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How Kettles Work: A Full Guide On Electric Kettles [2023]

Plugging a jug of water into an electrical energy source sounds like a recipe for disaster, but somehow, electric kettles do it safely!

How Kettles Work

If you've ever wondered how an electric kettle works, this article is for you!

We'll review some of the essential information you need to know and compare it to other common types of kettles available in the market.

Let's get started!

How Does an Electric Kettle Work?

How Does an Electric Kettle Work
© Homesthetics - Monica Hewitt

Electric kettles work by using electricity to heat water through a heating element, with the temperature of the water being controlled by a variable resistor inside the kettle.

This electrical current heats up the water inside the kettle through a concealed heating element inside, usually at the bottom of the kettle.


This heating element is made up of a thick metal coil that has electrical resistance. This electrical resistance turns electrical energy into heat energy.

When you plug in the kettle and switch it on, electricity flows into it and through the heating element. As it heats up, it transfers the heat to the water.

Once the water reaches the desired temperature, the resistor turns off the power supply to the heating element, preventing the water from boiling over or causing any damage to the kettle.

How Long Does an Electric Kettle Take To Boil Water?

It typically takes an electric kettle between 3 and 5 minutes to boil water. This can vary depending on the kettle's power, water amount, and starting temperature.

For example, a 1.5-liter kettle with a power rating of 1500 watts can boil water at full capacity in around 3-4 minutes.

However, if you fill the kettle with only a small amount of water, say 250 ml, it will boil faster because there is less water to heat up, and less heat energy is needed.

Similarly, if you start with cold water from the tap, it will take longer to boil than if you use hot water from the tap.

This is because the heating element has to raise the water temperature from the initial temperature to the boiling point of 100°C (which is always the same temperature).

Once the water reaches the boiling point, it will continue to boil until it evaporates or the kettle is switched off if it has no auto-shut-off function.

How Does an Electric Kettle Boil Water So Fast?

Boiling water with electric kettles is fast because of their efficient heating process.

When you turn on an electric kettle, a large electric current flows through the thick coil inside the kettle.

The coil is usually in direct contact with the water. This can significantly save energy and allows efficient heat transfer to the water.

Unlike traditional stovetop kettles that rely on an open fire to heat water, an electric kettle rapidly warms water because little to no heat is wasted.

The placement of the heating element inside the electric kettle is specifically designed to heat water quickly and efficiently, which means water boils faster than other methods.

This process is much faster than other methods because the heating element is in direct contact with the water.

As the water warms up, the heat passes evenly throughout the water, allowing the entire water volume to heat up simultaneously.

How Does an Electric Kettle Switch off Automatically?

An electric kettle can switch off automatically thanks to an automatic shut-off feature built into the thermostat. This turns off the kettle when the water reaches a specific temperature.

When you turn on an electric kettle and add water inside, the heating element begins to warm the water.

As the water temperature rises, the thermostat detects when it has reached the right temperature or when the water boiled, and any additional heating is unnecessary.

Once the water has reached that point, the thermostat stops heating it further, and the kettle switches off automatically.

This is an important safety feature that helps prevent the kettle from overheating or boiling dry, which can cause damage to the kettle or even create a fire hazard.

How Do You Maintain Electric Kettles?

To maintain an electric kettle, it's important to keep the entire unit clean and free from buildup that can affect its performance.

One of the main things to remember when maintaining electric kettles is that the heat brings mineral deposits that can accumulate inside the kettle.

This can affect the taste of your water and even damage the electrical appliance over time.

We recommend cleaning it regularly using a solution of water and vinegar or a specialized descaling solution.

It's also essential to clean the exterior of the kettle, including the handle and spout. Use a damp cloth to wipe down the exterior of the kettle and dry it thoroughly.

Make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions for using and maintaining it, as this can help prolong the life of electric kettles and ensure that it continues functioning properly for years to come.

Is your electric kettle switch not working? Hit the link to try and make your kettle work again!

What Are Different Modern Electric Kettles You Can Get?

Because there are so many appliance versions (not to mention industrial capacity steam kettles) used when heating water, let's briefly go over the most common ones:

Stovetop Kettles

Unlike electric kettles, stovetop kettles use heat from a gas or electric stove to warm the water inside. When the water reaches boiling point, steam pressure builds up inside.

