Want to know a bit more about how you’re getting that boiled water for drinks like tea and coffee? If so, then you’re in the right place. Whether you want to know a bit more about the kettle you’ve already got, or are looking to buy a new one, it’s important to know a little bit more about the technology and what it does. Kettle technology has come a long way in the last few decades. You don’t have to boil a pan on a stove anymore to get that hot water for tea.
Remember, boiling water can be dangerous. Always be careful with your kettle, even though newer ones have additional security and safety features. Don’t leave your kettle unattended with children. Don’t put it too near the edge of your kitchen work surface or leave it plugged into the mains when it’s not being used. Always read the instructions in the manual before use.
Once you’ve done all that and enjoyed your first few cups of tea, coffee or hot chocolate with your new kettle, you might want to start learning a bit more about the technology around you. In this article, we’re going to look at how kettles work, starting with standard kettles and then looking a bit closer at how cordless powered kettles work. So let’s get started….
How do kettles work?
The main purpose of a kettle, cordless or otherwise, is to boil water. Normally for hot drinks, but you can also use this water to top up a saucepan if you’re cooking, or anything else you might need hot water for. Boiling water in a kettle can be much faster than boiling a pan on a stove to it can help you cook pasta or other things more quickly if you start the boiling process with a kettle and then pour the already boiled water into a pan. This tip works better if you’ve already got some simmering water in the saucepan as well. But how do they work? Let’s have a look.
Traditional, non-electric kettles were actually similar to just boiling water in a saucepan. Yes, their shape meant that water was boiled more efficiently, and they had a design that meant water was easier to pour (a spout), but you filled them with water and then placed them on the stove to heat from the bottom, the same way you would with a saucepan. This was how it was done for centuries. But then electric kettles made things much more convenient.
If you look inside your standard electric kettle you’ll see a coil of metal that’s known as a heating element. When you plug the kettle into mains power with a plug and then turn it on, the heating element will get power and start getting really hot. This, in turn, heats the water you already added to make it boil. The element uses resistance to turn electricity into heat.
When electric kettles first started hitting the market, they weren’t as safe as the ones you can buy now. That’s because they didn’t switch themselves off. While you shouldn’t really leave things boiling unattended, some people naturally did. It’s easy to forget about a boiling kettle, and because the kettles didn’t switch off, you might either return to a blown fuse and broken kettle or even a fire. At the very least, your kitchen could be full of steam. Nowadays, kettles know to turn themselves off when the water has boiled, so how do they do that?
Kettles today have their own in-built thermostats and switches. These can be very simple, or more advanced depending on the device. The thermostat is normally intergrated into the heating elements in the kettle. When the hot water boils, steam hits the thermostats and makes a switch snap in the direction to push a lever and turn the kettle off. Some more advanced thermostats are electronic rather than mechanical but they work under the same process and switch the heating element off when the water has reached boiling point. While this might mean your water has gone cold if you left it and forgot about a boiling kettle, that’s better than leaving your kettle on full power even when all the water has evaporated. That can be dangerous.
How does a cordless kettle work?
Now you know how kettles work in general, let’s have a closer look at a more specific type of kettle – the cordless kettle. The reality of a cordless kettle is that they aren’t actually completely “cordless”. Instead of the power cable going straight into the kettle, it goes into a base that the kettle sits on. When locked into the base, the “cordless” kettle’s heating element forms a circuit with the base and therefore mains power. The kettle can then be switched on and heated as normal. That means your kettle still has to be on the base in order to power itself.
However, while cordless kettles therefore aren’t completely cordless, they can still be much more convenient and safer. That’s because you have the freedom to pick the kettle up off the base when it has boiled, meaning you can reach further away and aren’t tethered to the wall with a power cord. This makes it easier to use and makes sure nobody trips or knows the cable if it’s stretching across the kitchen. You can even take the kettle with you to another location if you need to. This isn’t as easy with a standard electric kettle where you would have to unplug it and carry the cord around with you.
So that’s how different types of kettles work, especially cordless ones. Now that you know, you’ll be able to make a slightly more informed choice when it comes to buying your own kettle. Sadly, kettles can need replacing every couple of years. So when it’s next time to buy one, consider a cordless version for extra flexibility and convenience.