Boiling water tap vs instant kettle vs kettle: which is best for you?

Is a boiling water tap better than an instant kettle or classic kettle? Let's weight it up…

Boiling water tap vs instant kettle vs kettle
(Image credit: Quooker / Breville)

In the bad old days there was only the humble kettle to let you boil water and make a brew. Today though there are newer, better options for not only letting you enjoy frequent cups of tea and coffee but for getting through mealtime prep more efficiently too. Pick of the pile has to be the best boiling water taps, which are just that; instant sources of ready-to-go aqua that make a style-statement on your worktop too.

Alongside that option comes the best instant kettle, which is an appliance that can deliver as much, or as little hot water as you like, pretty much instantly. Compared to an old-school kettle the instant variety can be more efficient and certainly quicker than twiddling your fingers while your shabby old-style kettle reaches its boiling point.

But what of the traditional kettle then? Are its days numbered? Hardly, as you’ll see from the dazzling array of best kettles that are still available. We love tea here at T3, so as far as we’re concerned there’ll always be space for a bog-standard, no-frills kettle. However, let’s take a deep dive into the pros and cons of a boiling water tap versus an instant kettle versus the countertop stalwart that is the regular kettle, shall we?

Quooker Fusion Round

(Image credit: Quooker)

Boiling water tap vs instant kettle vs kettle: the runners and riders

A boiling water tap is probably the best of the bunch when it comes to looks. These aesthetically pleasing taps are lovingly created by some of the best brands in the business, like Grohe and Franke, which are already well-known for their sublime taps, showers and other items of premium chromework. They're joined though by manufacturers who specialize in boiling water taps, such as Quooker, Qettle and InSinkerator.

The instant kettle has been around for a while now, which means there are lots of budget models in circulation alongside the better examples that are worth buying. Lookout for quality products from Breville, Klarstein, Morphy Richards, VonShef and Addis but there are plenty of variations on the theme. Even if you plump for a budget model though these appliances are generally pretty dependable although the amount of hot water and how fast it will emerge from the nozzle can vary wildly. They need descaling like regular kettles too, by the way.

Meanwhile, traditional kettles are available in all sorts of shapes, sizes and capacity from a million and one manufacturers. However, they’re not always capable of doing the same thing, ie; boiling water. Well, they’ll get the job done but some models that have integrated digital tech can use this trickery to vary the temperature of the water being heated up. That’s fine if you’re finicky about your heated drinks, whereas if all you care about is getting a hot, strong cup of builder’s tea then pretty much any model will suffice.

For dependable kettle options head for brands like Kitchenaid, Russell Hobbs, Sage, Smeg, AEG, Bosch, Dualit… we could go on but you get the idea. However, even a fifteen quid kettle might last you just as long as a premium brand. This often depends on how you treat it, what kind of water supply you have and whether it’s limescale encrusted or not and also relies on a little bit of luck. Sometimes a kettle seems to go on forever. Other times, they bust within six months.

Instant kettle

(Image credit: Breville)

Boiling water tap vs instant kettle vs kettle: what do they do?

If you’re tired of waiting for the kettle to boil, want to remodel your kitchen and bring it bang up to date and, no doubt, impress your friends, then a boiling water tap really is the way to go. These really look the business, and once they're plumbed in can deliver boiling, or nearly boiling water depending on the model and specification, as frequently as you need it.

A boiling water taps works, in principle at least, like a regular tap, but instead of having to run the tap and waiting for hotter water to come through, it should be instant. It’ll also be hotter, and some models deliver 100ºC aqua. Hot enough for proper cups of tea. They’re also great for filling pans, giving you a head start on boiling larger volumes of water at mealtimes. There are variations on the theme that can supply cold and chilled water too, with others able to dispense fizzy water. Blimey!

An instant kettle isn’t quite as flash, but it won’t cost as much either. These are countertop appliances, as opposed to integrated tap fittings, that you have to fill up. If there’s water in the tank then all you need to do for hot water is press a button. How this happens depends on the model, but there are some that let you dial in different temperature settings, select the amount of water to be dispensed and also configure presets so you know exactly what you’re going to get each time.

A standard kettle pretty much just boils water, but everybody knows that, right?


(Image credit: VonShef)

Boiling water tap vs instant kettle vs kettle: how do they work?

If you’re increasingly tempted by the lure of a boiling water tap then take a look at our best boiling water taps guide. Inside here you’ll find plenty of information on why boiling water taps can be a great way to enjoy more efficient hot water supplies. You’ll also see that they can be a little more complicated to install than a regular tap.

Most benefit from professional installation because they use quite a lot of under the counter plumbing, sometimes need water tanks and always require filters, all of which means you can enjoy an excellent supply of boiling, or near boiling water out of a tap. They are a little bit of a faff in have in your home then, but the look of one on your countertop, combined with the convenience can tend to make up for that.

An instant kettle is much more straightforward. All you need to do is buy one, take it out of the box, plug it in, fill it up and it should deliver hot water when you need it. The downside is that they're not always that great to look at and even the more attractive models take up space on your worktop. 

You’ll need a mains power socket for the cable too, although boiling water taps might still require this and mains plumbing in the near vicinity as well. So there. A kettle, on the other hand, just comes with a plug, cable and an element inside, so all you’ll need to do with that in most cases is fill it up, plug it in and, er, wait for it to boil…

Grohe Red

(Image credit: Grohe)

Boiling water tap vs instant kettle vs kettle: which one is best?

If you’ve got the budget to stretch to a boiling water tap then head for that exciting item of chromework (other finishes are often available too, by the way). They offer convenience and, more often than not, genuinely very hot water too – although not every model does this to 100ºC, so check this before you buy, if boiling point is what you want.

As always, it's a good idea all round to do your research beforehand. There’s installation to consider, you’ll need space and there’s maintenance to factor in on top of that, such as servicing and the replacement of filters depending on the model. Nevertheless, we think a boiling water tap looks pure class on your countertop and, despite the price, is a worthy addition if you’re keen to stay style relevant.

An instant kettle can make a great alternative although these appliances don't come with quite the same level of class as the boiling water tap. They also take up space, have to be filled up in most cases and aren't quite as quick as dispensing hot water as a boiling water tap. Nevertheless, they’re quite handy and are relatively affordable depending on the make and model you go for. They're certainly way cheaper than a boiling water tap.

Shop around for an old-school kettle though and it’s likely you’ll find at least one that still takes your fancy. Kettles are a lot better than they used to be, even those 15 quid bargain-basement models. If you’re not fussed about how you get your boiling water and live in a tiny space that’s only fit for a cheap kettle anyway then this is the route to take. But, if you can afford it, shop around for the best boiling water tap and prepare to be amazed!

Rob Clymo

Rob Clymo has been a tech journalist for more years than he can actually remember, having started out in the wacky world of print magazines before discovering the power of the internet. Since he's been all-digital, he has run the Innovation channel for a few years at Microsoft, as well as turning out regular news, reviews, features and other content for the likes of Stuff, TechRadar, TechRadar Pro, Tom's Guide, Fit&Well, Gizmodo, Shortlist, Automotive Interiors World, Automotive Testing Technology International, Future of Transportation and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology International. In the rare moments he's not working, he's usually out and about on one of the numerous e-bikes in his collection.