Why Are Electric Kettles So Loud And How To Quieten Them?

Does your electric kettle erupt in loud noises as it boils water? Have the bothersome whistling and rumbling noises left you wondering why electric kettles are so loud? While noisy, there are ways to quiet a loud kettle.

Electric kettles are so loud because of steam release, vibrations, and water turbulence inside the kettle as it boils. Using a stove-top model, allowing bubbles to settle, or purchasing a specially designed quiet kettle can reduce noises.

Now that you know why electric kettles make noise and how to quiet them, let’s explore your options. Read on as we cover kettle noise sources, benefits of stovetop kettles, quiet kettle designs to buy, and other simple tips to make morning tea or coffee without disruptive racket.

Why Are Electric Kettles So Noisy?

To understand why electric kettles make noise, it helps to first look at how they heat and boil water.

Standard stovetop kettles are heated from below, with the stove burner warming the bottom of the kettle. The heat then gradually transfers through the sides and into the water. This slow, widespread heating means very little noise is produced.

Electric kettles work differently – instead of external heating from a stove, there is an internal electric heating element at the base. When switched on, this metal heating coil gets extremely hot, very rapidly.

This intense, localized heating causes a pocket of water immediately surrounding the element to be suddenly superheated. This creates bubbles of steam that rapidly shoot up through the cooler water above.

It’s this rapid bubbling and churning effect inside the kettle that causes the loud noises.

Specifically, there are two primary reasons electric kettles are loud:

  • Cavitation – As bubbles of steam rise up through the cooler water above, they reach a point where they collapse suddenly. This cavitation effect creates a distinctive knocking or rattling sound.
  • Limescale Buildup – Hard water deposits left inside the kettle concentrate the heating effect around the element. This amplifies cavitation and knocking.

Additionally, the vibrations caused by the violent bubbles can make the kettle body rattle against the kitchen counter, amplifying the noise if the surface is hard.

The result is the annoying noises we hear:

  • Knocking/rattling – Caused by bubbles of steam forming and suddenly collapsing (cavitation).
  • Hissing – Sound of pressurized steam escaping the kettle.
  • Rumbling – Vibrations rattling through the kettle body.
  • Whistling – High-pitched shriek of steam exiting vents.

So in summary, it’s the localized, intense heating creating turbulent bubble formation combined with limescale buildup that makes electric kettles prone to noise. Understanding the cause is key to finding solutions.

How Loud Are Electric Kettles?

Consumer testing has found there can be considerable variation in how noisy different electric kettle models are. Testing by a UK consumer watchdog group found:

  • The quietest electric kettles operate at around 79 decibels (dB).
  • Average kettles are approximately 85 to 89 dB.
  • The loudest electric kettles can reach up to 95 dB.

To put those noise levels in context:

  • Normal human conversation is about 60 to 65 dB.
  • Vacuum cleaners are around 70 to 85 dB.
  • Gas lawn mowers average around 90 dB.
  • Chainsaws operate at 100 to 115 dB.

Prolonged exposure to noise over 85 dB can potentially cause hearing loss over time. So if your electric kettle is louder than 85 dB, it’s smart to take steps to reduce the noise.

6 Ways To Make An Electric Kettle Quieter

Thankfully, there are several straightforward ways to make a loud electric kettle much quieter:

1. Use a Quieter Kettle Design

Not all electric kettles are equal when it comes to noise levels. Some models are specifically designed to heat the water more gently and evenly, avoiding the intense cavitation effect of poorly designed kettles.

Features to look for in a quieter kettle include:

  • Larger heating element – A wider heating coil disperses the heat more evenly and prevents loud steaming bubbles forming directly above the element.
  • Cordless – Removes potential vibration noise from power cord.
  • Plastic – Naturally dampens noise better than glass or metal kettles.
  • Rubber feet – Stops the kettle rattling against the counter.
  • Removable filter – Allows descaling to prevent limescale buildup.

