Why Do Electric Kettles Have Minimum Water Levels? (Explained)

If you have an electric kettle, you must have noticed a line that says minimum on the outside.

Since it is an electrical appliance, most people are smart enough to follow that to avoid any problems. Most people fill up their electric kettles above the minimum water level, but only a few fill it lower than they should be.

Have you ever wondered why electric kettles have a minimum water label? Read on to find out.

Here Is Why Electric Kettles Have A Minimum Water Level:

Electric kettles have a minimum water level for safety reasons. The metal coil at the bottom of the kettle must be fully submerged to be safe. Not filling an electric kettle to the minimum level could lead to many safety hazards, such as overheating or burning.

Does It Really Matter How Much Water You Put In An Electric Kettle?

How much water you put in an electric kettle does matter, and it matters a lot.

The amount of water you put in an electric kettle can highly affect its functionality. When you do not fill the water up to at least the minimum water level, it can cause potential harm to your appliance as well as to you.

This is why manufacturers always indicate how little water you can place inside the kettle.

What Happens If You Don’t Fill It With Enough Water?

Before knowing what happens to an electric kettle if you don’t fill it with enough water, it is important to know how these appliances work.

All electric kettles have a metal coil at the bottom. In some electric kettles, the coil is housed inside a metal plate to keep it hidden from plain sight for aesthetic purposes. This coil is the heating element.

When the kettle is powered, an electric current passes through the coil, creating electrical resistance. This converts electrical energy into thermal energy, which heats the water inside the kettle.

When you do not fill the electric kettle up to the minimum water level, here are the things that could happen:

The Electric Kettle Could Overheat

If the water in your electric kettle does not meet the minimum level, it could overheat. Overheating could lead to different hazardous issues.

If your electric kettle overheats, its components could get broken. The plastic components could end up melting.

The metal components, such as the coil and the copper wires, could get damaged.

Since the coil is a resistor, it could cause an electrical short if it builds too much heat because there is not enough water in the kettle.

The Electric Kettle Won’t Last Long

When used as intended by the manufacturer, most electric kettles could last between 3 to 5 years. However, it may not last long if you keep under-filling your electric kettle.

When you fill your electric kittle with just a small amount of water, the heating coil would be subjected to much stress. This is because the metal components of the kettle tend to get hot before it automatically turns off.

If the heating coil becomes overstressed, it can deteriorate. It will crack or flake off.

One sign of the heating coil becoming overstressed is when you start seeing black films on its surface. You may even see small flakes of black metal floating on the water.

When the metal components of your electric kettle start to deteriorate, you would expect it will not reach its life expectancy. It could break down in less than two years, and you would have no choice but to get a new one.

The Electric Kettle Can Catch Fire

If you do not fill your electric kettle with enough water, its metal components will deteriorate. Using an electric kettle with deteriorating metal components can be very dangerous.

When the metal components become weak, then the electric kettle would most likely have electrical problems in the future if you keep using it. It could even start a fire.

This is why your electric kettle has a minimum water level and needs to follow it.

What Is The Minimum Amount of Water For a Kettle to Work Properly?

The minimum water level in electric kettles may vary depending on the kettle’s capacity, the model, and the brand. Some manufacturers may set their minimum water level based on how the kettle was made.

In general, for electric kettles with exposed coils, the minimum water level falls just slightly above the coil.

This means that the electric kettle has to be filled with enough water to fully cover the coil so it would work properly.

The minimum amount for kettles with a metal plate housing the coil is roughly two cups or half a liter of water.

Don’t worry since you do not have to eyeball it. All electric kettles would have a clear indication of what the minimum water level is. All you have to do is check.

If the electric kettle is made of transparent glass, then the indication for the minimum water level is usually found outside the glass. If the electric kettle is made of stainless steel, you will see the indication embossed inside the metal body.

What Happens If You Turn on the Kettle With No Water at All?

Now that you know what happens if your electric kettle is not filled up to the minimum, you may wonder what would happen if the kettle is turned on with no water.

If you turn on your electric kettle without water, the kettle will turn off. Once the coil heats up to a certain temperature, the thermostat interrupts the electrical circuit and turns the device off.

While this would not immediately damage your electric kettle, repeatedly doing this would eventually cause it to break down.

Allowing your kettle to boil dry may be one of the worst things you can do. It can become extremely hot and cause serious injuries if it boils dry.

This is why you should never use a kettle without water in it. Turning on an electric kettle when it is empty can damage the heating element. It can also affect the durability and longevity of the kettle.

Can You Damage the Kettle By Filling it With too Little Water?

Some people fill their electric kettles with only enough water to make one cup of coffee or tea.

It is usually because they only need that amount of water and do not want to waste any excess. Doing this is not recommended by electric kettle manufacturers.

Filling the kettle with too little water can cause damage to it.

Not filling it with enough water can cause the heating coil and other metal components to become overstressed and eventually deteriorate. It can also cause the kettle to overheat, which can melt the plastic components.

So when heating water using your electric kettle, ensure to fill it up to the minimum water level. If you do not end up using all the water in it, you can always reuse and reheat the water for up to 2 days.


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