Why Americans Don't Buy Electric Tea Kettles (And Why They Should)

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You may have heard the adage, "He is such a bad cook, he can't boil water on the stove." Well, maybe he wouldn't be in that predicament if he used an electric kettle. It's also possible that he lives in the United States, where having an electric kettle is not all that common. Last week, Twitter users from Britain and Australia poked fun at a New York Times article titled "The Best Electric Kettle," which talked about kettles as a new appliance for users to discover.

According to Business Insider, electric kettles are not as common in the United States as they are in Britain, where it is a standard appliance in many homes. Some people prefer to microwave their water or boil it the old-fashioned way using a regular kettle or teapot. Others prefer to keep a coffee maker in their home. However, there was one glaring reason why this appliance is not popular in America, and it has a lot to do with Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla.

Two theories started it all

In the 1880s, famed inventors Nikolas Tesla and Thomas Edison were in a battle to see whethe direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC) electrical systems would become the standard for use in the United States. Edison developed a direct current system that ran in a single direction but was not good over long distances. Tesla, on the other hand, believed that alternating current was the way to go, as it was better for long-distance transmission. In the end, AC current won, and Westinghouse Electric (one of the major power companies at that time) adopted AC as its electrical standard (via US Department of Energy).

So, what does this have to do with electric kettles? As it turns out, everything. Most homes in the United States operate at 100 to 127 voltage — which was the number of volts used in Edison's original system (via National Geographic). However, the U.K. and other countries use higher voltages, between 220 and 240 volts. This means that electric kettles do not heat water here in America as fast as they would in other parts of the world.

Electric kettles have many benefits (if you didn't realize by now)

One reason you may want to gift yourself an electric kettle is that it is an energy-saver. According to Inside Energy, an electric kettle is 80% more efficient than other appliances used to boil water. Another reason why electric kettles are so beneficial is that it boils water faster than an electric stovetop and microwave, with some claiming that they can bring water to a boil at twice the speed of many stovetop models. Additionally, if you want to boil water for a cup of tea or coffee, it is much safer to use an electric kettle to do so. Why? This handy appliance features an auto-shut-off switch that turns the kettle off once it reaches its boiling point (via STEM Learning).

There are electric kettles available at all price points, from the high-end Fellow Stagg EKG Electric Kettle which can brew tea and coffee, and features customized temperature controls to a basic model like the Cosori Electric Kettle that does what it's supposed to do — boil water.