How to Pick the Perfect Electric Tea Kettle

Electric Kettle

With a little homework, you can find the pot that fits your family’s needs.

All electric teakettles are not created equal. They come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, have varying degrees of wattage, and can contain various safety features. Don’t get intimidated though! Picking the right electric tea kettle is hardly a chore, and may just become one of your most used and beloved kitchen appliances.

Here’s how to make sense of all the different features when choosing an electric tea kettle.

For the Timer-Saver in All of Us

Chef's Choice Electric Kettle

One thing that most electric tea kettles have in common is that they save quite a bit of time. If you were to run a little science experiment and test this claim using a stove top tea kettle and a microwave, you’d see the efficiency first hand.  A stove top tea kettle, filled with just five cups of water (the amount used to make two large mugs of tea) will generally take around five minutes to boil on typical electric glass-top stove set on “high.” The time is relatively similar using a microwave. In contrast, a nifty 1500-watt (120-volt) electric tea kettle can boil that amount of water in roughly two-and-a-half minutes.

Of course, everything depends on the type, power, and efficiency of your microwave and stove, as well as whether you choose one of the powerful 1500-watt (120-volt) electric teakettles.


For the Tea Lover

Jura-Capresso Programmable Kettle

Do you like to drink a lot of different types of teas? Certain varieties, including white, green, oolong, herbal, and Rooibos are temperature sensitive and develop their flavors best when steeping in water below boiling (212° F).

If you’re drinking any of these types of teas, look for a programmable temperature feature so you have the option to set the temperature between 110 to 212° Fahrenheit; or choose an electric kettle with pre-programmed temperature settings, which base their temperature on the type of tea you’re brewing.

If you like to sip tea throughout the day, you’d do well to choose a model with a ‘stay-warm’ feature that can be set between 110 and 190 Fahrenheit.


For Families with Small Children

Does the thought of little fingers reaching up to the stove or microwave set you in a panic? If you have little ones running around, check for an electric teakettle made of plastic instead of stainless steel or glass, as both of these can get dangerously hot.

Kalorik Kettle

Here are a few safety features to look for:

  • A UL safety rating
  • A locking lid
  • An automatic boil shutoff
  • An on/off switch with a power indicator
  • A concealed heating element
  • A drip-free spout
  • A ‘stay-cool’ handle with a non-slip, rubberized grip

The UL Safety rating standards let you know that many specific elements of the unit have been tested for safety and protection against injury, including the kettle’s cord, handle, heating element, and stability. They even do a “no-tip” test; this is especially important when grabby little hands may be reaching up.

Both right- and left-handed family members can safely and easily use electric teakettles with a 360-degree rotating base, plus, in-base cord storage means no dangling cords for children to grab.

Once you have chosen the safest possible electric tea kettle for your family and tested it, older kids can make their own hot chocolate, instant macaroni and cheese, hot cereal, soups, and any other instant food or drink made with boiling water.

You can also create a safe steam bath to help clear a stuffy nose by transferring boiling water to a bowl and covering your head to help breathe in the steam.


For the Avid Home Chef

Jura-Capresso Glass Kettle

Most electric tea kettles boil less than two quarts or liters. That’s not quite enough water to fill and cook a large pot of spaghetti, but it is the perfect size for pre-boiling water for anything you would use a smaller saucepan for, like heating sauce or gravy mixes, blanching or cooking vegetables, reconstituting dried mushrooms, or plumping raisins for baking.

You can also use your electric tea kettle for boiling water for other kitchen and household cleaning tasks, like soaking burnt pots and pans, and clearing clogged drains.

But, if you must watch the water boil, choose a stunning see-through glass kettle. If you’re afraid of the heat, look for one made with glass from SCHOTT, Inc. which is thermal resistant and doesn’t get as dangerously hot as other glass models.

Is it tea time yet?

