The Ultimate Guide to Kettles That Work With Smart Plugs
Let's say you were fed up that your kettle didn't notify you when it was done or that you can't have it start boiling on a schedule so it can be ready in the morning. You might have seen our post on building a DIY smart kettle using only a smart plug, or maybe this thought occurred to you naturally. In either case, it's crucial that you use the right kettle for this purpose, or you could run into some serious problems. Here we will look over some kettles that will work perfectly for this purpose, along with gaining a deeper understanding of why we need specific models in the first place.
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Table of Contents
- Why does the DIY smart kettle need to be carefully selected?
- Which kettle works with a smart plug?
- COSORI Electric Kettle
- What smart plugs work well with kettles?
Why does the kettle for this DIY need to be carefully selected?
If you've ever used a kettle, you will know that they are all relatively the same in terms of functionality. You turn it on, it boils water, then it stops. That covers the basics of kettle functionality but ignores the seemingly endless supply of products with fancy features like timers or re-boil intervals. In practice, these features are actually quite common and aren't simply limited to more expensive kettles. We can all agree that most of these features are useful and make life easier in some way. Despite that, a DIY smart kettle should not have any of these things to ensure smooth operation.,
While the exact details will vary depending on the kettle, each additional functionality presents an obstacle. Consider the following control panel from one of my kettles.
To start the boil cycle, you simply push the "Start" button. Seem easy enough? This is actually the root of the problem, as the smart plug can only control whether the power is on or off. There is no way for the plug to push the button. As such, this start button eliminates any chance of making this kettle smart using a plug. In fact, it probably eliminates any technique short of taking it apart and simulating a button press with a circuit.
This kettle would be a no go for use with a smart plug, but what are we looking for then? We want it to be as simple as possible, with the only real feature being that it turns on when power is applied. Most kettles at least have a power switch, so you will need to keep it in the "ON" position. They will usually turn themselves off once the water has boiled, so you will just need to remember to flip the switch back on every time you use it. This way, a smart plug can switch the power on and off to control the kettle. If you use a smart plug that includes energy monitoring, you can even detect when the water has boiled by looking to see when the kettle turns itself off.
Note: be sure you keep water in the kettle before you try to turn it on with a smart plug! Most kettles have dry-boil protection, but in the worst case, it could damage the kettle or your house. Regardless, you will want water inside at all times to even boil anything when you turn the kettle on, so be sure to keep it filled!
Which kettle works with a smart plug?
Before getting into some example kettles that you can buy right now that will work well with a smart plug, we should mention that funnily enough, it's actually cheap models that work the best! More expensive, fancier models tend to include push-button start or other functions that will interfere with the integration of your smart plug. Consider the start button from before, if you aren't around the push it, the plug will turn the power on, and nothing will happen. As such, we are going to look at the basic models that offer little functionality other than boiling water (which is what we want to do anyway).
There will be a fancy option at the end to show what a commercial smart kettle looks like. It's included for completeness so you can make the best decision for you. Personally, after looking at all the options, I prefer a basic kettle with a plug simply because it's cheaper and way less complicated. Be sure to take a look at it, though, since you might like that one better than any of the others.
Amazon Basics Stainless Steel Kettle
This kettle is about as basic as it gets. It uses a single switch to turn the device on or off and has a capacity of 1L with 1500 watts of power to heat water quickly. Most important for us, it relies completely on the main switch for power, meaning that the device will turn on once plugged in if you flip the switch into the "ON" position. You can leave the switch in the "ON" position when you unplug the device, and it will start up again once it's plugged in. This way, the smart plug will turn the power on, the kettle will start since it's already "ON". Once the water has boiled, it will flip the switch back into the off position to turn itself off.
COSORI Electric Kettle
This is very similar to the previous Amazon Basics one, with the biggest differences being the size and the transparent tank. There is room for 1.7L inside the tank, which is quite a bit bigger than the previous model. The transparent tank is also nice if you like to watch the water boil or simply provide a nice aesthetic for your kitchen. As with the other one, the switch will automatically flip into the off position when the water has boiled. It uses 1500 watts to heat water quickly and will work wonderfully with a smart plug.
Korex Smart Electric Kettle WiFi
This is a real smart kettle that works with your smart home out of the box! It supports Alexa and Google Home, enabling voice commands to turn on or off the device. A mobile app can be used to control it rather than using a voice assistant if you prefer that. Since it can directly be added to your smart home system, it will do the smart plug's job out of the box - there will be no need to mess with anything. The tank is 1.7L, which is nice for boiling a lot at once. It also uses a maximum of 2000 watts, though you should be good to use it in an outlet that provides less thanks to the voltage. Finally, since it already includes smart functionality, there is no need to forgo the fancy features you would otherwise need to do without.
What smart plugs work well with kettles?
You didn't think we would talk about the kettles without mentioning the plugs, did you? The plug itself is actually an important part of the equation, and getting it right might not be that simple. While almost all smart plugs will manage to drive a kettle, some of them will be pushing the limits of what they can do. If not push the limits, some can actually set your house on fire if too much current goes through them! Best not mess with that and get one rated for the load you're going to be using. For a kettle, it's pretty high but never more than the outlet can provide, so you should be good with a 15A 120V model. Always check, though!
Your country could be using different standards, so be sure to always check the rating on the device you are buying. Connecting a device meant for one area into a different one could spell disaster. Better be safe - if you don't know how to check this, find someone who does.
In terms of a basic smart plug, the only specification you really need to pay attention to is the wattage and the current rating. This will tell you how much power you can safely draw without causing any problems. That's about it for the plug itself. However, you might also want to consider some extra features as well, such as its energy monitoring capabilities. The monitoring is definitely useful alone, but we are most interested in the fact that this monitoring can alert us when the kettle stops drawing power. As such, we can use that feature to make our DIY smart kettle even smarter!
All the following smart plugs are WiFi because that is what most people can immediately use. If you want to use Z-Wave or Zigbee, search Amazon for that, and you will certainly find some models that work for you.
Meross Smart Plug Mini
The Meross Smart Plug Mini is a basic smart plug that includes only the core features we expect from a plug: turning things on and off remotely. It's compatible with HomeKit, but also works with Alexa or Google Home via the internet. The maximum current rating is 16A, which should be plenty for a regular wall socket. You can control it through your smart home system of choice, or you can use the Meross app to set up schedules or turn things on and off from anywhere. This will work perfectly with a kettle, other than the downside that it doesn't come with energy monitoring. You won't be notified when the boil is done, but if that doesn't bother you, this model is perfect!
Wemo Insight Smart Plug With Energy Monitoring
The Wemo Insight Smart Plug aims to cover all of our requirements with its regular functionality and the addition of energy monitoring. It's also compatible with HomeKit (via a bridge), Alexa, and Google Home. The maximum rating is 15A, which should handle most kettles just fine. It also has an app that allows full remote operation and viewing of statistics, pretty handy! The monitoring functionality is perfect for making a kettle smart because it allows us to see if it is currently boiling. When the power goes up to a high value, the device will be actively working. When the level goes back down either to zero or some nearby value, you will know the kettle stopped, usually because the water has been boiled.