only ever use glass in the microwave, I've tried to steer clear of heated plastic coming in touch with my food.
Of course, practically, this is impossible, so maybe 'minimize' is a better word.
(off soapbox)
There are so many excellent kettles out there with no/minimal plastic, that I'd recommend one of them. We just gave last rites to an ancient Russell Hobbs kettle (probably 20 yrs old when we bought it 10 years ago), so this might be a good way to go.
posted by dbmcd at 9:12 AM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

I do bemoan our norte americano 120v/15A electrical service, though, which limits kettles to 1500W elements. No matter how efficient the kettle is, you'll still wait 4-5 minutes minimum for 1.5l of boiling water.

In the UK, the 220V wall plugs result in electric kettles with upwards of 3000W of heat resulting in a teapot-ready water in barely two minutes. SO ENVIOUS. I have even thought of rewiring a kitchen outlet just so I could plug in a Russell Hobbs, but I just can't claim that level of devotion to hot water.

Just be prepared for an electric kettle to take a lot longer than it would on your gas cooktop on HI.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:13 AM on January 21, 2013

An electric kettle saves energy. This means it will save you money and reduce your environmental footprint. From The Guardian:
[A]n electric kettle converts about 80% of the electricity used into energy to heat the water, while the comparable figure for a pan of water on the gas is around 40% and a microwave about 55%.
posted by grouse at 9:15 AM on January 21, 2013 [5 favorites]

Just be prepared for an electric kettle to take a lot longer than it would on your gas cooktop on HI.

Really? I had a friend who had an electric kettle and it seemed much faster than my stove-top model. Like, it only took a few minutes, iirc.
posted by cooker girl at 9:18 AM on January 21, 2013

An electric could take longer if you are putting in way too much water (lots of people feel they need to fill it up completely each time) or if it has a low power rating. Look for 1500W-1800W if you live in the US.
posted by chairface at 9:22 AM on January 21, 2013

I live in Australia. Everybody has a kettle and they are all electric. I can't remember the last time I saw a stove-top kettle. They're slow and a waste of energy.

Electric kettles are cheap as chips and last forever. Get a metal one because plastic ones are fugly, not because they taste plasticky (they don't). Get one with a cool-touch body, only fill it with as much water as you need boiled (saves energy) and empty it after each use. Voila.
posted by Salamander at 9:22 AM on January 21, 2013 [4 favorites]

OK not sure how long it took you to boil on your gas range.

It takes about 100Watt-hours of energy to boil a litre of 10C (cold) tap water. How fast you get hot water is entirely dependent on how powerful the heater is (and how efficient heat transfer is). A 1000W kettle will boil a litre of water no faster than six minutes. A 1500W kettle might do it in 4.5 minutes, and an 1800W kettle in just under 4, assuming immersion elements like the cheapest kettles have.
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:28 AM on January 21, 2013

Nthing an electric kettle. I have used them for years (both plastic and stainless steel with no difference between the two). Once you've used one you will never, and I mean NEVER go back to stovetop. My current one is a $20 stainless steel one I got at Target.
posted by young sister beacon at 9:30 AM on January 21, 2013

Electric, with an automatic shutoff, ideally a ding (although that's not critical) and the ability to remove the kettle off the base.

I've got one of the glass capressos and like it very much. You do need to boil vinegary water in it off and on to get rid of the scunge.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:32 AM on January 21, 2013

I had a plastic electric kettle for years... but I went back to stovetop. I found a vintage kettle at a thrift store for $8 and its merry whistle every morning makes the whole tea-making-and-getting-ready-for-work process that much more cheerful. But, again, luddite tendencies (I don't own a microwave). And very little counter space. But the whistling is nice. So.
posted by mochapickle at 9:35 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Here is a relatively recent question on electric kettles:

Based on the answers I got the Cuisinart Perfectemp for Xmas this year, and so far, it isn't bad.
posted by girlpublisher at 9:36 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Electric kettles are way faster than stovetop. Just make sure you only put in the amount of water you'll use, don't fill it all the way up every time.