Though it lacks direct contact with heat sources that make electric kettles work faster, a traditional kettle is simple and can surely get the job done.

SUSTEAS Stove Top Kettle - Best Stovetop Kettle

SUSTEAS Stove Top Whistling Tea Kettle - Food Grade...
  • ♨ COOL HANDLE | PUSH BOTTON MECHANISM - Ergonomically...

The SUSTEAS Stove Top traditional kettle is a classic and reliable option for boiling water on a gas stove or other heat source (apart from electricity, of course!).

This SUSTEAS kettle stands out thanks to its durable, rust-resistant stainless steel construction and easy-to-use handle and spout.

You can drink coffee and tea with a stylish kettle to match!

Electric Kettles

As we've covered above, electrical energy travels through kettles' heating elements, saving energy and expediting the boiling process.

Cuisinart Perfectemp Kettle - Best Electric Kettle

Cuisinart 1.7-Liter Stainless Steel Cordless Electric Kettle...
  • 1500 watts for fast heat-up and 1.7-liter capacity
  • 6 preset heat settings (160°F for delicate teas, 175°F for...

The Cuisinart Perfectemp Electric Kettle excels in the heating process, as it utilizes advanced heating technology to quickly and efficiently heat water.

We particularly enjoy its Keep Warm function and blue LED indicators that keep you informed and in control.

The sleek stainless steel design, automatic shut-off, and non-slip cool touch handle add to its overall convenience and safety, making it the best electric kettle on the market.

Check out our list of the best electric kettles for more top-notch options!

Automatic Tea Kettles

How does an electric tea kettle work? Generally, they heat water to a certain temperature and then automatically infuse tea leaves in the water for the desired amount of time.

The included infuser in tea kettles allows loose-leaf tea to be used, producing a better taste and aroma than traditional tea bags.

Viante Hot Tea Maker Electric Glass Kettle - Best Automatic Tea Kettle

Vianté Hot Tea Maker Electric Glass Kettle with tea infuser...
  • A Connoisseur’s Kettle – Archive the pinnacle of...
  • For leaves or Beans – Use your electric tea kettle with...

The Viante Hot Tea Maker Electric Glass Kettle is an automatic tea kettle that simplifies the tea-making process. Its glass design allows you to see the water level and tea leaves.

We love that it has a keep-warm function to maintain hot water as needed. It offers plenty of advanced features and has overwhelmingly positive customer reviews.

Whistling Kettles

Whistling kettles use a steam tube that carries steam from the boiling water up to the spout, creating a whistling sound when the kettle boils.

In short, it's a kettle fitted with a steam tube that creates a loud and clear whistle, making it easy to know when your water is ready.

To learn more about this whistling sound, check out our article on why kettles make noise.

Mr. Coffee Flintshire Whistling Tea Kettle - Best Whistling Kettle

Mr. Coffee Flintshire Stainless Steel Whistling Tea Kettle,...
  • Solid stainless steel constructed 1.75-Quart teakettle
  • Whistling teakettle alerts when water is boiling recommend...

The Mr. Coffee Flintshire Stainless Steel Whistling Tea Kettle is a classic yet stylish addition to any kitchen.

The stainless steel construction ensures durability and longevity, while the large capacity allows you to boil enough water for multiple cups of tea or coffee.

With its sleek design and reliable performance, the Mr. Coffee Flintshire Whistling Tea Kettle is an excellent choice for any tea lover!

Working Of Kettles FAQs

  • Now that we’ve answered the question How does an electric kettle work, let’s discuss if they’re actually energy-saving:

  • Do Electric Kettles Consume a Lot of Electricity?

    The amount of electricity an electric kettle consumes depends on its wattage, but it typically ranges from 1200 to 3000 watts.

    Heating an entire kettle will not take up more energy than is required, and its auto shut-off function can stop electricity flowing into the heating element when it’s no longer needed.

    Electric kettles are designed to be energy-efficient, and the heating element heats the water quickly and efficiently. This means they only need to be on for a short period.

  • How Kettles Work Conclusion
    © Homesthetics - Monica Hewitt


    In summary, an electric kettle works by utilizing its heating element, which converts electrical energy into heat, then distributes it quickly and evenly across the water.

    They often have a built-in thermostat that can automatically shut the appliance off at the optimum temperature for additional safety.

    Though stovetop kettles are perfectly fine, you can't get more efficient than an electric kettle these days!