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How difficult can it be to select a new kettle? Especially when your existing kitchen appliances are not exactly co-ordinating, with a refit long overdue? It took my husband and me much longer than we'd expected, when we called into an independent department store in our locality. We do often disagree - he's very practical, I'm not - but our dithering on this occasion was either an extended senior moment or something else. I'll opt for the something else. Let me explain.
I like to think that we take reasonable steps to reduce our environmental impact, so I was pleased, initially, when British Gas gave us a free kettle that allowed you to boil the minimum amount of water needed each time. For various reasons I came to hate it, and shed no tears when it died. We were keen to find something with similar 'green' credentials if possible.
~~Head Wins Over Heart~~
Earlier this year we used some money inherited from my late mother-in-law to install solar PV panels. It's made us aware of energy consumption as well as generation. Therefore, when faced with a range of kettles in this store, the Kenwood model should have been the obvious choice. It was promoted as being 'low energy'. The problem was that from the style angle we both loved a Bosch stainless steel kettle that was bigger, far more expensive, beautiful to look at and with a higher wattage. The heart said 'buy this one' but the head said otherwise. We didn't really need a large kettle, as usually it's the two of us. We asked the store assistant for advice, but he didn't tell us anything that wasn't on the box. The price difference was over £10. Also, it seemed a bit silly to buy something that would use more electricity when we'd just spent all that money trying to reduce our overall spending on utilities. Not that the kettle would make a huge difference, perhaps, but it was more a matter of principle. So, that's how we came to buy the Kenwood JKP200 series kettle. We paid about £28 for it. I think we could have got a better price elsewhere as I have seen it advertised for as little as £22, but often it seems to be out of stock.
~~About This Kettle~~
The kettle is made of white plastic and has a neat, roughly cylindrical shape. Its wattage is 3W. There is the usual dual view clear plastic window that allows you to fill it to the required level, but on this kettle you can fill it to as low a level as 1 cup [250ml]. This is where the energy saving comes in, as you can boil as little or as much as you need at any point. I think it's a little unusual to be able to boil such a small volume. If the water level is too low, there is a boil-dry protection mechanism. The maximum capacity is 1.6l, so it's an average-sized kettle rather than a large one. Weighing slightly more than 1kg, it's 24.5H x 16W x21.5D centimetres in size. It's part of Kenwood's True range which has a 'compact and simple design' intended to 'work perfectly with smaller living spaces' - ideal for our small kitchen.
You are advised to fill the kettle to 'MAX', boil, then discard the water 3 or 4 times, to get rid of that new kettle taste.
~~Use and Care~~
You fill the kettle by lifting the hinged lid. There is a lid release catch which you press. I think I had expected a button that would make it pop up, but you actually have to pull it up yourself. It's then easy to fill it from the tap. There's a removable filter for limescale, standard on most kettles these days I believe, but essential in our hard water area. The kettle goes back on its 360° powerbase and then you switch it on. The on/off switch has a neat little indicator light - as you'd expect, it lights up when the kettle is in use. Apparently if it switches on or off at the wrong times, this usually means that the flat element needs descaling. You can use any reputable product to do this, and instructions are in the leaflet that comes with the kettle. Kenwood seem very keen that you descale regularly, and failure to do so may invalidate your guarantee!
There are quite a few care and safety point in the little brochure, some of which seem common sense, some a little surprising to me - for instance, I don't routinely unplug it when not in use, but keeping a plastic kettle well away from heat sources like hot plates seems obvious. Do you empty the kettle after finishing using it each day? I admit I rarely do. There are cautions that it's not intended for use by people with a range of limitations - not just children - unless they're supervised or instructed.
Maintenance, other than descaling, is basic. The exterior is simply wiped with a damp cloth and left to dry. Abrasive cleaners would damage the plastic. Cleaning the interior is largely about descaling. There is some detail about how to clean the filter. There is also information about maintenance if you live in a region that has chalky water, slightly different from descaling.
The leaflet has information about disposing of the kettle at the end of its life. I didn't know that you shouldn't dispose it as urban waste. It should be a special local authority collection centre or a dealer providing that service. I'm not aware of either option locally. This information is in accordance with EC Directive 200/96/EC apparently. News to me!
You can find the brochure in pdf form on Kenwood's website if interested. It has a lot of safety information in addition to what I've commented on, particularly with regard to children and burns or scalds. It's available in a range of languages and scripts.
~~Our Experience So Far~~
We've had the kettle a couple of months now, and on the whole we are happy with it. We do find we seldom boil a full kettle so maybe we are saving both water and electricity, but I think it's going to be hard to prove this in terms of our electricity bills. Happily we have generated quite a lot recently!
A couple of small minus points: my husband came close to scalding himself when steam seemed to be coming out of the lid. I suspect he hadn't properly engaged the lid. It hasn't happened to me and I think only the once to him. Mine was simply that I could still detect that new kettle taste some time after we first began to use it. I remember one particular mug of coffee that had an additional taste reminiscent of TCP. It wasn't pleasant! I blamed the coffee initially, the realised it was the kettle. Thankfully that seems to be diminishing now.
I do find that the kettle boils quickly and it's not as noisy as some we've had. It pours well, too. On some metal kettles I've sometimes come close to burning myself, as the sides get so hot. I haven't noticed this on the Kenwood as I think it has a coolwall design.
Overall I'm satisfied with the kettle. It's not a thing of great beauty but a sensible, practical choice for us. 3 star rating for that reason, and because of the lingering taste.
Please ignore the attribute ratings below, especially the sound quality!
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©Verbena June 2013
I have owned this kettle for about 2 months now, and overall I'm pretty happy with it.
We chose this kettle as part of our wedding gift list because of its overall sleek look and because of its power - 3000W. The boil time is so much quicker than our previous kettle which makes it much easier when boiling a large kettle when cooking etc.
The kettle itself looks nice in the kitchen, the kettle itself is just normal plastic which means it is easy to wipe clean. The handle has a slight grip to it to make it safer when you're filling and pouring. To fill, you simply press the button on the top of the handle and the lid lifts wide open which makes it easy to fill.
To turn the kettle on there is a little level-type switch near the base at the back, which lights up like a little torch at the end. I oddly like this feature, it's a bit quirky and fun. However, a couple of times I've gone to pour the water and realised that the switch has flicked itself off, and the water hasn't actually fully boiled. It's done this a few times and I was just about to send it back, and it hasn't done it since. So it might just be a quirk, or maybe the switch was a bit stiff at first and now it's easing up.
The final thing is that it did take quite a while to lose that 'new kettle' taste, and I do still notice when I drink tea. I did the fully boil and empty x3 routine when we first bought it, and use it most days for cooking, which means boiling a large amount of water, but the bad taste is still lingering there.
Overall, I would say it is a stylish, easy to use, good value kettle. Just boil and empty it quite a few times, and make sure it's little light up lever is fully pressed, or you'll get a cold cuppa!
NB: Please ignore my picture and sound quality ratings - it won't let me not rate those aspects. I don't tend to watch or sit and listen to my kettle!
The Kenwood JKP200 has simple design for modern living that boasts functionality / The new one cup option conveniently allows you to quickly and easily portion one cup up to six cups / / Short name: Kenwood JKP200