My only recommendation with kettles is if you are prone to hard water try to get one with a flat bottom as opposed to having the element inside. I find it so much easier to clean off the calcium build up with a bit of vinegar. Having said that if water hardness is not a problem for you the immersion ones are a smidge faster Also go cordless.
posted by wwax at 9:37 AM on January 21, 2013

I am not a fan of appliances for appliance sake, particularly after moving to the UK where counter space is usually quite limited.

That said, I am a complete PRO electric kettle convert. I own 2, one cheap plastic one and one nice Delonghi. The plastic one takes a bit longer but that's it. Both are much faster than stovetop and you get the Pavlovian thing where as soon as I hear an electric kettle boiling I really want a cup of tea and I already feel immediately relaxed.

(It's also great for boiling water faster for pasta.)
posted by like_neon at 9:39 AM on January 21, 2013

I've had both plastic and metal electric kettles, as well as a tin kettle used when I had no counters in a crappy rental.

Electric beats the shit out of stovetop, hands down. It's mature technology, it's not that hard to make one that works. Cord, element, switch, vessel for water. They aren't complicated. And I've noticed no difference between metal and plastic taste-wise. I have a bottom of the line Russel Hobbs these days, and it gets used pretty much constantly. Three years on and still as shiny as the day I brought it home.

EC: Re. Moving parts and failure: How many parts does your stove have, again? :p
posted by Jilder at 9:40 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh yes, saw wwax's comment, my more expensive one is cordless and I would also recommend that as well.
posted by like_neon at 9:40 AM on January 21, 2013

Also, I should add that prior to the Perfectemp, I had a standard issue plastic proctor silex cordless for years which I loved and would never have parted with until it finally passed way (RIP, kettle).

I would have been perfectly happy to get one again, but then I discovered fancy kettles, and realized that I am actually a spoiled princess of tea, and became obsessed with having one.

Electricity would have to stop working for me to go back to stovetop. It was a game-changer.
posted by girlpublisher at 9:47 AM on January 21, 2013

I have a Braun electric kettle and it is wonderful! I was going to link to the model but it looks like it's not sold in the US anymore. It was made in Germany if that matters. It was around $50. I have had it for over 10 years and have had no problems. It's plastic and there is no visible deterioration or off taste. I do have to clean it out with vinegar once a week or so, but I have very hard water.

I do recommend keeping a stovetop kettle around if you have a gas stove in case the power goes out. In my last apartment we lost power for three days and with a gas stove to heat the water for our French press, and a gas water heater for showers it was completely bearable.
posted by apricot at 9:53 AM on January 21, 2013

I prefer electric because it saves gas--specifically, the gas I burned when I was halfway to work and couldn't remember if I shut off the burner on the stove.

I still worry even with auto shutoff, but not enough to make me turn around!
posted by Camofrog at 9:57 AM on January 21, 2013

When I moved to the USA 11 years ago, I was suprised that electric kettles were not ubiquitous. It seems like such a necessity to me. Anyway, I have this one and have had it for nearly eleven years :) it's still going strong.

I never knew that worrying about the taste of the water was a thing, either.
posted by gaspode at 10:07 AM on January 21, 2013

I happen to like the whistle on my stovetop, and never notice when the water boils in an electric (but a- you're probably not as easily distracted as I am and b- I'm sure you'd get used to it if you use it frequently). If you're like me, I'd want to know if they have electrics with whistles.
posted by hannahelastic at 10:08 AM on January 21, 2013

I bought this $11 electric kettle about 5 years ago and it's still going strong. It's faster than a stovetop kettle and has an automatic off; I love it. If I was buying another one, I might buy a nicer looking one that was cordless, but if you'd like to try out an inexpensive one first, the one I linked to will serve you well.
posted by insectosaurus at 10:09 AM on January 21, 2013

Should you have an electric kettle and a long power failure but no non-electric kettle, you can always just use a pot to boil water. I gave gifts to people in the US of electric kettles and it was always some kind of miraculous wonderful gift, no matter what company I bought it from. (Usually whatever looked best at Canadian Tire.)

Find an attractive cordless kettle from a company you've heard of before (my mother uses her Braun all the time) and stop overthinking this. You could have made a dozen cups of tea in this time already.
posted by jeather at 10:37 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

Electric because I am a flake and many electric kettles have auto-off.
posted by rmd1023 at 10:37 AM on January 21, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have an electric kettle and you'd have to pry it out of my cold, dead, formerly-tea-drinking hands. I love it so much. I don't even know what brand it is, except that it was less than 20 USD and I got it at Target. (It was the least expensive one they had.) It was cheap, I've had it for YEARS and it boils up a large mug's worth of water in about one minute. Also, it doesn't whistle (I hate the whistle), it just sort of clicks off. Mine is plastic and I've never noticed a difference in taste, other than it's not flavored with my annoyance at waiting for the water to boil. Electric all the way!
posted by Aquifer at 10:41 AM on January 21, 2013

Electric all the way. Cordless electric, though. I've had mine since 1997 (16 years!) and use it approximately a bajillion times a day and it's still going strong. I wouldn't get a plastic one, though, because a) heated plastic + food is something I try to avoid and b) making coffee or tea is an aesthetic pleasure and plastic is not aesthetically pleasing. I do have a glass one at the office and it's okay, but I prefer my stainless one at home.
posted by HotToddy at 10:41 AM on January 21, 2013

Electric with auto shut-off because you will never have to worry about walking away and getting distracted, then boiling the pot bone dry and only remembering when you smell the pot burning. And you also won't have to worry about accidentally setting your kitchen on fire because you left a pot holder too close to the stove while you were in the bedroom getting dressed and waiting for the water to boil for your morning tea. (I've done both of those and the second one scared the crap out of me so much I went out and bought my electric kettle that very afternoon. One of the best purchases I've ever made.)
posted by platinum at 11:10 AM on January 21, 2013

I have this electric kettle from Adagio. I like that it has lower settings if you want water for green tea now and then. Stainless steel, auto shut off, heats fast fast fast.
posted by donnagirl at 11:12 AM on January 21, 2013

Amazon used to have the adagio utilitea as a prime option under $50 but no longer. I bought 2 last September, one for home and one for work, and I love them. I drink coffee and black tea at home and green at work, and the variable temp thing is a nice feature that works well if that's of interest to you.
posted by acanthous at 11:27 AM on January 21, 2013

I had this little cheapie when I was living in a dorm last year, and it was great. Very fast, no plastic taste, auto-shut-off, detachable cord so you didn't accidentally leave it plugged in, and dirt cheap. I might buy it again; it takes forever for my stove-top to heat water.
posted by smirkette at 11:29 AM on January 21, 2013

I grew up in Canada, and before I lived in the States I thought EVERYONE had electric kettles. Not having an electric kettle would be like not owning an oven. It's just a basic kitchen tool.

That said, I then moved to the UK, and I realized that kettles there are so much better than in Canada. It's not just that they have a higher voltage for their electricity, but cordless, automatic kettles are a lot more common. I am now in love with the automatic shut-off and I'll never buy another non-automatic kettle (the fact that the off-switch was invented by a really cool inventor who then donated money that supported by SO through grad school is just a bonus). If it's cordless (aka pops on a base for the current), that's so much more convenient because you're not watching where the cord is when you're filling it up at the sink.

For a basic kettle, I would just say it's totally worth it to get a cordless automatic. As everyone says, you don't taste the plastic. If you're paranoid about chemicals and you're feeling like you want to spend the money, a stainless steel kettle will last longer, but I wouldn't pay more than about $50 for it (we got a factory refurbished for $30). If you live near the border with Canada, you might actually want to do some cross-border shopping, as I've noticed that kettles are sometimes cheaper up here (because they are more common).