Learn More:

5 Tips to Choosing the Right Refrigerator for Your Living Space

There are a lot of choices out there when it comes to buying a refrigerator, and if you have not been in the market for one before, you might not know what you should be looking for to find the one that fits your lifestyle and the space you have available.

Avanti Refrigerator with Door Open

Let’s take a closer look at the options available to you, as well as five tips to help ensure that you pick the right fridge for your situation.

Refrigerator Size Options

There are several different refrigerator sizes available for people with all different space considerations. These appliances generally fall into the following categories:

  • Compact Cube:
    These “office-style” refrigerators are small and provide only a little bit of space to store food and drinks. They range in size from about 1.5 to 3 cubic feet, and generally have room for a few cans of soda or water, today’s lunch, and maybe some condiments.
  • Compact Midsize:
    The next size up is a compact mini fridge, sometimes known as a dorm-style mini fridge. These appliances are designed to be very small and inexpensive, but have enough space to store enough groceries for a few days. These refrigerators generally have a very small amount of freezer space, but with between 3 and 5.5 cubic feet of total storage space they are often small enough to fit under a standard height countertop.
  • Combo Microwave/Fridge:
    For people who are looking for convenience and ease in small spaces, the combination microwave and fridge can be a great option. Combo fridges come in a variety of sizes, with fridges that range from 2 to 9 cubic feet of space, and microwaves that include everything from the basics or more advanced options.
  • Apartment Size:
    If you have a little bit more space, the next step up is the apartment-sized fridge, which offers slim style but is similar in height to more standard refrigerators. They generally range from about 7 to 15 cubic feet (about half the size of traditional refrigerators), but offer similar features to their full-size counterparts, such as drawers, dual-cooling air systems, temperature control, adjustable shelving, and more freezer space than compact models.
  • Full Size & Commercial:
    Of course, if you have the space for it, you can also choose from a wide range of full size and/ or commercial refrigerators. If you have a slightly smaller space but want the functionality of a full size fridge, many brands today offer extra narrow models of popular designs (24 to 28 inches instead of the standard 32 to 36 inches). There are a myriad of features, styles, and configurations to choose from, so it’s important to shop around before you decide on which full-size fridge is right for you.

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6 Cleaning Tips to Keep Your Dishwasher Running Efficiently

Your dishwasher serves a very important purpose, and it is sometimes easy to overlook the proper maintenance of this valuable kitchen appliance. There are many people who will complain about having to thoroughly clean their dishes before they even attempt to use the dishwasher, noting that this appliance is no longer working as it once did.

Clean Dishwasher

Instead of complaining and creating more work for yourself, you should instead look into a few tips that will help you clean your dishwasher, as you may simply be overlooking the proper maintenance of your dishwasher. In many cases, the solution to a poorly-functioning dishwasher is to give it a good cleaning, something that can be done quickly and easily through the use of these simple and intuitive dishwasher maintenance tips.

Let’s take a closer look at six easy ways you can keep your dishwasher clean and working efficiently.

1. Use Your Dishwasher Frequently

While food debris and buildup develops over time, the amount of buildup that is developed can be lessened significantly if the washer is used on a regular basis. At least two or more times a week, if not more.

This helps keep the debris from settling, ultimately impacting the overall effectiveness of the unit itself. Combined with regular cleaning, this will help in keeping your dishwasher running smoothly, ensuring that your dishes will come out of the washer clean and sparkling.
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FAQs: Undercounter Ice Makers vs. Portable Ice Makers

If you find yourself buying bags of ice or filing up pesky ice trays on a daily basis, you may benefit greatly by purchasing an ice maker. They’re perfect for RVs, boats, entertaining guests, small offices, and for personal use in your home. When beginning your search for the one that suits your needs, the first step is deciding whether you need an undercounter or a portable ice maker.