For example, the Breville VKJ142 HotCup has been designed to be one of the quietest kettles available:

  • Large 3kW heating element for gentle boiling.
  • Boil-dry safety feature prevents boiling without water.
  • Rubberized feet prevent rattling on the counter.

If buying a new kettle, check reviews and noise ratings as some models are much quieter than others right out of the box.

2. Use a Tea Cosy

A tea cosy is essentially a small padded jacket or blanket used to insulate a teapot and keep the contents warm. But tea cosies can also be slipped over an electric kettle to help dampen the noise.

The padding muffles the loud cavitation bubbles, while the insulating properties prevent heat loss which reduces steam formation. This dual-action makes an inexpensive tea cosy an easy way to make an electric kettle quieter.

For best results, choose a thick quilted cosy rather than thinner knitted versions.

3. Apply Rubberized Coating

Applying a protective rubberized undercoating spray creates a sound dampening barrier that can significantly quieten an electric kettle.

The rubberized coating prevents the kettle body from amplifying noise and also helps absorb vibrations. It’s a similar effect to applying underseal in automotive applications to reduce road noise and rattling panels.

before spraying, thoroughly wash and dry your kettle. Avoid coating the handles, spout, openings, or electrical connections. Ensure adequate ventilation while spraying and allow several hours to fully cure.

4. Place on Noise Absorbing Pad

Sitting an electric kettle on a hard kitchen surface can amplify noise by allowing vibrations to transfer into the counter, and causing echos from the hard surfaces.

Placing the kettle on a soft sound absorbing pad can help dampen both these issues. Materials like rubber, cork, foam and felt will absorb vibrations instead of amplifying them. This prevents excess rattling and rumbling noise.

Pads specifically designed for soundproofing, or even softer placemats make effective noise reducing pads for loud kettles.

5. Descale Regularly

Hard water deposits and limescale buildup inside an electric kettle can exacerbate noise issues over time. The mineral deposits coat the heating element, concentrating heat unevenly.

Descaling involves removing these deposits, which will restore the kettle heating performance and often reduce knocking noises.

To descale, fill the kettle with a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water. Allow to soak for at least 30 minutes, then bring to a boil. Rinse thoroughly with plain water afterwards. Repeat if necessary.

For severe buildup, a descaling acid solution may be required. Always follow manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations.

6. Switch To a Stovetop Kettle

If you find your electric kettle is still too noisy even after trying the suggestions above, switching to a simple stovetop kettle may be the quietest option.

Stovetop kettles are inherently quieter because the heating happens through the thick metal base rather than an internal element. The gentle, widespread heat distribution avoids the cavitation and bubbling.

Look for kettles with thick bottoms, tight-fitting lids, stay-cool handles, and a pleasant whistle. Stainless steel and glass kettles are easy to keep clean and descaled.

While not as fast as electric kettles, a stovetop kettle still provides quiet, simple boiling water for tea and coffee.

Benefits Of Using Stovetop Kettles

Traditional stovetop kettles avoid much of the noise issues of electric models, making them a great option for a calmer experience.

Benefits of stovetop kettles include:

  • Gently heated from below avoiding internal churning.
  • No internal elements means no rattling and rumbling.
  • Thick metal body doesn’t amplify vibrations.
  • Satisfying whistle sound when ready rather than disruptive boiling.
  • Purely mechanical operation is nearly silent.

The simple stovetop whistling kettle provides a soothing ritual without constant rumbling – perfect for mindful tea or coffee preparation.

Downsides include slower boiling, needing a stove, and potential safety risks if left unattended. But for many, the quiet operation makes trade-offs worthwhile.

Buy A Kettle Engineered For Quiet

Recently, some electric kettles have been designed specifically to solve the noise problem through better construction. These models have tweaks to minimize whistling, rumbling, and rattling noises.

Quieter electric kettle features include:

  • Wide heating element for more even heat distribution.
  • Cordless models to eliminate vibration noises from power connection.
  • Plastic construction to dampen noise vs metal.
  • Rubber feet to prevent countertop rattling.
  • Removable limescale filter for easy descaling.
  • Noiseless thermostat for automatic shut-off.

