Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Not Just The Cord That Keeps Down The Hamilton Beach Electric Kettle!

The Good: Boils water fast, Easy to clean, Pot is sturdy, Safe
The Bad: Utterly unnecessary, Expensive!, Boiling time, Denaturing of plastic
The Basics: Often a redundant device, the K1050 disappoints those currently in the market for an electric kettle with its small capacity and tendency to denature.

A few days ago, I was forced by circumstances to go out into the marketplace and purchase an electric kettle. Having previously had a pretty kicking stove (reviewed here!), I found things like electric kettles to be a pointless redundancy. But when I found a good one, in this case a Chef's Choice Cordless Electric Kettle (reviewed here!), I discovered there were actually uses for this type of device. I think part of the reason I had been so prejudiced against these devices initially, though, was that I have friends (believe it or not!) who have a Hamilton Beach K1050 Electric Kettle and for all of the years I've known them, I think I might have gotten more use out of it than them!

My friends have a stove that only has two burners, so when it comes time to make dinner, stove space is at a premium and tasks like simply boiling water that can be done in an electric kettle allow that limited space to be used better. Often, I will have a hankering for tea or cocoa with dinner, so I'll find the electric kettle, dust it off and operate it. We've used it about a hundred times in the past five years, so I figure I have a pretty strong idea of how (and how well) it works to review it.

The Hamilton Beach K1050 Electric Kettle is a squat, jug-type electric kettle that plugs into the wall. This had an initial price of $35.99 + tax, but that was a few years back. Since then, the price seems to have gone up by about fifty percent and that - in addition to the operating cost - make this a pretty poor investment.

The K1050 Electric Kettle from Hamilton Beach is a one-piece electric kettle that makes the user feel like they either must be a complete idiot who needs a separate tool to boil water or a hermit who never wants to leave their room/cubicle. This is white and is essentially a one-piece electric kettle (though the top comes off for the addition of water). The K1050 Electric Kettle is comprised of white plastic, with a detachable flip top, elongated spout, and a wider base, which conceals the heating element.

The base is approximately eight and a half inches in diameter with a cord that plugs into a three-prong wall socket. The cord is only three feet long, but for those who do not need a cord that has to stretch even that far, below the base is a space that allow the user to wind the cord up and contain it under the unit. This is handy and there are no issues (I've had) with keeping the base level after winding the cord under it. The base simply plugs into the wall when one wishes to activate the unit and it has a toggle on-off switch that lights up when one wishes to activate the unit.

The kettle portion is attached to the base, fused together as a single unit. This has the advantage of not needing to worry about losing any parts to the K1050. The unit is approximately seven inches tall and has a sturdy white handle that extends back past the limits of the base that makes it easy to grab, hold and maintain control over the electrical kettle. The K1050 electric kettle has a pretty pathetic .95 Liter capacity (in practical terms, this is about one full steeping pot worth of tea!) and that takes approximately seven minutes to come to a very full boil, when heated with lukewarm water.

Operating this is so simple it almost defies explanation: fill with water, plug the unit into the wall socket, flip the "on" switch on the side of the base of the kettle and wait. The K1050 whistles when the water is boiled. Supposedly, it has a function that shuts it off automatically whenever the water level gets too low, but I've never abused the poor product that way to test that function. It is easy enough to flip the switch and unplug it when it whistles.

Then all you need to do is pour your boiling water out and that's . . . well, as easy as pouring water. Refilling the unit is a snap as the top flips open easily.

Cleanup is also incredibly easy. First, I recommend only using filtered water in the unit. This forever eliminates the need to clean inside because nothing ever builds up inside. Unfortunately, after five years of sporadic use, I've noticed there are stains inside our K1050. I scrubbed them, but they did not go away, leading us to the conclusion that extended use of this product denatures the plastic over time. This seems problematic as the whole point of the K1050 is to be able to boil water whenever one wants to . . . The base cleans up with a damp cloth and because of the electric components in it, it should not be submerged in water.

Even though this is made of plastic and has limited potential to break and it generally cleans up easily, this is not the best Electric Kettle on the market and I cannot recommend it. It is too small for most people, takes an excessive amount of time to boil the water (my new electric kettle boils more water faster), so I recommend continuing to shop around for an electric kettle (if you're in the market for one) and leave this one on the shelf.

For other electric kettles, please visit my reviews of:
Chef's Choice 675 Electric Kettle
Hamilton Beach 45802B Electric Kettle
Krups FLF31W Electric Kettle


For other home and garden appliance reviews, please visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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