Here we’ve compared what differentiates the two to make your choice as simple as possible.
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6 Shapes & Types of Ice

Ice comes in many different shapes and types on its own. In our ice makers, the ice may be different in shape and type as well. In fact, there are six different types and shapes of ice that you may run into with our different machines: nuggets, flakes, cubes, full cubes, half cubes, crescent, and gourmet. Knowing the different types and shapes of ice can help you to make a better decision about the type of ice that you might prefer for your beverages, food displays, or special events.

1. Nuggets

Nugget Ice

Nugget-shaped ice tends to be soft and chewy. One of the benefits to this type of ice is that the drink it is mixed with tends to keep its flavor well. This makes nugget ice great for food service. The nuggets tend to not stick together and lasts for a good amount of time in any drink.

Nugget ice is the ideal choice for carbonated drinks and blended cocktails, but also works great in salad bars and produce displays to keep food cool.
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Why You Should Use a Filter in Your Ice Machine

Having an ice maker is extremely convenient. Gone are the days when you need to remember to pull out, fill, put back that ice tray in the freezer, and wait for the cubes to freeze. Any time that you want ice, you just need to go to your ice maker, pull out the bin, and put the ice in whatever container you want. Depending on whether or not you have a filter in your machine, you may notice the ice changing over time.

Clear Ice Cubes

Filters are not required for our ice makers, but we think they provide some clear benefits:

  • Improving ice quality
  • Reducing maintenance and repair needs
  • Assisting in better ice production

Although a filter may be an extra cost to consider for your ice maker, by examining the benefits, you might find it to be a good idea for you and your machine.

Improves Quality by Removing Contaminants

Many ice machines will produce great ice at first, with or without a filter. Without a filter, you might notice that your ice slowly changes. It may become cloudy and somewhat soft. In some cases, the ice may have a faint odor or undesirable taste. Although you may not be able to see it, these problems are often caused by contaminants getting into your ice.
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How to Clean Your Ice Machine: Step-by-Step Instructions

It can be easy to take some machines for granted. Ice makers are a machine that might get overlooked in the maintenance department. When you go and grab some ice from your machine, you might not think about how long it has been since it was last cleaned, or even notice that the quality of your ice cubes has gone downhill.

Ice Maker

Like any other machine that you own, regular maintenance and cleaning will help keep your ice maker in great working condition.

Why Cleaning is So Important

Water — especially hard water — naturally has many different minerals and microscopic sediment in it. If left unfiltered, these minerals can build up in your machine. Eventually, it becomes clear to the naked eye just what is in your water. Dirt and rust are two culprits that can clog up your machine over time. Lime scale and mold can also build up and make it difficult for your machine to produce ice.

If left unclean, all of this buildup can lead to unnecessary wear on your ice maker. Even if you use a filter, at some point your machine will need some cleaning. The good news, however, is that cleaning your machine will help it to maintain peak ice production and keep your ice looking and tasting great. It can also prolong the overall life of this important kitchen appliance.
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5 Places That Would Benefit From a Portable Ice Maker

There is nothing like coming inside the house on a hot day, filling a tall cup with a delicious beverage, and adding ice cubes. Within minutes, condensation appears on the side of the cup as the dropping temperature of the beverage creates a reaction between the cold cup and the warm air. A cup filled with an ice cold drink is rarely finished off quickly. Instead, it is held, savored and enjoyed for the cool relief that it brings with it.

A portable ice maker helps to ensure that ice is always available for those who prefer to enjoy a cool drink on an overly warm day. Here are some places that these small sized ice makers may come in handy.
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Types of Ice Makers Explained

Ice is no longer a one size fits all product. It has changed from simple cubes produced at home in silver or white freezer trays to frozen pieces of many varieties.

The varieties of ice today include:

  1. Crushed — used mostly in beverage dispensers.
  2. Flake — used to hold delicate foods without damaging them, beneficial for beverage presentation.
  3. Gourmet — Crystal type appearance, octagonal in shape.
  4. Nugget — Softer, more chewable.
  5. Dice Cube — Clear cube with a rhomboid shape.
  6. Regular Cube — traditional ice cube.