For example, the Breville VKJ142 Kettle employs a large 3kW heating element, plastic body, and rubber feet engineered to reduce noise levels substantially compared to traditional kettles.

While not completely silent, purpose-designed kettles like this provide a significantly quieter experience.

Simple DIY Tips To Quiet Noisy Kettles

You don’t necessarily need a new kettle to make your existing one quieter. Here are some easy DIY modifications to reduce noise:

  • Let water rest 1 minute after boiling to allow bubbles to settle before pouring.
  • Descale regularly to prevent limescale worsening noise over time. Boil equal parts water and white vinegar to clean.
  • Apply rubber feet pads to absorb rumbling vibrations from countertop contact.
  • Cover with a tea cosy while heating to dampen whistling and hissing.
  • Place on a sound absorbing pad like rubber or foam to prevent noise amplification from hard surfaces.

With simple tweaks like tea cosies, vibration pads, descaling, and allowing bubbling to settle, you can make an existing noisy kettle much quieter.

Conclusion

Noisy kettles result from rapid steam release and water turbulence during boiling. Allowing bubbles to settle, switching to stovetop models, or buying specially engineered quiet designs can drastically cut noise. Location and kettle size also impact volume.

Key Takeaways:

  • Electric kettles are loud due to intense localized heating creating cavitation and limescale buildup.
  • The quietest electric kettles operate around 79dB, while the loudest can be 95dB.
  • Exposure above 85dB for prolonged periods can potentially damage hearing.
  • Try using a tea cosy, rubberized coating spray, noise absorbing pad, and regular descaling to reduce noise.
  • As a last resort, consider switching to a traditional stovetop kettle for a quieter experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

How loud should an electric kettle be?

The quietest electric kettles operate around 79dB, while the average is 85 to 89dB. Louder than 85dB can potentially damage hearing over time so look for quieter models or take steps to reduce the noise if concerned.

Why is my electric kettle getting louder?

Loudness increasing over time is usually due to limescale buildup inside the kettle. The mineral deposits coat the heating element unevenly leading to louder cavitation. Descaling the kettle should restore normal noise levels.

Is a plastic kettle quieter than stainless steel?

Yes, plastic kettles are generally quieter than stainless steel. The plastic dampens noise from cavitation bubbles better than metal. However plastic can be prone to limescale buildup. For lowest noise choose a plastic kettle with an easy-clean filter.

Do whistling kettles wakes babies?

A whistling kettle can potentially wake light-sleeping babies. The high-pitched whistle carries easily through walls. Consider switching to a quieter kettle with an auto-shutoff feature rather than a whistle if baby’s room is nearby.

Should I descale with vinegar or lemon juice?

White vinegar is the most effective and safe descaling agent for kettles. Mix equal parts vinegar and water and allow to soak before boiling and rinsing thoroughly. Lemon juice can work but may leave flavor residues. Never use bleach solutions.

References

Decibel Levels of Common Sounds. ASHA.org. (https://www.asha.org/public/hearing/loud-noise-dangers/)

Electric Tea Kettle Noise. The Spruce Eats. (https://www.thespruceeats.com/electric-tea-kettle-noise-4061150)

Sound Rating of Household Appliances. SoundProofEmpire (https://soundproofempire.com/sound-rating-of-household-appliances/)

Testing reveals the quietest kettles. Which.co.uk. (https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/08/testing-reveals-the-quietest-kettles/)

Causes of Noisy Kettles and Pumps. Spirax Sarco. (https://www.spiraxsarco.com/learn-about-steam/noise-solutions-from-spirax-sarco/causes-of-noisy-kettles-and-pumps)

How To De-Scale an Electric Kettle. Tips Bulletin. (https://www.tipsbulletin.com/how-to-de-scale-an-electric-kettle/)

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *