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How Does a Cordless Electric Kettle Work? [Explained]

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Cordless electric kettles are the latest small appliance popping up in America’s kitchens. Mainstays in Europe for decades, they’re versatile and energy-efficient alternatives to traditional models.

But how do they work differently than your stovetop standby, and are they worth precious counter space?

Let’s take a closer look at how these modern marvels tick.

Cordless Electric Kettle Design and Working Mechanism

Boiling water isn’t rocket science, but cordless kettles are engineered with modern features that streamline the process. Who doesn’t want a little more convenience in their life?

Energy savers, they boil water faster than gas stovetop kettles, or even induction kettles, without tying up a large burner or the microwave. A plus when you’re making big meals.

Tetherless, they move from base to table or anywhere you need a cup of hot water fast — indoors or out. Kettles with 360° bases can be rotated into any position for the left- or right-handed.

So how do they actually work?

A metal coil inside the kettle heats up when electricity travels through it. The hot coil then heats the water inside the kettle.

The basic idea is as simple as that!

Here is a short video clip that does a great job visualizing it:

How do electric kettles work? - Kitchen Appliance Explained

But in addition to just boiling the water, there are also many more interesting features that can make all the difference.

Next, let’s take a closer look at them.


Cordless kettles are not, in a sense, truly cordless. They sit on a plug-in base with a self-contained heating element, but the kettle lifts off for serving.

Lightweight, the portability of the entire unit is a huge advantage if you travel or have no private kitchen space. Electric kettles are office and dorm room staples.

Cordless electric kettle

Cordless kettles come in a broad range of styles to suit both practical and aesthetic needs.

Made of durable materials including glass, ceramic, plastic, and stainless steel, design elements add as much visual appeal to kitchens as conventional stovetop kettles. Sophisticated, they’ve come a long way since they were first introduced.

Our recommendation is to get a non-toxic electric kettle, which usually means that there should not be any plastic parts touching the hot water.

Functionally, cordless kettles are more convenient than stovetop teapots. Insulated on the bottom, they can sit on any surface without heat protection from a towel or trivet. And models with a see-through window let you see how much water is in the pot.

When exact quantities count, graduated markings allow you to fill it without measuring water first. They’re a great no-mess feature for busy moms making baby formula.

Temperature Control Function

Features vary, but a few, in particular, are customer favorites, beginning with temperature control.

electric kettle with temperature control

If boiled water is all you need, a no-frills kettle without an adjustable thermostat will do the trick for less than $20. But if you brew delicate teas that require cooler water, a model with variable temperature control is ideal.

Temperature presets for beverages from green or oolong tea to French press coffee are a sought-after perk for connoisseurs.


Safety features are also a plus. Most kettles are equipped with an automatic shut-off mechanism that turns off the heat once the water reaches the desired temperature. You’ll never ruin a pricey kettle again by letting it boil dry.

Heating Power

Like a conventional kettle, how fast cordless kettles heat depends somewhat on their size and shape, but wattage is the key factor. In general, the higher the watts, the sooner you get hot water.

Models with 1200 watts or more can heat a liter or more in half the time of most stovetops and microwaves, shaving precious minutes off meal-time prep.

And More

Electric kettles also come with the same conveniences found in stovetop kettles, such as locking lids and stay-cool handles.

But the latest models pull out all the stops with keep warm functions that maintain water temperature for up to an hour and programmable delay timers that make hot water on your schedule.

Advanced versions are even Bluetooth compatible so that you can control functions from anywhere in your home.

READ ALSO: What is the difference between a teapot and a kettle?

Corded vs Cordless Electric Kettles

Corded electric kettles are the precursors to cordless versions, but they still have a niche.

So what’s the difference?

Cordless kettles are separate from the base. Corded kettles have the heating element built-in — they’re plugged into an outlet as a single unit.

corded electric kettle
An old-school corded electric kettle

There are two types. The most basic has a permanent, integrated power cord like any small appliance — it can’t be removed. Others have a detachable cord. Fans of the simpler version like that the cord can’t get lost, but detachable cords give kettles a degree of portability.

Neither type, however, is quite as versatile as a cordless kettle, and features are limited by the design. A separate base can contain more electronics without making the kettle bulky or heavier.

Corded models have temperature controls and other functions built into the handle, which can make pouring inconvenient.

Cords also detract from the aesthetics of your table. They’re okay for the office but they lack the panache of a cordless kettle, and they’re tougher to clean. Even cordless kettles shouldn’t be submerged in water, but they’re easier to handle without risking damage to the electronics.

Surprisingly, corded kettles are just a few dollars cheaper than cordless models. So, unless you want a one-piece unit for easy storage, it pays to be investment minded. They’re the best bargain in kitchen gear today.

Final Thoughts

If you have too many single-use appliances gathering dust in your kitchen, you may be hesitant to add one more. But boiling water is such an essential kitchen function that any appliance that makes it easier is worth your money.

A cordless energy-efficient kettle is a purchase you won’t regret!

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