The Insider: Electric Kettles

Need a new kettle? Don't go for the cheapest one
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The Independent Online

You might think that buying an electric kettle is a pretty simple business – but if you want a machine that boils quickly, doesn't use up too much energy and looks good on your kitchen sideboard, it's well worth investing a bit of time into doing some research.

There's also a huge variation in price. The cheapest models on the market will set you back less than a fiver, and if you want to really splash out, it's possible to spend as much as £80. But, as ever, it's not simply the case that more money means better quality.

When Which? recently tested more than 120 kettles, it gave its top rating – an impressive 84 out of 100 – to the Russell Hobbs Ceylon 13355, which costs as little as £20. This kettle took just two minutes and 27 seconds to boil a litre of water, and had a great energy-efficiency rating.

"You don't have to spend a fortune on a kettle – some basic own-brand models cost little more than a jar of coffee, and you can pick up a decent kettle with an attractive design from as little as £20," says Martyn Hocking, the editor of Which? magazine.

"You're likely to use your kettle every day, so look at display models on the high street before you buy to ensure you choose one that's easy to fill, comfortable to grip, and not too heavy. If you're spending a bit more, you can get stylish coloured finishes, built-in water filters, and even different heat settings for tea and coffee to ensure you don't burn your coffee by making it with boiling water."

The kettles at the very bottom end of the price range do tend to be rather bad value. In the Which? tests, every kettle that cost below £14 received a rating of less than 50 per cent – with almost all of them rating particularly badly in terms of the time it took them to boil a litre of water.

If you are looking for a good-value cheap kettle, however, Which? picks out the Argos Cookworks Signature White Illuminated - which costs only £15 – as one of the best.

Even if you spend a bit more, there's no guarantee of a reliable kettle in the £20 range. Which? advises readers to steer clear of the Breville VJ127, for example, which costs £20. It's slow, noisy and hard to clean.

Where to buy

If you know what you're looking for, the best place to find a good price is online. Websites such as froogle.co.uk, pricerunner.co.uk and whichcompare.co.uk will help you to track down the best price for the model you're looking for.

Or, if you prefer to browse online, argos.co.uk has a huge choice, with more than 100 kettles to choose from. Alternatively, retailers such as currys.co.uk and comet.co.uk have a slightly smaller, although still significant, range on offer.

The same names are also worth checking out on the high street, as you occasionally get good discounts on sale stock.

Five questions to ask

How long does it take to boil?

Some kettles take almost four minutes to boil a litre of water, while the best out there will do the job for you in around two-and-a-quarter minutes.

Does it have a volume marker?

Some kettles have a scale on the outside, which lets you know how much water is left in the pot. But others omit this feature.

How much noise does it make?

Some kettles make a right racket. If you get up before the other members of your house, you might prefer an appliance that won't wake them up.

Is it energy-efficient?

With energy prices soaring, it might be worth investing in a kettle that doesn't use too much electricity to boil your water.

Does it have a good filter?

Some kettle filters do little to stop the accumulation of limescale, forcing you to buy a new one much sooner than you might have wanted.

The Insider is written in conjunction with the consumer group Which?. For more information on kettles, visit www.which.co.uk/kettles. To get three issues of 'Which?' magazine for £3, call 01992 822800 and quote INADVICE

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