Those who enjoy different types of ice often wonder what types of ice makers are used to produce them. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of ice makers that are available to you today.
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4 Built-In Appliances to Replace a Trash Compactor

Built-In Appliance

If your kitchen has a trash compactor, but you hardly ever use it, then maybe it’s time you replaced it with a different appliance. Updating this appliance is a one-step way to update your kitchen and transform your space.

Trash compactors are typically just under 15 inches in width, but just to be safe, make sure to measure your model and the opening it sits in before deciding on the new appliance you want to exchange it with.

To help get you started, we’ve put together a list of appliances that are 15 inches wide or slightly under and could easily replace your outdated trash compactor. Start dreaming of the ways you can upgrade your home:

1. Wine Cooler

Have an affinity for wine or looking to class up your space? A wine cooler will definitely upgrade the look of your kitchen. There are many different designs you can choose from, but all of them have sleek, contemporary finishes sure to be a conversation starter amongst visiting family and friends.

Aside from the aesthetics, if you enjoy wine then placing a wine refrigerator in your kitchen will be a fitting and convenient addition. You can easily pair a wine with your dinner, entertain guests or enjoy a glass after a long day at work. The wine will be perfectly chilled to your preferred temperature and waiting for you when you want it.

Like all under counter appliances, you will want to make sure you are purchasing a wine cooler that is specifically designed for built-in purposes. A freestanding unit should not be built into cabinetry because it will overheat and stop working, and in the process, your wine could be ruined.

Some of my favorite 15 inch built-in wine coolers:

1. Koldfront BWR300BL Built-In Wine Cooler

Koldfront BWR300BL Built-In Wine Cooler

This understated wine cooler has all of the best features without any of the fuss.

Features:

  • Single zone wine cooler
  • Holds up to 30 bottles
  • Temperature range of 40-65° F
  • LED display & interior lighting
  • Slide out wire shelves

2. EdgeStar CWR262DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

EdgeStar CWR262DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

Perfect for the wine red and white wine drinker, this dual zone unit has two independently controlled temperature zones. The upper zone is ideal for red wines, while the lower zone is perfect for lighter varietals.

Features:

  • Dual zone wine cooler
  • Holds up to 26 bottles
  • Temperature ranges:
    • Lower zone – 40-54° F
    • Upper zone – 54-64° F
  • Slide out steel-trimmed, wooden shelves

3. Avallon AWC280DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

Avallon AWC280DZ Built-In Wine Cooler

This dual zone wine cooler has all of the bells and whistles that cause wine aficionados to swoon: low-emissivity dual pane glass doors filled with argon, seamless stainless steel trim, and roll-out shelving just to name a few.

Features:

  • Dual zone wine cooler
  • Holds up to 28 bottles
  • Temperature range: 40 – 54°F (both zones)
  • Has a lock for keeping your wine secure
  • Roll out wood shelves with stainless steel trim

2. Beverage Refrigerator

Free up valuable refrigerator space and impress guests with an array of drink varieties by installing a beverage refrigerator in the place of your trash compactor. Sodas and beers can take up quite a bit of shelf space that could instead be used for more groceries or dinner leftovers.

Having a designated fridge for your drinks will also make it easier when entertaining; guests will know exactly where to go for a refill.

My favorite 15 inch built-in beverage fridges:

1. EdgeStar CBR901SG Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

EdgeStar CBR901SG Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

You’ll be able to stock plenty of beer and sodas for your friends and family in this sleek beverage fridge. A digital temperature display ensures your drinks are kept at your exact specifications.

Features:

  • Holds up to 80 cans
  • Temperature range: 38-50°F
  • Has a lock for keeping beverages secure
  • Slide out shelving
  • Blue LED interior lighting

2. Koldfront BBR900BL Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

Koldfront BBR900BL Built-In Beverage Refrigerator

This beverage fridge has all of the features as the EdgeStar fridge but comes in a classic black rather than stainless steel.