The only thing better than an automatic cordless electric kettle is an automatic cordless electric kettle which also makes a noise when it's done and can optionally keep the water at a chosen temperature. But they are also stupidly expensive.
posted by jb at 11:30 AM on January 21, 2013

I'm just going to throw this out there, but I never used to think much of kettles as being all that useful in a kitchen until I got some advice in this askMe and bought a electric dispensing water boiler.

Seriously, stretch your budget a bit and pick out the Zojirushi Water Boiler of your choice on Amazon. This one is mine, and I will be buried with it.

You don't mess with tea time.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 11:33 AM on January 21, 2013

I had a plastic one that I thought was fine until I realized it was melting. I now have a metal one that's okay but not perfect; it's one of the Cuisinart ones with various temperatures, which is more than I need.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:35 AM on January 21, 2013

I have a Bodum teakettle that I am fond of and may well repurchase in the US (I'm in Europe now and I am not interested in a step-up transformer for a teakettle). I got mine on sale at half price because it was brown, which I guess was a color that was getting discontinued. It heats fast and is uncomplicated.
posted by that girl at 11:51 AM on January 21, 2013

I have both stove and electric. The stove top only gets used in winter on the wood oven. Any time the fire isn't on - the electric cordless is the winner.

Do not buy cool touch polypropylene aka plastic. Over time I have seen two of my own, plus an outlaw's start to powder up/ degrade at the plastic spout - and these were reputable brands from memory.

Our current kettle is fully metal except for the plastic lid handle on the metal lid ( so you can open the lid to refill immediately after it has boiled) I only realised what a gret feature that was when at a friends and I couldn't get the lid off theirs without burning myself
posted by insomniax at 12:23 PM on January 21, 2013

I have a stovetop kettle; I say get whatever, as long as it whistles when it is done (I hate electric kettles because, although they are faster, I end up boiling the water three times because I've forgotten about it.)
posted by Acer_saccharum at 12:49 PM on January 21, 2013

While the electric ones are much quicker, my vote goes to the stove-top. Just make sure to get a well-built one that will last a very long time.
posted by NYC-BB at 12:58 PM on January 21, 2013

I LOOOOVE my electric tea kettle. Would NEVER go back!
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 1:05 PM on January 21, 2013

ADHD tip re fast electric kettles: hang around the kitchen and do something useful for the brief time it takes to boil, like wiping counters and/or stove, sweeping the floor, or emptying the dish rack/dishwasher (even if you only get partway through the job). Because otherwise, yeah, just walking away means a great chance of needing multiple boils.
posted by maudlin at 1:23 PM on January 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Cordless electric.

I have a stovetop only because I have a ridiculous NY kitchen with twice as much stovetop space as counter space and no convenient outlets. It is possible to destroy a stovetop kettle. I'm on my second or third.
posted by Salamandrous at 1:49 PM on January 21, 2013

I have the same cordless electric as Kitteh, and I'm also a serious tea drinker. But basically any metal cordless electric kettle would be great. My office has these Breville ones and they work great also.

I would almost always recommend a cordless electric kettle because:

1) You free up burner space, if you would like to also cook up a storm.

2) Even then cheapo electric ones usually have automatic shut-off. I grew up watching my mom literally burn through stove-top kettles. It smells bad and is expensive. And is probably also dangerous.

3) It's much more portable. I don't know how long you plan to keep living where you live, but the electric kettle will work anywhere where there's the same voltage of electricity. But your stove-top kettle requires a stove, and if you move somewhere with a crappy electric stove that heats up very, very slowly, you'll want an electric kettle anyway.
posted by ethidda at 2:06 PM on January 21, 2013

I don't understand why would people get a plastic kettle when great, cheap, metal-lined kettles are widely available. For example, this is the model I have:

Aroma kettle

Metal seems more appropriate for a device that will have contact with boiling water for decades.

