Sunday, 29 May 2011

A change is brewing

Last week, our Bosch kettle died.  We bought it in March 2009, 26 months ago, with a 24 month warranty.  I stripped it down but could not get close enough to the sealed electronics to to find the fault.  It just blows the 13A fuse in the plug every time we switch it on.  I called Bosch customer service, to find out what could be done.  They told me to send it back to their workshop, with a cheque for £9, and they would investigate the fault and let me know what needed to be done to repair the kettle.  I might just do that, to see if we can keep this  otherwise high quality appliance in service rather than having to recycle it.  However, I can't imagine that many people would be prepared to throw good money after bad to prolong the life of stuff that has become essentially disposable.

In the meantime, we need a kettle.  Making tea and coffee with a saucepan is all very well on the odd occasion, such as a power cut, but we're all used to brewing up a hot drink in a matter of minutes.  I have been trying to track down an old-fashioned kettle with a heat exchanger skirt, for use on our gas hob.  My Grandma used to have a Simplex kettle like this and I found the company's website but there has been no response so far from their Contact Form.

I'm fairly clear, however, that the rest of the family won't tolerate life without an electric kettle that switches itself off when it comes to the boil.  I have long been fascinated with the Eco Kettle, which combines an onboard water reservoir with a clearly-calibrated boiling chamber, designed to make it consummately easy to boil only the amount of water that you need.  I decided to get one from Ecotopia, because they offered the best price and the fastest service, and I was pleasantly surprised to take delivery of a chrome Eco Kettle 2 the following day.

Having lived with the new gadget for a couple of days, I am happy with almost all aspects of its performance.  It's very quiet because it uses a less powerful element than most ordinary kettles.  This makes no appreciable difference to boiling times for one or two cups but must take slightly longer than a regular kettle to boil a teapotful, I suppose.  It's certainly heavy because it's carrying a full tank of water even when you're just boiling one cup.  However, the weight is not a problem for my family and the Eco Kettle is very well balanced and pours cleanly.  It also lives up to its promise, making it truly effortless to boil just the amount you need.

The one thing that makes no sense is that the kettle is terribly slow to switch off, once the water has boiled.  The power stays on for more than 10 seconds after the water can be seen and heard to be boiling vigorously.  When boiling a full charge of water, the EcoKettle moves around violently and seems ready to jump off its base.  It hasn't actually spilled any boiling water yet but it seems likely that this aspect of the design needs to be refined, so that the Eco Kettle doesn't waste electricity raising steam while the boil detector makes up its mind to turn the power off.  More importantly, any possibility of scalding from spitting liquid or even a spilt kettle is a serious safety issue.  I'll share my concern with the manufacturer and report back any response that they offer.

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