Features:

  • Holds up to 80 cans
  • Temperature range: 38-50°F
  • Recessed handle
  • Slide-out wire shelving
  • LED interior lighting

3. Marvel 3BARMBSG Built-In Wine & Beverage Fridge

Marvel 3BARMBSG Built-In Wine & Beverage Fridge

Can’t decide between a beverage or wine fridge? With this wine & beverage fridge, you don’t have to!

Features:

  • Holds up to 60 beverage cans & 4 bottles of wine
  • Temperature range: 40-65°F
  • Slide out maple-trimmed, wire shelves
  • Double pane, tinted, UV-resistant glass door
  • An alarm if the temperature is higher or lower than desired point for an extended time.

3. Refrigerator

Maybe instead of drinks, it’s too much food that’s making it difficult to close your kitchen refrigerator door. An under-counter refrigerator might be the answer to your problems then.

Beverage fridges and regular fridges have a similar temperature range, but beverage fridges might get warmer than you need for storing food. Also, many refrigerators have door storage and adjustable shelves, which most beverage refrigerators don’t have.

Here is my recommended built-in refrigerator:

Marvel 30AR Built-In Refrigerator

Marvel 30AR Built-In Refrigerator

This high-end refrigerator from Marvel features a timeless design sure to look great amongst any kitchen décor.

Features:

  • 3.0 cubic foot capacity
  • 3 adjustable, chrome-plated wire shelves & 3 door shelves
  • Auto-defrost
  • Filler kit allows usage in 18-inch wide opening
  • Leveling legs

4. Ice Maker

If you have a large family, love to entertain, or simply love eating ice, you may have found that your refrigerator just can’t keep up with your needs. If this is the case for you, consider replacing your trash compactor with an undercounter ice maker.

There are quite a few different undercounter ice makers available on the market and most make what is known as clear ice, meaning it contains no impurities; it’s restaurant quality. Other options include gourmet, nugget, and crescent. However, the Scotsman that I’ve included in my list of favorite built-in ice machines makes what is known as nugget ice or, as most people call it, Sonic ice. That’s right; you can get delicious Sonic ice right in your home!

My favorite built-in ice makers:

1. EdgeStar IB450SS Built-In Ice Maker

EdgeStar IB450SS Built-In Ice Maker

This clear ice maker features a sleek stainless steel door that’ll match your existing appliances. An ice scoop, removable bin, and all installation parts arrive with the ice maker.

Features:

  • Makes up to 45 pounds of ice a day
  • Stores up to 25 pounds of ice
  • Removable ice bin
  • Gravity drain line
  • Insulated ice storage

2. Koldfront KIM450BL Built-In Clear Ice Maker

Koldfront KIM450BL Built-In Clear Ice Maker

Over the stainless steel craze? Change it up with this black undercounter ice machine. Able to produce 45 lbs. of restaurant-quality ice per day, you’ll never be without ice again.

Features:

  • Makes up to 45 pounds of ice a day
  • Stores up to 25 pounds of ice
  • Removable ice bin
  • Drain line included
  • Produces clear ice cubes

3. Ice-o-Matic Nugget Ice Machine

Ice-o-Matic Nugget Ice Machine

Love sonic ice? Enjoy the same delicious, chewable ice you know and love in the comfort of your own home. This undercounter nugget ice machine will cause you to wonder what kept you from replacing that old trash compactor sooner.

Features:

  • Makes up to 85 pounds of ice a day
  • Stores up to 22 pounds of ice
  • Produces “Sonic” ice
  • Approved for both indoor and outdoor use
  • Ice scoop included

So, now that you know about the variety of built-in appliances available, it’s time for you to update your kitchen by getting rid of that outdated, unused trash compactor. Fall in love with your kitchen all over again with this one-step transformation.