I usually use an electric kettle, but stove-top makes much better-tasting tea for some varieties of tea, for example, high quality senchas brewed lightly, many high mountain oolongs, dan congs. I would never make these with an electric kettle, I usually use a ceramic kettle for them (Joyce Chen); a glass kettle works great, too (I haven't tried a glass electric kettle).
posted by rainy at 4:30 PM on January 21, 2013

If you do decide to go with stovetop, definitely check out this one: Calphalon 2-Quart Stainless Steel Tea Kettle with Whistle

I did extensive research about a year ago because I wanted either a stovetop or electric kettle with a whistle, but without ANY plastic in contact with the boiling water (for taste/safety reasons). I mean ZERO plastic.. this excluded practically all electric kettles since they all have little plastic windows.

The Calphalon stovetop is the only one I could find that fit the bill. Even the whistle parts are made out of metal! And it looks nice. Heats up water rapidly and has worked perfectly well over the past year. I even bought two more for plastic-conscious family members who love theirs as well. Amazon prime and just within your budget! :)
posted by nemutdero at 4:53 PM on January 21, 2013

Electric kettle all the way. I avoid heating plastics like the plague, so I go with stainless steel or glass with variable temperature control and cordless. I like the Japanese hot water dispensers BUT the ones I saw did not have variable temperature and the water tastes stale after a while.

I lived in the UK and LOVED the kettle. Came back to the US and saw an absolute paucity of quality kettles. The Cuisinart is spendy and so is the Capresso. I would suggest either Adagio or the BonaVita variable temp. I have an Upton Teas variable temp kettle (no longer available) that is going 5 years strong but switched over to the glass capresso for the change. I may still go with BonaVita just for the better usability of it.
posted by jadepearl at 5:14 PM on January 21, 2013

I have this Krups kettle which I bought because it's 1750 watts instead of the usual 1500. It's served me well for years and shows no signs of stopping.
posted by bink at 7:46 PM on January 21, 2013

I bought my electric kettle from Upton Tea. It has no plastic in contact with the water. Very simple.

Aside from tea water, I use it to boil water to transfer to cooking pots. It speeds up prep time for pastas and veggies.
posted by valannc at 12:09 AM on January 22, 2013

I have some fancypants electric kettle that does 6 different temperatures of water. I only use boil. It's really shiny though. And fast.
posted by elizardbits at 6:21 AM on January 22, 2013

Another vote for cheap plastic kettles. The one I have doesn't have an auto turn-off but it does have a whistle (loud enough for me to hear about 25-30 feet away in another room down a hallway). There has never been a plasticky smell or taste, however, when it dies I will probably get a metal or glass kettle (I'm more of a tea drinker now and want something nicer).
posted by deborah at 12:53 AM on January 23, 2013

> Oh, I have a gas stove-top.

Stovetop. On a gas stove, a decent kettle is just as fast as an electric kettle unless you get a super-deluxe electric kettle that shaves off a minute or so. And being able to put the kettle on in the usual way when the power goes out has a special awesomeness.

If I had a lot of extra counter-space and outlets and got an electric kettle as a gift, I could see becoming a convert and adoring it, but I have only an average amount of counter, some of which is already claimed by "always out" appliances.
posted by desuetude at 10:19 PM on January 23, 2013

If there's a blackout, you always have a pot. But seriously: an electric kettle is easier. You don't even put it near your stove - we've always kept it on the corner of the counter that would otherwise be pretty useless. But you can also put it on a table, or a shelf (as we did in the place with very little counter).

When we lived in a bad building that sometimes didn't have hot water, I could take the electric kettle to the bathroom on the second floor and boil water to warm my bath.

Of all the appliances that crowd counters, the electric kettle gets use the most -- and it's not a single-use device like a coffee maker.
posted by jb at 5:07 AM on January 24, 2013

Thanks, all. For posterity: we have tons of counter space, I do cook a LOT, and we will get a cheap stove top kettle for electricity outages. That said, I bought the Russell Hobbs recommended above and it came today and oh my lord does it heat the water super fast. I'm sure in about a day I'll wonder how I ever lived without it.
posted by cooker girl at 11:39 AM on January 29, 2013

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